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22 January 2015

Yukon and Alaska Bound, Part 31. Tok to Glennallen, Alaska.


Drive from Tok to Glennallen, Alaska.


campground with our three units
We have three campsites, side by side.
On the road. Wonderful scenery.
On the road. Wonderful scenery.

On the road, a quick pit stop to stretch the legs.
It's July 23rd 2014, and we are camped in Tok Village RV Park in Alaska.



We started the day leisurely with a nice little walk around town.



After breakfast and breaking camp, I took the guys with me to the RV wash and we rinsed some of the dirt off our vehicles.



Liz rounded up the gals, and they walked over to the Tok Tourist Information Center.



The Tok Village Campground is pretty good with pull through sites and full hook-ups.





Hansuli, Lisbeth and Liz stretching their legs.
Mentasta Summit, Hansuli, Lisbeth and Liz are looking for Trumpeter Swans

Sign of Wrangell - St. Elias National Park Preserve
Wrangell - St. Elias National Park Preserve
Once we can see again the chrome on the trucks, we head over to the info center and meet up with the ladies.



We are on the road and head south on Tok Highway #1.



Our aim is to stop at the Wrangell - St. Elias National Park Preserve and go for a little hike.


We are off on our hike in Wrangell - St. Elias National Park Preserve
We are off on our hike in Wrangell - St. Elias National Park Preserve
This preserve is huge. The preserve is the largest area managed by the National Park Service in the United States by area.



A total of 13,175,799 acres or 53,320.57 km².




The preserve borders on to Kluane National Park in the Yukon, Canada to the East.


To the south it borders Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. A huge protected wilderness area combined.

Panorama from the river in Wrangell - St. Elias National Park Preserve
Panorama from the river in Wrangell - St. Elias National Park Preserve
Lunch by the river in Wrangell - St. Elias National Park Preserve
Lunch by the river in Wrangell - St. Elias National Park Preserve

Another pit stop and photo shoot.
Another pit stop and photo shoot.
We stop at the Wrangell - St. Elias National Park Preserve park info center and get some information from the staff.




We pack up our back packs, bear spray, and a lunch and set out on a nice little hike.





This hike is just around the corner from the info center and it is only about three km each way down to the river.




Once at the river we have our lunch and scout for moose and bear. We see lots of tracks, but no big beasts.







Panorama of Rabbit River, Alaska
Panorama of Rabbit River, Alaska

Happy Campers.... Hansuli, Lisbeth, Anders, Christian, Annemarie and Liz
Happy Campers.... Hansuli, Lisbeth, Anders, Christian, Annemarie and Liz
Once back at our trucks we continue our drive and soon reach Glennallen. We check in at Northern Nights Campground. It is OK.

It got to be "Happy Hour" some place. More pictures here.


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Yukon and Alaska Bound, Part 30. Destruction Bay, Yukon to Tok, Alaska


Destruction Bay, Yukon to Tok Alaska


Overlooking Kluane River, Yukon.
Overlooking Kluane River, Yukon.
One of our campsites at Cottonwood RV Park right on the lake
One of our campsites at Cottonwood RV Park

Yukon Territory at it's best.
Yukon Territory at it's best.
On the 22 of July we woke up to beautiful sunshine.



Everybody was ready at 8:30 am and we left Cottonwood RV park, one of the nicest RV Parks we ever camped in. Yukon Territory at it's best.



The mountains were sparkling and so was the lake.



We stopped at Burwash Landing at the Kluane Museum of Natural History.


The museum showed most of the native animals of the Yukon.



Even though, I do not like stuffed animals, this exhibit is an exception and a must see.



Coffee Break
Coffee Break with Swiss Goodies

Just wonderful.
Just wonderful.
The animals look beautiful, explained with a short description, and showing a 3-D imprint of their footprints.

The video is also very good. Their gift store offers interesting local handicrafts.

We had coffee at the Kluane River Overlook Rest Area. Chum Salmon come up here to spawn in the river in August and September. A good view point, quite high above the river.

The drive along here is amazingly beautiful, but absolutely tough on the but and back.



The Alaska Highway along here, from Destruction Bay to Beaver Creek at the Alaska border, is full of frost heaves, gravel patches and potholes.



We stop at Pickhandle Lake and eat our lunch. We witnessed how unconsidered some travelers are on the smallish turnaround parking. That is really the first unconsidered tourist we met. I guess some people don't think that other campers want to stop as well.

Construction along the way.
Construction along the way.

