Mule Deer, Moose & Heavy Snow

The weather hasn’t been very encouraging for road trips lately, but I had a few things sitting at the post office in Skagway so went down yesterday anyway. Any trip to Skagway is a good one, even though some are better than others.

I got away just before 10:00am with the temperature sitting at -17°C (+1°F) under heavy clouds, and a few minutes later met this herd of mule deer at Rat Lake on the South Klondike Highway.

A herd of mule deer at Rat Lake on the South Klondike Highway
This dry south-facing slope offers the deer good browse, but it’s not common to see this many together.

Mule deer at Rat Lake on the South Klondike Highway
Two of the three yearlings in the group.

Mule deer at Rat Lake on the South Klondike Highway
This is my Subaru Outback in downtown Carcross. It’s a 2001 with 257,000 km on it, and I got some very bad news from my mechanic the day before – it needs the head gasket replaced, an $1,800 job. Plus some other work, so a whole pile of $$$ is needed.

That got me back to thinking about getting a new(er) car, and that eventually took me here. That’s just a dream, but… 🙂 At this point I don’t know what I’m going to do – the trips I do in the conditions I do them make having a reliable car a must, though.

2011 Camaro convertible
Work on the “retail village” is coming along very slowly.

Retail village in downtown Carcross, Yukon
The other major “some day” project is a few hundred feet away. The opening day of the Caribou Hotel was delayed a few times and now they’re just not saying – 2014, I hope. It’s the anchor that the village really needs, and not only for visitors.

Caribou Hotel - Carcross, Yukon
On the bank of the Nares River, which few people go to anymore, is a monument honouring Skookum Jim Mason, one of the discoverers of gold in the Klondike in 1896. It needs to be moved now, as back behind the new visitors centre…

Skookum Jim monument - Carcross, Yukon
…is a replica of Skookum Jim’s house, built when he returned home to Carcross a wealthy man. The house was moved downtown from the far corner of the village a couple of years ago, and is now home to a popular coffee shop and art gallery.

Skookum Jim House - Carcross, Yukon
The other main attraction in town is the Tutshi memorial. The boat burned in 1990, and a monstrosity of a viewing platform has been built where the main body of the boat was.

SS Tutshi memorial - Carcross, Yukon
I continued south just before 11:00am, stopping to get a few photos of a truck bringing fuel from the tanks in Skagway to Whitehorse. A couple of minutes before this, there was a moose on the road, but I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo. No, really, Colin – we do have moose here! 🙂

North 60 fuel truck in the winter
The light was rather flat on the way south so I didn’t take any photos worth posting, but when the light improved I stopped to take a few here at Km 48.7, just north of the Yukon Suspension Bridge.

Mountain view on the South Klondike Highway
The unusually high and long-lasting winds over the past few weeks have resulting in wind sculpting like I’ve never seen before in the White Pass.

White Pass
The pass got several inches of snow the previous night, with little enough wind that the snow has stayed on the trees.

Heavy snow in the White Pass
Looking back up to the north, towards the White Pass summit, at an Alaska Highways rotary snow blower working.

Alaska Highways rotary snow blower working
Unlike my trip 3 weeks ago, I didn’t meet any cyclists wanting to share the road today!

Share the Road - winter view
The steep descent towards Skagway was quite impressive with all the fresh snow.

Heavy snow on the South Klondike Highway near Skagway, Alaska
After picking up my packages at the post office, I checked on progress at the Small Boat Harbour. It’s coming along nicely, and pilings and pre-fab ramps have started arriving by barge.

Skagway Small Boat Harbour
Fuel was being pumped out of this barge into the storage tanks where the truck I saw earlier had loaded. The double-hulled fuel barge (DBL54), owned by K-Sea Transportation, is 300 feet long and can carry about 54,000 barrels of oil. It was built in Portland 3 years ago.

Fuel tanker DBL54

Fuel tanker DBL54 at Skagway, Alaska
A heavy storm was coming up the inlet after I had lunch, so just after 2:00pm I headed north again, with a light snow falling.

Snow on the South Klondike Highway near Skagway, Alaska
One more photo of a bit of beautiful light just north of Fraser, then it went flat again and I just drove straight through to Whitehorse.

I hadn’t taken the dogs on this trip because of the problems with the car – if I broke down it would be much easier to get home by myself. I did miss not having them with me, though, and when I got home, Monty was frantic at being left home 🙁 I might have to take Cathy’s Tracker next time!


