Monday, October 8, 2012
Day Six: From White Horse along the Klondike Highway to Dawson City.
"Nol There's the land. (Have you seen it?) It's the cussedest land that I know, From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it To the deep, deathlike valleys below. Some say God was tired when He made it, Some say it's a fine land to shun; Maybe; but there's some as would trade it For no land on earth-and I'm one."
--- Robert Service
The Hotel was on the NW side of White Horse so it was close by the Klondike Highway going out of town. This looks deceptively like something from the lower 48 doesn't it? Nope it is in the Yukon Canada.
As we drove on along the Klondike Highway North of White Horse we encountered another black bear along side the road. I caught a quick glimpse and a picture as the driver kept going. We were 45 minutes behind schedule because a chunk of a large group traveling together had the wrong times on their watches and hadn't finished their breakfast yet. This was the last bear, or any other large animal, we were to see for the next five days.
Large swaths of the forest along the Klondike Highway were dead. Neither the driver or the tour guide admitted to any knowledge of why. Checking later this area had been burned 30 years previously. Things heal slowly in the far North.
One thing I did learn on the trip is that when you wander away from the bus, you sometimes find things you shouldn't. Like a leg bone of a moose that has been chewed on near Braeburn.
Braeburn, Yukon, is actually more of a roadhouse. It is famous for its fresh and large cinnamon rolls.
Here Mama Bear proudly exhibits one before we devoured it.
A view along the Yukon River River. Notice that he river is following a geologic fault line where on bank is 100 feet higher than the other. This is what the Northern forest should look. However the harshness of the sub arctic region creates numerous micro-climates so the variety of landscape reflect that.
We were 15 minutes late for lunch at Carmacks, Yukon even though the bus driver had made up a half hour by skipping over several things. Here is where I tell you that in season there are at least 10 tour buses spaced out over the day traveling in the same direction and stopping at all the same little places. At 40 people per bus that a daily count of 400 people going through each place at each stop. So by scheduling 30-45 minutes between buses they never interfere with each other or overload a very skimpily manned system. Still when you consider that you are on two lane black top traveling through a wilderness 400 people a day isn't very many. If you wander a 100 yards off the highway in many areas you are indeed in wilderness. Note the guys in a canoe and wooden boat traveling down the Yukon River like the miners did over a 100 years before.
Yes, there is one in every crowd. It is more impressive if you know the antlers weigh about 80 lbs.
After trying to lift them Mama Bear decide this was a better pose.
Across on the other side of the Yukon River was several thousand acres of dead Black Spruce. The culprit was the bud worm that attacked the new grow on the tree and finally the whole conifer. Climate warming allowed the moths to live through the winters and migrate up from the South. (The new conservative Canadian Government is discouraging this "theory") The green trees at the bottom are a different species and haven't been affected yet.
Carmack's lodging. It wasn't really this bad. In fact there was a nice hotel down the road a bit.
Latter in the day we took a break at Moose Creek,YK. Junior found the chicken coop first thing and started harassing the chickens and chicks.
So we had to find other things to distract him.
The hens were not bashful.
Indeed they thought we had come there to feed them.
Father along we entered the Taiga, much of which is on top of permafrost. Again the Black Spruce are dead or dying from the bud worm.
In contrast here is a health forest in the back waters of the Yukon River with healthy fores and a beaver lodge and lake. Saw several beaver but they were not conducive to being photographed.
Just outside Dawson City we encountered the remnants of the old dredge mining operations.
The dredge tailing often had lakes among them.
The tailings from about 4000 feet above.