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