A day in Dawson City and on to Tombstone Territorial Park

On Day 4 of this RV trip – Friday, July 27th – Cathy flew into Dawson to join the fur-kids and me. After being unable to find a campsite at the Yukon River Campground, we drove 14 km up the Top of the World Highway and parked at a rest area there.

With a broad mountain view, this was a good spot to park. The border is closed from midnight until 08:00 so there’s no traffic at night, and not much even during the day.

RV parked at a rest area on the Top of the World Highway, Yukon
Saturday morning was glorious from our camping spot, though it soon clouded over. The next photo was shot at 06:15 – it’s underexposed to better show the colours, and the sundog to the far left.

A colourful morning sky along the Top of the World Highway, Yukon
Among the earliest traffic past our spot were two fellows driving tractors from Arlington, Washington, to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. This was the third time I’d encountered them – first on the Alaska Highway near Teslin, then on the North Klondike near Pelly Crossing. Their Driving for Diabetes project is raising money for juvenile diabetes research. The lead tractor was a John Deere, followed by this New Holland.

Driving for Diabetes project tractor on the Top of the World Highway
By the time we reach the Dawson ferry to cross the Yukon River back into town, it was raining quite hard. A fleet of small boats was still shuttling people down the river to the Moosehide Gathering, though. A couple we talked to the next day said that they stood in line for 2 hours to get a boat.

Crossing the Yukon River at Dawson

I started at the visitor centre, where I hooked up to the wifi and got a couple of blog posts posted. While I did that, Cathy went shopping for “something sparkly” – she wasn’t successful.

The rain eased off when we reached the Farmers’ Market just after 11:00. While I took the dogs for a walk, Cathy browsed the produce and arts and crafts, then the dogs and I joined her briefly to pick up some beets and pickles to take back to the motohome.

Beets and pickles from the Dawson Farmers' Market
Almost-clear skies had returned when we got up on Sunday morning, and the forecast was calling for clear and 28°C in Dawson. The next photo was shot from the viewing deck at the rest area we were parked at. It looks up the Yukon River, and has interpretive panels about the Fortymile caribou herd.

The view up the Yukon River from the Fortymile caribou rest area
At 11:15, we were back on the ferry, on our way to the Dempster Highway and Tombstone Territorial Park. Having been on the road with no services (and no expenses) for 5 nights, I made a brief stop at the Goldrush Campground in downtown Dawson to use their sanidump ($5).

The Tombstone Mountain Campground is one of our favourites. The views are spectacular in every direction, there are excellent interpretive programs, and it just has a good vibe.

Tombstone Mountain Campground, Yukon
There are a broad range of campsites, including some walk-ins, some for groups, and some posted as being for large vehicles. We were surprised by how full the campground was at about 2:00 pm, but we got a very spacious site for a 2-night stay.

Tombstone Mountain Campground, Yukon
As well as the other features, very well-maintained outhouses and free firewood, all for $12 per night. Annual camping passes for Yukon residents are $50, or free for Yukon seniors. Pretty amazing, though a current study being done may change that.

Tombstone Mountain Campground, Yukon
A simple lunch of peanut butter and jam sandwiches (with peach jam picked up a a farmers’ market in Cochrane, Alberta, a few weeks ago) resulted in a bonus for Bella – an empty peanut butter jar! 🙂

Sunday evening was wonderful. I built a campfire and Cathy cooked cherry pies over it while Tucker and I enjoyed the warm sun.

We had no real plans for our stay at Tombstone. I’d do some hiking, with or without dogs depending on the temperature, and we’d drive up the Dempster Highway a ways.

Drury Creek Campground, and on to Dawson City

Day 3 of this RV trip – Thursday, July 26th – was an eventful one, and this is the third post where I talk about parts of that day. After exploring a bit of Faro, we had left just before 4:30, with the idea that that we would spend the night at the next attractive place we came to.

At 4:55, we got our first view of Little Salmon Lake, from Km 465.9 of the Robert Campbell Highway. A friend in Whitehorse is a big fan of Little Salmon, so I had high hopes for the 2 campgrounds on it.

Little Salmon Lake, Yukon
At Km 468.1, I turned onto the short access road to Drury Creek Campground, near the east end of of Little Salmon Lake.

Drury Creek Campground, Yukon
The information and registration kiosk is the first thing you come to…

Drury Creek Campground, Yukon
…then a firewood shed and picnic shelter, standard Yukon campground facilities. To the right of these on a short loop road is a single outhouse, the only one in the park.

Drury Creek Campground, Yukon
Campsite #2 is one of 5 spacious pull-through sites. Four others could be termed pull-throughs, as they’re alongside the road. Only 1 of the 10 sites is a back-in site.

Drury Creek Campground, Yukon
Two of the campsites along the road are on the right side of this large gravel area.

Drury Creek Campground, Yukon
Campsites #8 and 9, right on the lakeshore, were being straddled by a pickup/camper/boat combination. Then I saw #10, a secluded back-in past the boat launch. I filled out one of the campground registration forms I carry with me, posted it on the site to stake my claim, and hurriedly unhooked the Tracker.

Drury Creek Campground, Yukon
At 5:15, I had the motorhome set up and this was my view. Wow! Then I moved the Tracker over to the site.

Drury Creek Campground, Yukon
With our own private beach, getting wet was the first order of business. It was after the kids’ normal dinner time, but the lake was their #1 priority as well.

Drury Creek Campground, Yukon
Bella will follow me almost anywhere in the water 🙂

Drury Creek Campground, Yukon
Bella and I waded most of the way across Drury Creek, which was right beside our campsite…

…but when the combination of water depth and current speed went beyond Bella’s comfort level, she waded and swam back to the motorhome.

Drury Creek Campground, Yukon

Two German couples in rental truck-and-camper units seemed to have asked the fellow in sites 8 and 9 what his plans were – he left, and they took those sites. When I took the dogs on a walk around the campground, none of the other sites were occupied. We had a very quiet night.

The next photo shows the view out the front window at 04:45 on Friday morning. This was going to be a tough place to leave, and I was now seriously thinking about cancelling the Alaska part of this trip and returning to Drury Creek.

Drury Creek Campground, Yukon
The kids were back in the water early. It seemed to be the perfect beach for them – fine gravel, a very gradual grade, and fairly warm water.

Drury Creek Campground, Yukon
By 07:00 the sun was very warm, and I moved my chair over to the boat launch to enjoy my second pot of coffee there while Bella and Tucker continued playing.

