Yukon RVing: Exploring around Kluane Lake (Part 2)

Monday had been a busy and yet very relaxing day, and the plan was for the next couple of days to be similar.

We got off to a late start Tuesday morning (July 14 – I’m getting way behind!). Monty slept with me as usual, and Bella and Molly joined us early in the morning – perhaps 04:00 – for a few hours of snuggle time. That was all the encouragement I needed to stay in bed for a couple of hours longer than I do at home, and it was just after 07:00 when we finally got up and greeted the gorgeous morning. I wouldn’t be surprised if I never find another campground that I like as much as I do the one at Congdon Creek.

Morning at Congdon Creek Campground, Yukon
The dogs and I were back on the road just before 10:00, with no particular goal in mind. I mentioned yesterday that the creeks along Kluane Lake are a problem for highway engineers and maintenance crews. Nines Creek at Km 1676.8 of the Alaska Highway is an example – water hasn’t flowed down this channel in quite some time, but when the flash floods do happen again, everything is in place to handle it.

Nines Creek, Alaska Highway Km 1676.8
The next creek channel, though, Mines Creek, at Km 1677.5, sees heavy flows fairly regularly. It’s been many years since I’ve seen Mines and some of the other creeks along this section of the highway full and even overflowing, but I remember the sight well – it’s extremely impressive!

Mines Creek, Alaska Highway Km 1677.5
I wish that I had a better photographic record of all the lodges that have come and gone along the Alaska Highway since I started driving it in 1990. The Destruction Bay RV Lodge is one of the newer additions, having been built perhaps 15 years ago, but even it has been opened and closed at least a couple of times.

Destruction Bay RV Lodge, Yukon
I decided to take a few more photos at Burwash Landing. The first stop was the Kluane Museum of Natural History again, but this time I wanted to see what’s around back. It used to be promoted as part of the museum, and I quickly saw why it isn’t anymore. The cabin and cache in this photo are both rotten and vandalized – certainly not safe to invite visitors to see.

Rotten buildings at the Kluane Museum of Natural History
The really sad part about the back area is this fine collection of wagons and other artifacts that’s only partially protected and now seldom seen. I’d love to see this collection moved to the Yukon Transportation Museum.

Wagons at the Kluane Museum of Natural History, Burwash Landing
Jimmy Johnson built this log house for his very large family in 1929. It was originally located on the shore of Kluane Lake, but was bought by the Jacquot brothers, who owned the lodge and trading post, and moved away from the lake to be used as staff housing.

Jimmy Johnson cabin in Burwash Landing, Yukon
The “Moose Horn Cabin” was built by Louis Jacquot in about 1939.

Moose Horn Cabin in Burwash Landing, Yukon
As 3:00 approached, I drove back towards Sheep Mountain, for a look at another section of old Alaska Highway. This one is below the new highway at Km 1651.9.

An old section of the Alaska Highway at Sheep Mountain, Yukon
This boat launch is on that bypassed section of old highway.

Boat launch on Kluane Lake, Yukon
I should have taken advantage of the only calm period we had to launch the canoe, but didn’t.

A spectacular calm day Kluane Lake, Yukon
Next, I wanted to have a good look at the old Alex Fisher cabin at the foot of Sheep Mountain. This is the way it looks from the modern highway eastbound, with his grave directly above the cabin.

Alex Fisher cabin at the foot of Sheep Mountain, Yukon
You can drive right up to it on this section of the old highway, which runs off the short access road for Parks Canada’s Tachäl Dhäl (Sheep Mountain) Visitor Centre.

Tachal Dhal (Sheep Mountain) Visitor Centre, Kluane Park
Alexander Fisher was an important guy in this area for almost 40 years, doing a wide variety of things including having the mail contract.

Alex Fisher cabin at the foot of Sheep Mountain, Yukon
Looking from the cabin to the shed beside it, I was rather shocked to see a shadowy figure inside the shed, half hidden by willows.

Shed beside the Alex Fisher cabin at the foot of Sheep Mountain, Yukon
When I went for a closer look, this is what I found. A high-quality mannequin of a First Nations woman, typing on a computer. On the monitor, an “Error” message has been glued – it says: “Error. Cultural Identity not found.”, with buttons for “Accept Change” and “Try again”. I love it! A reporter from CBC saw a composite photo of this creation that I posted to Travel Yukon’s Facebook page, and phoned me for an interview. During their research for an article about it, they found the artist, Kelly Wroot. You can hear their interview with him here.

Art installation at Alex Fisher's historic cabin in the Yukon
We next climbed up to Mr. Fisher’s grave, which has a panoramic view of the Slim’s River valley. It’s a wonderful place to reflect on what life would have been like for people like him before the highway came. He died a few months before the first U.S. Army surveyors arrived.

Grave of Alexander Clark Fisher, 1870-1941 - Sheep Mountain, Yukon
This is the view from Mr. Fisher’s grave. The new highway is to the left, the abandoned section of highway runs across the middle, and the Parks Canada centre is to the right.

