17 June 2015

"A Little Taste of Alaska"

17 Jun 2015--Took an all-day trip down to Skagway, AK on Monday, a 200 mile round-trip drive on the Klondike Highway from here in Whitehorse.

We pulled over to the side of the road for this beauty!  This is Crystal Lake, which is an almost unreal shade of blue-green.  A sign said the color was due to sunlight reflecting off a white layer of "marl"...whatever the reason, it was gorgeous!


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Based on its physical location directly south of Whitehorse, I can understand where the Canadians took advantage of their proximity to Skagway during the Klondike Gold Rush.  Seems like they ripped us off, but I guess we forgave them.  (Just joking Gayle and Yvette!..haha)

  

See?  We're friends!!!



So up in the middle of the mountains, our next roadside stop was at the Carcross Desert.  Crazy, huh?


 

The town of Carcross only has about 300 people in it, with what appears from a drive-thru to be a heavy aboriginal presence.  Canadians call them "First Nations" peoples, like we would say Native Americans, and like some places in our country it seems that a lot of poor people are included in that group.  You will see incredible scenery surrounding what looks like broken down cars, decrepit houses, etc.  It can be quite jarring when you see it.




Jackpot!  Momma with 2 babies right on the side of the road!  One baby is a bit scrawnier than we expected, almost funny looking.


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The difference in topography as you drive along is amazing. And don't forget that just a few miles ago we were at the Carcross Desert!



 

Back in America for the day!



We were told that Skagway has about 700+ year-round residents, but that population swells dramatically during their short summer months.  Their harbor can handle up to 4 of the big cruise ships at a time, and up to 10,000 people spill off them every day to visit.  People also come by train, a trip we plan to take on our way back home at the end of the summer.

 

A short synopsis.  Gold was discovered up north in Dawson City, another town we hope to visit later in the trip, back in 1896.  By 1897 word had spread far and wide, and in no time 2 towns were booming, Skagway and Dyea.  There were ships that went to Dawson as seen in the 2nd pic here, but they were very expensive and only about 3000 people took that route.  Over 30,000 instead took the cheaper, but absolutely brutal routes, on foot, from Skagway and Dyea to Bennett in British Columbia, where they built rafts and hired boats to take them up the Yukon River to Dawson City.



The Skagway route was longer but not quite as steep as the Dyea.  Below are pictures of men carrying some of the 2000 pounds they were required to have before the Mounties would let them into Canada.  The Chilkoot Trail out of Dyea was a total of 33 miles to Bennett, but these "Golden Stairs" were about a quarter mile...to get the 2000 pounds up, most people had to scale the stairs 20-40 times before they could move on.  



Skagway today is a booming tourist town, while Dyea has a population of "3".  When the railroad was built from Skagway to Bennett, Dyea was pretty much done for.  Here are a few pics of Main Street, now and back in the days when the gold rush started.



Where there is money, let there be vice!  (And jobs for people trying to capitalize on it over a hundred years later!)  haha



A couple "characters" from back then.  I liked the news that "Soapy" would help some of his "victims".  And Barbara is another woman I would like to have known.  Can you imagine at her age going to do something like this?  



And, of course, there is always Sarah!  So we know that Alaska is still producing "characters"!



A Grizzly's paw on display.  Doesn't seem so cute now, does it?  haha



Ready to head back to Whitehorse.



Left Whitehorse at 9:15am and got home at 8:30pm...what a wonderful day!!!



And, Ellen, I told you the mosquitoes were big!  This one actually introduced himself to me! haha

4 comments:

  1. wow! Beautiful!

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  2. We were on the last cruise ship out of Skagway one year. The college kids who run the excursions and tours gave us quite the send-off, mooning the ship as we sailed away. Apparently it's a tradition there.

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  3. Hey Paula...have you been sampling ice-creams along the way? I hear Canadian ice-cream is the "creme de la creme". Maybe you had some in the desert at Carcross??

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  4. I can't wait to get to see this stuff for myself!!!
    Just beautiful!!!!
    Well not the mosquitoes!!! lol

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