The Dog Days of Winter (a road trip to Dyea, Alaska)

The “dog days” of winter are very different than the dog days of summer (which, being hot and sultry, we don’t experience in the Yukon). Dog days are fun days, and yesterday was particularly so. I didn’t have any real plans for the day, but as soon as I saw the sun hit the snowy peak of Golden Horn, “road trip!” was the response.

It took me a while to figure out how many dogs to take. A walk convinced me that all 3 would be in on this little adventure, even if the back seat is a little crowded for Monty and Bella.

The first photo was shot as we started down the South Klondike Highway right at 10:00, with the temperature a very mild -8°C (+18°F) – sunrise was at 09:09. A minute later, we were in that fog for a few miles.

Winter fog on the South Klondike Highway
Back into the sunshine, with the temperature down to -13°C (+9°F).

Winter fog on the South Klondike Highway
Dropping down to Carcross, the Nares River was clearly not frozen (that’s what usually creates the fog).

Winter fog at Carcross, Yukon
We made our usual stop at Tutshi Lake for a dog-play. This is my “ghost car”, pretty much invisible from the rear.

Yukon ghost car - snow covered
There go The Explorers 🙂

Dogs in deep snow at Tutshi Lake, BC
There was just a breath of wind, and the temperature was back up to -8 – a wonderful day to hang around here for a while.

Dogs in deep snow at Tutshi Lake, BC
“That was deeper than I thought!!” 🙂

Dogs playing in deep snow
Tucker loves the snow!

My border collie cross Tucker playing in deep snow

Dogs playing in deep snow
The whole gang – when Tucker isn’t “swimming” though the deep snow, he floats quite well on it.

Dogs playing in deep snow

After a good long break, we went back to the car. My electronic key wasn’t in its usual pocket. A bit worried, I checked every other possible pocket – no luck! This was bad. I had to have dropped it while playing with the kids, but the odds of finding it were pretty much zero. Luckily the car was unlocked, so I could leave the dogs there and hitch-hike back to a friend’s place and phone Cathy for rescue. Damn!

As I started re-tracing my route, I occurred to me that I had fallen on some sloped ice, and that would be the most likely place to spend time sifting through the deep snow. When I got to that spot, though, Bella had found the key fob, covered by a thin layer of snow (that’s it to the left in front of her). OMG, what a relief!!

My dog Bella finds the key fob I had lost in deep snow
Okay… with that trauma settled, back on the road! Monty’s always the lead dog even when Tucker rides shotgun 🙂

My dogs Tucker and Monty on a road trip
The telegram notifying gas stations that gas prices are dropping never reached Skagway. At $2.999 per gallon, that’s higher than in Whitehorse, and I’ve never seen that before. That $2.999 US is currently $4.17 Canadian, which makes it $1.10 per liter, about 20 cents higher than Whitehorse.

Gas price in Skagway in February 2016 - $2.999 per gallon
Although Dyea was our destination, I cruised around Skagway a bit – it was quite pretty with a couple of inches of fresh snow in the past few hours. In 3 months this will be a very different scene, with throngs of cruise ship passengers filling Broadway.

Winter on Broadway in Skagway, Alaska
“We made it to Skagway’s new gold mine! A bit of sprucing up and we should be on our way to making our fortunes.” 🙂

Skagway's new gold mine - a discount t-shirt shop
The new building across from the White Pass railway depot is looking great. Certainly a lot better than the rather run-down staff-accommodation annex of the Westmark Hotel that burned there a few years ago.

New building in Skagway, Alaska
The view down Taiya Inlet from the Dyea Road. This sort of weather may not be popular for shooting tourism brochures, but I really like shooting on days like this.

A stormy day on Taiya Inlet, Alaska
The amazing annual eulachon/oolichan/hooligan run is 5-6 weeks away, but the harbour seals appear to be staged in readiness for it (I only saw one at the mouth of the Skagway River where they usually feed).

Seals in the Taiya River, Alaska
I drove as far as the Taiya River bridge, then re-thought my plan to go out onto beach. I decided that the snow was too deep, fresh and wet (the temperature was +1C/33F) to go out there, even with all-wheel-drive.

Taiya River bridge at Dyea, Alaska
The Taiya Estuary pullout was a good second choice to run the kids. It looked like the storm that dropped this snow hadn’t moved very far away yet, but the sunshine was wonderful, even warm.

Winter at the Taiya Estuary pullout at Dyea, Alaska
The view up the Taiya River.

The view up the Taiya River in the winter
The view to the south – my favourite image of the day.

The view down the Taiya Inlet in the winter
The dogs always love Dyea – so many new smells for them to explore. By the time we left, the two youngsters in particular were exhausted, and all 3 of them slept most of the way home.

One last photo – although we’re not getting much snow, the highway has been closed by small avalanches triggered by some dramatic changes in temperature. That’s the largest of the avalanches ahead, at the south end of Windy Arm.

Small avalanche on the South Klondike Highway

There, we’ve all got the Road Trip Fever calmed down for a few days at least 🙂


The Dog Days of Winter (a road trip to Dyea, Alaska) — 6 Comments

  1. Wonderful pictures Murray….clear bright skies or not so clear make for beautiful colours…..and the furry kids look so happy.
    Thanks for sharing !

  2. I sat here with my coffee this Sunday morning and savored your pictures and comments…I’ve been to all of those places, but in summer and autumn mostly, great memories for me and also have to say that those are three of the luckiest dogs ever! Do you think that they know?

  3. Wow what some beautiful pictures. I sure enjoyed them. I don’t understand gasoline being that high because there’s normally not near that much difference between Skagway and us and it was only $1.33/gal here a couple days ago. It’s probably gone up since then as they will lower it gradually then raise it 30 to 40 cents over night.

  4. Murray, so great to see three healthy dogs…just imagine the fun all of you will have in the RV this year for your planned trips…