A final day in the White Pass, and I’m injured

Wednesday, August 7th, was my final day of a week-long RV outing in the White Pass, a week that included lots of hiking and photography. Wednesday was a partial day, though, as I realized that I may have hurt myself in a fall the day before, and drove home.

The day began early as usual – at 05:24, the colours of dawn had begun to light up my world. The first photo, shot from the motorhome, looks north over Summit Lake.

Dawn at Summit Lake in the White Pass
By 05:49, the sky was getting very colourful, and it was looking like we might have another very good day coming.

A colourful dawn at Summit Lake in the White Pass
I wanted to start the day off very early by making a short hike to the first waterfall on the International Falls trail, to do some low-light shooting. I’d been very pleased with the results of the early morning session at Bridal Veil Falls the day before. On the way, I detoured to get a shot of the Welcome to Alaska sign a few hundred meters beyond.

Welcome to Alaska sign on the South Klondike Highway
The next photo shows the start of the International Falls trail, from the highway. I was pretty sore from my fall at Summit Creek the day before, and was a tiny bit dizzy. I thought for a while about whether I should be going down the very steep drop into the valley, finally deciding that I just needed to get moving and work the soreness out.

International Falls trail, South Klondike Highway
I arrived at the first waterfall at 07:10, and the light was near perfect for what I wanted to do. I should have been there a few minutes earlier so the session could last longer, but it was still good.

The first waterfall on the International Falls trail, in the early morning
I only spent 10 minutes shooting, then it starting getting too bright to accomplish these shots. I mentioned at Bridal Veil Falls that these shots can be done with neutral density (ND) filters, and yesterday I ordered another set to fit the lens I use most now, a 24-105mm.

The first waterfall on the International Falls trail, in the early morning
The very steep climb back to the highway, with ropes installed by a tour company in Skagway to help their clients, but with all of us benefitting.

Ropes installed on the very steep first part of the International Falls trail

I’ve been unsure for the last week about how much to tell you (if anything) about what happened from then until today. Some of you have been with me for many years, though, and there may be a long silence after today. Here’s why…

The climb back up to the highway was tough – the soreness from my fall wasn’t working itself out, and the dizziness wasn’t getting better. We had a very quiet day, but by early afternoon I decided that I needed to get home – something wasn’t right.

By the time I got up Thursday morning, I was starting to get numbness in my core (around my tailbone where I’d hit) and tingling beyond that. By that afternoon, I started to feel like I was losing some important bodily functions. I drove into Whitehorse that evening to meet with my Klondike Road Relay race teammates. When I started to drive home, I only got a mile before deciding that I needed to drive to the hospital instead, to get checked out at Emergency.

Though there were a dozen people in the waiting area, within minutes of arriving at Emergency, I had nurses and a doctor assessing me. To keep a long story short, my symptoms got worse, and they worked on me all night. Multiple CT scans and other tests showed nothing definitive. A series of MRIs on Friday morning had the same result. The summary is “spinal trauma,” but there’s nothing definitive enough to treat. I shot the next selfie while waiting for the MRI.

Murray at Whitehorse General Hospital

About 20 hours after arriving at Emergency, I was admitted to Whitehorse General Hospital and moved upstairs to the surgical ward. I posted on Facebook that I didn’t want any visitors at the hospital, and my friends respected that request. In my case, misery does not love company.

People talk with distain about hospital food but I had no complaints. The roast beef dinner shown in the next photo was very good, and large. All the meals are made from scratch, and there’s lots of variety. I’ve certainly paid good money at banquets for lesser quality. Cathy brought a big box of Timbits on Sunday night as my bonus for being good 🙂

Roast beef dinner at Whitehorse General Hospital
The view from my room on Monday morning. I had a bad spell later that day – nurses packed me in heated blankets to get me warm.

By Tuesday my basic body functions had returned and I had stabilized. My doctor was in daily consultation with a neurologist in Vancouver, and I was on the list to be medevaced out, but no beds were available in Vancouver.

On Wednesday morning, I posted on Facebook: “Okay, enough of this being sick shit. Ditch the hospital gown, to start – that’s just bad energy. My doctor, though, is awesome – I’m keeping her.”

Murray at Whitehorse General Hospital

Finally on Thursday night, with no bed in Vancouver yet, I told my doctor that I didn’t need a medevac flight – with assistance, I could do a scheduled flight. That was the key – on Friday evening, I was released from hospital. Cathy and I have reservations on the 07:00 Air North flight Monday morning, to meet the neurologist at the Emergency department at Vancouver General Hospital, to do some further testing. Cathy needs to get a wheelchair for me at the Whitehorse airport and a golf cart at the Vancouver airport to get us to a taxi, as well as possible other assistance.

I can’t say enough about how good Whitehorse General Hospital is. Everybody, from room cleaners to doctors, was wonderful. Although I have no definitive diagnosis yet, it’s certainly not from lack of trying, with all the most modern equipment. And the cost isn’t one of things Cathy and I need to worry about. Everything, including our flights and associated expenses tomorrow, is covered by the health care that all Yukon residents have.

I was in a split room – the other person was a German guy who had crashed his motorcycle on the Dempster Highway. He has broken ribs, a punctured lung, and some other injuries, but from the photos of his BMW, he was lucky to have survived until the rescue helicopter arrived. The only other patient I talked to was a guy from Ontario who had also crashed his BMW motorcycle. His crash was on the Alaska Highway, and he now has a foot full of staples and steel pins. He said only an airbag-type vest saved his life. Boys and their Adventures! One of my nurses said that she never sees multiple women being hurt this way 🙂

It’s now Sunday morning. I’m simply waiting for tomorrow. I can walk as long as I have not too long a span between things to hang onto. I can’t come up the right word for what’s going on – dizzy, spacey, disoriented? I’ve had to cancel all further activities that I’d planned, though – those primarily being the Klondike Road Relay, and a motorcycle trip to Yellowknife with my son that was supposed to begin 6 days from now.

I won’t post anymore about this story on the blog until there’s a resolution to the problem. I hope to be back posting about that, and about Adventures, soon 🙂

Hiking to the canyons of Summit Creek in the White Pass

On Tuesday, August 6th, my main outing was a mostly off-trail hike to the spectacular canyons of Summit Creek. The creek crosses the South Klondike Highway just a few hundred meters from where my motorhome was parked for a week of exploring.

After getting back from an early-morning outing to photograph Bridal Veil Falls and the William Moore Bridge project, I put a pot of coffee on and just sat outside and soaked up the majesty of the White Pass.

RV boondocking in the White Pass of far north BC
I started pulling tufts of loose undercoat from Bella, then decided to give her a proper brushing. Her coat is incredible, and when she’s done some swimming as she has on a couple of hikes during this week, she starts shedding profusely. I hope that the local rodents can use it for a warm winter nest 🙂

Shed wool from my dog
09:30 – time to make a good breakfast for what I expected to be a fairly strenuous hike. The terrain I was going into is rough enough that I was leaving Bella and Tucker in the RV.

Making breakfast in my RV
There are a couple of busy periods on the highway, but even at its busiest, the South Klondike is a pretty quiet road. This North 60 B-train tanker hauling fuel from Skagway into the Yukon came by at 10:10.