Drury Creek Campground, Yukon
I had never seen the kids – Tucker in particular – quite like this. Usually Tucker tires of the water very quickly, but he was loving this place, playing with Bella, chasing sticks I threw into the water, stamping around just to make the water splash…

Drury Creek Campground, Yukon
…and then up on the beach tearing around like a madman on a circular racetrack he created, with about 10 feet of water to run through on it. I’m not sure which of us was happier, though – Tucker, or me watching him loving his life. 🙂

Drury Creek Campground, Yukon
Eventually they played out, and laid down to dry out and chew on sticks.

Drury Creek Campground, Yukon
I started to worry about the time – I wanted to get to the Dawson airport well before Cathy’s 4:10 arrival so I could get some cleaning done. At 08:45, we left Drury Creek and continued westbound on the Campbell Highway – we’d been having so much fun, I hadn’t even had breakfast.

I made a brief detour into the Little Salmon Lake Campground, but after what we had just experienced, I was quite shocked by what I found there. It was extremely busy, the sites seemed to be small and poorly laid out, and there was no loop road, just a cul de sac with barely enough room to turn around in.

All of my other plans for exploring the west end of the Campbell Highway went out the window – I was now just focussed on getting to Dawson.

Westbound on the Robert Campbell Highway east of Carmacks
At 10:30, I turned north on the North Klondike Highway. A few minutes later, I stopped for a light brunch – a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and juice. I made another brief stop at Stewart Crossing for a load of fuel, but the further north I got, the rougher the road was, so it wasn’t as quick a trip as I’d planned.

Northbound on the North Klondike Highway

Shortly after arriving at the Dawson airport,opening up the slides and getting ready to do a cleaning, I got a text from Cathy. Their plane had problems with some instruments and they had returned to Whitehorse. They get another plane ready as soon as possible.

I decided to drive in to the Yukon River Campground and get a campsite, then return to the airport when I had a new arrival time. It felt great to be back in Dawson, and to be back on the ferry to the campground and the Top of the World Highway.

The campground produced another surprise. The rapidly-growing Moosehide Gathering was underway, and the 100-site campground was full. Well, not quite full, but the few sites remaining were not suitable for a rig the size of ours. After 2 circuits of the very rough loop road, I parked the motorhome at a wide spot on the campground road, unhooked the Tracker, and returned to the airport, a bit stressed by the surprises.

Cathy did arrive just before 5:30 on a different plane, and we were soon on our way. The plan was now to return to the campground, get the motorhome, and drive 14 kilometers up the Top of the World Highway and park at a rest area there.

Exploring Faro – the Johnson Lake Campground and the Faro Mine Complex

I’m writing this post while parked at a rest area high on the Top of the World Highway, with a panoramic mountain view to the north. It’s Day 5 of this RV trip, and I’ve decided to make a major change in the itinerary I had planned. Rather than continue on into Alaska and return to Whitehorse via the Alaska Highway, I’m going to return to the Robert Campbell Highway – to Drury Creek Campground and Faro in particular – with some other exploring on the way.

This post, though, is about the middle part of Day 3 – Thursday, July 26th. We left Lapie Canyon Campground at about 11:00 am, with the thought that we would spend that night at one of the 3 campgrounds on the Frenchman Creek Road, northeast of Carmacks. That’s not how it played out, though.

The first photo shows the view westbound on the Robert Campbell Highway right at the Km 366 post, just 2 km from Lapie Canyon.

Westbound at Km 366 of the Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
It’s only 50 km from Lapie Canyon to the access road to Faro, but the country changes quite a bit in that distance. Bare rock outcroppings crowd the road in more and more places, and lakes (in contrast to marshy ponds) are more common.

Westbound on the Robert Campbell Highway east of Faro, Yukon
Seen in the distance is the junction with the Faro access road (Mitchell Road), and the start of pavement on the Robert Campbell at Km 414.3. A couple of the 14 bicyclists I’d been meeting were nearing the junction and heading to Faro as well.

Westbound at Km 413 of the Robert Campbell Highway
Checking out every campground along my route is one of my projects for this trip. Johnson Lake Campground is off Mitchell Road, on a road that only has a sign noting it as the access road for the Faro airport.

Johnson Lake Campground - Faro, Yukon
Of the 15 campsites at Johnson Lake Campground, 6 are pull-throughs. I tried one on for size (#3, I think), and it was reasonably spacious.

Johnson Lake Campground - Faro, Yukon
This site had the picnic table below the RV parking, but other sites had it on the same level. All of the pull-throughs had the sort of obscured lake view seen in the next photo, but I didn’t see any sign of a trail to the lake.

Johnson Lake Campground - Faro, Yukon
I took Bella and Tucker for a long walk down to the lake via the boat launch road. The lake is pretty, but there’s no beach to play on. When we arrived at the campground, a fellow was just loading his kayak back onto his car – other than him, we had the campground to ourselves.

Float plane on Johnson Lake - Faro, Yukon
The next photo shows the top of the campground loop road.

Johnson Lake Campground - Faro, Yukon
The campsites on the upper level seem to rarely get used. This is probably the least-used government campground I’ve seen anywhere.

Johnson Lake Campground - Faro, Yukon
My next stop was at the airport, just to see what it looks like. I don’t think that any aircraft are based there anymore.

Faro airport, Yukon
Adjacent to the airport is the Faro Cemetery. Once I saw how small it is (Faro was just founded in 1969), I decided to photograph each of the graves for my cemetery project and possibly to help at Findagrave.com.

Faro Cemetery, Yukon

Faro Cemetery, Yukon
Welcome to the town of Faro, “Yukon’s Best Kept Secret”. That seems to be very true.

Welcome to the town of Faro, Yukon's Best Kept Secret
Across the road from the welcome sign is this little mining truck. I used to think it was a big mining truck, but it’s only about 65 tons capacity, so quite small as mining trucks go.

My next stop after the welcome sign and mining truck was the visitor information centre (called the Campbell Region Interpretive Centre), where the helpful woman on duty answered my questions about the mine, the trails, and the general state of the community, which still has many empty buildings from the days when the mine was operating.

Visitor information centre at Faro, Yukon
There’s a lot of information displayed on the many interpretive panels in the visitor centre. The leader of the bicycle group arrived just after I did, and registered his group for a 2-night stay at the campground across the road. I thought briefly about staying as well, but this was going to be my last night before meeting Cathy in Dawson, and the drive from Faro to Dawson is longer than I prefer to have.

Visitor information centre at Faro, Yukon
The next photo shows the mine I wanted to see. The lead-silver-zinc mine began in 1969 as the Anvil Range Mine, and grew to become one of the largest open-pit mines in the world. It had a rather complex history, which I don’t have Internet access to research and tell you about now. Its final year of operation was 1998, though, and reclamation work is going on now.

