Day 34,35,36 Kluane National Park, Yukon

We woke up early to get our breakfast and get organized for the RV return.  To my disappointment, the extra wifi I bought didn’t get more than 30-40 pictures uploaded before it froze.  And it was too early for the office to be open.  Oh well, lesson learned!  The Yukon is not the place to be for wifi bandwidth or speed!!

Off to return the RV we went!  We arrived about 9:30 as we had to have the vehicle back by 11. We managed to get everything packed up back into the car ( which meant alot of reorganizing there, and were off by 10:30.  A quick stop at the store for ice for the coolers and we hit the road.

As we left Whitehorse it started to rain. We were prepared for 24 hours of rain and very cool temperatures ( high of 8C, feels like 2C!). Even though we were driving towards Canada’s tallest and youngest mountains we couldn’t see much above 1,000 feet!

We soon reached Haines Junction, where the park visitor centre is and checked in for our 3 night stay in an oTENTic, a cross between a cabin and a tent that you can rent at many of the national parks here.  They are quite wonderful!  They have 3 sleeping platforms, a table and 4 chairs, a solar panel that runs a small light and a couple of USB ports and a wood stove (Yippy!).  Outside there is a picnic table until a bug and rain shelter, a fire pit with red Muskoka chairs ( another National park symbol) and a food locker where all food and food prepping items need to be stored. No eating or drinking allowed in the cabin itself!

While at the centre we watched a couple of videos.  One on bear safety, and one on the park itself.  Excellent orientations on both topics!  We gathered maps for hiking and looked at some wonderful artist displays.  Great activities for a rainy day.

At 3 (check in time) we headed the 20 km to the campground and found our oTENTic, “Kokanee Salmon”. With the provided wagon, we loaded our geared and transferred the necessary items to our cabin. What a lovely location! First order of business was to build a fire in the stove and get a warm retreat from the cold and the damp.

Our oTENTic – Home for the next 3 nights!
Table and wood stove – boy did it throw off heat! We needed to open windows to regulate!
Sleeping area, 2 lower queen sized platforms and one upper double. Plastic sheeting could be used for privacy or warmth
Outdoor fire pit with chairs, bear bin for storing anything related to food or food prep, and a bug / rain screen over the picnic table. They even provide a Coleman 2 burner stove ( although you need to supply your own fuel)
Looking out from our front porch upon arrival. Little did we know of the mountains just in front of us!

We stayed in the warmth and discussed possible hikes for the next couple of days. There are so many to choose from! Then Dan ran his tarp over the picnic table shelter to try and get enough dry area for us to cook and eat. Luckily I had made a smoked fish chowder and we heated that and gobbled it down!

After dinner, back into the warm ( actually hot) cabin.  We eventually were left in tee shirts because of the warmth!

A few games of cribbage and then some reading and we were ready for bed.  The cabin was still so warm, we actually opened the window at our heads and had cool mountain air on our faces as we slept!  Until tomorrow, stay safe!

Day 35, Kluane

We woke up to a cool cabin as the fire had died down. But what a great sleep we had! Dan was hungry, so he headed out to get breakfast started after he got the fire going once again!

It was still cool and overcast, but the clouds has risen a little higher.  After breakfast I stayed inside where it was warm and did some painting while Dan did some splitting of firewood. 

The sun started to peak out a bit and we decided to explore the campground and head down to the lake for a walk along the shore. Little did we know we had a Mountain View from our cabin!

As the clouds lifted we could start to see the mountains on the other side of the lake
A view of Kathleen Lake from the campground lake access point
Looking north across the lake
Little dwarf dogwood struggling to survive in the middle of the path
Heading back up the path to our tent site. I just love the trembling aspens.

After a beautiful walk, we met up with one of the park staff, and chatted a bit about the park. We also suggested that they give you and option of putting a deposit on an axe to help split fire wood. The pieces are pretty big and Dan’s hatchet was hitting above its weight! She said she had one and would drop it off for us at the oTENTic. What wonderful hospitality! That’s certainly something we’ve found throughout the Yukon!

The shelter provided down by the lake.

Back at the site, we had a quick lunch and decided to explore the north end of the park.  We headed about 100 kms north from the campground to the visitor’s centre there.  The scenery along the way was breathtaking!

The cold temps have brought snow to the mountain tops here in the last few days as well
Dried lake bottom at the south end of Kluane Lake. The visitor’s centre is just at the end of this stretch of highway

Once at the centre, while it was closed the outdoor display encouraged us to look for Dal sheep.  This was a protected area where they were being studied and Dan’s sharp eyes found a small herd way up on the slopes.  We counted about 20-30!

