If A Picture is worth 1000 words…

14 08 2013

Then a video must be worth at least 10,000! Here’s the video from our hike on the Chilkoot! Bill did an awesome job at putting it together!

So, sit back, grab a snack (it’s 24 minutes long), and enjoy!


Chilkoot Trail, Day 4

7 08 2013

After a kind of scary evening on Day 3, I was happy to wake up on Day 4 headache free and having to pee (for the like 4th time since arriving in Bare Loon). (If you’re wondering why I’m talking about having to pee, check out this post)

We had a 4 mile hike in front of us to Bennett, where we would catch the train at 11:30am, Alaska Time. If we missed this train, the next one didn’t arrive until Tuesday- and there was no guarantee you’d get on it, if the train happened to be sold out. Needless to say, we wanted to make sure we were up and on the trail with plenty of time to spare, just in case. We had planned to wake up around 6am, but going to bed so early and the early rising sun made us wake up a little after 4. We thought about going back to sleep, but decided that we were up, so we might as well get moving.

We started with a breakfast of bagels and peanut butter, my favorite!


Then, it was off to Bennett!

IMG_2451These four miles went by pretty quickly.


Before we knew it we were at a log cabin, which I had heard some people talk about in one of the camps. I came to find out later that the log cabin they were talking about was different that this log cabin, but it still gave me hope that we were close to the end.


I actually read somewhere that there were some private residences close to Bennett, so this may have been someone’s vacation cabin?

Right after the cabin, the trail became sandy. I mean like walking across a beach in the soft sand sandy. It was pretty tough to walk through it with my shoes; it felt like I was walking through quicksand. Bill’s sandals allowed the sand to gather between his feet and the sandal which was not comfortable. So, we decided it might be easier to run. And you know what, it was easier, or at least more pleasant for the several hundred yards we ran. The quicker we got out of the sand, the better. Thankfully we both had even lighter packs since our food was just about all gone.

IMG_2455Soon, off in the distance I saw what appeared to be a church steeple. We HAVE to be close! We started jogging again and sure enough, we were at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church. This church, built during the gold rush, isn’t in use anymore, but it’s the only gold rush building in Bennett still standing.

IMG_7928We could see the train station down at the base of the hill: we had done it! I’m sure we both had huge smiles on our faces as we walked (or maybe skipped?) down the last part of the trail to the Bennett train station.


We stopped to pose for a picture by the “Chilkoot Trail” sign when it started to sprinkle.


I was SO happy that we didn’t have a drop of rain until now. We had ABSOLUTELY perfect weather for our hike and I couldn’t have been more thankful.

We asked someone for the time and realized it was only a little after 8am- we still had over three hours to kill. So, we sat on the porch of the train station and waited.


The Bennett train station is a stop on the White Pass and Yukon Railroad, and many tours starting from Skagway, full of cruise ship passengers, stop here. There’s actually a kitchen and several dining rooms-decked out with fine china and everything- for the tourists. Recognizing that hikers would deeply appreciate a hot meal after the trail, the station also offers lunch to the hikers for $15 each if you purchase your tickets ahead of time. However, hikers do not eat with the tourists, they get their own special dining area all to themselves. They opened the doors for us around ten, and we were happy to get out of the chilly morning and to some real food!


About half of the hikers we met along the trail had pre purchased meal tickets; I was so thankful we had!


They served us beef stew, bread, cole slaw, and a mixed berry pie.


I’m not typically a beef stew kinda gal, but man, was this tasty!! The berry pie was quite good too- I think it even had rhubarb in it!

We filled up and warmed up and around 10:30 or so the train pulled in.

IMG_7945They offloaded the tourists into the dining halls, and then they allowed us to get on the train- but only in the cars marked “HIKERS”. Did we really smell that bad??

Since we had some time to kill, I took a few minutes to take some photos.




Soon enough, it was “All Aboard” and off to Carcross we went! Carcross is actually north, on the way to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. On Saturdays, the train doesn’t run south, so we had to go north only to come back south to Skagway.