Aerial view of the Anvil Range Mine at Faro, Yukon
I drove back to the huge parking area by the mining truck, unhooked the Tracker, and headed up into the hills toward the mine. It’s a 22-km drive on a very good gravel road. It was getting very warm – nearing 30°C – and Bella loved the wind coming into the back of the car 🙂

Shelty-cross Bella enjoying wind in the car on a hot day
I had no idea how much of the mining operation could be seen from the road but I had high hopes. The tailings piles could be seen from miles away, then the road went along a huge tailings pond, now dried up. All side roads were signed “Restricted Area”. Across the road from this creek which had a lot of what appears to be monitoring equipment was a sign saying: “Do Not Contaminate. Drinking Water. Anvil Mining Corp. Ltd.”.

Anvil Range lead-silver-zinc mine at Faro, Yukon
Work of some sort appeared to be in progress on the tailings pond.

Anvil Range lead-silver-zinc mine at Faro, Yukon
The next 2 photos show the main mill buildings and adjacent tailings. Now that I’ve seen the mine, I have a lot of questions about the mine operation and its remediation for when I go back to Faro in a few days, and when I get home and can research online.

Anvil Range lead-silver-zinc mine at Faro, Yukon

Anvil Range lead-silver-zinc mine at Faro, Yukon
The public road ends at the administration building. A sign notes that this is the Faro Mine Complex, and that “Care and Maintenance” is provided by Parsons, with the project managed by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

Anvil Range lead-silver-zinc mine at Faro, Yukon
I sure wish there was an interpretive centre, or better yet tours, at the mine, given what this is costing the taxpayers.

Anvil Range lead-silver-zinc mine at Faro, Yukon
A new dump truck roared by on the other side of the distant security fence. On the right is one of several massive dump boxes from the 120-ton trucks that replaced the little orange one at the entrance to Faro.

Anvil Range lead-silver-zinc mine at Faro, Yukon
One more shot of the tailings beside the mill. Further down the road, I stopped to take a photo of some very old tanks down in the tailings pond – within seconds, a Parsons truck was beside me asking if everything was okay. As I was driving up to the mine, I met an RCMP truck coming down. Security seems to be a big deal, but how do you secure a property that’s many dozens of square miles in size? Or perhaps the question is, why do you secure it?

Anvil Range lead-silver-zinc mine at Faro, Yukon
Driving back down to Faro from the mine.

We were back on the Robert Campbell Highway westbound just before 4:30. By then I had pretty much decided that we would spend the night at the next attractive place we came to. That turned out to be the Drury Creek Campground, about 64 km from Faro. I’ll tell you about that campground in the next post.

Exploring Lapie Canyon Campground and Ross River

We stopped early on the second day of this RV trip – Wednesday, July 25th. By 3:00 we were settled in at campsite #5 in Lapie Canyon Campground, just west of the access road to Ross River from the Robert Campbell Highway. With no firm plans again for Thursday, I had lots of time to explore at my leisure.

The first place on my list of places to see was, of course, Lapie Canyon. Two trails led to it from a couple of hundred meters on either side of my campsite. I chose the trail leading towards the bridge first.

Trail at Lapie Canyon Campground, Yukon
That trail led through the forest and then along an open slope to the top of the canyon, which was created when the Lapie River cut through a wall of limestone.

Lapie Canyon, Yukon
The water looked incredible from up there – a clear turquoise colour.

Lapie Canyon, Yukon
Looking over the edge with my 10mm lens.

Looking up the Lapie River to where the lower part of the campground is.

Lapie River, Yukon
A side trail led down to the river. The light was perfect for photography, and the water was surprisingly warm.

Lapie Canyon, Yukon
The only calm pool, right the head of the canyon, was occupied by a guy who was having some success catching Arctic grayling, which he was releasing. The pool wasn’t big enough to go for a diop anyway 🙂

Lapie Canyon, Yukon
Just before 4:30, I decided that the light was perfect to photograph the newly-restored footbridge at Ross River. The next photo was shot along the access road to Ross River, which is 11 kilometers north of the Robert Campbell Highway.

Along the access road to Ross River, Yukon
The road ends at a ferry that crosses the Pelly River. As I was taking this photo, a couple of guys in a pickup stopped to ask if I was okay. Real Yukoners always keep an eye out for people who need assistance.

The access road to Ross River, Yukon
Welcome to Ross River, which was founded as a trading post on the north side of the river, then moved to the south side in the 1960s, to eliminate reliance on a ferry or ice crossing. The community is most well known for its part in the World War II Canol oil project which took oil by pipeline from Norman Wells on the Mackenzie River to a refinery at Whitehorse.

Welcome to Ross River, Yukon
The Ross River suspension bridge was built in 1943 to carry the Canol pipeline across the Pelly River, but was converted to a footbridge after the war, and has recently been restored to its footbridge status.

The historic Ross River suspension bridge over the Pelly River
I’m not normally okay with painting murals on a historic structure, but it’s a safe bet that te concrete tower anchors had been tagged by “grafitti artists”, so murals are a much better option.

The historic Ross River suspension bridge over the Pelly River
The bridge is 316 meters long (1,036 feet), with a centre span of 192 meters(630 feet).

The historic Ross River suspension bridge over the Pelly River
The Pelly Barge takes vehicles across the river, where the North Canol Road runs 232 km (144 mi) to Macmillan Pass at the Northwest Territories border. Beyond that, the road is a hiking trail at best, but even that isn’t maintained and is rarely used.

The Pelly Barge ferry
The bridge support towers are impressive, especially when you consider the conditions in which they were built.

The historic Ross River suspension bridge over the Pelly River
A section of the 6-inch Canol pipeline, which was just laid on top of the ground. Before the suspension bridge was built, it ran across the Pelly River on the ice. An interpretive panel at the bridge says that the pipeline from 4 inches from Norman Wells to Johnsons Crossing, then 6 inches from there to Whitehorse, but this is clearly 6 inches.

A section of the 6-inch Canol pipeline at Ross River
The concrete tower anchor on the north side of the river was starting to get its murals. I couldn’t find an artist’s signature on the completed murals on the south side.

Murals being created on the bridge tower anchors at Ross River
I switched to my 10mm lens to get some broader photos of the bridge, and the bridge with the ferry.

The historic Ross River suspension bridge over the Pelly River

The historic Ross River suspension bridge over the Pelly River
There were quite a few people cooling off in the muddy waters of the Pelly River.

