Friday, June 4, 2010

Klondike Road to Skagway

We have been told how beautiful this highway was, but it truly is a trail of myriad sights.  We stop at Emerald Lake, which is green because it has a clay bottom, nixed with shell.

 The town of Carcross is a place where the Klondike miners regrouped after coming across the Chilkoot, White or Yukon Pass.  This is where we get our first feel of the Klondike gold rush of 1897-99.  Chilkoot Pass is 3,739 feet, but that it all straight up from sea level.

Then an area called “Tormented Valley” where the trees are stunted and twisted, and are trying to grow on sheer rock.  The trees have the nickname “mop heads”. There is a lot of snow here still.

  This is also where we encounter our first tourist crunch as the buses bring people up from the cruise ships at Skagway.   We saw a bear by a guardrail, and a tour bus was stopped by it.  No clear picture.

 We stopped at an outlook and one man pointed out mountain goats way up the hill.  Sure enough we spotted two of them, and through the binoculars saw that one had a baby!  John got a great shot despite the distance.  The one is just to the left of the large patch of snow to the right.She has a baby right in front of her.  The second one is at the bottom of the picture, just left of the middle.  See if you can find them!

The terrain below is like a grand canyon, with the Skagway River flowing below.  It is warm again today, and the run off is massive,.  Water is pouring over the cliffs.  Up above, we see these bars stuck in the mountainside, we estimate 15 feet off the ground.  They guide you to the center of the road during heavy snow.  No kidding!

We come to a welcome to Alaska sign and a plaque that tells you this is a border between two nations at peace with one another.  The Canadian border crossing is first, and there is no stopping.  The American border is 16 miles down the road, and the border agent was very friendly.  We drop down into the valley quickly and just before we reach Skagway, we take the road to Dyea (pronounced die-ee).

 There is a campground there.  The road is dirt and gravel and takes you right along the edge of the Taiya River and stunning views of the Skagway Inlet. We like the campground despite the fact that it is about 9 miles out of town.  The views are well worth it!  

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