We started our day with a short hike (about 1 mile round trip) down to the Yukon at the Five Fingers Rapids. This was a point on the Yukon which created great difficulties for the stern wheelers as they traveled from Whitehorse to Dawson City during the goldrush era. The five “islands” in the middle of the channel led to navigational difficulties and when the water was shallow the stern wheel had to be lifted which meant that they lost steerageway. Many of the boats were damaged at this point. A little history lesson: Typically a person hunting for gold came by ship to Skagway, from there he walked (the Chilkoot Trail or the White Pass Trail) and then took boats from Tagish Lake (headwater of the Yukon) north to Dawson City. After the initial influx, the railroad was built from Skagway to Whitehorse (built in just 28 months!). From there the stampeders took a stage coach or a sternwheeler down the Yukon to get to Dawson City. When gold was found in the Dawson City area in 1896 this was an arduous trip with many men and their pack animals dying along the way. By 1901, with the new railroad and riverboats running, the trip could be made first-class from Seattle to Dawson City in just 9 days.
Our drive took us through Carmacks (population: 444) which was at one point a major provisioning point along the Yukon. One of the most important supplies taken on here was wood. It took 90-100 cords of wood (mostly spruce) to fire the boilers of a sternwheeler making the Whitehorse to Dawson City trip.
Today we followed the Nordenskiold River system which is basically a system of linked lakes. The lakes are blue and green and surrounded by lush green grasses. We kept looking for the elusive bull moose, but no luck, just lots of geese, ducks, and a few swans.
We continue to see many European style RVs with European plates. It would appear that a fair number of people are bringing their RVs from Europe to Canada and Alaska for travel. At some point I hope to talk with some of these travelers about the logistics and economy of traveling this way.
We ended our day in Whitehorse. Vanessa had a much needed bath, and we found a grocery store for some shopping. Then we settled in at our campsite. We decided to treat ourselves to a commercial campground with wifi, electricity, running water, and most important, a hot spring. We enjoyed a nice soak in the Takhini Hot Spring – a lovely end to our day.
Takhini Hot Spring Campground Review: 60 spaces, well-treed with birch and some spruce. Centrally located water, non-electric as well as electric sites (15/30/50 Amp). Many sites are pull-through. Terrible dusty pot-holed roads. Dump is located near the hot spring; it has no running water for washing and the road is tipped away from the dump. 20% discount given at the hot spring to campers. Fees range from $20 (tent sites) to $37 (50-amp pull through).