I don’t think it ever got completely dark last night. Every time I woke up, it seemed it was light out. At 4:30 a.m. it was bright as day. I love this.. but it sure messes with your inner clock.
Between where we spent the night last night (almost on the British Columbia/ Yukon border) and all the way up to Whitehorse, it’s pretty unremarkable; mostly rolling hills or flat. It’s pretty, but a long drive. The roads are decent, though, which I am glad of. There are lots of smooth-ish gravel patches interspersed with pavement. Dusty, but not bad on the car for the most part.
We headed to Whitehorse, Yukon. Pretty cool city, actually. We stopped in at the visitor center (which I recommend to get your bearings and be around people- finally!). They have a 15-minute film there; it’s a visual tour of different areas of Yukon. The center itself is very modern and a cool place to check out, especially their 3D interactive map which stood about 2.5 times the height of me and certainly made the phrase seem true that Yukon is “larger than life.” I saw, by pushing a button, that I can take a road all the way past the Arctic Circle and into the northern sea. Now my wheels are turning (in my mind, but not on my car in that direction… yet…)
Steve stopped in at an outdoor shop while I waited in the car so we wouldn’t have to feed the meter. He inquired about the bouldering we were trying to find in the area and the climbing in general. Turns out the area is pretty undeveloped, but a local is working on a guidebook, as there are some great places to go. Ratings haven’t really been set. When he asked where things were, he was told where things were but that it wouldn’t be smart for just two of us to go because the area is well populated with bears. That’s all the warning we need.
I was surprised by Whitehorse. It looks like an up and coming town with a young population. There’s lots of old town charm in the downtown area. I’d like to visit again and explore the area a bit more, but I don’t think I would need more than a day.
The drive from Whitehorse to Alaska is absolutely and increasingly breathtaking. This area made the 3-day trip worth it. I wanted to stop and take picture after picture, but we’d never get anywhere so I settled on my memory doing the photo taking and the GoPro taking video as we drove.
We took the Alaska Highway until we got to Haines Junction and then headed south there, choosing Haines over Skagway at nearly the last minute because the drive was bordered by three national parks. I don’t regret that decision, either. The mountain is incredibly rugged, rising up out of green carpets and cutting jagged paths into the clouds that are hanging all around them. Glaciers are abundant, filling every dip on every peak. Milky colored rivers, filled with “rock flour,” cascade down the slopes and suddenly meander through rack-strewn rivers beds wider than twenty of our mountain rivers back home in Utah. Gorgeous.
Crossed the U.S. border. The border guard seemed highly suspicious of us (what evil-intending person would make Haines, AK their destination?) but finally welcomed us home -> back to the States. Kinda funny that though I’ve never been to Alaska, it feels good to be “home” again…
Haines is a LOT smaller than I thought. It was 11pm by the time we got there but still light out. We stopped at a motel & found a local highschooler eager to answer my equally eager (and rapid-fire) questions. We talked with her for about 20 minutes about Haines and Alaska in general. The most interesting thing I couldn’t get past was that the local high school team flies all the way to Whitehorse to compete in games there as well as taking ferries to play games with neighboring high schools.
That makes my high school in Florida seem pretty unspectacular.
We saw a cruise ship, all lit up, floating out from the bay here. The ocean was sparkling with its lights. I can’t believe I am here.