A White Pass RV getaway – 3 days of hiking and aurora

I needed a mountain getaway, so last Monday drove the motorhome down to the White Pass for a few days. The weather forecasts called for 3 days of good weather, then rain. Getting out in the mountains and being disconnected were just what I needed.

I left home just before noon on Monday. The Alaska Highway is just ahead in the first photo – Whitehorse is a few kilometers to the left, Adventure to the right 🙂

Fireweed Drive and the Alaska Highway at Mary Lake, Yukon
After getting parked at my usual spot just south of Summit Creek, I continued on to Skagway, where I planned to photograph a couple of ships I didn’t have in my files. But the American Constellation had already left, and the Silver Muse wasn’t in a photo-friendly position, so I got neither. I don’t find Royal Caribbean’s massive Ovation of the Seas very interesting, but that’s her in the next photo, with the Alaska ferry Columbia in front.

Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas at Skagway, Alaska
While I was out on the breakwater trying to get a good angle on the Silver Muse, I got a few photos of the Small Boat Harbor.

Small Boat Harbor at Skagway, Alaska
Back up top, I checked in with Canada Customs, and took a few photos of railcars on the WP&YR train that was there picking up passengers. Steel-bodied car #209, named “Lake Bernard”, was built in 1993 and has a wheelchair lift and seating for 26 people.

I went back to the RV, fed the fur-kids dinner, then on our after-dinner walk, decided that the light was so lovely, the dogs and I should go down to the beach below us on Summit Lake.

One of the lingering problems from my injury 5 weeks ago is an odd disorientation. As many times as I’ve walked the trail down to Summit Lake, I didn’t recognize most of it. That’s a bit unnerving given some of the places I hike.

Walking to Summit Lake in the White Pass
It felt so good to be back on that beach. Bella was in the water immediately, and I’d brought Tucker’s ball so we had a good play. We didn’t stay long – it cooled off dramatically as soon as the sun dropped behind Summit Creek Hill.

Walking on the beach of Summit Lake in the White Pass
I didn’t sleep very well that night. When I was up at 02:30 I noticed a bit of aurora borealis in the sky to the north, so I went out and photographed that for a while. The next photo has the motorhome in it.

Aurora borealis in the White Pass
The display peaked just after 03:00 – the next photo was shot at 03:03.

Aurora borealis in the White Pass
The next image intrigues me – with no change in the camera settings and no change in the aurora, the colour is quite different. The photo above is accurate colour – the one below isn’t. Having other lights in the photo can change the way cameras record the colour of the aurora, but with that not being the case here, I don’t know what did it.

Aurora borealis in the White Pass
My parking spot, seen at 09:00 Tuesday morning from the area where I walk the dogs.

RV boondocking in the White Pass
I spent about 3 hours reading, then heard a train horn so decided to go for a drive up to Fraser to see if any good photo ops presented themselves. A short walk got me the next photo of Summit Lake.

Summit Lake in BC's White Pass
Another White Pass train was loading passengers, but I’d have to go through Customs to get any photos of it.

Fraser, BC, with a WP&YR train
The Customs post at Fraser is a pretty quiet station, with a couple of short rushes during peak touring times.

The Customs post at Fraser, BC
It was a gorgeous day, so I decided to give a real hike a try. Summit Creek would be a good test, with no long or steep climbs. By 1:30 Bella was immersed in her favourite element 🙂

Dogs wading in a smal pond along Summit Creek
The kids were having a ball, and I was doing well.

My dogs on a hike along Summit Creek in the White Pass
It was a slow hike for me, but the Fall colours were coming along nicely so there were plenty of reasons to stop for a minute or two.

Fall colours along Summit Creek in the White Pass
Imagine the forces that can do that to a wall of granite. It’s about 15 feet high.

A wall of granite along Summit Creek in the White Pass
When there’s a dry way to go and a wet way, always choose the wet way, Bella says 🙂

My dogs in a little creek along Summit Creek in the White Pass
We stopped in the lower canyon of Summit Creek. The water level was much lower, and the water much clearer than it had been 5 weeks before.

We were back at the highway in about an hour and a half. It had been a very good hike.

The next photo shows the view to the south from the RV at 5:00 pm, shot at 400mm.

Dramatic peaks in the White Pass
Molly is always happy to have her family back. She loves the RV life 🙂

My cat Molly in the RV
Once the kids were fed, a nice but simple dinner for me – Italian sausage and seasoned rice with a nice bottle of red wine while finished reading “The Mindful Hiker” by Stephen Altschuler.

Simple dinner in the RV
It had been a busy day, and taking my cane on the day’s final dog-walk was a comfort. Taking a walk in my pyjamas – one of the pleasures of boondocking in the middle of nowhere. Also one of the pleasures of not caring what anybody thinks about it 🙂

Taking a walk in my pyjamas
I also did a a bit of photography of berries and Fall colours (and dogs) on that last walk.

Berries and Fall colours in the White Pass
Two days before the full moon, the world was pretty interesting when I woke up at 02:00 so I went out and did some shooting. The full moon overpowers all but the strongest of aurora displays.

Aurora as seen with a full moon in the White Pass
With the Autumn Equinox fast approaching, this is no longer The Land of the Midnight Sun – this photo of the dawn colours was shot at a much more normal 07:04.

Dawn colours in the White Pass
On Wednesday morning I went down for a look at progress on the William Moore Bridge, before the highway opened and work crews arrived. I expect that now that the gully has been filled with rock from the bridge approach construction, this curve will soon be eliminated.

A curve on the South Klondike Highway north of Skagway
While the light was still rather dim, I drove past the bridge and took a few blurred-water shots of Bridal Veil Falls. This one was shot at 0.8 of a second.

Bridal Veil Falls, Skagway
Back to the bridge. They’re down to the finishing now – it looks like paving will happen soon.

William Moore Bridge, South Klondike Highway
A final shot of the bridge construction site. I expect that the next time I go down, that will all be cleaned up.

William Moore Bridge, South Klondike Highway
Driving back to the motorhome, I noticed some low-lying fog in the distance, so continued on for a look, as it often produces some interesting photo ops. I love the colour of the dawn light in the next photo.

Fog at dawn in the White Pass
Dropping down into the shade, the colours were dramatically different.

Fog at dawn in the White Pass

After breakfast I decided to try a much more challenging hike. I’ll tell you about that outing in the next post.


A White Pass RV getaway – 3 days of hiking and aurora — 2 Comments

  1. Always impressed by your feel for a good shot. Got a kick out of seeing your tiny notebook and pen on the RV dining… (got one of those 365 24/7 for any thought or need) and gasped at the disparity in size between the cruise liner and the AK Ferry ship. Floating hotel…wouldn’t want to be in that monster in any big seaway and wind.