Thursday, June 26, 2008

Alaskan Idyll, Day 8 – Klondike Highway

Today’s drive was short, but filled with scenic beauty. We departed Whitehorse at 9am, an hour later than the usual Caravan callout, which was a blessing after the late evening return from the Frantic Follies. We back-tracked about 6 miles south on the Alcan, then turned south on the Klondike Highway, headed for Skagway, AK. This road winds upward to the White Pass, then descends steeply down to Skagway, at the tip of the Lynn Canal.
Rolling South on the Klondike Highway

Along the way the road passes Emerald Lake, named for it’s turquoise blue waters.
Emrald Lake

Past Emerald Lake is the micro-town of Carcross, YT, site of a pleasant vsitors center and gift shop, where muffins and ice cream are available. Carcross was a stop on the White Pass and Yukon Railroad, which was cut through White Pass during the 1898 gold rush. Also on display in Carcross is an antique steam engine from the gold rush days.
Carcross Visitors Center
Carcross Antique

Driving south toward the pass the road travels along Tutshi Lake for several miles. Abandoned mine buildings are seen along this stretch of highway.
Lake Tutshi
Abandonded Mine Facilties on Lake Tutshi

Also seen along this stretch, much to the pleasure of Kathy, was a black bear. Gallant Keith unwisely exited the vehicle to photograph this bear for Kathy. He got away with it, but he would not have done it for a Grisly, which is a much more temperamental species than the Black.
Bruin Meets Keith, Up Close and Personal

Terrain at the Summit of White Pass is very sere and forbidding, with little vegetation and much evidence of glacial scarring. Substantial snow remains on the adjoining peaks, even in late June. When crossed in mid May, 1998, this area was solid white.
Glacial Scarred Rock in the White Pass

The international Border is at the Pass, after which the highway descends steeply, loosing 3292 feet elevation in 15 miles. For reasons which we do not understand, US customs and immigration is located about halfway down the grade, instead of at the border. We are not sure what happens if they refuse to let you in; there is not much room to turn around at the customs station. If there is a problem, maybe you park your rig and get a free ride in a police car the rest of the way.
International Border
Descending Toward Skagway

Near the bottom of the grade is a view of Skagway, complete with it’s quota of Cruise ships. There were 4 boats in port the afternoon we arrived; two Princess boats, one Norwegian, and one Holland American. Our campground in Skagway is on the harbor, just a short walk from downtown. We can see the harbor and the boats from our windshield. It don't get no better than this!
Skagway Harbor Viewed from the Klondike Highway
Princess Dominates the Skagway Harbor

Tomorrow we ride back up to the White Pass on the White Pass & Yukon RR, which operates a tourist train on the old right of way. Don’t miss it!

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

Stunning photos! I cannot believe you got out to photograph the bear - very very cute guy, btw! It looks wonderful.