People cooling off in the muddy waters of the Pelly River at Ross River
In about 1995, I drove the regular passenger, freight, and mail bus service to Yukon communities including Faro and Ross River, which I visited twice a week. I went looking for the businesses I used to serve, and all are now abandoned and derelict. The Ross River Service Centre (“Groceries, gas, fishing, hardware”, the sign says) was in pretty rough shape even 23 years ago.

The derelict Ross River Service Centre
The Welcome Inn hotel closed about 15 years ago. I quite liked the bar there – it had lots of character and characters. I never drank there but it was a regular place to visit with freight deliveries 🙂

The derelict Welcome Inn hotel in Ross River, Yukon
I had freight for the tire and mechanical shop pretty well every trip. With Greyhound now cancelling service to hundreds of communities in western Canada, this is a good reminder of how you keep passenger busses in business – with mail and freight contracts.

Derelict tire and mechanical shop in Ross River, Yukon
The grocery store now.

Grocery store in Ross River, Yukon
And the 24-hour cardlock fuel service beside the grocery store.

24-hour cardlock fuel service in Ross River, Yukon
I’ve only driven the entire South Canol Road once, and I went for a look. It’s not suitable for the motorhome, and there are too many bears to tent, but maybe I could take the Jeep and sleep in it…

South Canol Road
There appears to be minimal maintenance on the South Canol now – the Quiet Lake highways maintenance yard was closed a few years ago. The next photo shows the view from as far as I went. That misty valley is a magnet to me…

South Canol Road

It was very warm that evening – the temperature in the motorhome hit 29.2°C. Bugs have been very bad during the day all along the Robert Campbell – not so much mosquitoes, but the huge deer flies or horse flies that take a chunk of meat out when they bite. They make poor Tucker frantic, so inside is better.

The next morning, I drove over to the Lapie Canyon Bridge to get some photos of that part of the canyon before the bridge repair crew got there.

Lapie Canyon from the Campbell Highway bridge
These 3 photos of the canyon were all processed as HDR images to bring the details out with the deep shadows.

Lapie Canyon from the Campbell Highway bridge
The 2 photos above were shot looking down the Lapie River from the bridge, and the one below was shot looking upstream.

Lapie Canyon from the Campbell Highway bridge
The entrance to the Lapie Canyon Campground is right at the bridge.


The entrance to the Lapie Canyon Campground
Time for breakfast! Note, no generator is needed, everything is done with propane.

Breakfast time in the RV
Just after 10:00 am, I drove down to the campground’s lower level, which had been very busy with the 14 bicyclists I met along the highway. They were gone now, and I had the place to myself. The next photo could have been taken at pretty much any Yukon government campground – those are the standard facilities.

Picnic shelter the Lapie Canyon Campground
By my standards, the best of the 18 campsites at the Lapie Canyon Campground is #15, but it’s only suitable for very small RVs or car/tent campers. The best river access trail in the campground goes right through the campsite, though – not well thought out. The next site, #16, is also very nice and can handle larger RVs, though not as large as mine. Like many of the older Yukon campgrounds, Lapie Canyon is not very big-rig friendly – with one exception, even the pull-throughs are tight.

Lapie Canyon Campground
Lapie Canyon has a wonderful vibe when there’s nobody else around, and I wanted to spend more time there.

Lapie Canyon, Yukon
The head of the canyon is a wonderful place to just sit and enjoy the hot sun and the sounds of the rushing water.

Lapie Canyon, Yukon
I brought my Lensball with me, and Lapie Canyon was the perfect place to work with its unique talents. I’ll let Lensball users try to figure out exactly how I got that shot (with no hand holding it) 🙂

Lapie Canyon, Yukon, as seen by a Lensball
One more photo and it was time to get packed up and hit the road.

Lapie Canyon, Yukon

Campbell Highway, Day 2 – Simpson Lake to Lapie Canyon Campground

We began the second day of this RV trip – Wednesday, July 25th – with only a vague idea that the Lapie Canyon Campground just past Ross River would make a good overnight stop. But I was open to pretty much anything.

We spent the night at a pullout at Km 92 of the Robert Campbell Highway, and by 08:00, we had been on the road for a few minutes and had reached the junction with the Nahanni Range Road.

Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
The Nahanni Range Road was built in 1961 to access the Cantung tungsten mine, which from 1962 until 1985 was the largest tungsten producer in the western world (most tungsten mines are in China).

Interpretive panel on the Nahanni Range Road, Yukon
We spent quite a while at the rest area at the Nahanni Range Road junction as I tried to decide whether or not to take the Tracker up for a look. It’s about 192 km (120 miles) to a reported security gate before the town of Tungsten, the Canadian Tungsten company’s town for the Cantung mine. The mine last opened briefly in 2004. The road sign in the next photo was my minor annoyance of the morning – American spelling of traveller and improper use of a possessive – geez! 🙂

Sign on the Nahanni Range Road, Yukon
I eventually decided to continue west on the Campbell Highway, due to a shortage of time and excess of wildfire smoke. There are only 2 main roads in the Yukon I haven’t driven – the North Canol and the Nahanni Range Road. That’s a pretty short Yukon Bucket List 🙂 The next photo was shot right at Km 108 of the Robert Campbell.

Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
At Km 113.8, almost 300 km of gravel road began. It was generally in good condition, and 80 km/h (50 mph) was a comfortable speed most of the time.

At Km 113.8, 300 km of gravel begins on the Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
For the next photo, shot at Km 124.5, I tried HDR to compensate for the smoke, but I wasn’t very happy with the result so went back to normal shooting.

Km 124.5, Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
Km 126.8

Km 126.8 of the Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
At Km 134.1, signs of an old mine, or mining exploration project, could be seen high on a peak to the west. Whatever it was, it doesn’t seem to have gone into production.

An old mine high above the Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
One of the main places along the Robert Campbell Highway that I was looking forward to seeing was the Frances Lake Campground, though I don’t really know why.

Frances Lake Campground, Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
The campground is a couple of kilometers north of the highway.

Frances Lake, Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
It turned out that I had good reason to be looking forward to seeing it – it’s beautiful, with about 10 campsites right on the lake shore!

Frances Lake Campground, Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
All of the lakeshore sites were occupied, and it looked like the sites that aren’t on the shore really get used. Most of the campers had boats of various types.

Frances Lake Campground, Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
Large gravel beaches like the one on this part of Frances Lake aren’t at all common in the Yukon interior – most have vegetation (usually grasses or willows) growing right to the water.

Frances Lake Campground, Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
The beach even sloped very gradually – perfect for Bella and Tucker to wade in.

Dog wading in Frances Lake, Yukon
If not for the fact that it wasn’t yet 10:00 am, I might have gone for a dip myself and then stopped here for the night, as 2 of the lakefront campsites were vacated while we were exploring.