Mule Deer, Moose & Heavy Snow — 9 Comments

  1. Murray, the problem with fixing these newer engines verses the older cast iron versions are the preparation work that needs to be done. In the good old days, all you needed to do to change a head gasket is to simply bolt it on.
    Today, as in the case of your Suburu as soon as the head is removed it must be planed down for straightness. The tolerances are so precise with these engines, great care must be taken so you don’t take off too much metal. Then they have to be magnafluxed to check for cracks, because cooler anti freeze exposed to hot metal when they start leaking especially around the exhaust valve, can easily crack the head.
    Then, you cannot reuse the head bolts, they must be replaced with new ones. Also the head bolt threads must be reamed out and could require a over-sized dye.
    That’s the reason why work on these engines are so expensive and unfortunately rebuilding them doesn’t always work out. Engines today are disposable (so to speak)!
    Twisting wrenches during the 50’s and 60’s were a much easier job than today. Sometimes, and in the case of a few fellows down south in Alberta, finding a cheaper alternative for replacing head gaskets is to find a complete running engine at a wreckers that hasn’t been touched.
    Good luck with it.

  2. Thanks, Ron – I appreciate the information. Pretty sad when putting in another engine is a better option than replacing a gasket! It certainly was MUCH easier to work on cars 30+ years ago – not many backyard-mechanics will tackle these new things. It was Whitehorse Subaru who told me that the head gasket is leaking. Yesterday, though, I took it to the usual shop I deal with, and they say b.s. – the head gasket is fine, there’s just a leaking oil sender. I’ll find out in a few days who’s right.

  3. Thank you for the beautiful pictures of winter and snow. Here in Florida it hasn’t dipped below the 60’s at all. I don’t think we are getting a winter this year. Would love to open the windows and let fresh air in, but we need the AC on.

  4. Thanks, Patsy. Your non-winter must be rather nice after some of the stuff you’ve had to deal with in recent years, though – despite having an AC bill in January 🙂

  5. That last picture is out of this world. Thanks for all the beautiful pictures. That was really enjoyable.

    I’m sure that Camaro would be really good in snow and ice…you should get it. 🙂

  6. Yes Murray, you pretty well said it all when you mentioned: “not many backyard mechanics will tackle these new things,” is what the vehicle manufacturing companies had in mind. The entire idea is profitability as in costs of new vehicles and after market parts, plus their own shop servicing shows they aren’t exactly giving any of these commodities and services away cheap!
    Do you remember the days of $40-$80 tuneups? A tuneup today is substantially higher and because there are so many sensors that could give off similar problems, there is always the temptation of dishonest servicing resulting in more money…(unfortunately I have seen it)! I remember several years ago in Edmonton when I was in the parking lot at 137th Ave. Superstore when my 1958 Edsel Citation quite running. I was beside a brand new Chevy Corsica with his hood up, obviously unable to start his car.
    With the Edsel all I did was take out the points, file them straight, install and re-gap them and the old girl fired up & I drove away. The point that I’m making is not that new vehicles aren’t under warranty and the owner is not protected by it, rather what would the odds of my Edsel and this new Corsica have, lets say, in the middle of Rogers Pass in BC if they were to breakdown in unpredictable weather conditions have of getting mobile again?
    I have heard some critical stories of people almost dying because they broke down and were stranded unable to start their cars, because of a faulty two bit part.
    I have a 1972 Lincoln that I use for long trips in the winter, sure it uses a lot more fuel, but if something goes wrong, I most likely could get it mobile again, not the case with my late model Dodge Caravan.
    Little off topic, but thanks for listening.

  7. Murray: We really enjoy your photos even if there are no moose. It is a beautiful country, particularly the mountains. We have the snow here, about 40 cm, but the temperature is now about 5C and it is melting. We occasionally see urban deer round our area, but no moose.


  8. I don’t know a Chev. Camaro, but I like a yellow car (!!!!) – easily seen on the road and never lost in a car-park! And my ‘Lotto’ dream is buying a yellow Porsche! Great minds think alike. I am sorry about your head gasket – I had that done on a past car, a yellow one as it happens. I always think your vehicle looks in great shape in spite of the extreme conditions and your huge mileage. In the 50s & 60s, my father always drove a big black Chevrolet & a big black Super Snipe. My present car is a 1994 model, in excellent condition, cost me peanuts to buy in 2001, and still costs me peanuts; I get 6-mthly W.o.F.s, do the upkeep needed, and as far as I can see, unless I get that Porsche, I shall just stick with my ice-blue Nissan Sunny Lucino. PS: your photos are wonderful as always. I wish I could enclose a rather lovely high Summer photo of where I have just been, a memorable place for you & Cathy – Cathedral Cove! Best Regards, Marie G.

  9. Sorry, a correction. Our black Humber was a Humber Hawk (1954-57) – it had that nicer, more rounded, smoother shape. MG.