Wildlife, Cruise ships and an Aussie in a Lotus!

Driving to Skagway may be one of my procrastination techniques, but it’s a particularly good one 🙂 On Friday I made the drive despite a mediocre weather report, and it turned out to be an excellent day.

I was on the road just before 9:30, and 20 minutes later took this telephoto shot of the fresh snow on Montana Mountain at Carcross.

Fresh snow on Montana Mountain at Carcross, Yukon in May

I stopped briefly at Emerald Lake hoping that the ice was gone, but although the colour of the water can be seen now, there’s still a layer of ice on it.

I was very pleased to see 4 caribou beside the highway just a couple of miles south of Carcross, including this cow, who I think is pregnant.

A pregnant caribou cow at Carcross, Yukon

I hadn’t been down to the silver-mining ghost town of Conrad in a long time, so made that detour. The road was in much better condition that I had expected.

silver-mining ghost town of Conrad, Yukon

This was the lower terminus of an aerial tramway that ran to the Mountain Hero and other Conrad silver mines, and the mine dock.

Conrad, Yukon

One of the two buildings still standing (barely). The other was a cookhouse for the mines, this one was probably a store.

Conrad, Yukon

Back on the highway, I had a look at the trail that used to be called the Sam Magee Trail but has now thankfully been given an appropriate name, the Mountain Hero (it was originally the trail used to construct the aerial tramway).

The Mountain Hero hiking trail, Yukon

The “Welcome to the Yukon” sign at the border is one of the stops that every tour bus makes. For some reason this scene makes me cringe now – I certainly don’t look back at the 17 years I spent being part of it with any regret.

'Welcome to the Yukon' sign on the South Klondike Highway

There were several mountain goats and Dall sheep on Dail Peak directly above the buses – the two upper animals are Dall sheep, the lower ones are mountain goats.

Mountain goats and Dall sheep on Dail Peak, Yukon

Another fresh snow scene along Windy Arm.

Fresh snow on the peaks above Windy Arm, BC

In another month when water levels are much higher, the Tutshi River will be an short but excellent whitewater rafting river.

Tutshi River, BC

The new restaurant at the Yukon Suspension Bridge is a few days away from completion. The view is quite impressive, and it should do well.

The new restaurant at the Yukon Suspension Bridge

The White Pass & Yukon Route rail line at Ptarmigan Point.

WP&YR rail line at Ptarmigan Point, BC

You can see the snow falling in this photo taken at Fraser, but you can’t see the strong, bitterly cold wind that was blowing. The temperature was +2°C (35.6°F) but the wind chill was well below freezing.

Snow falling at Fraser, BC in May

I had thought briefly about taking the motorcycle on this trip – I’m really glad that I didn’t!

Snowdrift across the South Klondike Highway in May

The view at the summit was much less impressive than it is on a nice day. The temperature here had dropped to 0 (32).

The view from the White Pass summit

Right at the Black Lakes, I spent quite a while watching this very healthy-looking black bear getting his fill of Spring salad.

Black bear at Skagway, Alaska

This ended my bear viewing.

Semi on the South Klondike Highway

The Carnival Spirit was again the only cruise ship in port. Because of the high winds, she’d berthed at the somewhat sheltered Railroad Dock. I always wonder how many people on the ship had any idea of the weather they might encounter this time of year – my guess is very few.

Carnival Spirit at Skagway, Alaska

I was very surprised to see a tour boat from Major Marine in Seward. Always curious about such things, I’ve sent them an email to see if they’re thinking about running tours here.

Major Marine tour boat in Skagway, Alaska

I had lunch at Glacier Smoothies, and when I pulled away, I was behind this very interesting car. I snapped this shot with the idea that I’d check his blog when I got home (the URL, http://elsiefrombottomtotop.blogspot.com is written on the back of the car). He turned left, I turned right…. and then a block up the road, I made a U-turn and followed him.

Giles Cooper and his Lotus in Skagway, Alaska

I introduced myself to Giles Cooper, and after he fueled up, we went for coffee and I got a brief rundown on this adventure (I’ll let you get the details from his blog). The weather has definitely not been his friend (rain, snow, low clouds and now wind as well), but he has a whole lot of miles to cover yet, so I hope it changes very soon. One of the questions I asked him was “why the Lotus?”. He asked if I would have followed him if he was driving a Subaru – no, I probably wouldn’t have. He simply meets far more people this way. And it is bloody cool! 🙂

Giles Cooper and his Lotus Elise in Skagway, Alaska

Another tour I need to check out – there are two of these trucks. I was on a similar tour, though in a a huge “monster truck”, at Denali a few years ago, and it was great fun.

4x4 tours at Skagway, Alaska

With the high country frozen, none of the waterfalls are very impressive. In another month Pitchfork Falls (or Goat Lake Falls) is definitely a photo op.

Pitchfork Falls along the South Klondike Highway

Back into the snow and wind at the railway’s loop track at Fraser.

The WP&YR loop track at Fraser, BC

Looking north along Windy Arm. The delta on the left, where Dail Creek flows into the lake, was the site of the small town of Wynton during the silver rush.

I stopped at Pooley Canyon, where mountain goats can sometimes be seen, and there were 3 visible at the top of the canyon.

Mounatin goats above Pooley Canyon, Yukon

This is a broader view of the same scene above. This is an exceptionally rugged canyon with access that’s tough to locate. I’ve only been to the bottom of the upper canyon twice (there’s another Conrad silver mine, the Vault, there), but I’ll be leading some friends in later in the summer, probably in July.

Pooley Canyon, Yukon

One more stop, at Carcross to check on the progress of the rebuilding of the railway bridge.

The railway bridge at Carcross, Yukon

All in all, despite the weather, it had been an excellent day! Now back to work – no, really! 🙂


Wildlife, Cruise ships and an Aussie in a Lotus! — 8 Comments

  1. Thanks for the great pictures! My wife and I are planning on renting a car in Skagway and driving to Emeral Lake in mid July. We’re cruising the inside passage on the Radiance of the Seas.

  2. Hi Mike. I’ve sailed on the Radiance of the Seas three times in Alaska – two 7-day itineraries, in 2005 and 2006, and then a 14-day in 2010. I simply love the ship – the layout, the facilities, and the general feeling of it. She’s a superb ship to experience Alaska from! My 2006 sailing was on the same itinerary as you’re on, and I posted a lengthy photojournal of the trip, at http://www.youralaskacruise.com/reviews/alaskacruises2006/page3.html

  3. Great pics as usual !!!

    One question;
    When/where did the WP&Y announce the bridge rebuilt in Carcross ?
    I guess I must have missed it somehow !

    Dave….in Warm (87F) Indian Valley, Calif.

  4. The railway doesn’t generally announce such projects, Dave – they just happen. The north side has already been done, and the schedule calls for the south end to be done before the first scheduled passenger train on May 30th. It’s been 30 years or so since I was in Indian Valley – beautiful area and I sure like the sound of 87F!

  5. Great pictures and interesting commentary. I will have a look at that Aussie blog to see where he is from.

  6. Thanks for following the Lotus and taking the picture at the gas station. Giles is my brother !!!