Sunday, 16 July 2017

On getting to Dawson

I had decided that I couldn't go to the Yukon without going to Dawson City. In the planning stages back in Montreal, I had used Google Maps to work out that Dawson was some five hundred klicks from Whitehorse which seemed a reasonable distance to drive. Yet somehow, when I got to the Yukon, it became a greater distance in my mind. I think this was partly because I don't drive that much, especially not long distances. I actually considered not going to Dawson, but went through with it in the end.

The weather was fine, a mixture of sun, clouds and the odd bit of rain. The Klondike Highway North was generally in good condition and made its way over ranges of small mountains, beside lakes and over rivers. While much of the road passed through forests, the shape of the land was such that there was plenty of vistas to keep the mind from getting bored as it does in say, Northern Ontario. Also, there were enough communities and viewpoints to stop at to allow me to find an excuse to stop and stretch my legs.
 One such stop was Braeburn Lodge. As I approached it, I saw an orange light plane circling and wondered what it was up to. I stopped at the Lodge for coffee and a snack. As I returned to the car, the plane landed across the road at what I later learnt was Braeburn Airport which is a lofty name for a grass airstrip. I was interested to see that it was deHavilland Beaver with an American registration number.  After a bit, a couple of men got out, one carrying an open laptop, and walked over to the Lodge in hopes of getting a wifi connection! I overheard one of them say to the owner(?) that they were there to liaise with their Canadian counterparts about wood bison. A few minutes later, another light plane landed. I assumed that it was carrying the Canadians.
Traffic on the Highway was an interesting mixture and was present in comforting numbers. (By that it wasn't heavy, nor was it so light that no one would find you for days if you had a mishap.) In addition to transport trucks and local traffic, there were goodly number of RVs, adventure motorcyclists and a surprising number of military grade off-road trucks bearing European license plates!
This one is from Switzerland. I assumed the drivers were in the Yukon in search of "extreme" type adventure driving in Wilds of the North. I couldn't help but wonder if their drivers felt non-plussed at sharing the road with RVs driven by grey-haired retirees!

I stopped for lunch in Carmacks at the Coal Mine Campground and Canteen which Karen had recommended. They made good burgers and the owners were evidently the sort who enjoyed silly signs as there were a lot of them. This was about my favourite.
In both Carmacks and Pelly Crossing, I stopped at First Nations cultural centres to learn more about them, stretch my legs and get my Yukon passport stamped. One photograph that I saw made me chuckle as it featured huskies being used to pull a plow. When I think of huskies, I get the idea that they are best at running, not hauling a heavy load slowly. At a guess, I would saw that it was taken early 1900s, and as someone later told me, in those days huskies were bred for strength, not speed as they are today. I saw the same photograph in one or two other places so I suspect it is a classic image from the old days.

Huskies are common in the Yukon. This one seems to be enjoying his life, riding around in a sidecar.
I include this picture just to show more of the landscape.
I was quite glad to finally get to Dawson and find Bombay Peggy's where I would spend the next two nights.

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