The Beauty of Late Winter in the Yukon

On Tuesday, with very good weather forecast for most of the day, I made the drive to Skagway. Although it started off rather dull, the afternoon was amazing and I wished that I’d brought a lounge chair with me!

With the temperature at -12°C (+10°F), I left home at 07:10, 40 minutes before sunrise, planning to get some great dawn light in the mountains. There were more clouds than expected, though, so that light didn’t happen.

As we reached the big viewing area on Tutshi Lake a couple of minutes after 8, the colours of a beautiful sunrise peaked.

Winter sunrise over Tutshi Lake, BC
We spent a few minutes at that spot – the dogs got some exercise while I split my time between them and the camera. With no traffic on the road at all, having them playing and exploring beside a highway isn’t an issue. As the sun got a bit higher, I decided it was a good spot to also shoot a car portrait – you can see Bella in the front seat 🙂

Cadillac CTS portrait
The next stop was at Log Cabin. This is looking north along the White Pass & Yukon rail line, which is still a ski and snowmobile trail.

WP&YR rail line at Log Cabin in the winter
The view to the south dow the railway line, across the highway.

WP&YR rail line at Log Cabin in the winter
The Log Cabin Ski Society had started packing snow for the carvings to be done for the big Buckwheat Ski Classic this weekend.

Snow carving blocks at Log Cabin, BC
I watched the Highways rotary snow plow leave the Log Cabin parking lot, and we soon caught up to him throwing the snow further from the highway.

Highways rotary snow plow near Log Cabin, BC
This is one of my favourite views on the South Klondike Highway in any season. There’s no viewpoint or pulloff here just north of Km 40, you just have to park on the shoulder, which isn’t very wide.

Spectacular mountain view on the South Klondike Highway
I sometimes wonder whether Fraser will ever become a real town, surrounded by recreational cabins for hikers and mountain bikers in the summer and skiers and snowmobilers in the winter.

Fraser, BC
I was surprised to see a helicopter at Fraser, with some camp equipment trailers from Yukon Alpine Heliski nearby.

Helicopter at Fraser BC in the winter
There was surprisingly little sign of either skiing or snowmobiling near the summit, given the conditions.

Winter at the White Pass summit, BC
These peaks across the border in Alaska never cease to amaze me with their beauty.

Winter at the White Pass summit, Alaska

It was much colder all the way down than I had expected it to be, and after climbing to the freezing mark at the US Customs station, dropped back down to -3°C (27°F) at Skagway. Very odd. I picked up my mail, had a big breakfast at the Sweet Tooth Cafe, then went for a bit of a wander as always.

A new passenger car for the railway had recently arrived by barge and was awaiting attachment of the trucks (the wheel assembly).

A new passenger car for the White Pass & Yukon Route railway
Heading north again, this passenger car was just being shoved into the paint shop.

New paint for a passenger car on the White Pass & Yukon Route railway
It was so beautiful through the White Pass that I stopped at the large parking area at Summit Creek so we could go for a walk. The sun was very warm, and I thought that it must be above freezing, but when we left I noticed that it was actually -7C. This was the view to the south, to the summit.

White Pass summit area, South Klondike Highway
Monty – what a guy!

My husky, Monty
Bella, on the other hand, doesn’t do “regal” well – she’s all about “fun” 🙂

My young Sheltie cross, Bella
This 2-minute video will give you a better idea of how spectacular that spot was.


When we got to Fraser, the helicopter was preparing to leave, so we went for a walk to kill time until it took off. The snowmobiles heading across the frozen lake appeared to be with the heliski operator.

Snowmobiles heading across the frozen lake at Fraser, BC

Snowmobiles heading across the frozen lake at Fraser, BC
In another few weeks the old water tower for the railway’s steam trains (one of which still operates) will be surrounded by trains and tour buses.

WP&YR water tower at Fraser, BC
The grader and snow plow finally caught up with us.


C-FCHQ, a 1973 Bell 206B JetRanger, is operated by Capital Helicopters of Whitehorse. As spectacular as this country is from ground level, it’s even better from the air!

C-FCHQ, a 1973 Bell 206B JetRanger, is operated by Capital Helicopters of Whitehorse
The south-facing slopes of Dail Peak, and Montana Mountain adjoining to the north, have melted out enough that hiking isn’t far away (and is probably not unreasonable now).

Dail Peak, Yukon
That’s enough of Winter beauty – I really want Spring to arrive. The highways are clear now, but there’s still over 2 blocks of snow and ice to get my motorcycle over. I thought about giving it a shot yesterday, then chickened out – the bike is just too heavy for an old guy to drop. If the City send a plow down the road, the warm sun will melt me a path within a few hours…

Motorcycle and snow...


Comments

The Beauty of Late Winter in the Yukon — 6 Comments

  1. What a handsome fella Monty is and very patient with Bella. Pictures and video are great, thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow….what some beautiful shots. I can distinctly remember passing that place where you said was one of your favorite stops and being disappointed that there was no pullover. Probably complained to my wife about it. 🙂

  3. Beautiful winter shots, Tara ! Really made me feel the cold on my cheeks, and the incredible beauty of that road. Cheers !

  4. That drive was certainly VERY different from the one that the Journeys by VanDyke did in February , wasn’t it ?

  5. Seeing those dry roads made me think of your bike and the new jacket you have been waiting to try out… what a season contrast the summit is with all the snow…stunning.