Klondike Letters Project

Translating experience into memory through inspired creation.

Day 7 – Canada Day!

Day 71 July – Happy Canada Day!
Deep Lake

42 people, mostly Canadians spending their national holiday with family and friends, pass through the warming shelter. Finally, the last family group filters through. 7-year-old Lucas’ favorite part was scrambling up the Golden Stair though the older girls in the group “almost died, but not really!” I find the hubbub of people moving in and out of the shelters confusing. The elements are against me this time – people arrive tired and chilled, not inclined to think deep thoughts or talk to strangers with fuzzy microphones named Donald. They only want to get something hot inside them and hurry down out of the cloud. If only we had cake to offer them, it might differ… but rumor is, in Canada it is sunny…


…and rumors are true! After a lunch of candied salmon and Havarti (yum!) we glissade down the snow. Snow, snow and more snow! Snow canyons 15 feet deep, carved by the river; cracks and fissures of glacial blue opening up. When the rangers came up at the end of May to open the trail they had to probe to find the warden’s hut and had 5 people digging for over an hour to reach the door! We walk on snow for most of the 4 miles to Happy Camp, where finally the sun comes out. Tired hikers are basking on the tent platforms, despite a chilly breeze. They revel in the first warm rays of the entire trail and moods rise with the barometer.
bestofchilkoot048Not tired, we decide to carry on to Deep Lake. The canyon trail is covered with dangerous collapsing ice blocks, which means we are rerouted over the top of the bluffs. A 10min walk becomes an hour of scrambling and bush bashing up 1,000ft of brush and snow, following little orange ribbons tied to trees. But at the top we are rewarded with an expansive view that few Chilkoot travelers get to see – a string of deep blue lakes shimmering in the afternoon sun, mist clinging to the upper peaks surrounding us. Well worth the extra effort (though we are glad we didn’t start the day at Sheep Camp like everyone else!). We pass another energetic group of Canadians and their dogs and glissade down some snowfields towards Long Lake. The trail picks up again, finally clear of snow, and it ambles along above the lake to an old wooden bridge. We have arrived at Deep Lake. Camp is full of hungry, happy hikers, thrilled to have made it this far. Dinner is a very social affair.

More pictures and drawings on Flikr: The Chilkoot Trail – an artist’s journey

Read More: Trail Journal Day 8