North 60 B train tanker hauling fuel from Skagway into the Yukon
Bella hadn’t yet recovered from our difficult ending to the Bryant Lake hike the day before. Instead of going for a walk, she went up onto the ridge, dug a nest, and settled down.

My husky/shelty cross Bella resting in the tundra of the White Pass
Two very different ways of seeing this country – cruise ship passengers in their tour bus zipping by our motorhome parked there for a week.

Tour bus and RV on the South Klondike Highway in the White Pass
At 11:15 I headed out on the hike. I had started up Summit Creek on Saturday, but it was a very short hike. I had re-injured my Achilles, and that tendon quickly made it abundantly clear that I wasn’t going anywhere. This time I was wearing boots to protect it, and tried a different route, on the south side of the creek instead of the north. My motorhome can be seen just left of centre in the next photo.

Starting to hike up Summit Creek in the White Pass
The first challenge was to find a good way across a wide wet area. I plotted one out and dropped down into the mini-valley.

Starting to hike up Summit Creek in the White Pass
Almost all of the normally wet areas (ponds, streams, and marshes) were dry – that made the crossing easy 🙂

Starting to hike up Summit Creek in the White Pass
I don’t know what causes these intriguing bumps – they’re only in one small area about 100 feet square.

Marshy area in the White Pass
I picked a large rock slide as the best way to start up the low ridge to the west, at the north base of Summit Creek Hill. At 11:35, 20 minutes from the RV, I started the short climb.

Climbing a rock slide in the White Pass
The wandering ridge tops are my favourite places to be, and there’s no direct route to the lower canyon where I wanted to start in any case, due to both terrain and vegetation.

Hiking along an open ridge in the White Pass, BC
Mother Nature’s bounty in the White Pass. I don’t yet know what the berries are – I don’t have access to my plant books and can’t find them online. But it’s beautiful in any case. In areas like this, I try hard to only walk on the rocks.

Mother Nature's bounty in the White Pass.

Mother Nature's bounty in the White Pass.

After climbing up, I had follow a creek back down a little way to reach a spot where I could get through very thick evergreens to the left. I shot this a couple of minutes before noon.

Hiking near Summit Creek in the White Pass, northern BC
All of the lower canyon and the first part of the upper canyon can be seen in the next panoramic photo, which looks northwest. Summit Creek flows in at the upper left, makes two right-angle turns then continues along just below the middle of the photo.

Summit Creek in the White Pass, northern BC
My favourite lichen are called British soldiers (Cladonia cristatella). I see them occasionally on my hikes, but I’ve never seen a patch as large and healthy as this one. They’re tiny – a little over an inch high.

British soldiers lichen (Cladonia cristatella) in the White Pass
There are two good routes down into the lower canyon – one at about the middle of the canyon, and one at the upper end. The next photo was shot near the middle one, at 12:20.

The lower canyon of Summit Creek in the White Pass, northern BC
Back up top, looking down the lower canyon. Between the lower canyon and the highway, Summit Creek swings wide and flows through a wet area with lots of willow and other brush that makes hiking along it all but impossible. Part of that area can be seen towards the upper right of the next photo.

The lower canyon of Summit Creek in the White Pass, northern BC
Looking up the lower canyon from the same spot.

The lower canyon of Summit Creek in the White Pass, northern BC

I had a bad fall at the spot where I took the two photos above. My tripod started to fall, and in grabbing it, I twisted and fell backwards, landing on a small boulder with my tailbone. The pain was literally blinding, but after a few minutes recovery and some test movements, I decided I could continue with the hike.

The next photo looks up the upper canyon, which is much more spectacular than the lower canyon. Summit Creek does a 90-degree turn here, and another 90-degree to the left just past the furthest point the photo shows.

The upper canyon of Summit Creek in the White Pass, northern BC
I was extremely surprised to find a little-used trail as I climbed up from the spot where I shot the last photo. The next photo looks down to that spot.

The upper canyon of Summit Creek in the White Pass, northern BC
If you got lost here, you sure wouldn’t starve – the blueberry crop this year is bountiful (as is the case with most berries here).

Blueberries in the White Pass
A panoramic shot of the view back down to Summit Lake and the highway, at 1:20 pm.

A panoramic shot of the view back down to Summit Lake in the White Pass
Here’s the first good look at the upper canyon, processed as an HDRI to bring out details in the deep shadows. If there’s a way down into the canyon, I didn’t see it.

The upper canyon of Summit Creek in the White Pass, northern BC
Right below the spot where I shot the next photo, Summit Creek makes another 90-degree turn. This is at the upper end of the upper canyon.

The upper canyon of Summit Creek in the White Pass, northern BC
I climbed high above the head of the upper canyon (up Summit Creek Hill) to see if I could get a broad view of the canyons and the upper Summit Creek valley.

Climbing the north slope of Summit Creek Hill
Here is where I turned around, at 1:45. From there I could see a trail running up the north side of Summit Creek. It looks like it would be an amazing backpacking trip, though I have no idea where that trail begins. I guess I need to do more exploring there 🙂

The headwaters of Summit Creek in the White Pass of northern BC
On the hike out, I dropped down closer to the canyon lip to get some clearer views. Very impressive! This photo also hints at one of the reasons I turned around – though it was beautiful at Summit Creek, storm clouds were rapidly building to the north.

The upper canyon of Summit Creek in the White Pass, northern BC
This is the start of the upper canyon. This is some wild country – I love it!!

The upper canyon of Summit Creek in the White Pass, northern BC
The trail I had found at the bottom of the upper canyon was fragmented, but was marked with tape at a couple of spots where it was a great aid in getting through tough sections. The next photo is right above the bottom of the upper canyon.

Hiking at Summit Creek in the White Pass, northern BC
Back at the bottom of the upper canyon, at 2:10.

The upper canyon of Summit Creek in the White Pass, northern BC
I stopped down at the creek for a few minutes to rest – my back where I fell was getting pretty sore.

Summit Creek, in the White Pass of northern BC
This appears to be a trail marker that’s been there for a very long time, but there’s no sign of a trail anymore, and I can’t imagine why there would be one in that area.

A very old trail marker near Summit Creek in the White Pass
Although the route I chose to come in on was pretty good, I decided to take a different route out, starting at the creek where I had been just before noon.

Hiking near Summit Creek, in the White Pass of northern BC
And what do you know, I ran into another trail down almost at highway elevation, this one quite well travelled.

Hiking near Summit Creek, in the White Pass of northern BC
At 2:40 I had to change footwear…

Changing from hiking boots to sport sandals
…just to cross one little creek. I was so close to the highway that I didn’t change back again – my Achilles hadn’t given me any problems during the hike.

A creek crossing while hiking near Summit Creek
With a couple of breaks in it, I followed the trail right to the highway. It begins at the southern end of the guardrail at the Summit Creek bridge.

The start of a trail up Summit Creek in the White Pass

I got back to the motorhome right at 3:00 and took Bella and Tucker for a walk. Tucker was enthusiastic but Bella was still out of sorts – there was no hint that she had any physical problem, she just didn’t want to walk with me.

