15 June 2015

Into the Yukon!

14 Jun 2014--We had a lot of rain again on the drive from Watson Lake to Whitehorse, but at least we saw this young bear running across the road.  We saw him from a distance climb up on a guard rail but then back down as another car was about to go by.  Then it climbed again and ran across the highway in front of us.

If the clouds were any lower they would have hit us on the head.  Really messed up our view!  haha

When things cleared up late in the day, we noticed that although the scenery is beautiful, there are still a few places here and there you might want to skip in your travels.  Can't imagine pulling up and deciding to get a room at this roadside spot.  Just move on down the road!

Got into Whitehorse late in the afternoon so didn't go see anything till today, with our 1st stop at the Chinook Fish Ladder.  (Whenever we say the Yukon, we think of Yukon Cornelius from the Rudolph cartoon--haha)

Cathy and I saw another one of these along the Columbia River in Oregon, and when the fish are running they really cool to watch.  Unfortunately, the Yukon River Chinook Salmon do not return to this area to spawn till around late July or August, so we were a little early.  This is the dam that was blocking the salmon, and looking at mist from the heavy water flow you can see why.  Cathy is standing just down from the dam where you can see a waterfall in the background, and that waterfall creates enough of a whirlpool effect to guide the fish over to the fish ladder where they enter to go around the dam.  


The actual fish ladder is in the 3rd pic...you can see the "white water" from the waterfall on the left of the picture leading right up to the bottom of the ladder.


A "big picture" look at the operation.  #2 is the dam, #5 is the waterfall that leads them to #4 the fish ladder that they use to go around the dam and upstream to spawn.  Pretty cool design!

When you go inside the observatory, you can look through a glass casing at the fish going by.  This is where they count the fish during the spawning run.  (These fish here are "grayling", just hanging out.)

We are sitting in Whitehorse, in the Yukon on the far right of the picture, while the fish enter the Yukon River from the Bering Sea on the far left. It's almost 2000 miles, and they don't eat anything on the journey!


A female lays about 5000 eggs when she spawns, but 6-8 years later only about one of those eggs will have survived long enough to return to spawn or fertilize to start the cycle over again.  From egg to full grown adult...look how big they are by the time they return!


Outside and down river.

And off we go to check out the SS Klondike, a sternwheel originally built in 1929.  It was mostly used to haul supplies to Dawson, the city known as the destination of the gold rush that began in the late 1800s.


From the 1860s to the mid-1950s, 250 of these boats hauled freight on the Yukon River, and the Klondike was the last one in service.  It was about 2/3s the length of a football field, and it hauled freight till 1952 before being converted to a cruise ship.  It closed down for good in 1955.

We saw a short film showing the crew working on the ship back in the day.  One man would roll this wood to the furnace to fire up the wheel.  I don't think I could pick up even one log, never mind the whole pallet of them.

Up on top, and the view from the far side of the boat.


And finally, this is for Yvette, a Canadian friend we met in Florida who used to live here years ago.  There's your house Yvette...look familiar?

Going down to Skagway tomorrow, a seaport town that is actually in the US but seems geographically like it should be part of Canada.  (Maybe we will see a map that we can take a picture of to make it more clear as to what I mean by that.  haha)


  1. Very interesting about the fish. Also I don't think I would stay in that hotel looks a little like Bates Motel!

  2. Is that really Yvette's house? I have taken out my 2011 "Milepost" to revisit some memories. Today I'm wearing my Kenai Fjords NP t-shirt. Diana

    1. Yes, Diana, that is Yvette's house that she lived in for like 15 years and primarily raised her kids in. She said that Whitehorse was a great place to raise kids. Glad your getting a chance to re-live your trip...this is wonderful!