Return to Summit Creek and International Falls

This is Part 2 of the journal from a wonderful 4-day trip to the White Pass with the motorhome last week, camping at Summit Creek. The trip was so varied that I had to break it into 2 blog posts to accommodate a selection of the 381 photos remaining in the folder after editing.

Thursday, July 2nd, was gorgeous right from the start, though still windy. The first photo looking south across Summit Lake was shot at at 08:18 – I slept in pretty late after being out with my camera until midnight:30.

I’ve thought a few times that a particular spot along the trail down to the beach at Summit Lake looked like an old Cat trail. I finally decided to investigate that idea, and it is indeed an old Cat road. I followed it for about half a kilometer from Summit Creek north – it averages only about 100 meters east of the highway, and no doubt dates from an early survey (1950s?).

Old Cat road in the White Pass
The trail marker found along the Cat road is made of bamboo, about 20 inches long.

Trail marker on an old Cat road in the White Pass
It’s not all fun and games. On Wednesday night I noticed that a tire on the Tracker was disintegrating. It was still holding air but there were steel cords hanging out all over a section of it. So I put the spare tire on.

Repairing a flat tire on our Chevy Tracker toad

Repairing a flat tire on our Chevy Tracker toad

Just before 09:30, I went for a short drive to the south looking for photos. I have lots of photos of the “Welcome to Alaska” sign but I don’t think I’ve shot this angle before.

Welcome to Alaska sign on the South Klondike Highway
In a normal summer when there’s a lot of traffic, stopping on the narrow shoulder to have a close look at this lovely little waterfall north of the summit isn’t reasonable.

A little waterfall in the White Pass along the South Klondike Highway
Back at the RV, this young raven (Corvus corax) stopped by for a chat for a few minutes. I love ravens. I guess most Yukoners do – by popular vote, it became the territory’s official bird in 1985.

Yukon raven (Corvus corax)
Just after noon, I took the dogs back down to the beach.

Walking down to Summit Lake with the dogs
On the beach, looking up Summit Creek to Taiya Peak. The wind was too strong to be enjoyable, so we didn’t stay long.

Looking up Summit Creek to Taiya Peak in the White Pass
I decided that a hike up Summit Creek might get us out of the wind. That hike began in a lovely area of wildflowers.

Wildflowers along Summit Creek in the White Pass

Wildflowers along Summit Creek in the White Pass

Wildflowers along Summit Creek in the White Pass
The pups seem to all agree that beaches are great but it’s tough to beat July snow to play in!

Dogs playing in snow along on the trail to Summit Creek in the White Pass - in July

Dogs playing in snow along on the trail to Summit Creek in the White Pass - in July

The trail up Summit Creek is seldom used and isn’t easy to follow as it wanders up and down across the alpine. There are excellent views along most of it. The next photo looks to the north over Summit Lake.

A view from the trail up Summit Creek in the White Pass
And this one looks to the south over Summit Lake. It was now 2:30 and we were pretty much out of the wind.

A view from the trail up Summit Creek in the White Pass
That’s the snow patch the kids were playing in a few minutes earlier.

July snow along the trail up Summit Creek in the White Pass
Granite seemed to be enjoying himself 🙂

My dog playing in the alpine
The snow-play pooped out Bella, but as soon as I started moving, she was back in the game.

My dog Bella tired after a play in the snow in July
At 2:40 we had dropped down to the accessible part of Summit Creek between the main canyons. I thought about continuing, but decided not to push it – this was my longest hike in many months.

The accessible part of Summit Creek between the main canyons
There were patches of flowers everywhere. These tiny beauties are Alpine forget-me-not (Myosotis alpestris), made Alaska’s state flower in 1917.

These tiny beauties are Alpine forget-me-not (Myosotis alpestris), made Alaska's state flower in 1917.
Back at the highway, I decided I wasn’t ready to quit yet, so drove south along the highway until I found a spot we’d never explored before. The route started at this little lake beside the highway.

A lake and snow patch (in July) beside the South Klondike Highway
We climbed a ridge just over 100 feet high, walked along the top of it, and dropped down the other side. Bella was getting warm, and was into the first pond we came to, to cool off.

My shelty/husky cross Bella cooling off in a pond
After a short play in this snow on the shore of Summit Lake, which we reached at 3:40, we headed back to the motorhome.

Snow on the shore of Summit Lake in July
At 7:30 pm the light was beautiful, and we went for a short drive to the north with this specific photo in mind. This is at Km 34.3 of the highway. I love watching trains go across that bridge over the Thompson River.

