A drive to Skagway – sun, torrential rain, and heavy snow

My last attempt to drive to Skagway didn’t turn out well, but on Friday (November 22nd), I had the urge to have another go at it.

I checked 511yukon this time and things looked good. The yellow means partly covered with snow, black is bare, and white is covered with snow. The weather forecast for Whitehorse was cloudy in the morning, with a high of +5°C (41°F) and then clearing later. For Skagway it was rain and 46°F (+8°C).

Yukon road report
The scattered clouds at home produced some nice light for the frost early in the morning. It was +2 when I headed down the road at 10:50.

Frosty pine in the Yukon
Unlike the crazy temperature swings the previous week, it only ranged between +1 and +3 all the way to the White Pass summit. While you might think that the weather doesn’t look too good in the next photo (shot at 11:18), to me it looked like good photography ahead ๐Ÿ™‚

Along the South Klondike Highway
Brute Mountain at Carcross.

Brute Mountain at Carcross
At the Bove Island viewpoint, the light on the island wasn’t good but Lime Mountain was nicely lit up.

Lime Mountain along the South Klondike Highway, Yukon
The light on Dail Peak along Windy Arm was particularly good right at noon.

Dail Peak along Windy Arm, South Klondike Highway, Yukon
The next photo, shot just south of the Yukon-BC border, was processed as an HDR to exaggerate the great storm light on the mountains and wet road. It was +3 with a very light rain falling – despite the road report of “bare,” it was quite icy.

Storm light on the South Klondike Highway, Yukon
Even though I had left Tucker and Bella at home, I made our usual stop at Tutshi Lake and shot a few photos.

Tutshi Lake, BC

Tutshi Lake, BC

The rain falling at highway level along Tutshi Lake was snow just a little way up the mountains.

Snowy trees along the South Klondike Highway, BC
Just south of Log Cabin, although there was sun and it was +1, there was a light snow falling.

A late-November drive on the South Klondike Highway, BC
Sometimes the views at the Canada-USA border are spectacular. Other times, not so much ๐Ÿ™‚

The Canada-USA border on the South Klondike Highway

I hadn’t felt too bad until I hit the really winding section of highway dropping down from the summit. That made me quite sick.

Crossing into Alaska was quick and simple as usual. Two Customs officers I hadn’t seen before, both women, were on duty. I always wonder what brings people to a post like Skagway. A few miles further south, winter was gone.

The South Klondike Highway just north of Skagway, Alaska
I had a relaxing, excellent lunch at The Station in Skagway. While I was there, it started raining – and soon turned to torrential rain. I did a loop around town, but as I started up Broadway to head home, I had a pretty good idea what was going to happen as I climbed back into the mountains.

Torrential rain on Broadway in Skagway, Alaska, in late November
I made a short stop at the WP&YR yards, but the rain was so heavy the photos I took are from the car window.

WP&YR locomotives in November
The rain started to turn to snow just north of Customs.

Rain turning to snow on the South Klondike Highway just north of Skagway, Alaska
As I neared the William Moore Bridge, the snow was extremely heavy.

Heavy snow falling on the South Klondike Highway
The new pullout at the William Moore Bridge is very nice. The old bridge is securely fenced off now, but it supposed to be opened to foot traffic at some point. Perhaps the National Park Service hasn’t come up with a complete plan for it yet.

The new pullout at the William Moore Bridge
A woman in the grocery store said that 2 feet of snow was forecast for the White Pass that night, and the way it was coming down, I could see that possibility. The next photo was shot just south of Summit Creek, at 2:40.

Heavy snow falling on the South Klondike Highway
At Canadian Customs, when I asked what I was down for, I said “just wandering.” His response as he looked around was “really??” – I said the light was really good when I was southbound ๐Ÿ™‚

Coming up to Canadian Customs at Fraser, BC, in the winter
Back to great light at Dail Peak just south of the BC-Yukon border. When I stepped out to take this photo, I discovered just how icy the road still was.

Great light at Dail Peak on the South Klondike Highway
The last photo of the day was shot just south of Conrad at 3:30.

I got home at about 4:30 and texted Cathy “I beat it!” A full day and I hadn’t hit the dreaded “wall” ๐Ÿ™‚

But… Saturday was bad. I did nothing all day. And Sunday was much worse – I was very sick, the worst I’d been in weeks. Two steps forward and 3 back? By Monday I was back to “the new normal,” though. Will I make that drive again knowing how sick it might make me? At this point I don’t know. Probably not, without some sort of plan to do something different (a sleep in Skagway perhaps).


A drive to Skagway – sun, torrential rain, and heavy snow — 18 Comments

  1. Awwwww, I’m sorry for your pain. Your beautiful photos made me smile this morning. Thanks and keep fighting!

  2. So enjoy your postings. 2016 three months in Alaska in our rv, 5 months on the road altogether from Florida. Whitehorse our favorite city. Made this same drive to Skagway and back both in the rv and the toad. Drove toad to Inuvik and flew to Tuktoyatuk. Your posts bring back so many pleasant memories. Hope and pray your health continues to improve.

  3. Hi Murray,
    Hereโ€™s hoping the pain and debilitating symptoms decrease soon.
    All the best.

  4. Sincerily hope you will be able to make that drive again soon {without pain} Your photography is the very best, even the rainy day ones!!! Hang in there!!

  5. Just discovered your blog a month ago
    while looking for Farwell Canyon info.

    Your well described and varied repertoire
    and superb landscapes draw me back for more.

    Thank you

  6. Murray…you know me as a longtime reader and admirer of your posts, your enthusiasm and interests in so many aspects of the northern life and history…. I’ve not commented the last few posts as I could not quite articulate in any meaningful way my thoughts as to your current issues. So for me… it was a silence, that was equally uncomfortable for someone who has spoken of you in my household so many times… ‘Murray’…my wife and sons know who I talk about. And we all have enjoyed hundreds of your pictures and dozens of your posts over the last few years.

    Bless you my friend…and that good health returns to you very quickly in 2020 and equally good wishes for Cathy and the furry kids. We miss your good cheer, travels, pics and life perspectives in our own lives down here in coastal New England.

  7. Murray, hereโ€™s hoping that no news is good news๐Ÿ˜Ž Happy New Year, and I hope your 2020 is your best year yet๐Ÿฅ‚