Road Trip – only to Skagway but it’s a start…

I had planned to drive to Skagway on Monday, but a heavy snowfall on Monday night resulted in the South Klondike Highway being closed for avalanche control between Skagway and the summit. Early on Tuesday, though, I headed south.

The glorious colours of the sunrise on the peaks of Gray Ridge at 07:24 put the day off to an excellent start.

Winter sunrise along the South Klondike Highway, Yukon
After a few minutes of great colour, the clouds closed in and the light went flat. Even in flat light, though, this view of Lime Mountain is one of my favourites along the highway, and it often stops me for a photo or two.

Lime Mountain - South Klondike Highway, Yukon
The light wasn’t conducive to doing any more shooting until I got near the White Pass summit at 08:30. There, there was some wonderful contrast in the light – the foreground wasn’t any brighter, but the extremely dark skies towards Skagway made it seem so.

Winter in the White Pass summit area
Looking across Summit Lake to the railway summit and the Sawtooth Range of mountains.

Winter in the White Pass summit area
The final climb up to the White Pass summit, which tops out just south of the BC/Alaska border at 3,292 feet (1,003 meters). The temperature at the summit was -1°C (+30°F), very mild for mid-March.

Winter on the South Klondike Highway in the White Pass summit area
Heading downhill to Skagway. A friend had told me that the summit had gotten a foot of new snow on Sunday night, but it looked like about half that. The total snow depth now is perhaps half of an average year and 1/4 of what it is in a heavy year.

Winter on the South Klondike Highway in the White Pass summit area
The project to replace the William Moore Bridge will start again in about a month, I expect. The project just says “after the spring thaw.” By the end of August, traffic will no longer go across this bridge, though it’s thankfully being saved as an historic artifact.

William Moore Bridge, South Klondike Highway

With virtually no wind (quite unusual for Skagway), there was a bit of a temperature inversion happening. The temperature climbed to +5°C (41°F) at the US Customs post as expected, but then dropped back down to +2/36 in Skagway.

This trip had one major purpose – to pick up a new lens for my camera. A quick stop at the post office, a loop around town, and I’d be heading north again. I’m dog-sitting for a few days, and though I don’t mind leaving Bella and Tucker for 8 hours, I’m not confident that the enlarged pack won’t look for trouble 🙂

The Skagway post office
At the far end of Broadway, crews were busying hauling snow away. In about 6 weeks when the first cruise ships arrive, Broadway will look very different!

Winter on Broadway in Skagway, Alaska
Over at the Small Boat Harbor, the snow was deep and sloppy – not a good day for even a short walk.

Snow at the Small Boat Harbor in Skagway, Alaska
I was hoping that Alaska Seaplanes’ new Pilatus PC-12 would be at the airport, but it was the usual Cessna 208B Grand Caravan. Still a fine aircraft, but I wanted to see the Pilatus. Actually, I really want to fly in the Pilatus – it’s very fast, cruising at 528 km/h / 328 mph or climbing at 1,920 ft/min.

Cessna 208B Grand Caravan N754KP at Skagway
There goes the Caravan, off to Juneau. That is an incredible route to fly.

Cessna Caravan taking off from Skagway on a snowy March day
It took a few minutes to do the paperwork to get my lens into Canada, but once across, it was great to see a helicopter about to take off from Yukon Heliskiing’s camp at Fraser. That’s Horizon Helicopters’ 1998 Eurocopter EC120B, serial #1019. With the new lens now on the camera, I was pretty excited to see how it performs.

Eurocopter EC120B at the Yukon Heliskiing camp
The light still wasn’t very good for photography until I started to drop down to Windy Arm.

South Klondike Highway in the winter
That’s a lot of bare rock on Dail Peak!

Winter on Dail Peak, South Klondike Highway
Looking north along Windy Arm from the historic Venus silver mill.

South Klondike Highway along Windy Arm
I stopped to get a few photos of a project that has just started at Carcross, to replace the wooden highway bridge. This is a job that should have been done about 20 years ago, but they just spent weeks putting a new deck on the bridge a few months ago.

South Klondike Highway bridge over the Nares River at Carcross

South Klondike Highway bridge over the Nares River at Carcross
I got home at about 1:00, and the fur-kids were raring to get outside and play! And I was happy for more opportunities to test the lens. Granite, who joined us as a foster puppy 16 months ago, is a very comfortable part of our pack now and we’re always happy to have him back.

Our rescue dogs Tucker, Bella, and Granite
I’m thrilled to have a lens that can capture Tucker like this. Our vet said that he’s “18 pounds of pure muscle”, but she didn’t notice the 2 pounds of attitude 🙂

Our rescue dog Tucker
When he was a baby called Raspberry, we thought that Granite was going to be a big dog, but he’s just a little guy.

Our rescue dog Granite
This will be my standard setup for normal shooting now – a Canon EOS 7D with a Canon 24-105 lens. The camera body is 28.9 oz./820g, and the lens is 28 oz./795g. The EF-S 18-200 that had been my standard lens was 21 oz./595g, so I added half a pound. Seeing the results from this lens, though, I’m actually glad that I dropped and smashed the 18-200 – it was a really poor lens that I should have gotten rid of years ago.

Canon EOS 7D with a Canon 24-105 lens


Road Trip – only to Skagway but it’s a start… — 5 Comments

  1. Nice to see you back on the road with wonderful pictures. The scenery is awesome and thanks for sharing. Needless to say, the furry kids look great.

  2. Murray -worth the wait! Great pics of the drive.

    Is the new Canon lens a step up in glass or series…what makes it better (from a fellow Canon owner who knows their zoom lenses are a big step down from their fixed) than the old one?

  3. Good read on the review…learned lots from that …putting it on my want list…but first a new body. As a photographer, I may be found wanting, better equipment will only take me so far.

    • It’s very true that a person with a really expensive camera may or may not be a photographer – he may simply be a person with a really expensive camera.