It was kind of neat riding on the train. The cars were heated with old fashioned heaters and there was a bathroom in each car. Not gonna lie, I was pretty excited to hear the flush of a toilet and use running water, even if it was on a train car!

We saw beautiful scenery, but it wasn’t enough to keep me awake for the almost 2 hour ride. I dozed off sometime after we entered the Yukon.


When we arrived at Carcross, we were a little confused because the conductor of the train murmured something about “train time” vs Yukon time, and then that we had 3 hours until our ride picked us up to take us back to Skagway. 3 hours? Our tickets said our ride would pick us up at 1:15, and it was nearly that time when we got off the train. Thankfully, we asked someone who looked like she ran a tour company what the deal was. She said that she was looking for the Gibson party and for the Pierce party. The Gibson party? That’s us! So we didn’t have to wait 3 hours? Thank GOODNESS!

Our driver was really chill and she actually let us run across the street to the little general store to get some ice cream for the road.

IMG_7966Man, did that hit the spot!

We hopped in her van, Bill and I, and the Pierce family- our friends from Deep Lake- and we headed south towards the American border.

On our way we stopped for the obligatory photo at the Welcome to Alaska sign.


And we spotted a coyote:

IMG_7969I saw some bald eagles, but they were too far away to photo. But I still hadn’t seen any bears ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

We made it back to the docks in Skagway close to 3:30 (I think). We said our goodbyes to the Pierce family and exchanged contact information with them. They had graciously agreed to give us a ride back to Juneau either Sunday afternoon or Monday morning depending on the weather, since we’d be going by boat. We said we’d be in touch as we parted ways for the evening.

Bill contacted his friend Nathan to arrange for a ride back to his place where a nice warm shower was waiting for us! I was so proud that we had completed the trail, kind of sad that it was all over, but very excited for a hot shower and clean clothes.

While we waited, we headed over to the Red Onion Saloon. During the gold rush, this was an exclusive brothel. Since then, the Red Onion building has been used for a multitude of other purposes, but in 1980 it was converted to a bar and the upstairs became a museum, sharing the history of the Red Onion in its heyday.

My body was craving vegetables, so I ordered a salad and Bill ordered a pizza. You also can’t forget the Alaskan Brewing Company’s Summer Ale- so good!



After we ate, we met up with Nathan for a ride back to his house. Hello shower, laundry, and bed!

The hike may be over, but I still had a few more days of exploring Alaska- I’ll share my highlights in another post!

Chilkoot Trail, Day 3

4 08 2013

We woke up to a chilly, foggy morning.

IMG_2416(this was actually after some of the fog had burned off)

Bill and I both agreed that we were happy to have hiked down from Happy Camp last night rather than this morning- walking on the narrow trail would have been tricky! And, we would have missed some beautiful scenery!

It was early in the morning and our bodies were exhausted from yesterday’s challenging day, so we fell back asleep. Today we didn’t need to rush to be out of camp and we didn’t have all that far to go, so we knew we could have a lazy morning.

Sometime between 8 and 9 (rough guess?) we woke up for good and headed down to make some breakfast. It was still pretty foggy unfortunately, but I was hopeful it would burn off as the day wore on.


This morning’s breakfast was oatmeal and hot chocolate. We brought Swiss Miss Dark Chocolate Indulgence mix and added a little powdered milk. Holy Yum! It may have been the setting, but that hot chocolate was the absolute best.

At breakfast, there were several others who had made it into camp late the night before as well as our new friends Jared, Julie and Trevor. We were all enjoying our meals when we heard some voices off towards the lake.

More hikers! They had left Happy Camp uber early that morning to start their day. They commented about the thick fog on their journey down to Deep Lake and told us they were continuing on to Bare Loon Lake, just like the rest of us. They rested for a few minutes before continuing on, and we told them we’d see them at Bare Loon.


