July 8-11, 2010
Thanks to Thoreau, Bill Bryson and of course Hammer for the inspiration – I finally got to go for a ‘Walk in the Woods’. The Chilkoot Trail is the 53km overland path of the 1897 Klondike Goldrush. We added another 10km by starting the walk from Skagway, rather then at the trail-head near the old mining town of Dyea. The trail is rich with history and the artefacts of the gold-rush stampeder’s, who were making their way from Seattle to the Yukon, litter the trail. The landscape was stunning – lush green sub-alpine forest, snow covered mountain peaks, crystal clear iceberg covered lakes and nauseatingly steep climb over the Golden Stairs to reach the summit over the Coastal Mountains from the US into Canada. We were incredibly lucky with the weather – two beautiful sunny days followed by a day and half of drizzly rain walking amongst mist covered mountains.And best of all we shared the trail with only five other walkers with whom we ended up meeting at the end of each day. We camped at Pleasant, Happy and Bare Loon Camps and I think the names kind of sum up our experience – although not sure about Bare Loon. I think it is some kind of bird found on the lake by which we camped on the last night. We saw lots of small critters like ground dwelling squirrels and chipmunks. Presence of bears was evident but no bear sightings. The Chilkoot has surpassed my expectations and for Hammer it was a reminder that it was a tough walk the first time and just as tough the second time. Walking this trail is an insight into the resilience of the old-time stampeder’s who had to traverse this trail at least 30 times to get their mandatory tonne of supplies to the gold-fields. A truly brutal endeavour undertaken in a most beautiful setting.