Frances Lake, Yukon
A very well-equipped boat headed west across the lake. Frances Lake is a conservation water – only barbless hooks can be used, and the daily limits and possession limits are both 2 lake trout, 4 grayling, and 4 pike.

Fishing on Frances Lake, Yukon
We spent about 3/4 of an hour at Frances Lake, then continued on our way. The bridge in the next photo crosses Money Creek, named for Anton Money, who mined for gold in this area in the 1930s and ’40s.

Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
A glance up Money Creek as we crossed over the bridge caused me to pull over and walk back for a photo.

Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
Walking back to the motorhome, I noticed something not right under the Tracker. The lower mounting bracket for a rear shock absorber had broken. I decided that the dangling shock absorber couldn’t cause any further damage – the tire being the main worry. I’d remove it or stabilize it that night.

Vehicle damage on the Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
Right at Km 190, I braked to a sudden stop…

Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
…because of the left was the old access road to Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine Mine. It operated from 2011 until 2015, and reclamation work is currently being done.

Access road to Yukon Zinc's Wolverine Mine, off the Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
There was virtually no traffic on the highway – about 1 vehicle per hour, and half of those were Department of Highways trucks. The next photo shows the view in my rear-view mirror much of the time – any traffic would certainly be spaced far apart!

Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
At Km 230, the road to the right goes to a float plane base on Finlayson Lake, and the one to the left goes to the Kudz Ze Kayah mining exploration project.

Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
A large rest area and viewpoint over Finlayson Lake at Km 233.1 was cause for a lengthy stop for a dog walk and lunch.

Finlayson Lake rest area on the Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon

Finlayson Lake viewpoint on the Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
Just after leaving the rest area, I met an oncoming grader. As I was trying to figure out how that was going to work, he ducked into a tiny pullout.

Grader on the Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
The Finlayson Lake airstrip beside the highway at Km 246.2 was a good excuse for a short walk. A Turbo Otter was sitting at the far end, but I wasn’t feeling 2,100 feet worth of energetic 🙂

The Finlayson Lake airstrip beside the Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
I was surprised by how much the highway varied. Here at Km 266 it was narrow and vegetation crowded the road, while other sections of the road were wide with wide cleared areas along it.

Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
At Km 301.4 we only had an hour left to the campground – the sign shows 71 km to Ross River and 125 km to Faro.

Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
Of all the things I didn’t expect to see on the Robert Campbell Highway, bicyclists would be near the top of the list. Choking dust for hundreds of kilometers – are we having fun yet? Oh well… There turned out to be 14 of them, spaced out over nearly 20 km of highway.

Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
At Km 348, nearing the popular recreation lake Coffee Lake, the gravel was treated to eliminate dust. The road was treated in a few other places as well, but this was the first location where I could understand the reason for it.

Dust treatment on the Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
Coffee Lake was overfull and very close to the highway in a couple of places, but judging by the dead trees, it has been for a long time.

Coffee Lake, Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
At Km 358, another bicyclist was starting up a brutal hill. And it was hot – about 28°C.

Steep hill at Km 358, Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
At 2:20, Lapie Canyon Campground was just 2 km away. A nice relaxing afternoon would be great.

Nearing Lapie Canyon Campground and Ross River, Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
The bridge that carries the Robert Campbell Highway over Lapie Canyon was having some minor work done.

Lapie Canyon Bridge, Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon
A few minutes later, we were set up in campsite #5. I’ll continue with a description of the Lapie Canyon Campground and my trip into Ross River in my next post.

Robert Campbell Highway, Yukon

Exploring the Campbell Highway, Day 1 – Watson Lake to Simpson Lake

Cathy’s RV focus for a while has been to get back to Dawson, so that is where the fur-kids and I are headed as I write this while camped at Ross River. We’re taking a very long route, though, via the Robert Campbell Highway. The Campbell Highway, Yukon Highway 4, runs 583 km (362 miles) from Watson to Carmacks, where we’d then turn north on the North Klondike Highway to Dawson. I’ve only ever driven the entire Campbell Highway once, and that was over 20 years ago.

It’s not like me to complain about sunshine, but this weather report had me thinking about cancelling the trip. Bella in particular suffers in the heat, and as I wasn’t going to be going to any commercial campgrounds with electricity, the only way to keep the motorhome cool is by running the generator to power the air conditioners. I don’t like the sound of the generator, and my campground neighbours wouldn’t be very pleased, either.

But we did depart on Tuesday morning just before 09:30. I had planned on leaving Monday evening, but I spent 3 hours working with a British film crew late that afternoon and was too tired to hit the road then.

The wildfire smoke was thick enough that photography possibilities were going to be pretty limited. The next photo shows the Yukon River Bridge on the Alaska Highway 10 minutes from home.

Yukon River Bridge, Alaska Highway
The smoke was thicker at Teslin, then thinned out as we continued east. I thought that the smoke was coming from the Poison Lake fire west of Watson Lake, but apparently not.

The Alaska Highway west of Watson Lake, Yukon
We took a long break (a.k.a. an afternoon nap) at the Continental Divide, then another stop for a load of fuel at Watson Lake. At 4:30, we reached Mile 0 of the Robert Campbell Highway, which is at the Signpost Forest in Watson Lake.

Robert Campbell Highway
Westbound on the Robert Campbell at about Km 27. As you leave Watson Lake, a sign warns drives that the next fuel is 363 km away (in Ross River). The range in my motorhome is over double that, so no problem. To do it on my motorcycle, I’d need to carry gas cans.

Westbound on the Robert Campbell Highway at about Km 27.
The highway, which opened in 1968, was one of many built under a federal Roads to Resources program, intended to encourage the opening of mines in particular. It closely follows the fur trade route pioneered by Hudson’s Bay Company employee Robert Campbell, who arrived a half-century before the Klondike Gold Rush that made “the Yukon” a household word. The first part of the highway runs in the broad valley of the Frances River – the next photo was shot at about Km 56.

Westbound on the Robert Campbell Highway at about Km 56.
The Km 64 post can be seen in the lower right of the next photo. They are placed every 2 kilometers. This is very pleasant country, and the driving is easy. There was virtually no traffic on the road. I had been in no hurry, and the time was now 5:27 – my plan was to stop for the night at the Simpson Lake Campground just ahead at Km 81.

Westbound on the Robert Campbell Highway at Km 64.
At Km 73, I came to a section of major reconstruction. Six kilometers of the highway are being completely rebuilt, at a cost of $5.7 million. How odd on a road with no traffic.

