We’ve gotten spoiled to this point. The roads have been so good, and the wildlife so prolific, that we actually found today a little disappointing. We “only” saw 1 coyote, 2 black bears and 1 swan the whole day. We left the Alaska Highway just outside Whitehorse, YT and turned north on the Klondike Highway. For 6 hours and 350 miles we traveled on an often very bumpy due to frost heave, sometimes pot-holed, sometimes gravel road that was the least predictable surface we’ve been subject to yet. It’s not that it was so awful – logging highways back home are sometimes worse when we go hiking. But it was a change from what we’ve experienced the last 2,000 miles. And furthermore, the scenery was less interesting. We had hills instead of mountains, none snow-capped, broad plains, and very small trees with little variation in type. Much of the area was severely burned more than 50 years ago, and the devastation is still quite apparent, in part because the growth since then has been sparse and small. We attribute this to the short growing season this far north, but that’s just a guess.
Nonetheless, it was a blue sky, warm day with temperatures topping 80 degrees by the time we arrived in Dawson City, YT. We spent the afternoon in town wandering the boardwalks, looking at 100-year-old buildings from the Gold Rush era, and were disappointed the First Nation (what Canadians call the folks we call Native Americans in the U.S.) Cultural Center hasn’t yet opened for the season (June 1). Dawson City is very tiny, as are all the cities this far north, with only 1,500 residents.
Tomorrow we take off for another previously unplanned modification to the itinerary. The Dempster Highway leaves the Klondike Highway a little east of Dawson City where we are now, and travels north 460 miles into the Northwest Territories, crossing the Continental Divide 3 times, and passing into the Arctic Circle, ending at the village of Inuvik, inhabited by First Nation and Eskimo folks. We don’t know, but presume internet will be somewhere between scarce and non-existent on this leg. We’re leaving our trailer at Dawson City and will stay in motels 2 nights, and it’s possible we won’t post to the blog again until we return Tuesday night. Those of you who receive our SPOT satellite messages will, of course hear from us, and anyone else wanting to see where we are can click on the “Spot Us” tab under the header photo on the blog – double click on it then follow the link which will show any SPOT messages we’ve sent in the previous 7 days.