US - Canada project to see what is the best way to build roads on permafrost
A good practice to keep in mind when stopping at rest areas is to pull ahead so everyone can park. Just a little bit of thinking before you park, goes a long way.



In Beaver Creek we stop at the Visitor Information Centre. A very kind agent gives us lots of information about the challenges of maintaining the Alaska Highway along here.



Both, the Canadian and US governments are doing extensive permafrost research and testing to find answers to the sinking Alaska Highway.



What is permafrost? Why is it damaging the Yukon highways? What is done to mitigate?
This link has excellent information about all the questions above.


Gravel road in many places. Turn A/C on when dusty condition. It pressurizes the cab and keeps the dust out.
Gravel road in many places. Turn A/C on when dusty condition. It pressurizes the cab and keeps the dust out.
Christian and Annemarie
Christian and Annemarie

Spectacular country side.
Spectacular country side.
Not under all the highways there is continuous permafrost. Some places there is just ice which melts in summer and freezes in winter.

Even continuous permafrost is in danger. Climate change is probably a factor, but manly construction and the disturbance and removal of the overburden, the soil cover over the permafrost. This layer of soil acts like a big blanket over the ice, and kept the permafrost and ice more stably frozen.

The Canadian and US Governments are searching for solutions. Costs of maintaining this only over-land connection between Whitehorse and Tok Alaska is increasing at an alarming rate.

About 25% of highways in the Yukon are built on permafrost.

We continued our trip. At the US border ( Port Alcan), Anders and I had no problems with our Canadian passports, and the border agent welcomed us to Alaska.

The Swiss team took about 45 minutes to be processed. They do not have the newest kinds of passports, therefore, they all had to go inside for more information and to be finger- printed. Eventually they all emerged smiling.

There is a time zone change, Alaska is one hour ahead of time.

Somehow the roads, at least at the beginning, were also in better shape. My back and behind was grateful. From Beaver Creek to Tok it is about 180 km.

Glass of wine with dinner.
Glass of wine with dinner.

BBQ is getting warm.
BBQ is getting warm.
We camped in Tok at the "Tok RV Village". A good and friendly park with all the services, even a car wash. The town is 1635 ft. or about 500 m above sea level.

More pictures here.


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18 January 2015

Yukon and Alaska Bound, Part 29. Whitehorse to Destruction Bay, Yukon


Drive from Whitehorse to Destruction Bay, Yukon.


Liz and Annamarie on the near side. Hansuli, Christian and Lisbeth. Cottonwood RV Park on Kluane Lake
Liz and Annamarie on the near side. Hansuli, Christian and Lisbeth. Cottonwood RV Park on Kluane Lake
Westbound Alaska Highway. West of Whitehorse, Yukon.
Westbound Alaska Highway. West of Whitehorse, Yukon.

A pit-stop for a sandwich.
A pit-stop for a sandwich.
Yesterday the 20th of July 2014 the Swiss Team arrived: my brother Hansuli and his wife Lisbeth, and my cousin Christian and his wife Annemarie.



They flew in over the North Pole directly from Frankfurt. They had good weather and a pleasant flight.



After they freshened up in the hotel, we picked them up and all together we had a chicken BBQ at our campsite.



It was so nice to see them all and to have them here in the Yukon.



Early on the 21st of July we all went to CanadaDream to pick up their rental campers. Each couple had a truck and camper top reserved.


Kluane Lake in the back ground.
Kluane Lake in the back ground.
Another stop to make sure ev
Another stop to make sure everyone are OK.

Looking for Dall Sheep at Sheep Mountain. Yukon.
Looking for Dall Sheep at Sheep Mountain. Yukon.
It was nice that the staff there spoke German, so my relatives could fully understand the introduction to their campers. For both couples it was the very first time they ever rented such a vehicle.


Unfortunately one of the trucks (the one using diesel) needed a special essential additive only available from Canadian Tire and some other stores.


That should have been provided. We think this kind of service from the rental company could be improved on for sure.


The Europeans coming to Canada have no clue what and where Canadian Tire is. Why did they not sell it at the rental place, they certainly charged for all the other additional services and costs.


Anders and I were happy we could help, and run around and pick it up for them.

Cottonwood RV Park is great, one of the nicest spots on the trip.
Cottonwood RV Park is great, one of the nicest spots on the trip.

Liz, Anders, Hansuli, Christian, Annemarie and Lisbeth
Liz, Anders, Hansuli, Christian, Annemarie and Lisbeth

Anders getting the fire ready to BBQ some steaks.
Anders getting the fire ready to BBQ some steaks.