By 5:00, the skies to the north were pretty much promising rain.

A storm moving in to the White Pass.
At 6:35 I could see that it was raining hard just north of Fraser, perhaps 15 miles north of our location.

Rain storm near Fraser, BC
The rain arrived a few minutes later, and when I shot the next photo at 7:10 it was torrential.

Torrential rain on the South Klondike Highway
“Let it rain, let it pour, we don’t care,” said Bella 🙂

We of course had a quiet night, and I hadn’t really made any plans for Wednesday except to do some early-morning low-light waterfall shooting on the International Falls trails.

Bridal Veil Falls, and progress on the new William Moore Bridge

On Tuesday, August 6th, day 6 of my White Pass RV-based hiking trip, I had a plan to hike to the canyons up Summit Creek. But I started the day off early by driving the Tracker south on the South Klondike Highway at 06:30 to do some low-light shooting of Bridal Veil Falls and then a major update on the new William Moore Bridge which is nearing completion.

At Mile 10.0 of the highway is a particularly nice and accessible waterfall with a large paved parking area. The water is pure enough to drink. Most people call it Bridal Veil Falls, but narrators on the WP&YR railway use that name for a much larger waterfall on the same creek but below the highway. The creek doesn’t seem to have a name. The first photo was shot tripod-mounted at 24mm, ISO 100, f20 and 0.8 of a second. Simulated low-light shooting can be done with a set of ND (neutral density) filters, but mine are for an old lens I had – I need to get a new set or 2 to fit my current lenses.

A low-light shot of Bridal Veil Falls north of Skagway, Alaska
The next photo was shot tripod-mounted at 35mm, ISO 100, f20 and 0.6 of a second, with a 10-second delay to allow me to get into the photo. The spray was going a long way, and it was cold! A nice invigorating start to the day 🙂

A low-light shot of Bridal Veil Falls north of Skagway, Alaska
I arrived at the William Moore Bridge project at 07:10 with the idea of compiling a fairly thorough record of its current state. Work began on the new crossing on May 17, 2017, starting with extensive blasting at the south end. It should be open in the next few weeks. It had originally been scheduled to open at the end of August 2018.

William Moore Bridge project, South Klondike Highway
The next panoramic photo shows much of the project site. I haven’t found many details about the project yet – the initial proposal call estimated $10-20 million, then there was a budget allocation of $13.4 million.

William Moore Bridge project, South Klondike Highway
The new crossing (more of a dam than a bridge, to me) has been constructed with roller-compacted concrete, with a 75-foot-span arched-steel culvert placed over the natural bed of William Moore Creek.

William Moore Bridge project, South Klondike Highway
I was surprised to see the rough concrete well above grade, with the final smooth concrete yet to be laid.

William Moore Bridge project, South Klondike Highway
One of the sprinklers that slow the concrete curing time down on warm days.

William Moore Bridge project, South Klondike Highway
The form on the right appears to be the first of several for the final smooth concrete layer – the rough concrete is very uneven. The final surface will have two 12-foot-wide traffic lanes, with a 6-foot shoulder on each side.

William Moore Bridge project, South Klondike Highway
The next photo is a better look at the culvert that left the natural bed of William Moore Creek untouched.

William Moore Bridge project, South Klondike Highway
A final overview of the project site, looking downhill this time.

William Moore Bridge project, South Klondike Highway
Just a few meters above the project, Mother Nature is completely in charge, presenting this lovely cascade for us to enjoy.

William Moore Creek

Just after 07:30, I headed back to the motorhome to get the rest of the day organized.

Another hike to Bryant Lake, for the sandy beach and glacier

Continuing our RV-based hiking in the White Pass, I had decided to hike to Bryant Lake again on Monday, August 5th. Often called Fraser Lake because it’s located in a side valley right above the Department of Highways camp and Canada Customs post at Fraser, BC, its main features for me are a large sandy beach at the head of the lake, and the small glacier that feeds it. Although I left the dogs at home on my last hike there due some tough rock slides that need to be crossed along way, I decided to bring them this time.

The first photo today is my view of dawn from the motorhome at 05:52, looking north across Summit Lake.

Then a minute later, looking south into Alaska. The South Klondike Highway would be closed for another 2 hours by virtue of the fact that both Canadian and US Customs posts are closed from midnight until 08:00 Yukon time.

RV along the South Klondike Highway in the White Pass at dawn
The trail begins across the highway from the north end of a huge gravel pullout at Km 35.2 of the highway. We finally started up the trail (which is an old road) at 10:45. The next photo showing the fireweed in Fall colours was shot 5 minutes later.

The trail to Bryant Lake, BC
There are a couple of short fairly steep sections on the first part of the trail, but then you meet another old road that has a more gentle and even grade. At 10:56 we reached the fence that seasonally blocks the trail from motorized use to protect caribou habitat.

The trail to Bryant Lake, BC
Looking back down to the highway, the WP&YR railway to the right of it, and Bernard Lake at 11:01.

The trail to Bryant Lake, BC (a.k.a. Fraser Lake)
By 11:12 we were nearing treeline. As is my usual practise when sightlines are limited, Bella and Tucker were on a double leash, and as usual on this trail, a can of bear spray was in my other hand.

The trail to Bryant Lake, BC (a.k.a. Fraser Lake)
A few meters further along, grizzly scat on the trail. At least a couple of weeks old, I expect, but a good reminder of whose territory you’re entering here.

Grizzly scat on the trail to Bryant Lake, BC (a.k.a. Fraser Lake)
After seeing the fireweed leaves in Fall colours at the start of the trail, I was surprised (and pleased) to see wonderful blooms up higher.

Fireweed along the trail to Bryant Lake, BC
There’s one creek crossing on the trail. Although some people walk along the water conduit, it has too much of a twist in it for my liking. I quickly realized that the water was too deep for Tucker, so carried him across. I’ve always been very careful to make sure I don’t ask him to do anything that might be beyond his ability, so he trusts me completely.

There's one creek crossing on the trail to Bryant Lake, BC
We reached the foot of the lake at 11:30 and spent a while there, playing on the meadow and in the water a bit. I haven’t found any documentation, or even oral history through my Yukon History & Abandoned Places group yet, but an earthen dam was built about 40 years ago to enlarge the lake, which now supplies water and electricity to the Fraser camp.

Bryant Lake, BC
This is the really great part of the trail, along the lake, with just a bit of up and down. It sees little use. YukonHiking.ca calls the peak to the left (south) Fraser Peak, and it probably gets more visitors.

Bryant Lake, BC
I made a comment recently about how good Bella and Tucker are about recall even when in hot pursuit of some poor critter. I may have to take that back. While Tucker eventually came to me in the instance seen in the next photo, Bella would not. I had to pull her away from the pika or whatever it was – she went on leash as punishment, though I suffer as much as she does.

My dog Bella after some poor critter at Bryant Lake, BC
I didn’t keep Bella on leash for very long – she clearly felt bad about making me angry, and stayed close after that. I absolutely love this section of trail. Wonderful trail with nobody else around for miles, spectacular scenery, great sightlines for safety…

The trail along Bryant Lake, BC
At a spot where the water was easy to access, the kids were both quickly down to cool off. The temperature was probably about 22°C/72°F.

