During the night at Whitehorse Walmart, I was awaked by the heavy patter of rain on Minnie’s roof. This was the first rain since entering Canada over a week ago. I was hoping the rain would pass soon and give me a few more good days. The next stop was in Skagway and there is lots to see there.
By morning the rain had stopped but it was still foggy and cloudy. I was wishing the sky would clear and give me good views of the mountains and glacial lakes on my drive into Skagway. I left quite early and fought rush hour traffic for a few miles, and then it was sparce traffic until I crossed back into BC and started down the long mountain grade and back into the US. The sky even cleared out and the sun broke through a few times.
When I reached the South Klondike Highway, I started to meet tour busses full of tourist coming from the cruise ships in the bay. I think I met 30 small tour busses and maybe 20 large Greyhound type busses coming up the mountain. The scenery really is spectacular along the route and there are several historical sites relating to early gold discovery. When I hit the US border I asked the custom officer if all these people were from cruise ships. He said there were over 10,000 people in town today. I guess it is like that every day!
When I reached the end of the mountain road, before I drove into Skagway, I turned onto a side road to the little town of Dyea. Dyea has a lot of history of its own: For one thing it is the trailhead for the famous Chilkoot Trail. In 1897 thousands of Gold Rush Stampeders made base camp in Dyea, then climbed over Chilkoot Pass on their way to the goldfields around Dawson City. I wanted to see where this trail started, but more importantly, I wanted to check on a campground run by the Park Service.
The road in to the campground and Dyea was narrow and curvy and not designed for big rigs. Minnie has been in lots worse places, so she had no trouble making the drive. We snagged a campsite, paid for four nights, and unloaded Honda for exploring. This was the first time Honda has climbed down from the back of Minnie since we were in Utah.
I didn’t want to go into Skagway today, so instead road up the road to check out a couple places talked about in my guidebook. I first stopped at the Chilkoot Trailhead and read the history of the trail, then drove back to see the ruins of Dyea, a town that boomed to thousands in 1898 and all but became a ghost town a couple years later. After that I drove to a place they call tidal flats, and later looked around a cemetery for many Stampeders caught in an avalanche in 1898.
Every back road around Dyea was filled with bicycle riders, horseback riders, scooter rental riders, and vans taking people up the river to float down on rubber boats. The people on those cruise ships really know how to play! I hate to think what mobs there will be in Skagway tomorrow!
I have very little cell service here. It comes and goes, but mostly goes. I will have to wait till tomorrow when I go to Skagway to post this. But if it rains again I will stay home.