Over White Pass

Skagway, AK to Whitehorse, YT

Jul 10, 2010

The morning dawned grey and noisy, as those in neighboring rooms talked loudly, slammed doors and took showers. We needed showers, but were concerned about the hot water supply. We decided to wait until our neighbors were done but as soon as one finished, another would start. While Katherine tried to doze, a tour guide was twenty feet from the window explaining to eager tourists the ins and outs of gold rush bordellos.

After we finally showered, we packed up and checked out of Sgt. Preston's Lodge, once again leaving our luggage in the lobby.

We wandered around town to find a place for lunch and wound up in the Red Onion. Chris had a pesto pizza and Katherine had a BBQ chicken pizza, which, true to the name of the restaurant was heavy on onion.

It was a very damp morning and by the time we reached the car rental building, we were feeling rather soggy. We waited for several minutes past our appointment time. We were surprised to encounter a fellow traveler who had previously lived in Indiana. Finally we saw a young man in vest and dress shirt loping up the sidewalk. "I'm sorry", he apologized, "I have locked myself out of the office." He was followed by an older man with a silver pony tail and overalls who unlocked the door to the vested youth's profuse thanks.

A little while longer and we were on our way in a dark blue 2009 Toyota Matrix. We were very thankful to be in a car on this rainy day. We found ourselves leaving town right behind some people who we recalled from the ferry and who had stayed at Sgt. Preston's the night before, as we had. At every pullout with an information sign, they would pull their car up very close, and the wife of the couple would hop out, read the sign in segments, and pass the highlights on to those in the car. She elaborated, as questions were asked. It was an amusing performance to watch.

The fog was very thick as we headed up toward White Pass, and we were glad not to be crossing at night. We could scarcely imagine making this trip by foot, packing mining outfits through the mountain pass. What we could see of the scenery was beautiful. At one point, there was an amazing waterfall just feet from the road. As we crossed the summit and descended, we came out of the fog and into weak sunshine on rolling greys and greens.

The area was referred to as a moonscape because of its stubby and sparse vegetation. The colors were noting short of amazing. We stopped to see Emerald Lake glinting impossibly green between its shores.

Closer to Whitehorse, we stopped at a park at Lake Kookatsoon. Our shoes sank into the sandy beach and we watched a pug dog frolicking on the beach and running through the tall grass.