The Thompson River near Fraser, BC
I had missed the moon rising the night before, but was determined to catch it this night. I slept for a couple of hours, then got up just after 10:00 pm. I went for a drive to the south, to be in roughly the position where it would rise over the peaks I wanted. The light was wonderful, and I took quite a few photos along the way. The next photo was shot at 10:23.

Sunset light on the peaks of the White Pass, at 10:23 pm
I first spotted a sliver of the moon at 10:48, then spent half an hour racing back and forth between Summit Creek and Outhouse Hill to get 36 images at various locations as it rose. This was the first in the series, at 11:01, with the last of the sunlight still hitting the peaks.

Moonrise in the White Pass
The next photo was shot at 11:22. Five minutes later, I took my final shot and headed back to the RV.

Moonrise in the White Pass
I had brought “Glass Monty” with me on this trip, and early on Friday morning, I took him to an area filled with granite and flowers for a portrait session.

At that same location, I shot this portrait of Taiya Peak.

Taiya Peak in the White Pass
Back at the motorhome, it was time for breakfast, first for the fur-kids, then for me.

Breakfast in the RV
At 08:08, the first semis of the day began going by – the border opens at 08:00 and there are usually 4-6 trucks waiting for that. North 60 is the main fuel hauler from the fuel barges that dock at Skagway – they have their own stations throughout the Yukon.

North 60 B train semi headed for Skagway for a load of fuel

Although the day started off to be beautiful and I had big plans for the day, clouds quickly blew in, with a very cold wind. That happened in the few minutes it took me to drive to the International Falls trailhead, where I planned a short hike without the dogs for some specific photos of the first waterfall. I almost went back to the rig for a jacket, but decided I would only be a half-hour or so, so kept going.

The trail starts with an extremely steep drop off the highway. Ropes were installed by a Skagway tour company, but anyone who trusts ropes that aren’t inspected regularly, probably shouldn’t be there. Then you have to wade across a creek – this was the deepest I’ve seen that crossing, and the water is very cold. This was shot at 08:56.

Creek crossing on the International Falls trail
The waterfall was in full flow. It can be seen from the highway, and it was that heavy flow that prompted this hike.

The first waterfall on the International Falls trail
I played around at this waterfall for half an hour, trying various settings and locations. Keeping the lens dry from the waterfall’s spray was a challenge. The next photo was shot with a ½-second exposure, f20 and ISO 100 to silken the water.

The first waterfall on the International Falls trail
At 09:30, I started back towards the highway. Although the steep drop/climb discourages many people, the International Falls trail really is a great hike, whether you just go for an hour or all day. These cliffs just south of the trailhead are unique.

Dramatic cliffs along the International Falls trail
The next photo shows the climb back up to the highway.

I had had enough of cold and wind, so when I got back to the motorhome, I broke camp, got the rig set up, and we headed for home.

The border crossing was very simple. Two new questions have been added to the usual list – did you meet anyone from Skagway, and were any goods exchanged? Nope and nope, and away we went. The final photo was shot on the climb up to Log Cabin, at 10:30.

Going through the photos makes me want to go back to Summit Creek right now, but no, I’m home for a few days. Take care, and stay safe, my friends.


Return to Summit Creek and International Falls — 8 Comments

  1. So glad to hear that you’re back to your old self, Murray👍 I so look forward to your blogs! Have a great day, Murray😎

  2. enjoyed the flowers that we don’t see in Manitoba, especially the Alpine Forget-me-nots; The Alzheimer’s Society sent me Forget-me-not seeds one year but not as pretty!

  3. Thank you again for you verry nice story’s and your great pictures.
    Whe really apriciat it.
    Thank you for all.
    Lots of greetings to you your wife and whole Whitehorse.
    Whe have been living in the top of blackstreet from 1960 till 1963 and did have a good time overthere.

  4. Stunning moon shots… ! (would not mind a few more of those in a separate page) You always delight that way! I do have a jones for the aretes in that Sawtooth Range, they are a photogs delight. Monty…what a delight he was in so many postings.
    Many smiles from reading of this fun little trip you all took…as always, thanks for sharing!

  5. I’m convinced your furkids are the happiest and most content dogs on this earth. Thank you for the stunning photos.

  6. Your photography and poetry are so evocative. I can hear the wind and water,taste the air, hear the silence. What an odd circumstance to have it all to yourself. We were meant to be there right now; a reunion of sorts. But a certain travelling virus left us stranded at home.
    Thank you.

  7. Thinking of heading to international falls this weekend, any troubles with the Canadian border getting back in? Thanks and we appreciate the write-ups!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *