This summer I’ll be back on the Chilkoot Trail from July 5-9! I’m excited to revisit my memories 4 years later and see how the trail has changed and how it has remained unchanged. Even more, I am looking forward to meeting new travelers and maybe even running into some ghosts from the past.
While I will only be on the trail for 5 days this time (a much faster pace than my 2 week journey in 2012), the Klondike Letters Project will continue all summer with postcards at the top of the pass. If you are hiking at any point this summer, be sure to stop for a moment and record a memory for your future self. What will you put in this space?
when I stood on top of Chilkoot Pass, the vast, empty stretch of Canadian wilderness before me, it was hard to imagine a bustling, fluctuation community of thousands occupying the small saddle. Having a pencil in my hand, makes imagining easier! Here’s a look at some scenes from the first animated postcard from Chilkoot Pass. Soon I’ll have the entire animation up, but for now, scroll down and read some of the postcards travelers wrote on the top of the pass.
Top of the Pass on a busy day in 1898.
A wild, lonely day on top of Chilkoot Pass, 2012.
Snow has fallen on the Chilkoot Trail, obscuring the footprints of this season’s travelers By now we’ve erased the memory cards in our cameras and filled them with other photos, our muscles have long-since recovered from the longs days and steep scrambling on the Golden Stairs. As the traces of our journey settles under the beginnings of a long winter, the memories of our time on the trail resurface.
“No one will truly understand what it is like to hike the Chilkoot, no matter how many pictures I take, or how many stories I tell.”
Who have you told about your journey on the Chilkoot Trail? What stories have become your favorite?
I'm small, but I've got spunk!
Some of my favorite flowers are starting to pop out in the woods behind my house. There brazenly blue gaze has always charmed me, but this summer they are especially pleasing because they have become the floral mascot for the Klondike Letters Project. The postcard project is an artistic experiment in the things we remember and the things we forget as we experience a wild place.
The box of postcards just arrived from the printer today and I’m incredibly curious to see how what words and images will appear on them in the coming weeks! I hope the people I rope into writing a postcard to themselves won’t feel like they have to pull some deep wisdom from the depths of the glacial past to write on these guys. I think taking a moment to observe what they are thinking and feeling right then, and “Quick! Write it down before it evaporates into the alpine atmosphere!” can elicit the best memories, years down the road. It’s the details we don’t consider important at the time that bring the most delight to our remembering.
Speaking of memories, the forget-me-not also happens to be the Alaska State flower, a fact I learned when I took my first trip to that grand state on a Girl Scout Wider Ops trip when I was 15. (Incidentally, that trip made suffering through middle school as a girl scout totally worth while!). Some things I remember from that trip:
- visiting the Anchorage Airport traffic control tower (how many of you can say you’ve actually been inside an air trafic control tower??)
- learning to skin a stoat from a Chugach National Forest Ranger
- sleeping on a bed of moss thicker than my mattress at home
- staying up all night at a salmon farm hoping to see the northern lights (no aurora but lots of stars)
- hanging out with girls who lived in strange, far off places like Minnesota and Florida and the Bronx
- eating Eskimo ice cream, which I think is sort of like eating poi in Hawaii – they give it to you so they can snigger at the expression on your face when it goes in your mouth.
We didn’t make it to southeast Alaska on that wonderful trip, so I am very excited to see what Juneau and Skagway have to offer, as well as all the fun with those Canadians on the other side of the pass. I’m looking forward to making some memories!