Kluane Lake, so beautiful.
Kluane Lake, so beautiful.
Also the gas tanks were not full, unacceptable. It would be much easier if the tank is full when you pick it up and full when you return it.



After we got the trucks, and Anders went to Canadian Tire, we all went food, booze and gas shopping we were on our way. The plan was to drive on the Alaska Highway to Destruction Bay along the Kluane National Park.



At about 11:30am on the 21st of July our Caravan was rolling west out of Whitehorse. It was raining. The further west we drove, the weather improved. We stopped at viewpoints along the way.



At Haines Junction we stopped at the Parks Canada Visitor Reception Centre in the Dã Ku Cultural Centre.



Here we watched their interesting video and enjoyed their art gallery and display of tratitional clothing of the Southern Tutchone people. That is a beautiful Centre.



Haines Junction was established during the construction of the Alaska Highway. Today it is the gateway and information place for the joint UNESCO World Heritage site of the Kluane National Park, Tashenshini-Alsek Wilderness Park, and Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park and Wrangell-St.Elias National Park.



Near Boutillier Summit we made another stop. By now the sun was out. It was a beautiful day.



Anders enjoying the natural beauty of Kluane Lake and area.
Anders enjoying the natural beauty of Kluane Lake and area.

Kluane Lake, Yukon.
Kluane Lake, Yukon.

Time to go to bed.
Time to go to bed.
By the time we reached the Tachal Dhal Visitor Centre it was closed. We searched the Sheep Mountain ( Tachal Dhal ) for the Dall sheeps, but we could not spot any.



This is a great area to stop.



Along the beautiful Kluane Lake we reached our campground for tonight, Cottonwood RV Park, just before Destruction Bay, right on Kluane Lake.



Anders had made reservations for 3 sites right on the lake. It was perfect.



The sun was shining, the campfire was warming us up, we had some wine and saluted our first day on our caravan trip.



After we dined on BBQ steaks, we mellowed with the sun setting over the mountains across the lake.



What a welcome to Canada for our Swiss Team.



More pictures on line.







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Yukon and Alaska Bound, Part 28. Whitehorse, Yukon


Whitehorse, Yukon Territory


Native carving at the native gallery in Whitehorse
At the Beringia Interpretive Centre, Whitehorse
Our campsite at Hi Country RV Park in Whitehorse
Our campsite at Hi Country RV Park in Whitehorse

Anders at Baked Cafe and Bakery. Our place for coffee drinks.
"Baked" Cafe and Bakery. Our place for coffee & drinks.
We are back in Whitehorse, Yukon, taking it easy, and waiting for my relatives to arrive from Switzerland on the 20th of July.



We will then be touring together for about 3 weeks.



After I did all the laundry, and Anders washed the truck and camper we were ready to look at the town of Whitehorse.



About 28,000 people live here in Whitehorse out of the 36,000 in all of the Yukon. It is the economic and cultural hub of the Yukon, and its capital city.



Whitehorse is a comfortable and clean city with nice people.



Before we did some touristy things, first things first, we needed a good coffee. Off we went to " Baked" the coffee shop and lunch place on Main and Front Street. Aha, we are back in civilisation.

Anders in front of Kwanlin Dün Cultural Center
Anders in front of  the beautiful sculpture at the Beringia Centre

Liz in front of the skeleton of a wholly marmmoth.

Large Scimitar Cats used to roam the Yukon.
One afternoon we just leisurely spent walking around downtown, popping into shops and galleries. Wonderful!


Visiting the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Center, we were disappointed that the wonderful art and handicrafts we looked at during their festival were no longer available.


Too bad, because by now we would be a little bit better informed what to buy. But we did watch one of their interesting videos.


The Beringia Interpretive Center is a must see in Whitehorse. It explains and shows that history is not finite, but often gets re-written.


Here is an excerpt of the center's information:

"During the great Klondike Gold Rush word got out that there was more than just gold in "them there hills"...there were strange things too! 

Soon scientists from around the world were coming to the Yukon to record and collect spectacular ice age fossils. 

However, these discoveries were not news to the Yukon First Nations who already knew about the underground world of bones. 

It was not long before they would have a chance to tell their stories. In the 1960s and 1970s another wave of scientists arrived in the Yukon to document fossils and artifacts from the Old Crow area, including the famous Bluefish Caves. 

What they found set the scientific world on its head and challenged entrenched ideas about the peopling of the New World."



a display at the museum
Really nice displays

Really nice displays
Realistic looking displays
Living history is displayed at its best here at the Beringia Centre.




Giant woolly mammoths and giant Scimitar Cats roamed this land.




