I’m sitting in a hotel room tonight ready to catch an early morning flight to Winnipeg and then a bus to Kenora to spend some time with a couch surfing friend there. Sun is shining in the window reminding me of the beautiful days I spent on Vancouver Island in Sayward and Campbell River. My body has stopped aching and my Chilkoot hike is just a memory. From here it is easy to remember the beautiful trees, bluer than blue mountain lakes and the times we spent laughing together. There was more than that though and I do want to remember the rest of it too.
I trained during spring and summer but the heat from March on slowed me down. My body was not ready for 8 to 16 hour days. After the first day of up and down hiking it became apparent that I was out of my league. The brochures asked for ‘experienced’ hikers. I assumed that Desiree’s experience would carry me through but, I should not have been there. I slowed my group down painfully and put us in some danger. That being said….I did it…really. I did it without too much pain and I am proud of that
The days were long and my feet hurt from the beginning…not the blisters that Dave expected but actually bruises on the soles of my feet and ends of my toes. All that in-spite of the fact that I had been wearing these boots for two years. My feet were just not used to walking up and down hills carrying that kind of weight for hours on end. I remember having the same thing happen when I worked at a restaurant for double shifts
The trail winds from Dyea Alaska to Bennett BC through the Coast Mountains. Part of the pleasure of walking it is the range of geographic changes that you trek through. We started in lush rain forest, made our way into alpine peaks and then ended up in Boreal forest very like the Canadian Shield areas of Ontario that I love so much. We crossed racing streams, saw mountains in the distance and eventually found ourselves at the summit of one. Near Bennett we even crossed a glacial dessert. I found the heavy beach sand challenging to walk in but beautiful. Apparently the wind blowing constantly across the glaciers has deposited this sand picked up from their eroding exteriors on the land.
Here are a few pictures to show you the changing landscape we found.
That is it for now…I have almost 1000 pictures but am not sure how many I can upload at a time.
Here is a list of things the prospectors were required to have to cross into Canada. It was said that this should weigh a ton and that it would take a man 40 or so trips to bring it over the pass.
150 lb. bacon, 400 lb. flour, 25 lb. rolled oats, 125 lb. beans, 10 lb. tea, 10 lb. coffee, 25 lb. sugar,
25 lb. dried potatoes, 2 lb. dried onions, 15 lb. salt, 1 lb. pepper, 75 lb. dried fruits, 8 lb. baking powder, 2 lb. soda, ½ lb. evaporated vinegar , 12 oz. compressed soup, 1 can mustard, 1 tin matches (for four men), Stove for four men, Gold pan for each, Set granite buckets, Large bucket, Knife, fork, spoon, cup, and plate, Frying pan, Coffee and teapot, Scythe stone, Two picks and one shovel, One whipsaw, Pack strap, Two axes for four men and one extra handle, Six 8-inch (200 mm) files and two taper files for the party, Draw knife, brace and bits, jack plane, and hammer for party, 200 feet three-eights-inch rope, 8 lb. of pitch and 5 lb (2.3 kg). of oakum for four men, Nails, five lbs. each of 6,8,10 and 12 penny, for four men, Tent, 10 by 12 feet (3.0 × 3.7 m) for four men, Canvas for wrapping, Two oil blankets to each boat, 5 yards of mosquito netting for each man, 3 suits of heavy underwear, 1 heavy mackinaw coat, 2 pairs heavy machinaw trousers, 1 heavy rubber-lined coat, 1 doz heavy wool socks, ½ doz heavy wool mittens, 2 heavy overshirts, 2 pairs heavy snagproof rubber boots, 2 pairs shoes, 4 pairs blankets (for two men), 4 towels, 2 pairs overalls, 1 suit oil clothing, Several changes of summer clothing, Small assortment of medicines.
Here is a list of things I carried: continue
Just a quick word to say that I arrived home from my Chilkoot adventure last night at 10pm. I am still too overwhelmed to say much and trying to sort out a thousand photos…but
I am back, I am alive and I am in reasonably good shape except for some bruises, scrapes and a couple of blisters that I hadn’t expected.
Nothing that I could have done would have prepared me for the intensity, adrenaline and beauty of the whole experience. I talked to people, searched for every scrap of info on line and read the history of the area and still I was not ready for the days of pain, excitement, accomplishment and friendships old and new. Would I do it again? Not today but…maybe.
Right now I am just trying to process the whole thing…and get ready for my trip to Vancouver Island to visit friends and family. I will sort pictures and write, hopefully sharing some of the highlights and perhaps the lowlights too. For the next few days my internet will be spotty to non existent but keep watching this space for me to fill in the blanks. Talk soon.
I didn’t sleep much last night. I am going over my pack in my mind. Do I have this, should I have that, what should I leave behind and what am I forgetting. I am just about ready and I can already feel the adrenaline. I hope that will carry me through the first few days.
I thought I should talk a little about the Chilkoot trail. It is a 53 km trail that leads from Dyea Alaska to Bennett BC (so it isn’t in the Yukon at all, I didn’t realize that).The summit is 3525 feet and I will be summitting on Sunday.
The trail was used to get from the coast to the gold fields of the Yukon through the 1890′s and was largely made obsolete by the introduction of a train which followed an alternate White Pass route.
Thinking about the prospectors who were forced by the Canadian Government to bring a ton of supplies over the trail so that they could survive their first year in the wilderness, I am feeling pretty cocky about my ‘just under’40 lb pack.
This morning I was up and out the door just after 6. That sounds very virtuous doesn’t it. Even I felt it as I walked along in the early morning sun, Saturday morning when no one else was moving. Of course my body is still on Ontario time so it felt like 9am to me. That time shift is happening though. I don’t think I will be up as early tomorrow.
I walked the path that Desiree has been training on behind her place. It was a tough trail but worth it for the view. Unfortunately it is a very sandy, steep hill that is used by dirt bikes and so there is just nothing to grab with your boots. The trip down was positively hairy. I told Desiree what I had done later and she said, oh, didn’t you find the side trail down? That other trail is way too dangerous. Oh well maybe next time. It was good.
So here is my attempt to give you some pictures. Can I manage with the ipad. I hope so. Talk next time.
Thanks to my hero’s for today, Sue Reynolds and Rich Helms who figured out how to get the blog apps working on my ipad. There is still a steep learning curve, I have to learn html…but I think it is going to be easier than learning German and I am trying to do that too.
I got in to Whitehorse today. The weather was a balmy 17 degrees with sunshine. I can breathe. I did a walk after super on the trail that Desiree has been using to train for the Chilcoot and I held my own for a short hike. No back backs, no weight, no stress. It was wonderful walking without the weight of the 30 degree temperatures and humidity I left behind. Maybe I can do this thing.
As soon as I learn to add pictures I will put some in. The whole territory is in bloom. Fireweed, wild roses and things I can’t identify. It is beautiful. I wish you could be here to see it.
Well, off to bed. It is still bright out an so like a child, my mind is rebelling. It is still bright…why do I have to go to bed. My jet lagged body is sliding out of my chair. Talk soon.