My dogs cooling off in Bryant Lake, BC
The next photo shows the reason I sometimes leave the kids at home – this rock slide is lengthy, and difficult for both of them.

Rock slide on the trail to Bryant Lake, BC
After the big rock slide, there’s a smaller one, but that crossing is quick enough to not be a big deal.

Rock slide on the trail to Bryant Lake, BC
At 12:50, there’s our destination. Just looking at that photo makes me feel good 🙂

The head of Bryant Lake, BC
Every one of our plants that produces berries seems to be having a very good year.

Berries along Bryant Lake, BC
We walked up the beach towards the north end, where there’s a very large shallow area that warms up fairly well. The small glacier that feeds the lake is less than 2 miles away, though, so the water is still more suitable for dipping than swimming.

The beach at the head of Bryant Lake, BC (a.k.a. Fraser Lake)
Even though this is one of those places where wearing clothes just isn’t logical, I put my shorts on to take some of the photos 🙂

The beach at the head of Bryant Lake, BC (a.k.a. Fraser Lake)
Wandering around the head of the lake, I found one little pool that was loaded with tadpoles. I’ve never seen a frog here, though I’ve seen the occasional one in the White Pass.

Tadpoles at the head of Bryant Lake, BC (a.k.a. Fraser Lake)
Yeah, I love mud. Especially super-fine glacial silt mud. This is seriously good earthing.

Yeah, I love mud. Especially super-fine glacial silt mud.
I had initially thought about continuing on to the glacier as I had on a 2016 hike, but it’s quite a slog and we were having too much fun on the beach.

The glacier at the head of Bryant Lake, BC
This cascade just beyond the north end of the beach provides wonderful background music to enhance a mountain lake experience.

Waterfall at the head of Bryant Lake, BC
We spent about an hour on the beach, then started back. Bella and Tucker had played pretty hard, and stayed ahead of me but close.

The trail along Bryant Lake, BC
Back at the foot of the lake, 45 minutes after leaving the beach.

Bryant Lake, BC (a.k.a. Fraser Lake)
Not until you start back down the road from the lake do the peaks surrounding the White Pass really come back into view after a few hours away.

The road down from Bryant Lake, BC (a.k.a. Fraser Lake)
The kids were now back on leash and the bear spray was back in my hand. A friend asked me recently if I worry about bears. No, I don’t worry, but I am bear aware, and prepared.

The road down from Bryant Lake, BC (a.k.a. Fraser Lake)
Just before 3:30, we were a few hundred meters from the car, looking forward to getting back to the motorhome to chill, when…. OH OH! Moose! A 2-year-old, then a cow, then a new calf. The dogs didn’t make a sound (which could have precipitated a charge by the cow). I tried to convince them to leave, but after about minutes gave up. I know a way around, but it’s about 2 miles long. I knew Bella was tired, but there was little choice. By the time we got the car, she was done, and I felt awful.

Here’s the final hike report by the Garmin inReach – 8.7 miles in 5 hours, 24 minutes.

We had a lovely quiet evening in the RV, most clearly shown by Molly, the happiest little RV cat in the world.

My cat Molly sleeping on the dash of the RV

The next day, Bella and Tucker would get a rest while I headed up Summit Creek into terrain too rough for them.

Fun at Summit Lake, and an aurora borealis night

The weather during our RV boondocking week was erratic, to say the least. We got everything from fog to heavy rain to glorious hot sun. That’s not at all what the weather forecasts had led me to believe. Yes, shocking 🙂 But on Sunday we had fun with the dogs on the beach, and then a great aurora borealis show.

Sunday morning started off dark, with a thick, low cloud. The first photo was shot at 08:40 as I did a reconnoiter to the south.

Cathy had a terrible night with her neck, and decided to go back to Whitehorse, to the Emergency clinic at the hospital. If not for being able to keep in touch with my Garmin InReach, I would have had to leave, too. Within minutes of her leaving just after noon, her brother texted me on the InReach to say that their mother had fallen and was having xrays done. Shortly after, news arrived that she has a fractured pelvis and elbow. I texted Cathy each time, and when she got to Whitehorse she phoned Mike for more news. What a day. What a summer 🙁

I needed to stay close to the motorhome in case I needed to go home, so the dogs and I spent some time that afternoon wandering the granite around our parking spot, and then went to the beach for some play time.

My berrypicking friend returned from Skagway, and pointed to somebody kiteboarding (kitesurfing) on the lake, so the dogs and I went back up to a low ridge and I shot a bunch of pics. Looks like a lot of fun!

Kiteboarding on Summit Lake in the White Pass

Kitesurfing on Summit Lake in the White Pass

Kiteboarding on Summit Lake in the White Pass

The kids were ready for a good run by mid-afternoon, so I drove a few hundred meters to the north side of the Summit Creek bridge and we walked down to the beach. The company that operates the Alpine Lake Canoe Adventure for cruise ship passengers created a nice route to the beach about 4 years ago.

Walking the dogs down to the beach at Summit Lake
They’ve added another canoe this year, so it must be working out for them. These 12-person voyageur canoes are paddled or motored at various times. On a day like this, they’d be motoring against the wind, for sure – though I didn’t see them go out this day.

12-person voyageur canoes on the beach of Summit Lake, north of Skagway
The kids love this beach. Tucker is the first small dog I’ve ever had join my family (18 lbs). I probably wouldn’t have even adopted him if I knew how small he was going to be, but he has turned out to be so perfect in every way. He’s so fast that I’ve had to learn new photography techniques to capture him. He was launching at Bella in the next photo.

My little dog Tucker running on the beach of Summit Lake, north of Skagway
Tucker and Bella are such fun to watch – he has infinite enthusiasm and energy and she has a bit less enthusiasm but almost-infinite patience. 🙂

My dogs Tucker and Bella playing on the beach of Summit Lake, north of Skagway

When Bella pooped out, I had a ball to keep Tucker going for a while.

My little dog Tucker playing ball on the beach of Summit Lake, north of Skagway
When it was time to leave, Tucker wanted to carry his ball back to the car himself.

The next photo shows part of the trail back to the highway.

My dogs on the trail from the South Klondike Highway to the beach of Summit Lake
When we got back to the RV, my berrypicking friend arrived with a fine load of Mother Nature’s finest products, including these berries that look like blueberries but taste like the cranberries we used to pick in southwestern BC.

The kids and I had a quiet night. As is so often the case in the high country, the evening light was gorgeous. The next photo taken during our final walk was shot at 8:25 pm, looking north to the beach we’d been playing on.

Evening at Summit Lake in the White Pass
I was well into a good sleep when all of a sudden my eyes popped open just before 03:00. I looked out the south-facing window at the head of the bed, and it took my brain a few seconds to comprehend what I was seeing. Amazingly bright and large aurora arcs! I got my gear together and went out dressed in pyjamas. I hadn’t brought my special aurora shooting lens, and couldn’t get either of my wide-angle lens to focus – they were simply nothing to focus on. So I put the 14mm on Manual Focus and hoped for the best. What I got isn’t very sharp, but captures the idea of what the show was like.