Major reconstruction on the Robert Campbell Highway, Km 73-79
Crews were gone for the day, and that section of sand ahead in the next photo was so soft that I barely made it through. If it would have been any wider, I’d have had a major problem. In the Fall of 1992, I got my little Pontiac Acadian stuck in the middle of the Alaska Highway in a stretch of soft construction mud, and was there until crews came back to work the next morning. By that time there were many more stuck behind me – the American guy in a brand-new Ford mired behind me was going to sue everyone from the Queen on down 🙂

Major reconstruction on the Robert Campbell Highway, Km 73-79
This is some make-work project! Most of it was quite soft, and I was glad to reach the end of the 6 kilometers. We were all looking forward to parking for the night.

Major reconstruction on the Robert Campbell Highway, Km 73-79

When we drove into the Simpson Lake Campground, however, we gor a big surprise. The Liard First Nation had taken it over for an event, and there were already about 5 times as many people as the campground was meant to provide for. So, back on the highway until a pullout appeared.

Luckily, a suitable pullout was only 8 kilometers further along, right at the Km 92 post. It was pretty level, had some shade, and was beside Simpson Lake.

RV in a pullout on the Robert Campbell Highway, Km 92.0
The temperature was 27°C, and a little road leading down to the lake was a nice place to walk Bella and Tucker so they could get their feet wet (neither was interested in getting any more wet than that).

Evening on Simpson Lake, Yukon
There seemed to be a high layer of smoke that diffused the light and kept it a bit cooler than it would have been otherwise. The next photo was shot at 7:35.

Evening on Simpson Lake, Yukon
Bella’s favourite spot in the RV is under the dinette – the place that gets the least air circulation. No amount o coaxing or treating will get her to a cooler spot for more than a couple of minutes. With no neighbours to annoy, I fired up the generator and turned on the rear air conditioner long enough to cool the bedroom down before turning in for the night.

Sheltie-cross Bella in her safe spot in our RV

I had no real plans for the next day – we’d just see what was interesting and stop when the mood struck.

A short hike on the International Falls trail

After our excellent afternoon hike on Thursday, my friend asked if I’d like to join her and her daughter for a short hike on the way to Skagway on Friday. I’d already planned to take my motorcycle to Skagway, but said that I’d meet them in the White Pass. Once there just after noon, we decided to hike a little way up the International Falls trail.

Once down the very steep but rope-assisted drop off the highway, and then across the creek, the large flower-filled meadow can keep photographers happy for quite a while.

A flower-filled meadow on the International Falls trail
There were at least a dozen species of flowers in bloom in the meadow and among the adjacent granite outcrops.

Flowers on the International Falls trail
We took a little-used side trail that took us to the bottom of the first waterfall. Few hikers come to this spot for some reason.

A large waterfall on the International Falls trail
It’s amazing where some plants can grow.

Flowers on the International Falls trail
I always really enjoy the first waterfall, and scrambled over boulders right to the base of it to do some shooting. First at slow shutter speeds – the next photo was shot at 1/30th of a second…

Waterfall on the International Falls trail
…and then some high speeds – the next photo of the lip of the waterfall was shot at 1/1,000th of a second.

Waterfall on the International Falls trail
A family joined us, and some of them went for a dip in the pool. While the water is much warmer than it was when I hiked the trail 10 days ago – the upper lakes were still frozen – it was still not conducive to long soaks 🙂

A large waterfall on the International Falls trail
We decided to hike up one more level to an area with a large expanse of almost-level granite.

Granite along the creek on the International Falls trail
This was an excellent place to just enjoy the incredible day. The temperature was probably about 25°C/77&de;F.

Small waterfalls on the International Falls trail
This was our view looking back toward the highway. Ahhhh…. 🙂

On the International Falls trail

At about 1:45 we started the short hike back to the car and bike. Total time on the trail was a bit under 2 hours.

I continued on to Skagway, picked up all the accessories for the new ensuite bathroom (towel bars, etc), then headed home. With 5 hours on the bike and 2 hours among the waterfalls, it was a great day.

Back at home, I started experimenting with my new Lensball. It’s not the the sort of thing I’ll use very often, but it is fun.

Fireweed shot with a Lensball

An afternoon hike at the Venus Mine

Last Thursday, July 19th, a friend and I decided to go for an afternoon hike at the Venus Mine with 2 of our dogs. Less than an hour from my house, it’s a wonderful place to clear your head and enjoy some incredible views.

The network of roads and trails is accessed at Km 82.2, a kilometer south of the large wooden Venus mill. The elevation there is 691 meters (2,268 feet). I was very surprised to see 2 vehicles there, but all of the people from them were coming down as we started up.

The trail starts on a good road that leads to the 1970s workings of the Venus silver mine (and some great raspberry patches in season!). Extensive work was done on that property in 2009-2010 to stabilize tailings piles that were held back with logs that were rotting – there was a serious threat that a large avalanche would result and it would have hit the highway. An old mine tunnel here has been closed with rocks and gravel – a bat monitoring station at the entrance is a new addition since the last time I was there. The elevation at this point was 830 meters (2,724 feet).

Hiking at the Venus Mine, Yukon><br />
From the 1970s mining levels, there are several trails and routes to go higher. I picked a trail toward the south end of the workings. The views over Windy Arm (part of Tagish Lake) just kept getting better and better.<br />
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Artifacts from the early days of mining at the Venus can still be found. The one in the next photo, looking steeply down to the highway and lake, appears to be a piece from the 1906 aerial tramway.

Hiking at the Venus Mine, Yukon
There were a few sections where following the trail took some thought, and there was a bit of brush, but it was generally a good path.

Hiking at the Venus Mine, Yukon

My plan had been to go to the upper workings and aerial tramway terminus, but the trail I chose took us far above that location. At 994 meters (3,260 feet), we turned back to look for another route.

Looking straight down on the Venus mill.

Hiking at the Venus Mine, Yukon
At 5:00, on the right trail now, we stopped short of the original destination for a bit of a picnic. Then it was time to head back to the car.

Hiking at the Venus Mine, Yukon
How incredibly lucky are we to be able to take the dogs for an afternoon walk at a place like this?

Hiking at the Venus Mine, Yukon

By 7:00, I was back at home, 5 hours after leaving.

A motorcycle, history, and airplanes day

Yesterday was a great day for me. I put 240 km on my motorcycle, found a 1941 plane crash site, spent time with old friends and new, and photographed a few airplanes at YXY. I hadn’t been out on the bike since August 2016, so getting it out was a big deal to me. There’s a bit of a back story to that happening.