Dal sheep flock far up on the mountain

From there we went a short distance further to the Soldiers lookout hike.  It’s a short hike to the place where on November 30, 1942 they opened the Alaska Highway, ( minus 30C!).  It was built to have a land resupply for Alaskan airfields snd was completed in 10 months ( 11 months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor).  Beautiful lookout, and on a very cool August day ( 9C) we could imagine the freezing work that went on here!

Constant reminders everywhere!
Outlook past way along to the Soldier’s Lookout
Hiking along the path
View looking up to the National Park “red chairs”
Soldier’s Lookout from the “red chairs”

We headed back to our campground after that, simply soaking in the mountain scenery. Once back at camp we made a late dinner and retired into our warm cabin for cards and some reading before bed. Tomorrow we hope to do a longer hike with fine weather promised! Until then, stay safe!

Day 36 Kluane

We woke after another good sleep.  The cabin had cooled off with the fire out.  Only 2C outside!  At this point we’re hoping we haven’t missed some of the warmer days of summer, but tomorrow we’ll start our trek south.  The weather here is supposed to be warming.. just in time for us to get back into tent camping!

Looking out from our front porch it looks like there is more snow on the King’s Throne, a destination hike we were thinking of doing today.  I think we’ll opt for the Auriol hike which is longer, but not at the same elevation. 

New Snow on King’s Throne

After making lunches we set out for the Auriol hike.  The trail head was about halfway back towards Haines Junction. 

The trail started out quite flat through a field of wild grasses, dwarf aspen and willow.  Then we started a gentle climb through spruce and trembling aspen forest.

We had some company! Ptarmigan or Grouse

At the 2 km mark the trail split snd we took the recommended path to the left .  We continued to climb through woodlands and crossed a few streams.

This stream had a bridge!
Early on the mountain trail
More streams
Some interesting mushrooms along the side of the path

The trail then opened up onto a marshy plateau and a view of the snow capped mountains beyond!

Just breathtaking!

These views blessed us as we continued to climb out of the marsh. The trail became rocky from there and at one point became the bed of a stream!

Sometimes it was hard to get dry footing! I was glad I had my hiking poles!

Beyond the wet path we rose to the campsite where we stopped to drink in the views and get a bite to eat.

Views near the campsite
Sign letting us know we we close to the campsite

It was hard to tear ourselves away on this spectacular day.  It was almost like the Yukon had provided us with this picture perfect day as a goodbye hug.  Kinda like when you are golfing and you’re having a lousy round and on the 18th hole you make a shot of a lifetime… it is guaranteed to bring you back!

Path leaving the Campsite. The fireweed was turning colour and adding a punch to the landscape
Some creative souls had added Inukshuks to the landscape. Can you find them?

As we headed down, we met a couple who told us about a lookout at km 11 that we needed to see; a kind of 360 degree lookout.  We continued on down through groves of trembling aspen and spruce.  And we found it!

Heading back down the trail from the north side this time
Hearty mountain flowers still in bloom in spite of the cool weather
Looking west towards the Elias range
Looking east you can just see Haines Junction in the middle right of the picture

From here just another 4-5 km back to the car.  The path was filled with roots by now, and the sky was crystal clear.  Watch your feet or watch the view!  By the way, as we walked Dan kept doing “Crazy Ivan’s”.  That’s where you turn around snd looked behind you.  Didn’t want to end up like Farley Mowat watched a wolf den all day, just to turn around and find the pack all staring at him from behind.  This was bear country after all.

Almost there!

When we finished the hike we headed back to our camp for an isotonic beverage and a relaxing sit on our porch.

Beautiful mountain views
And beautiful forest views

It was soon time for dinner.  Once we finished we greeted our neighbours walking down the path and invited them to join us fir a sit around the campfire.  Steve and Cathy had driven from Halifax!  Their son works in Whitehorse and we’re there to visit him.  And we thought we had come a long way!

The sun set close to 10 and the temperature was dropping fast. While it had been 17C during the day it promised to be 0C again tonight. Time to get the stove ready for us to get into bed! A great day, a wonderful evening, our hearts tearing at us to stay longer, but we knew it was time to start heading south once again! Until tomorrow, stay safe!

Categories: 2021 C2C2C Exploring Canada from Coast to Coast to Coast - a 40th Anniversary Tour

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