Monthly Archives: July 2012

Changing Geography

Trail head
The beginning

The trail winds from Dyea Alaska to Bennett BC through the Coast Mountains. Part of the pleasure of walking it is the range of geographic changes that you trek through. We started in lush rain forest, made our way into alpine peaks and then ended up in Boreal forest very like the Canadian Shield areas of Ontario that I love so much. We crossed racing streams, saw mountains in the distance and eventually found ourselves at the summit of one. Near Bennett we even crossed a glacial dessert. I found the heavy beach sand challenging to walk in but beautiful. Apparently the wind blowing constantly across the glaciers has deposited this sand picked up from their eroding exteriors on the land.

Here are a few pictures to show you the changing landscape we found.

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What’s in my back pack on the trail


Here is a list of things the prospectors were required to have to cross into Canada. It was said that this should weigh a ton and that it would take a man 40 or so trips to bring it over the pass.

150 lb. bacon, 400 lb. flour, 25 lb. rolled oats, 125 lb. beans, 10 lb. tea, 10 lb. coffee, 25 lb. sugar, 25 lb. dried potatoes, 2 lb. dried onions, 15 lb. salt, 1 lb. pepper, 75 lb. dried fruits, 8 lb. baking powder, 2 lb. soda, ½ lb. evaporated vinegar , 12 oz. compressed soup, 1 can mustard, 1 tin matches (for four men), Stove for four men, Gold pan for each, Set granite buckets, Large bucket, Knife, fork, spoon, cup, and plate, Frying pan, Coffee and teapot, Scythe stone, Two picks and one shovel, One whipsaw, Pack strap, Two axes for four men and one extra handle, Six 8-inch (200 mm) files and two taper files for the party, Draw knife, brace and bits, jack plane, and hammer for party, 200 feet three-eights-inch rope, 8 lb. of pitch and 5 lb (2.3 kg). of oakum for four men, Nails, five lbs. each of 6,8,10 and 12 penny, for four men, Tent, 10 by 12 feet (3.0 × 3.7 m) for four men, Canvas for wrapping, Two oil blankets to each boat, 5 yards of mosquito netting for each man, 3 suits of heavy underwear, 1 heavy mackinaw coat, 2 pairs heavy machinaw trousers, 1 heavy rubber-lined coat, 1 doz heavy wool socks, ½ doz heavy wool mittens, 2 heavy overshirts, 2 pairs heavy snagproof rubber boots, 2 pairs shoes, 4 pairs blankets (for two men), 4 towels, 2 pairs overalls, 1 suit oil clothing, Several changes of summer clothing, Small assortment of medicines.

Here is a list of things I carried:
Rain coat (not so light) and rain pants (super light), 2 short sleeved shirts, one pair of long pants, light shirt and pants to wear to bed or if I got wet. 7 pairs socks, undies, Sleeping bag, light self inflating mattress. Toothbrush and paste. 3 litres of water, oats for 5 breakfasts, 4 hardboiled eggs for summit day snacks, 4 dehydrated dinners, I dehydrated dessert, trail mix of almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, dried apricots, choc covered blueberries (this was heavy but filling). Envelops of hot chocolate and tea. A small flask of spiced rum to pour into the evening drink. Extra small stove and one small and one medium sized fuel bottle. Rope, knife, safety kit. I also carried hiking poles, knee braces that I wore every day and found to be useful for protecting my knees on scrambles over sharp rocks. That was an unexpected bonus and bear spray.

Along with clothes and water Desiree carried our lunches, a bag of flat bread, cheese, humus, sliced carrots and celery, as well as a small amount of peanut butter. She also had pan bannock, pan muffin mix, a daily chocolate ration and the tent. Her pack was slightly over 40 pounds. Mine slightly under. On the train when we talked to many other hikers we found that people carried packs that were much lighter. In the order of 25-30 lbs. We both thought that since we used every single thing that we brought we packed well. I think I would rethink the food next time. It weighed a lot but many of the hikers who do trips like ours often had all of the super expensive, ultra light equipment. We did not have that and it made a lot of difference. Maybe not a lot but several pounds…and every pound makes a difference.

On the other hand, there were a couple of guides up there leading a group of about 5 people. They were preparing gourmet meals every day. On the first night the cook put together a beautiful salmon fry with all the trimmings. Every meal was a delight to watch him assemble. At one point I asked how much his packed weighed at the start of the trail. He grinned, “I make a point to never weigh it,” he told me, “I just carry it.” Good advise. Desiree told me that as we started packing. “You take what you need and carry it. What is the point of knowing how much it weighs.” Probably good words for living life too.

I am still trying to sort out pictures from 3 cameras so I will be back with more. In the mean time, here are two that show my pack and two very different geographical zones.


I’m back


Just a quick word to say that I arrived home from my Chilkoot adventure last night at 10pm. I am still too overwhelmed to say much and trying to sort out a thousand photos…but

I am back, I am alive and I am in reasonably good shape except for some bruises, scrapes and a couple of blisters that I hadn’t expected.