I spent about half an hour out shooting. It was quite a remarkable show, particularly for August 5th.

More wilderness, and then Blues, Brews, & BBQ in Skagway

Things didn’t go the way we had hoped at all for the weekend. Cathy had hurt her neck somehow and was in a great deal of pain, unable to even sleep, much less go for walks. I got out for a bit of wilderness time on Saturday, and we went down to the annual Blues, Brews, & BBQ in Skagway for a couple of hours that night.

By 09:30 (08:30 in Skagway), the first of the cruise ship tour buses were going by. Most would be on day trips to Carcross and Emerald Lake. This was a fairly quiet cruise ship day, with the Coral Princess, Volendam, and Azamara Quest in.

Small tour bus on the South Klondike Highway
The world fascinates me. Look at the boulder in the next photo, slowly but surely being reduced to sand by Mother Nature. Water gets in the cracks, freezes in the winter, and that expansion expands the cracks until another piece peels off the side of the boulder, joining the other slabs on the right.

A boulder slowly but surely being reduced to sand by Mother Nature.
The boulder is in our regular dog-walking area – the next photo shows a broader view over Summit Lake.

Walking my dog above Summit Lake, BC
I decided Saturday afternoon to get out for 2-3 hours, with the Summit Creek canyons the target. There are at least 3 possible routes in, none of them good. I picked the one that starts at the north side of the Summit Creek bridge, just a few hundred meters/yards from where the RV was parked.

Summit Creek bridge, South Klondike Highway
The milky, glacier-fed waters of Summit Creek are what gives the lower part of Summit Lake its gorgeous turquoise colour.

Summit Creek, South Klondike Highway
This was a very short hike. I had re-injured my Achilles, and that tendon quickly made it abundantly clear that I wasn’t going anywhere.

Hiking along Summit Creek in northern BC
Returning to the Tracker, I drove down the highway to another possible access route at Km 30.1. From there, one of the higher sections of the dramatic little canyons could be seen.

Summit Creek in northern BC
I didn’t get very far – I could barely walk much less hike over rugged ground. I found a survey marker dated 1989, though. What an odd place for one – I can’t imagine what it’s marking.

A bit further up the highway, I spotted a dyke of basalt (the dark rock in the centre). I’d seen it before but had forgotten about it. Signs of volcanic activity are very unusual in this area.

A dyke of basalt in the White Pass
Not willing to return to the RV just yet, I drove a bit further to get some more photos of Summit Lake. The next photo was shot at Km 30.8.

Summit Lake, BC
The next panorama of Summit Lake was created with 3 photos shot at 24mm.

Summit Lake, BC
A friend from Whitehorse arrived to go berry picking while I was at Summit Creek. I’m much too lazy to pick berries and make stuff out of them – I’m happy to buy the berry creations of other people.

RVs parked in the White Pass
It’s prime berry season right now, and there are many varieties with healthy crops in the White Pass.

Berries in the White Pass

Berries in the White Pass
I had been looking forward to attending “Blues, Brews, & BBQ” in Skagway, and Cathy decided that she could handle going even though her neck was still giving her grief. I had tried to get reservations at Pullen Creek RV Park for one night, but they were full. They had space at the other park, Garden City, but to me it’s not worth anything close to the $63 Canadian they charge. It’s a short drive from and back to the RV, anyway. So, we started our visit off at BBQ, with excellent sliders the Skagway Fire Department cooked up.

Blues, Brews, & BBQ in Skagway
There were about a dozen vintage vehicles on display, so they were my next focus. This 1970 Chevy El Camino is very nice.

1970 Chevy El Camino at Blues, Brews, & BBQ in Skagway
The Jaguar was another of my favourites. I’ve always been a fan of British sports cars and had a couple of Triumphs back in the day – a Spitfire and a GT6. The 2 badges from New Zealand are a nice touch on this Jag, and make me curious about the car’s history.

Vintage Jaguar at Blues, Brews, & BBQ in Skagway
Riding in the rumble seat of a Model A Ford looked like a pretty awesome way to arrive! 🙂

Riding in the rumble seat of a Model A Ford looked like a pretty awesome way to arrive at Blues, Brews, & BBQ in Skagway
As well as I thought I knew Skagway, I didn’t know about Seven Pastures and the Dedman Stage. The stage, was built about 4 years ago, is beautiful.

Blues, Brews, & BBQ in Skagway
Still photos don’t do music well, so here’s a bit of sound from Crowd Control.

The sound and the vibe were both great, but Cathy was getting really uncomfortable, so we left about 7:30. We sat in the Jeep and listened for a few minutes but that wasn’t working either, so headed back up into the pass to the motorhome.

Blues, Brews, & BBQ in Skagway

Hiking the International Falls trail and beyond

On August 2nd, our second day boondocking with the RV in the White Pass, I decided to take the dogs for a hike on the International Falls trail, and beyond to a pass overlooking the Chilkoot Trail. We’ve done it a few times, and it’s usually about a 5½-hour round trip.

The trailhead is just a 5-minute drive from the spot near Summit Creek where I park the RV, and a couple of hundred meters north of the Canada-US border. There’s a large parking lot at the trailhead. We started down the trail at 10:20.

The International Falls trail in the White Pass

Part of the initial drop down from the highway is extremely steep, and about 5 years ago a tour company from Skagway has installed some ropes to assist both getting down and back up.

The creek crossing at the bottom of that first drop varies greatly in depth – it was very shallow this time. We met another couple of hikers there – they were the only people we’d see for almost 4 hours.

Ten minutes from the car, we were at the first waterfall, which is accessed by a side trail that’s easily missed.

A large waterfall on the International Falls trail in the White Pass
The geology along the trail is fascinating in many places. In the next photo, Bella and Tucker are crossing a huge slab of smooth granite.

A huge slab of smooth granite on the International Falls trail in the White Pass
The dwarf fireweed or river beauty was at its peak, and during the day we would pass vast fields of it.

Dwarf firweed or river beauty along the International Falls trail in the White Pass
There are some tributary creeks, each with its own waterfalls. None of these creeks, even the main one, have been named.

A tributary creek along the International Falls trail in the White Pass
Bella rarely passes up an opportunity to get wet, and as a result, International Falls trail is one of her favourites 🙂

My husky/shelty cross Bella taking a dip in a pond on the BC-Alaska border
In some places there are 2 or 3 trails at varying distances from the creek. I think some new trail has been cut recently to get away from a couple of stretches of what could be considered treacherous cliff exposure. You might notice the can of bear spray in my left hand. I’ve never carried bear spray on this trail, but an attack a week ago that left a dog dead and a couple of people traumatized has me a bit spooked – it happened at the spot on Tutshi Lake that we regularly stop at for walks.

Hiking the International Falls trail in the White Pass
The flow was probably the lowest I’ve seen it yet – this waterfall, perhaps 60 feet high, is very impressive at higher flow levels. We were now 45 minutes from the car.

A large waterfall on the International Falls trail in the White Pass

A large waterfall on the International Falls trail in the White Pass

One of my favourite spots on the trail is a huge area of smooth granite, and as we often do, we spent a long time there this time, photographing and playing in the water. This was 55 minutes from the car. Somewhere in this area, the trail crosses into Alaska – there’s apparently a border monument off the trail, but I’ve never looked very hard for it.

