|View of Skagway coming in by plane|
|Dorthia my traveling buddy of course was along for the ride|
***History section. If history bores you please skip to pretty tree pose picture below to continue the story and you'll be rewarded with cute animal pictures***
Skagway is a pivotal little city both in history and in modern day tourism and travel. If one were to drive out of SE Alaska, they would take a ferry to Skagway to they can then drive into Canada and connect to the roads leading to the lower 48. It is also where all the gold seekers came for the gold rush to start their voyage to the Klondike back in 1898. That little venture is what put Skagway, and Alaska on the map. At the peak of the gold rush Skagway was the largest city in Alaska with around 10,000 prospectors taking over the area.
There is another town used back in those days called Dyea (Die-ee) where folks headed out on the Chilkoot Trail towards the Klondike. The trail from Skagway is called White Pass. Both were treacherous, many men and horses died trying to get to gold. Eventually a railroad was put in along White Pass and that led to Dyea becoming abandoned along with the Chilkoot trail. The railroad now is a popular destination for all those cruise ship tourists. Skagway is a bustling city filled with summer employees and thousands of tourists who come in to take the train through the beautiful valley of White Pass (we took a car). Dyea is part of the park service now and the Chilkoot Trail can be hiked for pleasure by those willing to spend five days backpacking out there which I would like to do some day. It is just a land with some trees now where the city used to be, but there are very few remnants of the buildings that once stood there.
John worked for the railroad in his formative years so our drive along White Pass I heard the spiel he used to give to the tourists. John’s parents both worked for the park service so their knowledge of the history of Skagway, Dyea, and a lot of the famous people from the goldrush far surpassed that which I would find simply reading pamphlets at the visitor center. I learned more about the the gold rush era (and some incorrect things on signs) than most tourists which was such a treat for me.
The first few days in Skagway were filled with cleaning up the McCluskey house of the massive amount of dirt and mess left behind by some very irresponsible tenants. It was a mostly rainy summer for Skagway, which was unusual for the area, but we managed to take advantage of one of the nicer summer days and hike up a mountain called AB Mountain with a friend of John’s from highschool, Max. AB stands for Arctic Brotherhood, a fraternal organization formed in 1899 by gold-seeking stampeders headed for the Klondike. Max had recently gotten into paragliding so he wanted to get to the top to jump off. As is typical of the Alaskan terrain that I was familiar with in Anchorage and Denali, there is a lot of uphill, you’re always hiking up a mountain (or through a pass, but summiting things with views is quite fun). We were all feeling really out of shape headed up, but it felt so good to finally be hiking again. John kept reliving the days he would mountain bike down this trail and point out places where he crashed, or where he did an amazing jump.
We got a call that Max was about to jump so we walked to the side of the ridge that faced Skagway and waited. And there he went, quite high above us but floated every so gracefully over our heads and out towards the city. It probably took him 15 minutes to get all the way down.
|Caribou antler sheds|
Skagway was a lot of fun, but I think it is only fun as a visitor. The town harbors a lot of history and character but its winters are harsh and cold and dark. I was happy to leave when we did just before the snow arrived. But now that I'm gone I find myself day dreaming about the Alaskan mountains. There is just so much world to explore.
|Green Lake, Canada|