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.


From sun and sand to snow at Kluane Lake, Yukon — 8 Comments

  1. Great pictures Murray and by the way, we have in Quebec City at our liquor stores Yukon Brewery’S ICE FOG and it is now the beer we drink at home…….

  2. I bought Ice Fog the last time I was in a SAQ (Quebec liquor store) in Gatineau and was very happy to find it!!
    Beauty pics Murray!!

  3. Cathy, that’s a lovely picture of you happily sitting by the camp fire. I like the story of you meeting Carol and about the Take Brenda Along rock.

  4. Visited Kluane area in 2016 when we were in Alaska and Yukon for 3 months in our rv. Whitehorse is a favorite city. Some great places to eat there. From Florida to Alaska and back, 5 months, 15,000 miles. Greatest trip ever! Possibly considering it again in 2021.

    Thanks for sharing your adventures.