I very rarely enter photo contests. A few months ago, though, I happened to notice that Yamaha Canada had a “What a View” contest. Hey, I have lots of pics of my Yamaha V-Star in great locations so I sent one in. Last week I got notification that I had won the Grand Prize, $500 to spend on my choice of Yamaha gear or parts. Wow! 🙂

Yamaha Canada 2018 photo contest Grand Prize winner - V-Star in the Yukon
When I went down to Yukon Yamaha to buy something with my prize money, the only thing that got my attention was a very fine leather motorcycle jacket that fit me perfectly. It was on the clearance rack at 20% off, so instead of ringing in at $705, the final bill was $63. Now I needed to go riding!

Murray Lundberg with a new Yamaha motorcycle jacket
My bike has been dead for a while. It seemed to be a fuse, but I couldn’t find it. Finally my Clymer manual led me to a 30-amp main fuse buried under the seats and a couple of layers of electronics and plastic. It was indeed burnt out. A spare fuse was in a slot beside it, and as soon as I changed it, I had power. A half-hour later after I put it all back together, the bike was running. That felt so good!

Working on a V-Star 1100

By the the time I shopped for a better deal on insurance, it took me almost 3 hours on Monday to get the bike insured (now $187 per year) and get a new sticker on the plate. With other things to do, I didn’t get out on Monday, but on Tuesday morning, I headed north, with the main objective being the site of a 1941 plane crash beside what is now the North Klondike Highway.

I hadn’t checked the road reports, but was hoping that there would be no construction on the North Klondike – I wasn’t in the mood to fight my way through gravel. As it turned out, the only work being done was preparations for a new bridge across Fox Creek.

Preparations for a new bridge across Fox Creek on the North Klondike Highway
It was a post on my Yukon History & Abandoned Places page that led me to the plane crash site. I had a couple of photos with me to help find it, but I didn’t need to pull them out. In the grassy area to the left at Km 233.5, I could see the tubular frame wreckage.

1941 plane crash site along the North Klondike Highway
The following article about the crash is from The Chilliwack Progress of July 9, 1941 – the pilot who was killed, Vaughan Woods, was from the nearby community of Hope.

Pilot Vaughan Woods killed in Yukon plane cash - July 3, 1941
The crash on July 3rd destroyed White Pass Airways’ 1939 Travel Air 6-B, CF-BPV, seen at Fort Selkirk in the next photo. White Pass Airways was part of the the British Yukon Navigation Company (BYN).

White Pass Airways' 1939 Travel Air 6-B, CF-BPV
The wreckage is in the red circle in this view from the highway. In 1941, there was no road here but there was an emergency airstrip. None of the online mapping sites show this area in a high enough resolution to see where the airstrip would have been, but it would have been just to the north of the crash site (to the right in the photo).

1941 plane crash site along the North Klondike Highway
In his book “Yukon Wings”, R.B. “Bob” Cameron covers this crash thoroughly, with several photos including the one below that shows an RCMP officer inspecting the wreckage. An inquiry into the crash found that a cotter pin had not been installed on a crucial nut during a recent engine overhaul – when the nut loosened and then fell off, a catastrophic power failure was the result. Three air engineers’ licences were suspended for 6 months and one was cancelled permanently.

White Pass Airways' 1939 Travelair 6000B, CF-BPV
The next photo shows me inspecting the wreckage. The mountains in the background show that the viewing angle is the same as the one in photo from “Yukon Wings”.

1941 plane crash site along the North Klondike Highway
Although there may be more wreckage buried in the mud after 77 years, it’s a fairly safe bet that the site was well cleaned up either by BYN or later scavengers.

1941 plane crash site along the North Klondike Highway
Fox Lake was my planned portrait location, and it worked out great. I got into a long chat there with a Swiss fellow who’s touring in a van he bought. My bike, a 2009 V-Star 1100 Classic that I bought new in 2010, now has just over 29,000 km on it. I’m excited to be back on the road with it, and hope to put a few thousand more on it this year.

Murray Lundberg and his V-Star 1100 Classic at Fox Lake, Yukon

It was time for lunch, so I continued north to Braeburn Lodge, where I had an excellent lunch as well as a good visit with 2 of the people who have been feeding me and hundreds (maybe thousands) of my bus passengers there since 1990.

As I made the turn off the Alaska Highway to go into Whitehorse for fuel, what I thought was a T-33 Shooting Star, a jet trainer that dates back to 1948, was on final approach to the airport. After fueling, the airport was my obvious next stop. The jet turned out to be the Canadian variant – a Canadair CT-133 Silver Star 3. Now registered in the United States as N133HH and named “Ace Maker II”, it’s privately owned, used by Greg Colyer to perform at air shows (there are some incredible photos online). Now there’s a cool “job”! 🙂

N133HH, a Canadair CT-133 Silver Star 3

Just after I arrived, so did Simon Blakesley, who is becoming very well known for the quality of his aircraft images. We had a great chat while we were shooting the various aircraft, and waiting for the vintage jet to take off.

I always enjoy being able to add new aircraft to the database at Airport-Data.com, and C-GEMB, a 2016 Embraer EMB 505 Phenom 300 based at Fort Langley, BC, is now there.

C-GEMB, a 2016 Embraer EMB 505 Phenom 300
The next interesting arrival was N7836W, which I thought was a particularly fine Piper Super Cub. It’s actually a homebuilt, from a kit built by Backcountry Super Cubs of Wyoming. It was built and is now owned by Ted Waltman of Lakewood, Colorado. I was able to add the first photo of it with a new belly cargo pod to its listing at at Airport-Data.com.

N7836W, a homebuilt Backcountry Super Cub
I don’t have many photos of Air North’s new ATR-42s, so was pleased to see C-FVGF on approach. As I was writing this post, I was also pleased to be able to update the database at Airport-Data.com again, as it still showed this plane as C-FTJB, owned by First Air. Bought by Air North in September 2016, C-FVGF is a 1988 ATR 42-300.

Bought by Air North in September 2016, C-FVGF is a 1988 ATR 42-300
Simon and I were both trying to figure out where we might be able to shoot the CT-133 Silver Star taking off, but neither of us guessed correctly. I got it taxiing and roaring down the runway, but it was hidden by buildings when it left the ground.

It’s 9°C (48°F) with a light rain falling as I’m about to post this. I guess it will be a day for inside projects, of which I have many. Summer is forecast to return tomorrow, and I’ll be back outside – I have several possible hikes in mind for the few days.

