Friday, July 15, 2011

Whitehorse to Moose Creek

July 7, 2011

As usual, we were up pretty early since it was a travel day. After a breakfast of coffee and egg/bacon/cheese quesadillas (I made them the night before and we reheated them in the microwave--no dishes) we were on the road by 7:30.

The Klondike Highway runs from Skagway, on the coast, all the way to Dawson City, but we were taking the northern section, from Whitehorse to Dawson. We made pretty good time; there were only a couple of sections that were either gravel or undergoing construction.

We did the mandatory stop at Braeburn Lodge and picked up one of their famous cinnamon buns. They're huge, and feed 4 people. We'll cut into it tomorrow morning for breakfast.

About halfway between Whitehorse and Dawson City are the Five Finger Rapids. They are given this name because of the four islands which create the five channels.

Two interpretive panels give information about the rapids and the geology of the Yukon Valley. The first states: "The swift water and narrow channels through the Five Finger Rapids posed a formidable danger to the overloaded boats and rafts of the 1898 Klondike stampeders. Whitehorse-bound sternwheelers had to winch themselves over a 30-60 centimeter(1-2 feet) drop in the navigable channel until the underwater obstacle was blasted away."

The second:
"A little less than 200 million years ago (early and middle Jurassic period), this area was covered by tidal flats and river deltas at the edge of an inland sea. Geologists now call this area the Whitehorse Trough. Over a long period of time, the river sediments were buried, compressed, and turned to rock. The area was lifted when the plate holding the oceanic floor, inland sea and islands connected with the crumpled edge of North America. Until 3 million years ago rivers draining this area flowed southward to the Gulf of Alaska. During the Ice Ages, expanding glaciers in the coastal mountains plugged the passage downstream, causing the river to back up. Now the relatively young Yukon River flows northwest to the Bering Sea. The Five Finger Islands and riverbank are composed of conglomerate rock (pebbles and boulders imbedded in a sand and mud matrix) that is more resistant to erosion than surrounding mudstone layers.

Our lunch stop was at a roadside pullout about 30 miles north of Stewart Crossing. Since Don was insistent that he needed to fish a stream instead of a lake, we pulled into the Moose Creek Campground, one of the Yukon Government campgrounds. It's similar to a Forest Service campground in the US. There are no hookups, but the sites are large and well-spaced, sturdy, clean picnic tables, fire pits, vault toilets, and trash disposal containers. One thing that's nice about the Yukon campgrounds is that the firewood is free. There was a good-sized pile waiting for us. All this for $12. I'm writing this at 7:00 pm, and there are 2 other campsites being utilized.

I'm getting the solitude I've been seeking. Last night in Whitehorse, we were kept awake by two young men in a site two places over who decided, as a lot of inconsiderate campers do, that everyone else wanted to hear their booming, thumping, rock music. Even when there was an hour-long power outage earlier in the evening, the rock music kept on rockin'. But at 11:30 or so, I think they stopped. I fell asleep around that time.

My late night must be why I was so tired when we got to Moose Creek. Don put on his fishing gear and headed off to the creek. I took a brief nap, and then read for a while. I didn't want to sit outside because the mosquitos and flies are so bad.

He came back around 6, and reported that he'd caught 3 grayling. At last! Fish from a stream!

However, he also decided we won't stay a second night--we'll press on to Dawson tomorrow.

It's now about 8 pm, and I want to report that I tried. I really tried. Don wanted to use some of the free firewood, so even though it's the warmest day we've had on this trip, I went outside to join him. He really likes sitting by fire. I lasted 5 minutes. I had on my mosquito-repellent shirt (which works, by the way), long pants, and had liberally sprayed myself with bug spray. But they just kept coming. I think the bug spray kept the Mosquitos from landing, but it sure didn't keep them from hovering close to my ears and face. Aaarrrrggghhh! I am now back inside the trailer, even though it's a bit stuffy, and Don's still bravely hanging on outside.

And now that I'm ready to go to bed, I've remembered that I have a mosquito net that is perfect for sitting outside. It hangs over my hat, and prevents the Mosquitos from buzzing around my face and ears. Since that's what bugs me the most, I should remember to use it next time.

Don't know when that'll be. Don has decided to move on tomorrow, and go to Dawson City for 3 nights. He wants hookups, too. Who am I to argue with that? At least tonight is Q U I E T.

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