The Chilkoot Trail

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Dallas and I take a break at the top of the Golden Staircase after summiting the Chilkoot Trail

The weekend before we left Skagway, we hiked the historic Chilkoot Trail.  This is a 33 mile long trail that was an established trading route for Tlingit natives, but was famously used by thousands of stampeders during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898-1900.  We were lucky enough to get 3 days of dry weather for our hike – probably the only three days without rain for over a month.  June and July had been unseasonably warm and dry for Southeast Alaska, but after the first week of August we had started experiencing the more typical mist, rain, fog and cool weather on a daily basis.

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Bear prints in the mud near the beginning of the Chilkoot

The most challenging section of the Chilkoot is a short stretch called the golden staircase, which rises more than 1000 feet in less than half a mile.  I was in no way prepared for how rugged the climb would be, and for a few terrifying moments, I thought the weight of my backpack would throw me off balance to my demise.  Once over the summit, the Canadian side was beautiful with incredible views of deep blue and turquoise lakes.

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Looking out over the Canadian side from the summit

My favorite section was hiking along the gorge between Deep Lake and Lindeman City.

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The gorge between Deep Lake and Lindeman City

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View from the cabin we stayed in at Lindeman City

On the third day, we made it to Lake Bennett, where the train picks up hikers during the summer season.  Since the last train came at the end of August, we had to hike 8 miles along the tracks back to the Klondike Highway, where we tried hitchhiking from Log Cabin.  After 20 minutes of waiting at Log Cabin and growing colder in the increasing winds, we started walking towards Fraser, where the Canadian Customs Office is located.  Only three cars passed within an hour of walking, including Officer Brown (the strictest of the US Customs officers).  The third truck picked us up, but only took us the remaining mile or two to Fraser, where we were able to use a phone and call our friends to pick us up.

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Walking the tracks from Lake Bennett to Log Cabin

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About Sarah

Sarah grew up in Cranston - just south of Providence, Rhode Island - and developed a love for travel, music, and outdoor sports at an early age. She had started bicycling long distances at age 12, as a participant of the MS150 bike tours to raise money for the MS Society. She didn't use her bike regularly until she built her own while studying in Montreal and found it an excellent way to get around the city. After graduating from McGill and moving back to Providence, Sarah started working at Brown University's office of Environmental Health & Safety as the Biological Safety Specialist. She was living 4 miles away at the time, and for the first few weeks was driving to work. She made the switch from driving to bicycling when she realized that she could get to work faster, avoid parking tickets, and integrate a few miles of training into her day. Bicycling was better for the environment and better for her own health and mood. She found that she had more energy and felt much happier once she started biking to work. When her car broke down several months later, she never bothered replacing it. After 4 years of working in Biosafety (and on her master's in Environmental Studies), Sarah left her job to pursue her passion. She has been working various jobs in the bicycle industry since June of 2011, including pedicab driver, bicycle tour guide, bike mechanic and traveling bicycle advocate. In between seasonal jobs, she has done a few long-distance bike tours, which is the main reason for this blog. Her dream is to eventually ride around the world and sail across the oceans.

Posted on 16 September 2013, in Alaska, The space between and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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