The spectacular view from the grave of Alexander Clark Fisher, 1870-1941 - Sheep Mountain, Yukon
One of the other little projects I had in mind for this trip was to get more photos of 2 of the abandoned lodges along the Alaska Highway in the area. This first we visited was Kluane Lake Lodge at Km 1641. After being abandoned for many years, it was re-opened shortly after I arrived, probably in 1991, but only lasted for about 3 years.

Abandoned Kluane Lake Lodge at Km 1641 of the Alaska Highway
I recall it as being run on a shoestring budget, and never did see a reason to stop in.

Abandoned Kluane Lake Lodge at Km 1641 of the Alaska Highway
The large pullout at Km 1642.1 was much busier than it had been the day before, with good reason – the beach was warm and calm. The ramp at the west end of the pullout was rebuilt several years ago and has no issues – it’s wide and slopes gently.

RVs in pullout on Kluane Lake at Alaska Highway Km 1642.1
The ramp at the east end is an entirely different situation, and I couldn’t believe that this guy went out it. It seems to me that he wasn’t too far from having a lot more work to do than just re-packing all the stuff that flew out of his cupboards!

A dangerous pullout ramp on the Alaska Highway
The next lodge to visit was the former Bayshore Lodge at about Km 1653. It closed in 2000.

Abandoned Bayshore Lodge on Kluane Lake, Yukon
The final thing that finished the Bayshore off was the last re-routing of the highway – the lodge was not very visible anymore, and the new access was simply too awkward.

Abandoned Bayshore Lodge on Kluane Lake, Yukon
Seeing the Bayshore close was particularly sad for Cathy and I, as the owners had become good friends. This was the last room I stayed in at the Bayshore.

Abandoned Bayshore Lodge on Kluane Lake, Yukon
Putting your heart and soul into a place and then having to just walk away…

Abandoned Bayshore Lodge on Kluane Lake, Yukon
Okay, enough sadness – time for some beach play!!!

Beach of Kluane Lake, Yukon

Dogs running on the beach of Kluane Lake, Yukon
We got back to the RV just before 6:30. This photo shows one of the reasons that I love Congdon Creek – the sites are huge (the beach is about 100 feet in front of the rig).

RVs at Congdon Creek Campground, Yukon
The wind had picked up again to the point that being outside wasn’t very pleasant, particularly for Molly, so we had a quiet night in. Molly still has some places to explore in the rig 🙂

My cat Molly exploring our RV
…but by 9:00, Bella was in bed – it had been a very busy day for my little girl.

My puppy Bella in our RV
Just after 05:00 on Wednesday morning, I opened my eyes for some reason, and saw an odd orange glow. When I got up, this was the view. Time to take the kids for a walk!!

Sunrise at Congdon Creek Campground, Yukon
We spent half an hour walking up and down the beach. The changing colours and patterns in the sky, on water, and on the mountains were wonderful.

Sunrise at Kluane Lake, Yukon

Sunrise at Kluane Lake, Yukon

Once the colours had faded, we went back to bed for a couple of hours. By the time we were ready for the day’s activities, the wind had picked up again and clouds had moved in, so I decided to wander slowly home after lunch. Cathy would be getting home from Ontario Friday night, and I had lots of work to do before then.

I wanted to go for one more long walk, and decided that continuing past the end of the Soldier’s Summit trail would take us down to the Sheep Mountain interpretive centre. As it turned out, that’s not the case, though – a few hundred yards past this point, a large and extremely steep and rock slide made any further progress too dangerous to attempt with 2 dogs. Things happen for a reason, though – even with the shorter walk, Monty was done, and I had to help him up the RV stairs. I need to rely less on what he’s telling me by running down the beach laughing, and more on what I think he can handle now.

Soldier's Summit trail
It had been a wonderful 3 days, but Mother Nature had one more gift for me. There’s no sight that thrills me to the core more than seeing a grizzly, and just before 2:00, we came upon this magnificent fellow eating soapberries beside the road. The dogs couldn’t see him from their position on the floor – even though there are windows that they can see out, they didn’t go to them.

Grizzly bear eating soapberries beside the Alaska Highway west of Haines Junction, Yukon
When the 3rd vehicle stopped, he decided that he’d had enough, and slowly wandered off into the bush.

Grizzly bear eating soapberries beside the Alaska Highway west of Haines Junction, Yukon
Headed home, at Marshall Creek, just east of Haines Junction.

The Alaska Highway at Marshall Creek, just east of Haines Junction, Yukon

It’s now July 24th as I post this, and in a few hours, after Cathy gets off work, we’ll be driving out to Congdon Creek Campground, again, but with Cathy this time. The weather forecast is good, but I’m not too worried about weather this time as I really don’t have any plans beyond relaxing and perhaps getting some writing done.



Comments

Yukon RVing: Exploring around Kluane Lake (Part 2) — 2 Comments

  1. Great pictures Murray and that grizzly, beautiful. I always pass right by Congden creek campground and head for Cottonwood Park because most of the time needing to clean up, and do some washing. The owners there are quite friendly but the next time around, Congden seems like a beautiful place also . Monty still looks great.

  2. Haviong just returned from a week in the Adirondack Park of NYS, where I was hot, sticky, buggy,too darn many campers about and the scenery and views are poor compared to what I see that you enjoyed. Always more than a bit jealous of your travels.