Rob and Syd's Western Canada and Alaska trip 2012 travel blog

Emerald Lake off South Klondike Highway

Alaska (if only for a day)

Down town Skagway after 3 cruise ships unload

Red Onion Saloon (old brothel house in Skagway)

Cruise ships in port at Skagway

Big Horn sheep off highway back to Whitehorse

Further north, a herd of Dall sheep

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

This RV Park is basically a parking lot and we are all sandwiched in like a drive in movie. Good thing we don’t hang out here all day. Got up this morning to cloudy skies and drizzly rain. For a day trip in the Kia, we headed 97 miles south on the South Klondike Highway to Skagway, Alaska. We saw a couple a caribou along the road right outside of town. The clouds were very low and covered all the mountains about halfway down. So we didn’t get good views of the scenery. We stopped at Emerald Lake. Surprisingly, it was not frozen. It’s a beautiful small lake of bright greens and blues caused by reflecting light waves off the white sediment on the bottom. As we passed over the summit, we climbed into the clouds. What a nerve wracking drive. We were straining to see 10 feet in front of us. Rob struggled to follow the yellow line and stay on the road. There was no fresh snow but tons of snow on the ground all around. All we could see was white. On the other side, the weather was milder and the landscape more springlike.

This area has a lot of history with the Klondike gold rush in the late 1800’s. It’s hard to imagine what those people went through and the conditions they lived (and died) in. At one point, arriving miners were required to physically carry 1 ton of supplies (one years worth) over that pass. Today, on this road, we have been in the equivalent of 3 states and 2 countries. The Yukon, British Columbia and Alaska. We were hoping that it is still too early for cruise ships to be in port but then we starting seeing bus after bus after bus pass us heading to Whitehorse and knew we were in trouble. Sure enough, when we reached Skagway there were 3 big cruise ships docked. The town has a population of about 846 people. Each cruise ship carries probably 3,000 people. It was a madhouse. We wandered through the shops downtown with all the “boaters” and ate lunch at the Red Onion Saloon which is a former brothel.

It was nice having a car because we could see a few things that we couldn’t on prior visits as “boaters”. We checked out the old cemetery and waterfall. Then we drove the 8 mile road to Dyea which is a former gold rush town site that temporarily housed up to 8,000 people at its height. There is nothing but a few shreds of wood and pieces of metal to show that it ever existed. The road follows Long Bay (ocean water), Taiya Inlet, and the Taiya River. Absolutely beautiful place. The forest floor is covered with a mossy green carpet. The trees are green, the grass is growing, and it smells wonderful. Tomorrow, we move on!

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