In the morning, after I woke up quite late, we went for a short walk close to the campsite and then set off for Whitehorse. It was a bit more than 550km of driving on a pretty good road and we made it to Whitehorse in the evening. The story-telling festival was happening and we went to see the evening program. It included: 2 native Americans from Dakota who sang and told stories, a few Canadian story tellers, a dub poet from Jamaica, a performance by Indian musicians from Toronto (sitar, tabla, and a dancer), and an Irish stand-up comedian. It was a great evening. That night we camped at Robert Service campground which is walking distance from downtown.
I spent the afternoon at the story-telling festival while Laurie went for a hike along the Yukon River. In the evening we went to the closing event of the story-telling festival which included a banquet and a closing performance by 6 artists. The show was good and the food was great too. There was mainly meat and fish on the menu: arctic char, salmon, wild sheep, caribou, rice, pasta salad, and a nice dessert. The only annoying part was the endless ``thank-you'' speeches which probably took an hour off the show. We also met Laurie's friend there who had just completed the Chilkoot Trail and reported the details to us.
We left Whitehorse and headed south. We stopped at Snafu Lake where we spent a leisurely day. We scrambled a bit through the woods (as there was no trail), picked mushrooms (which were everywhere), had a splash in the cold lake, cooked a nice dinner with the mushrooms and fried potatoes, then talked into the wee hours watching the magic fire. 96km.
In the morning we hiked ``White Mountain'' which had an amazingly steep trail without any switchbacks - just straight up. It wasn't that bad going up, but going down was really hard on the knees. We hiked for about 4 hours and climbed about 400m. The views from the top of the mountain were spectacular: Atlin Lakes as well as many smaller lakes were set between the mountains. The highlight of this hike was the Saskatoon berries, which I picked for the first time. They are delicious berries. After the hike we continued driving south. After Teslin Lake we saw a black bear that was picking berries by the side of the highway. The bear didn't mind us stopping a few metres away to take some photos.
That night we camped at Boya Lake Campground. Just before we arrived there we saw a beautiful sunset over the mountains including a rainbow. We drove for about 500km that day.
We continued our journey home south with very nice scenery along the way. We again saw a black bear crossing the road, and later a lynx doing the same. In the evening we reached Meziadin Junction. Instead of continuing south, we decided to take a detour to Stewart, 60km away. It was a great decision. On the way to Stewart we saw the ``Bear Glacier,'' which is big and blue, as well as about 15 other smaller glaciers on top of the mountains. In Stewart we learned that the local attraction is watching grizzly and black bears feeding on the salmon in Fish Creek. Fish Creek is just over the US border from Stewart in Hyder, Alaska. There were Canadian customs there but no US customs. Once one is in Hyder, one can't go anywhere else in the US without returning to Canada first since there are no roads leading out of it.
At Fish Creek we could hardly find a place to park. There were at least 100 people there watching grizzly bears catching salmon. We saw a sow and her 3 cubs. We could observe the bears from about 10-15m away from a specially built boardwalk. We also saw a black bear catching its dinner in another creek nearby. Apparently, black bears are quite scared of grizzlies (they can kill them) so they fish away from the grizzlies. We also saw lots of eagles and a few grey herons. We drove for about 500km that day and camped in an RV park in Stewart.
In the morning we returned to Fish Creek to see more bears. We arrived after 9am so there weren't as many bears present as there had been the night before. We saw just 1 grizzly and 1 black bear. We were actually watching the salmon jump a fish ladder in the creek when just a few meters away from us a black bear jumped out and caught a fish. He looked at us with a very unhappy look but he didn't bother us. We then proceeded to explore Hyder, Alaska - an official ghost town. It thrived last century through the gold and copper rushes, but now is only a town for tourists to pass through on their way to Fish Creek. A few shops operate there May through Sept. After exploring Hyder we returned to Fish Creek with the hope of seeing some action. On the way, a very old grizzly bear walked out onto the road and up to within a few metres of our car. The bear didn't seem to mind us and even posed for some nice close-ups.
It felt like we couldn't leave that area. On the way out of town we stopped to take a walk and have lunch. Then we stopped at Bear Glacier again to admire the view, this time under a blue sky with warm rays of light reflecting off of it. We saw a few more bears crossing the road that day. We had hoped to cover a lot of miles that day but it was in vain; it was too gorgeous a day and we stopped at too many places. Some of the trees already had their fall colours so there were different shades of yellow, red, and green everywhere. We stopped at a few native settlements too with lots of old totem poles, little old churches, and neat houses.
We made a little detour to Hazelton, which is set between the mighty Skeena River and stunning mountain faces. There was an old part of town, a new part of town, and an old native village called Ksan. We really liked it there so decided to stay at the Ksan campground for the night. That day we drove for 350km.
This was a day of driving. 570km. We camped at 10 Mile Lake just before Quesnel.
Past Quesnel we did trail horse riding at the ``Old Buckshot Ranch,'' which is owned by a Swiss couple. We rode for about 3 hours through a pretty dry area. Apparently it hadn't rained there for more than 3 weeks. The horses weren't in the best condition but it was cheap ($45/person) so we couldn't expect much. It was nice anyway. After riding I swam at McLease Lake. We camped at Green Lake (near 100 Mile House). We wanted to canoe but the only place in the area that rents them is 15 min. away from the lake. The canoes were too heavy for us to carry that distance so we went for a short walk instead. Laurie saw a fox on our walk near the lake. We drove for 350km that day.
This was the last day of the trip. On the way, we stopped at Pavilion Lake (just before Lillooet) for a nice swim and lunch.
We decided to take Hwy 99 to Vancouver which was very scenic but very slow. The road was windy (through the mountains) and we got stuck behind slow drivers who drove well below the posted speed limit and who wouldn't pull over to let us pass.
We drove 420km that day.
The journey was great, but there was a bit too much of driving -- in 23 days we have covered more than 7400km (4635 miles). Driving in Yukon was a pleasure though -- mostly great roads and hardly any vehicles at all. We camped most of the nights, other than 2 nights in B&B to recharge batteries and do laundry and 3 nights in a great hostel in Juneau, Alaska (we had no car there).
We drove from Vancouver to Whitehorse, then to Haines and Juneau (by ferry) in Alaska, then to Dawson city and back to Vancouver using a different route. (see the map on the first page of the images)
The main highlights were salmon, bears and glaciers. oh and lots of ripe berries (we have encountered probably at least 15 different types of berries and ate almost all of them). Lots of ghost cities on the road. The winner is Hyder, Alaska, which doesn't even have US customs at the border. Why? Because you can't go anywhere from Hyder...
Another highlight was the length of the days in Yukon, at the beginning of August it gets dark around midnight... though we haven't seen northern lights...
Natives are pretty much completely westernized, though suffering from too much drinking... most artifacts are left only for tourists.
Whitehorse and Dawson city have very alive communities that support each other. Lots of artists in Whitehorse.
Most tourists were either elder folks (60+) in RVs or Germans, or German elders :)