Hiking the International Falls Trail in the White Pass

After our epic hike into an unnamed valley in the White Pass on July 5th, Greg and I opted for an easier hike the next day. We had planned on climbing Summit Creek Hill, but scaled back to what is now called the International Falls Trail. This is the third time I’ve posted about this trail – the first time was in August 2013 when I discovered that there’s a view over the Chilkoot Trail if you hike far enough, and then in July 2015 I did a short hike on it. This is by far my longest post about it, though – there are 35 photos, a video and a map in this one. This trail gets my vote as the best-bang-for-the-buck trail in the region, and is infinitely scaleable – it doesn’t matter whether you want a half-hour hike or a 10-hour one, it’s superb.

The map below is the feed from my Garmin inReach – click on it to go to an interactive map and trip report at Ramblr.

My day began early when I woke up and saw a very colourful dawn beginning. The first photo was shot at Outhouse Hill, a couple of miles from the motorhome, at 04:45. That was right at official sunrise.

Sunrise in the White Pass

While I was out and about anyway, I decided to go down the hill on the Alaska side a bit and have a look at the new bridge being built at William Moore Creek. Getting there long before the work crews should allow me to get some photos.

One of the side benefits of the new bridge is the removal of a couple of curves on the road, using the rock blasted away for the approach to the new bridge.

Removing a curve on the South Klondike Highway
This is a broad view of the new bridge site.

The new William Moore Bridge site
This is what I wanted to see. I parked and walked onto the existing bridge, and created this vertical panorama by stacking 3 photos shot at 18mm. So it’s a steel culvert about 60 feet across and 60 feet above the creek, being filled with concrete above that. I have no idea how that is supposed to be earthquake-proof, but…

The new William Moore Bridge site
Back up the hill at 05:10, the morning colours were still wonderful.

Sunrise in the White Pass
Greg and I got off to a pretty late start, and friends from Whitehorse flagged me down as we left the motorhome, to confirm directions I’d given them to the Inspiration Point Mine. I led them down the highway to a spot where I could show them the access, and by 10:45, Greg and I were back up at the parking area for the International Falls Trail. In the next photo, shot from the parking area, the trail runs up the right (north) side of the unnamed creek.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
A tour company in Skagway is running guided hikes on the trail, and I assume that’s who has installed ropes for the extremely steep drop from the parking area to the valley bottom. They’re a welcome addition!

Rope-assisted drop on the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
At the bottom, a creek crossing is required – it was only up to mid-calf depth. Greg has joined me in wearing Keen sport sandals for hikes now, but many hikers carry crocs or flipflops for this crossing.

Creek crossing on the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
The next photo shows the first waterfall, just 5 minutes from the creek crossing. A side trail goes to the bottom of the falls, and it’s so beautiful that many people don’t seem to go any further than that spot.

Waterfall on the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
The Arctic lupine (Lupinus arcticus) was at its colourful peak in many spots along the trail. These plants have woolly coats that help trap heat and buffer the wind.

Arctic lupine (Lupinus arcticus) on the International Falls Trail in the White Pass

Arctic lupine (Lupinus arcticus) on the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
The creek along the lower part of the trail is an endless run of rapids and waterfalls. The trail moves away from the creek in several areas but there are side trails to any notable spots on the creek.

One of the many waterfalls along the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
Although the trail starts in Canada, you soon cross an unmarked border into Alaska. The upper waterfall in the next photo is probably the highest one along the trail.

The highest of the many waterfalls along the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
Looking back towards the highway from the waterfall seen in the photo above. At this point, we were exactly an hour from the car.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
I just never get tired of waterfalls. The beauty, the power, the infinite variety, all attract me, both as a nature-lover and as a photographer.

Waterfalls on the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
Just before noon we reached a large area where the creek flows across smooth, gently-sloping granite. I always spend a few minutes there. It’s seen in the middle section of the following video that I shot in 3 places along the trail.

The next photo pretty well summarizes the trail for me – flowers, a waterfall on a crystal-clear creek, and bare peaks looming above.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
Now up in the alpine at 12:10, the walking was easy and the views uninterrupted.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
Once into the alpine, the trail gets fainter and fainter, and often disappears as the route is snow-covered well into June.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
The average slope is much gentler in the high country, but some ledges still produce waterfalls and short but fairly steep climbs.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
Flowers of many species were still abundant in the alpine, and there were so many perfect specimens that I took many photos. Some day maybe I’ll figure out what they all are. I had highs hopes for the PlantSnap app, but it says that this is a begonia. I don’t know yet what it is, but I know what it’s not 🙂

Flowers along International Falls Trail in the White Pass
You can’t get much closer than that to the source of your drinking water to be sure it’s safe to drink.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
By 1:00 pm we were encountering more and more snow, though we were able to navigate around all of it. The trail had completely disappeared – few hikers who start the International Falls Trail come this high.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
At 1:30 we reached one of the large lakes in the alpine, at 4,060 feet elevation (1,237 meters).

A large lake in the alpine above the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
Above that lake, we had to walk across some patches of snow.

Hiking in snow above the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
My hoped-for destination for this hike was the saddle that looks down on the Chilkoot Trail. A snow-free route to it had melted out, clearly just in the past few days.

A snow-free hiking route the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
It’s amazing how fast some plants can recover once the snow melts off them. One of my readers has informed me that this is a Snow buttercup (Ranunculus nivalis) – thanks very much, Mary.

Flowers in the alpine above the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
A panorama looking back down on the upper lakes and back towards the highway.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
At 1:55, 3 hours and 10 minutes from the car, we reached the saddle. This 160-degree view of granite and glaciers, with the Chilkoot Trail far below, appears suddenly when you top the saddle. The last part of the drop from this point to the Chilkoot is extremely steep and probably not reasonable.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
I hope that you all have a place that makes you as deeply content as this location does me. But was it ever cold! The wind chill was near freezing, and we didn’t stay long.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
It’s possible to climb higher, and I have hiked to that summit, but we were happy with what we’d seen and started back down at 2:15.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
Sometimes you have to get down on your belly to see tiny alpine flowers like this Arrow-leaved coltsfoot (Petasites sagittatus).

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
In the high alpine there were some wonderful areas of sedimentary rock, with some of the layers cardboard-thin.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
As usual on my hikes, I took few photos on the way down, but this spot at 3:05 was irresistible.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
At 3:55 we were nearing the creek crossing near the trailhead, and 10 minutes later we were at the car. The total hiking time was 5 hours and 20 minutes.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
Heavy cloud had moved in as we neared the car, and by the time we reached the motorhome a few minutes later, a nasty storm was coming.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass

When we got up the next morning, visibility in fog and light rain was near zero. We packed up and headed home – to Whitehorse for me, much further to Haines for Greg.

As I finish this post off, it’s cold and wet outside – it feels like Fall. But I have plent of work that needs to be done, and when the sun does come back I have many more ideas for places to explore.