We’ve been here just one week and we are overwhelmed by the beauty and magic of Haines and Chilkat State Park. We arrived a few days earlier than expected due to some issues with our camp stove. Turns out it was operator error, we were turning on the propane tank too quickly flooding the hose or something like that. Ben, a sweet funny guy who works at the propane shop quickly educated us and sent us on our way.
We tracked down our supervisor, Ranger Travis and he arranged to meet us at the cabin. As we took a quick tour through the campground Cow Winkle (our local moose)stuck her head out through the trees to welcome us, unbelievable.
When we pulled up to the cabin we were stunned. Apparently we had forgotten how utterly gorgeous this area is. We were awed by the glaciers, literally we were at a loss for words and just stood on the cabin deck wondering how did we get so lucky and blessed to be here.
We spent almost two hours talking and laughing with Travis. Once he left we started to set up our bed and cooking area in the cabin. We thought it was about 6 or 7 , turns out we hadn’t adjusted to the idea of 17hrs of daylight in Haines, it was 10pm by the time we sat down for dinner.
Snuggling under the covers, we both fell asleep gazing out at the mountains. After our first breakfast, my version of what I now call a Dawson City Omelet, we headed into Haines to meet the camp hosts from Chilkoot State park, John and Jolene. We met up at Travis’s office and went through a few hours of training and orientation-mostly bear safety and bathroom cleaning! Travis then took us on a tour of the “shop” area near Portage Cove .
This is where we would find our supplies, pick up mail, do our laundry and take showers. Once the tour was over Travis gave us the demo of how to clean an Alaska State Park outhouse! Now those of you who know me, know that I have said we would never take a camp host job where we had to clean bathrooms! To quote one of our recent visitors to the cabin, “this is a view and cabin that I would clean bathrooms for.” And I have to give my sweetie credit, he’s doing most of the work. I knock down spider webs, clean picnic tables and sweep the floors. I’m also in charge of the logs we keep on visitor safety, bear and weather information-much easier than suiting up to scrub toilets, lol. We are responsible for 35 campsites, a boat launch, a picnic/wedding pavilion and a trailhead. It sure beats handling 7 campgrounds, 3 group sites and an overflow area like we did in Moab.
We have to pump our own water, which is quite the cardiac workout, or we can drive 3 miles to the local artesian well along Mud Bay and fill up on ice cold crystal clear water. We are up and out of the cabin at 7am. We work fro 7-11am; are off duty from 11am-4pm; then back on duty from 4pm -8pm. We’ve had some rain on and off this week so the grass is too wet to mow, but once it dries out we will be tackling the mowing and weed eating. It may sound like a lot to some folks but it really isn’t. We get a lot of visitors stopping by the cabin-the park brochure encourages it and advertises the fact that a scope is available for viewing from the deck of the cabin. We visit with everyone and try to answer questions about the area. Former camp hosts, Jenny & John from outside of Yosemite surprised us the other evening. They had camp hosted here from 2005-2010 and shared so many stories with us about their experience.
Being a camp host here, I find that I’m upping my Fitbit steps on a daily basis. I should be up to 10000 a day by next week!
Besides being in one of the most beautiful spots in North America, the cabin and its view was our draw to this camp host gig. During our first week here this is what we viewed:
Cow Winkle, our resident moose has breakfast in our yard
Birds of all sorts flitter about while singing beautiful songs
A humpback whale cruised through directly below us, it was so quiet we could hear her spouting
One day we watched a huge male grizzly feed on the shoreline across from us
Another day we watched a sow and her two grizzly cubs feeding and cavorting on the shoreline
And today we counted 11 bald eagles feeding on the little island out in Chilkat Inlet
Once we do laundry, shower and pick up supplies we are going to start our exploration of downtown Haines. So expect to hear a lot more about this sweet little town.
Just a few items about our time on the road as we traveled here. We took the Cassiar Highway (our favorite route). We started spotting black bears outside of Whistler and our first Grizzlies were a pair we spotted outside Fraser Lake.
We discovered a few changes to Whitehorse, not many though. Our favorite bakery, the Alpine Bakery is still there and baking some of the most incredible pastries I have ever had. There was still snow on the river but folks were out enjoying the sunshine along with the bald eagles.
We boon-docked all the way to Haines and found some beautiful spots courtesy of iOverlander. Our favorite was Lake Chadden part of The Chadburn Lake Recreation Area just outside Whitehorse, Yukon.
Not only was it gorgeous , we discovered lake ice chimes. There was still ice on the lake and where it was the thinnest it had broken up into small pieces. When the wind would blow along the shoreline the ice would bounce off of the rocks, deadwood and itself while producing the most beautiful chime like sounds. We’ve never heard anything like it. Truly magical.
Our 2nd favorite spot was also outside Whitehorse up Miles Canyon.
When we woke up in the morning, Jim started to remove our front window cover and we discovered a red fox on the hood peeping in at us.
He stuck around until we broke up camp. I think he was hoping for hand outs but we make it a habit not to feed wild animals even if they are acclimated to humans. We said goodbye to our little visitor and watched as he took off down the hill towards the Yukon River.
Once we crossed the border from Canada into Alaska we were greeted by a moose on the side of the road-Welcome to Alaska ! If you have never driven the Haines Highway-please make it a priority-it is one of the most amazing roads I have ever been on.
Our weekend (Monday & Tuesday) is quickly approaching and we are looking forward to trying the local pizza. This is a completely different camp host experience from our time in Moab (which we enjoyed immensely). I’m looking forward to the camping season kicking in -which should start with high school graduation this coming Tuesday and the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend.
Oh, I almost forgot, just a bit about the cabin. It’s about 500 square feet, part of which is a small back room where we have set up a table with visitor information. We also have 3 scrapbooks that previous hosts left behind-two on local wildflowers and one on local birds. We also keep our coolers in this room because it’s much cooler and darker than the main cabin. The main cabin has a small, very old, but very powerful, wood stove.
There is a bar type table in front of the windows where we sit and enjoy our meals and morning coffee while looking out onto the water, mountains and glaciers. There is a picnic table where we keep our new Camp Chef Oven and stove. I bought this specifically for this trip so I could bake bread and other goodies , since we would be stationary for 4 months , and I love it! The desk that was here had been set up for our record keeping on one half . I am using the other half for my jewelry making. I’m going to set up an Etsy page and try to sell some of the pieces I’ve made. There was a queen size wooden bed platform here already so we brought up a memory foam mattress which is really nice to sleep on. We still keep our clothing, refrigerated food and most of our canned goods out in Ruby the Wild Heart! She’s parked just outside the cabin.
I’m sitting alongside the wood stove while writing, enjoying a hot cup of coffee while looking forward to sharing more stories with all of you. Until then, safe travels, Happy Trails and if you find yourself in Haines please stop and visit with us.