Today’s journey was a 3 mile hike to Lineman City and then we’d continue on another 3 miles to Bare Loon Lake (mile 29).


The miles to Lindeman City passed pretty quickly. There was lots of greenery and rushing rapids all around us.




You definitely didn’t want to fall down there.



When we were just outside of Lindeman City, we started to see lots of piles of poop. When we arrived at Lindeman City, we discovered why:


A mama bear and two cubs had been pretty active at this campsite, so we kept our eyes peeled as much as we could. I joked with Bill though that we may have walked right past bears and not known it because we were too busy watching our feet and where we were going!

Earlier on the trail, we chatted with a park ranger who mentioned that there was an “artist in residence” program happening on the trail this week, and the artist would be at Lindeman City for the day. Curious, we stopped by to check out her art work. She was hiking the trail and painting scenes from the trail when she was in camp. It was pretty neat to see an artist’s rendition of where we had just hiked.

Lindeman City also had some small canvas “houses” set up, with historical pictures and placards set up. We peeked in one and there were several people in it already and not much room for anyone else, so we opted to skip it and head to Bare Loon. Looking back, I kinda wish we had explored a little there, but oh well.


The last three miles for the day were probably the most boring of the entire trail. It was very dry and very rocky. I thought it was also the ugliest part of the trail. However, off in the distance, we spotted what we hoped was Bennett Lake, the end of the trail.


The end was in sight- we were almost done! It was kind of sad though, because we had spent so much time and effort planning and executing this hike. Now, we were only a short ways from it all being over. We pushed those thoughts aside because we still had a little ways to go today and then 4 more miles tomorrow. Ha, only after going 25+ miles do you say 4 miles is “a short ways”.

In early afternoon, we made it to Bare Loon. We were one of the first people to camp, so we had many options for where we wanted to set up. We picked a platform close to the lake with an outstanding view:

IMG_7924I went down and felt the water and it was a little chilly. However, a few brave souls took a dip while we were there!

Bill set up the tent, and by now, he was an expert.IMG_2443

Our home for the night ๐Ÿ™‚

We had arrived in camp early enough that we sat outside the tent and relaxed while munching on some trail mix. It was so peaceful and quiet out here besides the occasional caw of the seagull.

I had a slight headache all day that was starting to get worse, so I decided to go inside the tent and take a short nap. I don’t think I really slept; it was too bright and it was getting noisier as more campers arrived for the night. So Bill and I decided to head up to the food hut to have dinner. I still wasn’t feeling super, but I put on a happy face and sat with Bill as he prepared our Rice Sides (chicken flavor). We shared a table with our friends from Deep Lake, and the other tables were occupied by other campers we had met along the trail. Everyone was talking and laughing and eating- but the smell of the food was not appetizing to me. So, I sat there, figuring I was still full from my lunchtime snacks and tried to chime in when I could. But my head was pounding and I was starting to feel slightly nauseous. We quickly wrapped up our meal and headed back to the tent where I immediately laid down. I took 2 ibuprofen, hoping that would help my headache go away. Bill was getting pretty worried and so was I. I started to wonder if I was dehydrated. I thought I had been pretty good about drinking water all day, but I asked Bill to check the level on my Camelbak. When he pulled it out, I had only drank half a liter. That plus the half liter I drank at breakfast was DEFINITELY not enough. Bill tried to get me to start drinking some water, but my tummy felt full, and I didn’t really want to drink any. But I knew the situation could go from bad to worse in an instant, so I had him prepare some Skratch. I slowly but surely force-fed myself the electrolyte enhanced water. I went to the bathroom for the first time since we’d left camp this morning (this should have been my first sign I was dehydrated!) and came back and continued to drink a liter of Skratch. When that was gone, I switched to the water in my pack. Finally, my headache started to dissipate and my stomach felt settled.

Relieved, we climbed into our sleeping bags and headed to bed for the night. I was thankful to be feeling better, but lesson learned- hydration is extremely important and I need to be hyper vigilant about it!