Thursday, January 29, 2009

from myspace...chilkoot trail one

Sunday, September 02, 2007
more on the details of the chilkoot trail....Current mood: accomplished
wanted to write more about my trek to chilkoot trail. it was a triumph of both mind and body. there were times before i left and the night before we summited that i worried about how i'd be able to do. it was a proud moment to be on the summit!!
we had a 16 hour drive from anchorage to skagway. we stopped in the yukon territory YT to camp for the night. i got to test out the element again. the chairs don't go completely flat and i should have opened the sleeping bag...we got enough rest though and cruised towards skagway the next day...did i mention the mama grizzley and her two babies just outside the campground on kluane lake...!! the drive to skagway is beautiful. we had to stop at the emerald lake and take photos, then we stopped at carcross. a railroad stop on the white pass headed to whitehorse. it was a cute little place and we had fun trekking about. skagway is really a fun town full of gold rush history. it was my third time there. the last time i was in skagway was sept 11, 2001...that's another story.
our b&b hostess had just hiked the chilkoot the week before we arrived so we got some last minute tips, rearranged the packs in an attempt to make them lighter. ha!! i'm sure i was carrying 40-50 pounds. i never really did a final weigh. i know it was over 40 and that didn't include the water or camera bag i carried.
the first day we hiked from dyea to canyon city camp. the trail immediately tests you by sending you uphill and introducing the boulder concept...a baby hill really. the sun was out all day for us and it was a great day for walking the 7.5 miles. you pass a few camp sites along the way. finnegans had a super stinky out house!! the things you remember. :-) there were some easier sections on an old logging road and some boardwalk to cross over watery area's. nobody fell in. most of the american side of the trail is rain forest. reminded me of my days in ketchikan though i guess it doesn't rain near what it does there. we pitched our tents in canyon city and headed off to see the ruins of the actual canyon city. of course, there we noted some niced tent sites. i was vetoed on moving our tents...ours were way to close to the outhouse and the smell and flies were unpleasant in the heat of the day.
next day we were off to sheep camp. soon after we left the camp...we got another initiation into the bouldering to come!! the guide book said the trail ascends steeply and it wasn't kidding!! the extra layers came off after that short but killer ascent. it had sprinkled lightly through the night and was cloudy all day, but didn't rain anymore. they called the first part of the days trek a "knee bender". it was loads of up hill, down hill. since i knew i was eventually gonna have to be up...well i was getting annoyed at having to come back down again. the hike for the day was only4.3 miles but we took our time and enjoyed the scenery and artifacts that dot the trail. rusted out cans, old shoes and such. we ate lunch at a lovely campground called pleasant camp. the outhouse there was outhouses go. it was behind the canvas tent the forest service has up and then up a hill...i think most folks don't find it, we did. there was a false sheep camp as they had recently moved it back to where it was years ago. less mileage for tomorrows trek i figured. as we were setting up our tent i came down the hill to the cabin and bear bins to find several other campers looking at something in the woods. it was a large black bear. that bear had no fear of us and came strolling in. we got some good pictures and then were backed into the cabin there. we came back out as he walked past to check out the tents. we had 3 dogs in camp that night. it's a pretty common place to stop before heading to the summit the next day. i did realize at 3 am that i had left some trail mix in my tent...couldn't sleep much after that.
we woke early the next day as we had 8.7 miles to cover. we knew it was going to be a long day. again it had sprinkled on us lightly through the night, again it never rained again that day, but the fog had settled in on the summit. the trail this day will make you climb over 2600 feet in 4.7 miles it takes to get to the summit. the long hill is a bit deceptive as that hill is covered with boulders. mostly you are bouldering over rocks and then you'll have breaks of regular dirt is all uphill though. we cross some snow and get to a sign that said "the scales". we actually were deciding that we were perfectly happy to have the fog obscuring our view of the summit. there are a few false summits and we feared being overwhelmed if we knew what was required of us. it got foggier as we got higher up. at some point after the scales sign the bouldering increased and then went vertical as we hit what is known as "the stairs". when the goldrushers of 1898 went up in the winter they were able to chink stairs up that last section. we were forced to basically crawl up the 1/2 mile to the first false summit. it would be tough anyway, but my backpack seemed to be off scew. once you were in crawl mode you just had to focus on getting up the hill. i got few pictures and none of them do the difficulty justice. again we were happy with the fog so we didn't know how far we could possibly fall down the cliff. the books say it's a 45% scramble over boulders and loose rocks. each step was fraught with danger and you used every muscle and mental ability to get up the mountain. there were a few more boulder scrambles and then we reached an almost level spot with an old metal relic in it. i have a picture of us all there in the fog...we all look drained. it was soon after this that we reached the summit. what a relief. there is a warming hut....warming is a misnomer as the only warmth is body heat. the temperature was about 30 and the wind was blowing. the outhouse up there had a wind tunnel blowing up your arse.
after resting up in the hut we headed off to happy camp. we weren't done with boulders yet...nor with the uphill. the hike to happy wasn't easy, though it was easier than the what we had just done. there were lots of stream/creek crossings and my feet were getting wet. the fog lifted several times and we were able to see how beautiful the canadian side was. it's much dryer on that side. we were happy to get to happy camp. tomorrow i'll talk about some of the other folks in the camp...that was a great part of going as well, were the side tales.
lots of tales in the cook cabin at happy about how everyones hike had gone that day.
the next day, we headed to bare loon. the hills and rocks were still not done...they continued on into deep lake. the scenery was amazing. the sun was coming out. we felt so great at deep lake we decided to wash our hair and eat lunch. the hike from there to lindeman lake is super pleasant. easy long downhill. old stuff from the trail days and amazing scenery and delicious berries to eat on the trail. there is a deep gorge with a raging river running through. after lindeman lake the trail gets a bit more difficult again. plus we had a few folks who joined us who talked non-stop. i decided to join martha and sandra in the back of our pack. there had been a bear issue so the rangers wanted us to group up.
bare loon was a beautiful camp. some guy decided to swim. the next day we headed off to bennett. it was a pretty pleasant 4 mile hike. the sun was out and though it wasn't easy and there was a silly desert to trudge through. the church there was built in the gold rush days from the rounds that were leftover from the railroad ties of building the whitepass rail. it was a beautiful church and surely a testament to people who no doubt felt grateful for having survived as far as bennet. they still had a ways to go to get to where most of them never found gold in dawson, but we caught the train back to skagway. the last time i was on that train was when mom was up here on the cruise with jeff and wils and i. it was all very emotional for me...i'm used to calling mom and letting her know i'm safe and i can't anymore. she had been in on my planning of the trip and i know she would have loved hearing all about it. we had to eat when we got in skagway..real food...real toilets!! we were all happy to be back and safe....i never even said who all silly of me....i guess more on that in tomorrows blog about the cast of characters. i'm sleepy and want to crash. i worked the last 3 nights.
kelly and i took the girls to the dog park. we walked way to fast for rio and she is limping a bit tonight. i felt badly. i generally let her rest more. i'll have to be more mindful of her and her bum knee. she puked out there...i know it was just too much for her.

1 comment:

  1. I have hiked the chilkoot about 7 times in all. Usually the traditional way,but one year I had myself shuttled out to log cabin and hiked it in reverse back to Dyea. A lot harder (surprisingly) descending from the summit to the scales than climbing up! Once my dog and I hiked a 3 night loop hike from Log Cabin to Lindenman,then on to the summit camping overnite in the warm up shelter there(It was mid sept so few hikers were on the trail)then back to bare loon for the final night. Great trail!
    John (dogster)