A huge area of smooth granite on the International Falls trail in the White Pass
The next photo shows the view from that spot looking east to the highway.

Along the International Falls trail in the White Pass
I can have as much photographing a “waterfall” that’s 3 inches high as one that’s 60 feet high 🙂

A tiny waterfall on the International Falls trail in the White Pass

A tiny waterfall on the International Falls trail in the White Pass

The depth of the water isn’t a big concern to Bella, either 🙂

Drinking from Mother Nature’s water fountain is much better than from still water, though!

A tiny waterfall on the International Falls trail in the White Pass
Treeline is reached about an hour and 20 minutes from the car. That’s probably about 50 minutes with no photo or play stops.

Treeline on the International Falls trail in the White Pass
Even though there are no more large waterfalls, the higher the trail goes, the more I enjoy it. The temperature was about 20°C, and there were no bugs, but there was a breeze that had a chill to it as we got higher.

The International Falls trail in the White Pass
By 12:05, (an hour and 45 minutes from the car), the terrain was climbing in large steps, with lots of level and undulating trail. Shallow ponds become quite numerous.

The International Falls trail in the White Pass
As we climbed, the dwarf fireweed got more and more plentiful, and there was also more regular fireweed.

Dwarf fireweed along the International Falls trail in the White Pass

Dwarf fireweed along the International Falls trail in the White Pass

Bella and Tucker found many crevices that needed to be checked out, and twice they took off in hot pursuit of something. They’re both great at recall, though, even in situations like that.

Bella checking out a crevice for little wildlife
Two hours from the car, the trail gets less and less distinct, for 2 reasons – far fewer people hike this far, and much of the hiking earlier in the season is across patches of snow. If you lose the trail, though, it doesn’t matter – you can’t get lost in this tight valley. The breeze had gotten chilly enough that I had to put some clothes back on for a while.

Yes, more dwarf fireweed.

I don’t know yet what the yellow flowers were, but they sure brightened up this spot.

A narrow belt of curious rock runs across the valley, broken into narrow slices. Some of it protrudes and is particularly narrow and sharp (almost book pages), which other sections is flat and broader.

If the pond in the next photo would have been easier to get to, that amazing water would have had me in for a dip. It was at the bottom of a cliff, though.

The seedheads of some of the plants are at least as impressive as the flowers.

Nearing the top of the pass, the trail disappears completely, and there are several possible routes up, depending on whether there is snow or not. This notch would have been full of snow into July normally.

There were a few small patches of this bright lichen near the top of the pass, but nowhere else that I saw.

The top of the pass – actually a bit above it – at 1:15, 2 hours and 55 minutes from the car. While this spot often is wide open to the wide, it was sheltered from a south wind this day and was a glorious place to spend time.

The next panorama was created by stitching 3 photos shot at 24mm. The Taiya River and Chilkoot Trail are directly below.

Tucker and Bella spent a long time like this. I wonder what they were thinking. This is not a place to have chatter – it’s a place for serious conversation or none. It pretty much leaves me speechless every time, but I usually only have my dogs to talk to anyway, and they know what I’m thinking.

I shot some glacier detail photos with the heavy 400mm lens I’d carried, but the next one was shot at 105mm.

It’s not common to see these flowers except solitary, but there were lots of them at the top. Beautiful and tough.

At 1:50, we started back down.

We went down a different route than we’d climbed, to visit some of the lakes on the north side of the valley.

Fifteen minutes from the top, this lake seemed like a good spot to enjoy the single beer I often carry on hikes where a congratulatory drink seems appropriate. Rather strangely, it hadn’t occurred to me to have it at the top as I normally do. We also spent some time playing in the water – well, Bella and I did 🙂

Continuing down, at 2:30. Just before I shot the next photo, I saw the first people we’d seen since the couple right at the start.

A few minutes later we met 3 women from the hiking group I belong to, and chatted briefly. I had posted on our Facebook page that I’d be leaving the motorhome at 10:00 if anyone cared to join me. Whether anyone takes me up on such offers doesn’t alter my plans.

I rather expected that Bella would be tiring by 3:10 when I shot the next photo, but no, she was going strong and looking like she was having a ball.

We only made one brief stop on the hike down after the beer-and-play stop. Bella looked like she was on a mission.

This was the area of huge flat granite where we’d made a long stop on the way up. The bubbling water in the centre of the next photo is the top of a high waterfall.

Bella can be seen at the top of the cliff to the left. Shortly after this, she made a couple of errors in picking the trail – now, at 3:40 she was tiring.

Almost the end, right at 4:00 – Bella had one more wade in a creek before the very steep climb back to the car.

The final hike report by my Garmin InReach as we reached the car – a total of 6.5 miles in 5 hours and 49 minutes.

When we got back to the motorhome, we were all due for a nap. Cathy would be joining us at about 7:30, driving up from Whitehorse after getting off work.

Looking back from my final dog walk, with my family back together again.

During that dog-walk at 9:10 pm, the warm light on the far side of the pass was spectacular. My buddy Greg and I canoed and hiked to that valley last year – I’d love to get back, possibly for an overnighter.

Back to White Pass for RV boondocking and hiking

I’d been watching for an opportunity to get away for a few days, preferably with some hiking, and on Wednesday, July 31st, a fairly good weather forecast showed up that held potential for a getaway in the White Pass.

I got my shopping done that afternoon, and the next morning, finished packing the motorhome with everything I’d need for a week or so of day-hiking.

Packing the motorhome for a week of day-hiking
I got away with the dogs and cat at about 10:30. Heading south on the South Klondike Highway, I was surprised by the amount of haze – still from wild fires in Alaska and further north in the Yukon, I assume.

A hazy day on the South Klondike Highway
The approaches to the new Nares River Bridge at Carcross are being worked on, and there was a short delay with traffic down to one lane.

Bridge approach construction at Carcross, Yukon
The skies suddenly turned very dark south of Fraser as we entered the White Pass. I hadn’t expected this.

The South Klondike Highway south of Fraser

By 1:00 we were set up at my usual boondocking spot just south of Summit Creek. It’s a gravel pullout that gets few visitors, and has a spectacular 360-degree mountain view.

Once we were settled, I drove down to the area’s biggest man-made attraction, the William Moore Bridge, to see how construction of the new on was coming on. Getting close…

William Moore Bridge on the South Klondike Highway

William Moore Bridge on the South Klondike Highway

The next photo of Summit Lake makes it look like it was a beautiful day, but it wasn’t. The clouds to the south stopped pretty much right above us, so we were in the shade most of the day, and there was a screaming wind which made being outside not very pleasant.

Summit Lake on the South Klondike Highway
I spent a bit of time out walking with the dogs, of course. The area where we were parked is great for that, with both spectacular broad views and lots of interesting closeups. I don’t know what this plant is, but the way it spreads across the granite is really cool, and even more so when it sends out these vertical shoots.

Cozy in the RV, I got lots of reading done while the wind howled and rattled.

Murray Lundberg reading Up Here magazine in his RV
The highway is effectively closed at night when the border posts close, and after 5:00 pm when the last of the tour buses head back to Skagway, it gets very quiet.