Allow enough time (3-4 hours) for your visit and do watch their video as well.























Anders at the transportation museum.
Anders at the Transportation Museum.

Liz on top deck of the S.S. Klondike

Liz at Miles Canyon Suspension bridge.
Liz at Miles Canyon Suspension bridge.
Next door is the Yukon Transportation Museum.



Equipment, tools, and photographs remind us of the incredible challenges the Yukon presented to the workers who built the Alaska Highway, and the miners, prospectors, and dreamers who came to the north.




If you pay for both of these museums at the same time, it is less expensive.



A visit to the S.S.Klondyke Sternwheeler National Historic Site is free if you use your Canada Parks Pass.



The S.S. Klondyke was the largest in the sternwheel fleet plowing the Yukon River between Dawson City and Whitehorse in the first half of the 20th century.



Built in 1929, sank in 1936, re-built and re launched in 1937, now restored and proud sitting on the shore of the Yukon River here in Whitehorse.



It is interesting to see the luxury and comfort these river boats provided for the first class passengers.


Anders at Miles Canyon, Whitehorse, Yukon.

Liz on the suspension bridge at Miles Canyon, Whitehorse, Yukon.
One afternoon we drove out to the Miles Canyon Suspension bridge on the Yukon River south of town.



Here the Yukon flows rapidly through this narrow gorge with 50-foot high basaltic walls.



During the gold rush many boats with precious cargo were lost until the RCMP came to regulate the transfer through this canyon.



Later, a wooden rail system around the canyon eliminated the need to battle this river hazard.



Also, the hydroelectric dam constructed later to provide power to Whitehorse, tamed the canyon.



To Anders and me, it is just a very pretty spot. We decided to come back some other time and walk along the canyon.



More pictures from Whitehorse in our on line picture album.











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Yukon and Alaska Bound, Part 27. Southern Lakes Region - Dip in to Atlin BC and Carcross YK


Atlin BC and Carcross YK, This is The Southern Lakes Region.


MV Tarahne on the shore of Lake Atlin
MV Tarahne on the shore of Lake Atlin
Road to Atlin
Road to Atlin

Little Atlin Lake
Little Atlin Lake

Atlin Lake and Birch Mountain.
Atlin Lake and Birch Mountain.
The Southern lakes region includes Atlin, Carcross, Marsh Lake, Mount Lorne, Tagish and Teslin and is located in the southern Yukon and in Northern British Columbia.




It is the 16th of July 2014 and we are on the road at 7 am, driving east on the Alaska Highway all the way to Jackes Corner.




From Jakes Corner we take Highway #8 for just a bit then turn off on highway #7 south towards Atlin.




The road is mostly paved, but has still some gravel sections.




The road hugs Little Atlin Lake, then likewise Atlin Lake. It really is a very beautiful drive.




We hoped to see some wild animals, but no such luck until we drove back home, we saw a cow moose.




Just south of the northern tip of Atlin Lake we enter in to British Columbia again.




Panorama of Atlin Lake
Panorama of Atlin Lake
A coffee and goodie at the Atlin Inn
A coffee and goodie at the Atlin Inn

Float planes coming and going.
Float planes coming and going.

Anders and Liz on the shores of Atlin Lake, BC
Anders and Liz on the shores of Atlin Lake, BC
Soon we reach the little town of Atlin. We right away stop at the Atlin Inn, to have a cup of coffee and a goodie.


We relax and enjoy the view over the lake, so pristine.



Prior to the 1950 construction of the Atlin Road by the Canadian Army, Atlin was reached overland by two lake steamers, the Tutshi and Tarahne. Tarahne now sits on a dry dock here in the town.




Atlin is another gold rush, boom and bust town. Atlin was founded as a result of  demand for gold mining in the area.




The Atlin gold rush came about in 1898 and was one of the richest offshoots of the Klondike Gold Rush.




By the end of the mining season of 1899, around 5,000 people had flocked to the region and Atlin became a busy and important settlement.








Beautiful setting right on the lake
Beautiful setting right on the lake

Lots of old buildings
Lots of old buildings

Some really old buildings. If these walls could talk!
Some really old buildings. If these walls could talk!

Anders taking a walk on the water front.
A walk on the water front.

Liz really thought the theater was very well done. Still active.
Liz really thought the theater was very well done. Still active.
Although production was greater in its early years, the Atlin field still produces today. Total placer gold production has exceeded $23,000,000 since the beginning.



Today, there are still about four mines in operation in the area, but sadly all the businesses look in need of customers and money.



