Friday, 2 October 2015

Carcross and Atlin: The last stops in the Yukon...

Leaving Kluane Lake, we drove back to Haines Junction,

The Sculpture at the junction of Alaska highway and the highway to Haines 

and back towards Whitehorse. There are rugged snow-capped mountains of the Kluane Range to the south

Magnificent Kluane Range

Sculptured mountains

and the more gentle rounded lower mountains to the north.

More rounded and lower hills

The highway runs through the wide valley between.  We returned to Hi Country RV Park and unhitched.

Once again at Hi Country RV Park

As we drove into Whitehorse, we looked at each other and said, “It feels like coming home”. This was our third time in Whitehorse. The next morning, we were both still sore from our hike- John’s quads and my calves, so we planned just a little walking! I had not had a chance to get T-shirts for the grandchildren, so that was one of our priorities. We walked around town enjoying the familiar and friendly feel of the city, and had a latte at our favorite cafĂ©, Baked.

Nice enough to sit ourside too!

After John got the oil changed at the dealer in town, we had another burrito at the park and looked at the buildings which had been relocated from the squatters community at the north end of downtown, to the south.

Grady-Miller House

Chambers House

Pioneer Hotel

Before we left Whitehorse, we made one last day trip up to Takhini Hot Springs. On the way, we had one more museum to see- the Copperbelt Railway and Mining Museum.

The Museum building

It was an interesting visit, riding in a small train through the aspen woods

The train which gives a 20 minute ride

The train passes by a mock-up of a mine

and learning the copper and rail history of the Yukon.
It was another grey day with just a slight chill in the air, but relaxing in the pool was just what we needed. Too bad there were no hot springs at Kluane!

It was time to say Good-Bye to Whitehorse for the last time! We retraced our steps a short way back down the Alaska Highway, then south to Carcross, on the Klondike Highway towards Skagway, Alaska. This is the original route of the Alaska Highway built in 1943, and the gold-seeker’s “Trail of 1898”. The road runs through a valley between high grass, shrubs, trees and green mountains.

Some clouds but a beautiful drive

We stopped to admire beautiful Emerald Lake.

Why it is green...

The beautiful emerald colour especially along the shores

Then, just outside town, we found the windswept dunes of smallest desert in the world.

View as you stop in the parking lot

The explanation...

It was like a huge beach with trees, but no water!

What an awesome site!

Where are the pails and shovels?

Mountains, but no water...

The turn-off from the highway

is a quaint little town, like a step back in time. There are some of the Yukon’s oldest buildings, dating back to 1898. The visitors centre and the artisans and shops surrounding it,

One of information panels - Explanation of Clan System

The Totem Pole in the centre of the shops
including the house of Skookum Jim [one of the first to find gold at Bonanza Creek], which is now a museum and art gallery,

Skookum Jim's House

are a beautiful tribute to the Tagish First Nation. 

There are many houses from the Gold Rush era around the village. Some are abandoned,

Across the river

The house is lived in, the truck- an icon

Sibilla-motor vessel used to chart most navigable waters
some are homes or shops.

The Trading Post

The Rail Station

Repurposed Buildings

The Caribou Hotel -under renovation right now, and the General Store
The RCMP barracks is now a bake shop with original doors,

original NWMP Barracks, now a Bake shop
canvas on the walls and original stuffing between the logs.

Original stuffing between logs

This is the terminal of the Yukon and White Pass train from Skagway Alaska, a narrow gauge railroad, built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush. A train arrived while we were there!

Crossing the Swing Bridge

On the Nares River is a unique tribute to the Tutchi riverboat which burned while it was being restored.  

S.S. Tutshi Memorial

The story of the restoration

The bow was the most intact section

We drove back up Tagish Road and onto Atlin Road.

In many places the mountains swept right to the road

Atlin Lake ran beside the highway

Some mountains were rocky

The lake widened 
We spent the night in the Snafu Government Campground, on the Atlin Road. We chose a beautiful site up on the hill overlooking the lake.

Looking over Snafu Lake

After some rain, a beautiful rainbow -good rain is over...

We were the only ones there for a several hours, then a German couple, spending a month camping in the Yukon, drove in. We had an interesting visit at our campfire in the evening, while listening to the loons on the lake.

Our 4 stools around the fire ...

 There was construction as they rebuilt bridges at Snarfu and Tarfu Creeks.

A new Bridge

The next day, it was pouring rain, but we decided to go on down to Atlin anyway.Just past TARFU Lake, we entered BC.

Back into BC for a while...

Many people had said it was a beautiful drive, and well worth the 100km drive. It was a pretty drive with scenic views of lakes.
A pretty drive

But dusty then wet...

The rain created interesting vistas
However, the road was under construction in several places, and, first dusty then, with the rain, muddy!  


so, no centre line, but not muddy
Atlin is an artsy little village built on a hill up from the largest natural lake in BC, Atlin Lake. There are many of the old buildings from gold rush days when the population went from 500 to 10,000 people during 1898-99.

The Globe Theatre and two of the stores [neither is in use today]

A mural on the back of a Main St. store

A Home, part of the General Store

The General Store, next door- still in use

The Atlin Gold Rush is considered BC’s last ‘great stampede’. Many who came here were those tired and discouraged from trying to reach Dawson City. There is still an active placer-gold mining industry. However, the population is now back to 500.  Unfortunately the Visitors Centre and Museum in the old schoolhouse was closed.

The door was only open to tell us it was closed!

Relics from thee Gold Rush days - an outdoor display
However the Arts Centre and Gallery in the old Court House was open. It has wonderful art and crafts by local folks. In one shop, I commented on the variety and the wonderful arts, and the answer was, “Our winters are long”.  Atlin hosts an Arts and Music Festival each July. Beautifully painted benches are all over the village commemorating these, one for each year.

Outside the Museum

Outside the Globe Theatre

On the side of the road

The MV Tarahne is beached on the downtown lakeshore. A gas-powered propeller vessel, it operated in the 1920’s as a luxury tour boat offering trips around Atlin Lake.

The Tarahne

They now host ‘Tea on the Tarahne’, with hosts in period dress, the first Saturday in July each year.

 It was really interesting to wander around the village,
The downtown waterfront

A mural on a back street

Kershaw's,  now a private home

The back of Kershaw's

An interesting home

Another beautiful home in the village

but we were soaked, even with rain jackets and umbrellas. I changed socks and shoes before we left. We drove around to the RV Campground on the lake, but the weather was so miserable, we decided to head on towards Watson Lake. 

We stopped the night back in Teslin at the Government Campground. Atlin was an interesting stop on our travels, but we debated whether it was worth the extra 200km.

We drove back to Downtown RV campground, with full hook-ups, in Watson Lake in the rain, over muddy roads much of the way back up to the Alaska Highway.

Muddy, but a beautiful drive- inside and dry!

Back into the Yukon

Back past bridge construction

Back on the Alaska Highway, still raining
and last time over a Yukon Bridge 

Once again, laundry was a priority before we began our drive down the Cassiar Highway. After talking to lots of people, and much research and discussion, we had decided to take the Stewart-Cassiar Highway back down to Highway 16 and back to Jasper, rather than retracing our drive down the rest of the Alaska Highway. The Cassiar was reported to be not as good a road and under construction, but we had lots of that. The surface was supposed to be chip-sealed, so not as smooth as tarmac.

The next day we were off, heading south on Highway 37, the Stewart-Cassiar Highway, and out of the Yukon for the last time into northern BC.

The beginning of the Cassiar Highway

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