Valentine’s Day with Yukon Wildlife & Huskies

Saturday was Day 11 of our Yukon Quest tour – the final full day. It was a day to see some Yukon wildlife, and one last look at the world of dog sledding.

Our first stop was at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve, which opened early for us and had the bus warmed up for our tour around the 700-acre property.

Yukon Wildlife Preserve in the winter
The wildlife-design touques in the little gift shop were a hit 🙂

Wildlife-design touque at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve
At each of the major animal pens, we got off the bus and our guide, Maureen, did an excellent job of describing the animals and their lives in the wild and at the preserve. This is one of the wood bison (Bison bison athabascae).

Wood Bison at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve in the winter
In all of my trips to the preserve (Cathy and I are members), I’d never seen the moose (Alces alces) right up at the fence before. This is the only moose at the preserve now – 3 others have died of old age in recent years.

Bull moose at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve in the winter
Across from moose habitat is the pasture and forest where a large herd of mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) live. Although the deer could jump the fence if they wanted to, life there is apparently good – in fact a couple of years ago a wild mule deer jumped into the enclosure and has never left 🙂

Visitors at the mule deer habitat at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve in the winter
As the climate changes, mule deer have become much more common and are ranging further north in the Yukon, and cougars are following that expansion.

Mule deer at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve in the winter
The thinhorn sheep (Ovis dalli) were being particularly photographer-friendly! These dark rams are Stone sheep (Ovis dalli stonei).

Thinhorn sheep at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve in the winter
The white thinhorns are known as Dall sheep (Ovis dalli dalli), and are the most numerous in the Yukon.

Dall sheep at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve in the winter
The muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus) were unfortunately at the far end of their enclosure.

Mush oxen at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve in the winter
A mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) in his favourite position, high on a cliff overlooking the road. There were several up there as well as one in a meadow beside the road.

Mountain goat at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve in the winter
The lynx were visible, unlike the common situation in the summer when they’re usually hidden by leaves and other vegetation, but I wasn’t able to get any good photos. The little Arctic foxes (Alopex lagopus), however, were very cooperative.

at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve in the winter
After our 2-hour visit to the wildlife preserve, we drove to Muktuk Adventures, a sled dog kennel operated by Frank Turner and Anne Taylor. As well as spending some time with the dogs, the Muktuk staff was preparing a special farewell lunch for us.

Muktuk Adventures near Whitehorse, Yukon
Staying in Valentine’s mode, there was plenty of Husky Love to go around with their 126 dogs 🙂 I’ve been to Muktuk many times over the years, both winter and summer, and always love it – these dogs have great lives.

Husky love at Muktuk Adventures near Whitehorse, Yukon

Valentine's Day husky love at Muktuk Adventures near Whitehorse, Yukon

Husky love at Muktuk Adventures near Whitehorse, Yukon
The walls of the dining room are filled with posters and other memorabilia from Yukon Quest race history, going right back to the first one in 1984.


Frank Turner truly is a mushing legend in the Yukon. He attempted the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest 24 times in 25 years, crossed the finish line 17 times, placed in the top six 10 times, and won the race once, in 1995. Working on the Rules Committee for the race now, he keeps up with the details of the sport, and can tell stories all day.

Yukon mushing legend Frank Turner at his home near Whitehorse
Frank’s stories certainly keep people’s attention. Our lunch was as delicious as it sounded, with bison, elk and Arctic char as well as salad, potatoes and vegetables.

Guests listening to Frank Turner's dog sledding stories

The 3 hours that we spent at Muktuk was a great way to wind the trip up. I was hoping that a Northern Lights show would be the bonus, but although I checked several times during the night as the forecast was good and the skies clear, no luck.

At 03:20 this morning, I drove back into town to take everyone to the airport for their first flight of the day, to Vancouver. It really was an awesome trip to be able to share with my new friends, and I’m sorry to see it end. But, in 10 days I fly to Vancouver for the next Adventure, bringing a U-Haul up to Whitehorse – and I have a lot of work to get done around the house in those 10 days 🙂



Comments

Valentine’s Day with Yukon Wildlife & Huskies — 2 Comments

  1. As always, thanks much for sharing…not only your adventures, your wonderful pictures, your enthusiasm! Many coffee and lunch break are enlivened by a look see at your latest…

  2. thank you Murray , you made the trip a huge success , your knowledge of the North is fantastic , they are lucky to have you to promote it. Also thanks to Jeremy for sharing his stories from when he lived there. Hope to come back one day.