Tour buses on the South Klondike Highway
The view of the Sawtooth Range from my south-facing windows, at 5:30.

The view of the Sawtooth Range from my RV
The view south along the quiet highway a few minutes later.

The South Klondike Highway in the White Pass
The wind howled all night, but had abated a bit Friday morning when I shot the next photo of dawn starting to break, at 06:05.

Dawn in the White Pass
At 06:16, I decided to see what dawn might look like in black-and-white.

Dawn in the White Pass, in black-and-white
Home sweet home in the dawn light.

RV boondocking in the White Pass
At 06:33, the sun was climbing and slowly burning off the fog layers.

There’s an initial rush of southbound traffic shortly after the Canadian border opens at 08:00, and a few minutes later the northbound traffic arrives from Skagway. The fuel tanker in the next photo was empty, going to the tank farm in Skagway for fuel to bring to the Yukon.

RV and a fuel tanker on the South Klondike Highway
Inside the motorhome, though, breakfast was at 07:00 and there’s no morning rush after that 🙂

Dogs asleep on the RV couch
Just before 09:00 we went for a short drive, checking the weather to the south and thinking about what the hike for the day was. I decided that International Falls would be good. It’s too busy for my liking on weekends but should be good on a Friday.

From sun and sand to snow at Kluane Lake, Yukon

The weather was spectacular on Friday, July 26th, and I planned to get a lot of walking done before Cathy arrived that night, to join us for a motorhome weekend.

Our first walk of the day was towards the Slims River. Tucker always appreciates it when I play ball with him on these walks – the ball doesn’t interest Bella except when it’s to tease him with.

Playing ball on Kluane Lake with my dog Tucker
Whenever there’s a stretch of sand, I’m barefoot 🙂

Barefoot on the beach of Kluane Lake, Yukon
We hadn’t gone very far before meeting this duck and her babies, who paddled out into the lake. I really didn’t want to disturb them so we turned back, and the feathered family immediately returned to the beach.

I could see that there were more birds further along the beach, so I put the dogs in the RV, got my 100-400mm lens, and headed back that way. It was not quite 09:30, and the light hadn’t lost its wonderful glow.

Slims River flats, Yukon
Many of the creeks flowing into Kluane Lake take very circuitous paths for the last few hundred feet when they meet sand and gravel banked up by waves.

Creek flowing into Kluane Lake, Yukon
Where the beach meets Slims River flats, there’s a remnant of a cancelled Alaska Highway re-routing project from 20-odd years ago. The plan was to move the highway away from a very unstable mountain, by building across a wide almost-dry bay. The project was cancelled, but surveys stakes across the bay could be seen for many years. I wonder if the new lower water levels are causing Highways to re-think that project now.

Cancelled Alaska Highway re-routing project at the Slims River
With my long lens, these gulls weren’t even disturbed from their nap 🙂

Gulls on Kluane Lake, Yukon
Beyond the gulls was a huge raft of surf scoters (?) – perhaps 200 of them.

A huge raft of surf scoters on Kluane Lake

Happy with my solo outing, I returned to the RV, and the dogs and I spent the rest of the morning on the beach.

After lunch, I decided we should go for a very long walk along the beach – to the north, a direction I’d not yet explored here.

Walking with my dogs on the beach at Kluane Lake, Yukon
Even when Tucker is a real pain, Bella rarely corrects him – there’s usually a big smile on her face 🙂

My dogs Bella and Tucker on the beach at Kluane Lake, Yukon
Although Bella enjoys water, she doesn’t swim. She will, though, occasionally join me if I go swimming. The water of Kluane is too cold to spend more than a few seconds in it, but I dove in four times and Bella swam out to me three times 🙂

Swimming in Kluane Lake with my dog
Well that was a surprise! A perfectly normal looking section of fine-gravel beach just turned to mush when I stepped on it. It was only like that for about 20 feet and then it was normal again – very strange. It’s a good thing I was barefoot – I may very well have lost my flipflops in that!

Exploring off the beach a little bit, we came to the remains of an ancient barbed-wire fence. It was for horses I expect, either for a hunting guide or perhaps even during the construction of the highway.

It amazes me that any plants can survive in the areas where the glacial silt alternates between being flooded and being baked dry.

Kluane Lake has areas where the glacial silt alternates between being flooded and being baked dry.
Bella found a great little mud-bottomed pond, and walked around leaving a muddy trail. Well that looked like fun!

My dog Bella walking in a muddy pond
Excellent! Good plan, Bella 🙂

Walking in a muddy pond
Tucker stayed on the side on the pond where he wouldn’t get dirty. Well at least not wet and dirty! 🙂

Walking along a muddy pond
This little waterfall fed the pond we were playing in.

A little waterfall along Kluane Lake
This heart-shaped rock was only a little over an inch across.

A little heart-shaped rock.
About 4 km from the RV, I could see that Bella was starting to tire so we turned around. The unnamed creek in the next photo is one of many in this area that keep bulldozer operators busy trying to control them.

An unnamed creek flowing under the Alaska Highway at Kluane Lake
After an 8-km walk, Yukon Brewing has an appropriate reward. This isn’t my usual beer (their Ice Fog is), but they come up with some excellent small-batch beers during the year.

Sitting in the sunshine, enjoying the vast and the tiny parts of this amazing world.

The legends about bugs in the North aren’t true in this area. During the 3-hour drive from Whitehorse to Kluane Lake, the huge windshield of the motorhome didn’t gather enough bugs to even bother washing it. And whatever this guy is, he was interested in flowers, not me, so we could be neighbours.

Another storm moved in at dinner time, and cooled things off substantially.

Cathy arrived at about 8:00 pm – Tucker’s frantic screaming welcome always makes me feel a little bad that we ever leave her.

Saturday was a chill kid of day. It was cloudy and cool and we went for a short drive to Burwash Landing and then back to Destruction Bay for a good lunch at the Talbot Arm. I noticed that the “in” thing to do this year for those people who find vandalism to be gratifying in some sick way, is to wreck the door latches on rest area outhouses. Some can still be made functional by the use of a stick, some are destroyed. Just wtf…

A wrecked door latch on a rest area outhouse
The sun came out for a little while Saturday afternoon, and I tried to get Bella swimming again – Cathy has never seen her join me. But no, she wouldn’t perform for us, and it was too chilly to try very often 🙂

Swimming in Kluane Lake with my dog
Sunday was chilly, wet, and windy to varying degrees all day, but that morning I built a campfire with wood I always carry in the motorhome for this purpose. We retreated inside a couple of times when the rain or wind got too heavy, but even in a light rain, the fire was wonderful.

Campfire in the rain on the beach at Kluane Lake, Yukon
We had been joined on Saturday by a couple of people travelling from Argentina to Alaska in an antique-looking bus. I had seen them at SuperStore in Wednesday, set up to camp there, selling postcards at the front of the bus. I expected to see a website among the signs on the bus, but they don’t seem to have one.

