The Klondike Highway

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Emerald Lake

When we left Whitehorse we headed towards Skagway on the Klondike Highway.

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It was a sweet start on the highway. Aspens and pine trees lined the highway and small lakes dotted the way. As we passed one small lake we pulled over and spotted two trumpeter swans enjoying themselves in the sun. My first spotting of swans.

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As the road continued ,the landscape changed, we were climbing a bit, not too much but we could tell from the trees our elevation was changing.

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We were keeping an eye out for bears-so far we hadn’t spotted any. We decided we would do a leg stretch at whatever stop was up ahead. They have those little blue camera signs that indicate a photo-op up ahead. Whoa..photo op, another understatement. It was Emerald Lake, breathtaking colors. We walked along the hillside taking a ton of pictures.

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We started talking to a woman who was a tour bus straggler. Everyone else was on the bus waiting for her-guess what? She was from Newfoundland ! We told her how much we loved her province and wanted to return someday-it was so much fun meeting her-we waved her on her way.

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As we were returning to Ruby we got flagged down by some folks who had a question about our Komo carrier. Turns out the guy asking the questions was visiting from Ottawa and his friends driving him around were from the area. We chatted for a bit then he asked if we had spotted the 3 juvenile grizzlies back down the road about 3 kilometers. Yikes, no we hadn’t, we said our goodbyes drove about 7 kilometers but the grizzlies were long gone. Oh well, it was a nice break, walking and stretching our legs and meeting folks from back East.

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After leaving Emerald Lake we started to keep our eyes open for a good side road for boon docking. There was a little road down to Emerald lake and it led to a beautiful boon-docking spot. Unfortunately it was already taken and was only large enough for 1 camper. So we continued our search.

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Carcross Desert

We knew the Carcross desert was up ahead and we wanted to stop and see the worlds smallest desert. It’s stunning to come upon this in the middle of the mountains. Glacial valleys and mountains surround it and at first glance I thought hm, this is unusual.

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Yukon Lupine, more common in the Carcross Desert than anywhere else in the world

But it works, it’s beauty challenges the ruggedness of the mountains. We continued to the town of Carcross, it was jammed with tour buses so we cruised through town and promptly hit the highway !

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One of the giant gold pans in the town of Carcross

I was spending most of my time searching the sides of the road for bear or the hillsides for mountain goats. “Jim, stop , stop, mountain goats, I’m sure”.

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After giving him a minor heart attack he safely pulled Ruby off the road.

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They looked like tiny cream-colored dots until we got out the binoculars-bingo, mountain goats. Have I told you how much I am loving this trip ? Between the mountains, the lakes and the bears it just gets better and better. And now this.

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We spent about thirty minutes just watching them . After taking more than enough shots of them it was time to move on. And it was time to find a spot to spend the night.

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The first spot we pulled into was so pretty. Carpeted with a field of flowers and a perfect view of the mountains. The only fly in the ointment was the BC Highway Maintenance sign that stated no overnight camping.  We debated, figuring who would stumble upon us ?  Yes or no, stay or go?

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When a grader went past the entrance to this spot we decided that was  a sign that we shouldn’t break the rules so we pulled out and headed further down the road. Jim always thinks I’m too uptight about the rules.

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Onward we continued and just a short distance up the road we discovered another side road and about 500 feet off the highway was a nice secluded spot with a mountain view and no signs !

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Jim took Hailey for a walk in the woods, I wish I would have gone with him. I sat in Ruby imagining a grizzly got them both. Jim likes to be quiet in the woods, not me, I sing, clap my hands, talk to myself-I don’t want to surprise any bears !  He returned safely of course. We tucked ourselves in for the night-so glad we brought our Reflectix window covers. They help us forget that its light as can be outside when we go to bed at 11pm.

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After breakfast we headed down the highway towards Skagway. I was on photo alert for bear and mountain goats. Instead I spotted a sign for the Yukon Suspension Bridge. We pulled off to check it out.

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The Yukon River looking South

Admission which entitles you to walk across the bridge and stroll through the historic outdoor information area was $14-Jim decided he wasn’t going to pay that to walk across a bridge . But I did.

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The Yukon River looking North

I couldn’t believe how strong it was. Fortunately when I crossed there were no tour buses full of people there. As I was returning two full buses were arriving and folks were wandering to the bridge. I boogied back over to the other side, I didn’t want to know how much total weight the bridge could hold.

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The wooden structure on the hill is the Cliffside Restaurant, under construction, I didn’t see an opening date

Another amazing experience, standing in the middle of the bridge while the Yukon river rapids rushed below me. Wow.

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The landscape changed dramatically after the bridge. It turned into a glaciated landscape. Large lakes surrounded by glacier pot holes filled with melted snow . We pulled off to hike for a bit. We met a gentleman from Germany and he told us of his adventures with a moose at Pelly Crossing.

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We compared travel notes and discovered we were both headed to Skagway and then to Haines via the ferry. His destination was Anchorage for his return trip to Germany.

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This was his 8th trip to Alaska-he obviously fell in love with it. We said our goodbyes and figured we would probably run into each other on the ferry or in Skagway.

As we climbed in elevation out of the glaciated area we saw a sign ahead welcoming us to the US.

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We ran into another fabulous border agent for the Skagway border crossing. He laughed and joked with us and then he took our tomatoes ! I forgot I couldn’t bring tomatoes grown in Canada into the US-oh well. On to Skagway we go, without tomatoes !

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The road from the border crossing into Skagway is one heck of a hill. Your brakes had better be in good shape.

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All we could smell was someone else with burning brakes, pretty much all the way down. We stopped a couple of times just to cool ours for a bit, and soon arrived safely in Skagway.

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As we were driving into town, I could see what looked like skyscraper type hotels at the end of town-okay so I should have had my contacts in-those skyscrapers were cruise ships ! We both took deep breaths and got ready to meet up with civilization again.

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Welcome to Skagway

Until Skagway….

Happy Trails, safe travels and take time to smell the roses or watch the mountain goats !

4 thoughts on “The Klondike Highway

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