Nothing that I could have done would have prepared me for the intensity, adrenaline and beauty of the whole experience. I talked to people, searched for every scrap of info on line and read the history of the area and still I was not ready for the days of pain, excitement, accomplishment and friendships old and new. Would I do it again? Not today but…maybe.

Right now I am just trying to process the whole thing…and get ready for my trip to Vancouver Island to visit friends and family. I will sort pictures and write, hopefully sharing some of the highlights and perhaps the lowlights too. For the next few days my internet will be spotty to non existent but keep watching this space for me to fill in the blanks. Talk soon.


Last day

I didn’t sleep much last night. I am going over my pack in my mind. Do I have this, should I have that, what should I leave behind and what am I forgetting. I am just about ready and I can already feel the adrenaline. I hope that will carry me through the first few days.

I thought I should talk a little about the Chilkoot trail. It is a 53 km trail that leads from Dyea Alaska to Bennett BC (so it isn’t in the Yukon at all, I didn’t realize that).The summit is 3525 feet and I will be summitting on Sunday.


The trail was used to get from the coast to the gold fields of the Yukon through the 1890’s and was largely made obsolete by the introduction of a train which followed an alternate White Pass route.

Thinking about the prospectors who were forced by the Canadian Government to bring a ton of supplies over the trail so that they could survive their first year in the wilderness, I am feeling pretty cocky about my ‘just under’40 lb pack.


Getting ready

This morning I was up and out the door just after 6. That sounds very virtuous doesn’t it. Even I felt it as I walked along in the early morning sun, Saturday morning when no one else was moving. Of course my body is still on Ontario time so it felt like 9am to me. That time shift is happening though. I don’t think I will be up as early tomorrow.

I walked the path that Desiree has been training on behind her place. It was a tough trail but worth it for the view. Unfortunately it is a very sandy, steep hill that is used by dirt bikes and so there is just nothing to grab with your boots. The trip down was positively hairy. I told Desiree what I had done later and she said, oh, didn’t you find the side trail down? That other trail is way too dangerous. Oh well maybe next time. It was good.

So here is my attempt to give you some pictures. Can I manage with the ipad. I hope so. Talk next time.




Hero’s for the day

Thanks to my hero’s for today, Sue Reynolds and Rich Helms who figured out how to get the blog apps working on my ipad. There is still a steep learning curve, I have to learn html…but I think it is going to be easier than learning German and I am trying to do that too.

I got in to Whitehorse today. The weather was a balmy 17 degrees with sunshine. I can breathe. I did a walk after super on the trail that Desiree has been using to train for the Chilcoot and I held my own for a short hike. No back backs, no weight, no stress. It was wonderful walking without the weight of the 30 degree temperatures and humidity I left behind. Maybe I can do this thing.

As soon as I learn to add pictures I will put some in. The whole territory is in bloom. Fireweed, wild roses and things I can’t identify. It is beautiful. I wish you could be here to see it.

Well, off to bed. It is still bright out an so like a child, my mind is rebelling. It is still bright…why do I have to go to bed. My jet lagged body is sliding out of my chair. Talk soon.

call for help with ipad/wordpress

I am just realizing that the ipad is not very good at doing blog posts. What I posted this morning was the first version of something that I changed this morning…and then after making all the changes, I was shoked to see that it hadn’t changed at all. I am not able to put in photos or fiddle with text. I am not sure why this is the case but, I chased down the wordpress app and downloaded it only to find it won’t let me enter my site at all.

If anyone has successfully managed to bridge the gap between ipad and WP please contact me at I will call you and maybe we can work this thing out….other wise my ipad will be just some useless toy…sigh….a fun toy though. V

Heading out

Hi. Are you there. Wow it feels like a long time since I have been in here. There is dust on everything. Just a second, let me get this arm load of stuff off the desk. I have missed my blog and thought I would dust it off for this mini leg of my journey.

I have not stuck out with Vincent and the crew since my 2010 trip across the prairie provinces. I came home from that sick and needed a year to recover. That was a lesson in life and a time for patience and learning. Finally, ready to get back on the road, I found that Vincent was not up for my planned trip through the Northwest Territories and northern Saskachewan and Manitoba. We have done some short trips but I don’t think that Vincent has another long trip in him. I am currently looking for a new traveling companion.

Adelle, my trusty computer companion has also given up traveling with me. She left my home with a thief in a robbery a few weeks ago and I am learning to work with an ipad. The switch over has not been without its hitches but…here we are.

I am sitting in the airport heading to Vancouver where I will be jumping off to a hike along the Chilcoot Trail Check it out.

This is a dream trip for me. Pierre Burton introduced me to the crazy gold rushers who flocked from all over the world, through inhospitable conditions, trying to reach the gold fields of the Yukon in the 1800’s. Many of them took this route. One of the biggest museums in North America, strewn with items that couldn’t be carried, the trail is a walk through a part of the history of our country. I am so excited about this. I have only done day hikes before. Never a hike where I had to carry my house and my food on my back. Whew. I hope to take lots of pictures and share them with you.

It feels good to be back but weird to be traveling by air. It is almost time to board. Talk soon. V