Travelling from Argentina to Alaska in an antique-looking bus.
On the beach, Cathy met Carol from Pennsylvania. She’s a member of a Facebook called “Take Brenda Along”, described this way: “My mother Brenda Grace was diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer in September of 2016. She passed away March 2017. Her life long passion was traveling around the United States. She loved to travel and see all the beautiful sites this country has to offer. She was preparing to retire in a few years and travel the country with her husband Steve Grace and dog Jeter in their motorhome. Unfortunately cancer took that dream away from her. As a way to fulfill this dream we are painting rocks and hiding them all along the east coast from Pennsylvania to Florida. If you find one of the rocks please come to this group and post a picture with comment on its location (City, State). You can either leave the rock in the location you found it or even better, Take Brenda Along on your trip then take a picture and comment its new location. We want to see how far Brenda can travel with these rocks around the United States or the World!”
Carol passed on a ladybug rock to us, and Brenda will be travelling with me for a while now.

Take Brenda Along with a ladybug rock - at Kluane Lake, Yukon
Cathy had to return to Whitehorse, and left us just after 5:00 on Sunday. An hour later, I shot the next photo of the mountain towering above us.

Clouds and rocks at Kluane Lake, Yukon
Right after I shot the photo above, the clouds lifted off Sheep Mountain across the lake for a couple of minutes – just long enough to see that fresh snow had been dropped during the day!

Fresh snow on Sheep Mountain, Yukon, in July
It rained and blew for much of the night. Cozy in bed with 2 dogs and a cat (sort of a Three Dog Night 🙂 ), the sound of the waves and the rain on the roof was very peaceful. On Monday morning, I was quite shocked at both the amount of snow that had fallen overnight, and the low elevation it was at. I saw in my Facebook Memories that this happened a couple of days earlier 5 years ago, so it’s an unusual event but not a rare one.

Fresh snow at Kluane Lake, Yukon, in July
The plan had been to continue on to Beaver Creek, but the weather now made that questionable. I go out for 2 main reasons – hiking and photography. When the weather makes neither of those particularly enjoyable, I have plenty of projects at home. Just before 10:00, I decided to go to Destruction Bay where I could get cell service and check some weather forecasts.

I spent quite a while at “D Bay,” reading weather forecasts and considering the options. With only 1 day of sun likely in the next 5 or so, I finally decided to call it quits and head home 🙁

Talbot Arm, Destruction Bay, Yukon
I stopped at Sheep Mountain on the way by, to see what was going on with a band of sheep I saw moving fast as we went by an hour before. They were making their way downhill, away from the snow. When I got home, I saw this notice posted on Twitter: “Sheep hunters: Environment Yukon has ordered an emergency closure that prohibits the hunting of all sheep in Game Management Subzone 5-21 between the Slims River (km 1648) and Congdon Creek (km 1666).”

So here we are at home again for a few days. It’s hard to say what will happen next – there won’t be any long trips for a while, but there will be some fun short ones.

Back to Kluane Lake for 4 days – part 1

I’d been itching to get back on the road but things kept getting in the way – projects at home, wildfires, lousy weather, and on and on. On Wednesday, July 24th, though, things finally lined up to go one direction at least – west to Kluane Lake and hopefully Beaver Creek again, to re-do the trip that got wrecked by the Snag wildfire 3 weeks ago.

I got my shopping and some of the loading of the motorhome done on Wednesday evening, then finished Thursday morning. Just before 11:00, I locked up the house and set the alarm, and headed towards the Alaska Highway.

Loading my RV for another Alaska Highway trip
Once you leave the Whitehorse city limits, the wilderness arrives quickly. By 11:30, homes were few and far between.

The Alaska Highway just west of Whitehorse, Yukon><br />
At 12:30, as we neared Haines Junction, there was a short delay for a pilot-car-led transit through a section of construction on the highway.<br />
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At 1:25, Kluane Lake was just ahead.

The Alaska Highway with Kluane Lake ahead
At 1:30 we reached the pullout at Km 1642.1 where I planned to spend 4 nights. I was very pleased to see no other RVs there yet. I used to always go to Congdon Creek Campground when we came to Kluane, but we’d often drive back here because it’s a much nicer beach, for the dogs especially. I finally decided to just park here.

Pullout at Km 1642.1 of the Alaska Highway
Well, what the hell! Someone had built a large “Yukon 2019” on the beach in front of the pullout. It was only really clear from an elevation, so I expect it was someone with a drone. They’d gathered up rocks with a truck and then drove it onto the beach to build their graffiti.

Rock graffiti on the beach of Kluane Lake, Yukon
I was soon set up for our stay, and then it was beach time for Bella and Tucker. While we were walking and playing, I found this wonderful feather (the photo is edited to show both sides). I didn’t know what sort of bird it was from, but a couple of Facebook posts when I got home Monday afternoon quickly got responses that it was from a Northern flicker or common flicker (Colaptes auratus).

A feather found on the beach of Kluane Lake, Yukon
Then I needed to clean up the mess that was defacing my beach. The larger rocks got carried to a rock pile down the beach a bit…

Cleaning up rock graffiti on the beach of Kluane Lake, Yukon
…and some smaller rocks got thrown as far into the lake as I coud get them. Soon, the beach again looked the way Mother Nature intended it to look.

Cleaning up rock graffiti on the beach of Kluane Lake, Yukon
We had a lovely calm afternoon, but around 4:00 a wind started down the valley, and it was soon causing a dust storm on the flats. As usual, the wind barely affected our rather protected beach.

Dust storm on the Slims River flats
When I shot the next 2 photos at 7:40, a storm towards the far end of the 81-kilometer-long lake (50 miles) was raising some good surf at our end.

Storm on Kluane Lake, Yukon

Storm surf on Kluane Lake, Yukon

I listened to the calming sound of the waves most of the night, but dawn on Friday was lovely. I shot the next photo at 05:40. It was chilly, though – 7°C – and I turned the furnace on for a few minutes.

A lovely dawn on Kluane Lake, Yukon
Ah, I love motorhome mornings. Silence, beauty, the kids all happy and sleeping close by – and coffee 🙂 I actually wrecked the silence for a few minutes by firing up the generator to brew that big pot – usually I just make it with a percolator on the propane stove.

Coffee for an RV morning
The morning light was wonderful, and around 7:00 I spent a while shooting the infinite patterns and textures around us. In the next photo, Fish Heart Island blends into the slopes of Sheep Mountain, and the Alaska Highway which runs along there is pretty much invisible.

Sheep Mountain, Yukon
The Slims River Bridge can be seen at the bottom of the next photo.

The Slims River Bridge and the peaks of the Kluane Range
Shooting at 400mm, the Soldiers Summit historic site can be seen above the Alaska Highway.

Shooting at 400mm, the Soldiers Summit historic site can be seen above the Alaska Highway
An after-breakfast nap is often on the agenda on RV days 🙂

Bella takes an after-breakfast nap on the RV couch
Back on the beach with the kids after their nap, I got some creative shooting done as well as ball-playing.

Sheep Mountain seen with a Lensball
It’s a Lensball that caught that photo above. I don’t use it a lot, but it is fun sometimes.

Sheep Mountain seen with a Lensball

Then, I had a busy day planned before Cathy’s arrival Friday night – in the next post, I’ll tell you about our walks.