Atlin gets its name from Áa Tlein, the Tlingit language word for "big body of water". The surrounding area has been used by Inland Tlingit people for many years.



The community just south of  Atlin is home to the Taku River Tlingit First Nation.



Just a few days before our visit, Atlin was rocking with its annual music festival weekend. We think everybody here is recuperating from all the commotion that comes with a festival like that.



The scenery in Atlin is unbelievably spectacular. The mountains across the lake with the still active Atlin Mountain Rock Glacier look immense.



Birch Mountain is 6,135 feet is on Teresa Island in Atlin Lake.



Float planes come and go as we watch. We take a guided tour around town by a museum employee, great! The Art gallery is also the court house, very cool.



On the shores of Atlin sits an old 1920 Lake Boat, the MV Tarahne. MV Tarahne used to run on Atlin Lake, before the Atlin road was built, very interesting.



Later, we stop in at the General Store / Bakery and after an hours wait we get some fresh Cinnamon Buns. Talk about fresh, hot, sticky, aromatic, yummy, and did I say sticky, wow, so good.



We now drive north, still licking my fingers, and stop at a nice rest stop and have a little nap. With the fresh air and the sound of the wind through the forest, it does not take long to snooze away.

Liz driving towards Carcross
Liz driving towards Carcross.

Anders with ice cream in hand in front of the SS Tutshi Memorial
Anders with ice cream in hand in front of the SS Tutshi Memorial

Liz having a rest in front of a storage cabin.
Liz having a rest in front of a storage cabin.

An old cabin on the shore of Lake Bennette

Sandy water being brought in Lake Bennette from Watson River
Sandy waters being brought into Lake Bennett from Watson River

Liz taking in the sights.
Liz taking in the sights.

Carcross Desert - Not really a desert.
Carcross Desert - Not really a desert.

Carcross Desert - Not really a desert.
Carcross Desert

Liz at the Carcross Desert
Liz at the Carcross Desert

Dramatic sky for our ride home.
Dramatic sky on our ride home.

The road back to Whitehorse.
The road back to Whitehorse.
Reaching highway #8 again we decide to drive the longer way back to camp. The road leads us to the town of Carcross.



Carcross, originally known as Caribou Crossing, is an unincorporated community and is located on the shores of Bennett Lake and Nares Lake.



It is home to the Carcross-Tagish First Nation.



In 1904, Caribou Crossing was renamed Carcross as a result of some mail mix-ups with the Cariboo Regional District in nearby British Columbia.



Carcross or Caribou Crossing was a fishing and hunting camp for the Inland Tlingit and Tagish people.



Many Native artifacts have been found here, some dating back 4,500 years.



The name Caribou Crossing was named after the migration of huge numbers of caribou across the natural land bridge between Lake Bennett and Nares Lake.



The local caribou herd was almost hunted and killed out during the Klondike Gold Rush. Fortunately there is now a recovery program and the number of animals is in the rising to around 450.



Today Carcross is an active tourist town, with the White Pass Train coming and going over the White Pass to Skagway.



Facing south-west on Bennett Lake there are several beach houses.



Until 1983 these beach houses were considered squatters. Now they are titled; however, a few still look like a squatters' cabins.



Carcross Desert, located outside Carcross is often referred to as the smallest desert in the world.



The Carcross Desert measures approximately 1 square mile or 2.6 km² totalling 640 acres.



The Carcross Desert is commonly referred to as a desert, however it is actually a series of northern sand dunes.



The climate is too humid to be considered a true desert. The sand here was formed during the last glacial period.



This is when large glacial lakes formed and deposited a bunch of silt.



Later when the lakes dried up, the dunes were left behind. Today, the sand comes mainly from nearby Bennett Lake, carried by wind.



In 1992 the Yukon government tried to protect Carcross Desert.



This attempt failed due to opposition from local people who use the dunes for recreational purposes.



The Carcross Desert is much drier than the surrounding area. It receives less than 50 mm of rain per year. This is because it lays in the rain shadow of the surrounding mountains.



Because of this much drier climate the dunes contain a wide variety of plants, including unusual varieties such as Baikal sedge and Yukon Lupine.



The Baikal sedge or Carex sabulosa is only known to exist in four other sites in North America but mostly in Asia.



After walking the shores of Bennett Lake we stop in at the tourist office and chat with Elke, a super nice lady who gives us tons of more information.



After a Pralines and Cream ice cream from a nearby shop, I'm at the wheel again with sticky fingers ... Driving under the influence of sticky fingers, hmm!



What a great day.



More pictures on our on line photo album.




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