The Chilkoot Trail: 1500 Golden Stairs in the Yukon

NOTE:  this Chilkoot Trail adventure requires a backpack

We were a 5-days walk from civilization,
Surrounded only by about 30 other permitted hikers and the vast 200,000 acre Yukon,

 
On the Chilkoot Trail, Alaska’s famous Goldrush trail from 1898.


We had rationed our provisions as we hiked the Chilkoot Trail so that, after our final dinner of “kitchen sink mashed potatoes”  (cheese, sausage, dried vegetables, and whatever can be scrounged from the provision bag), we broke out the real treat! 
….pads of REAL  butter, sizzling in our collapsible fry pan, over our dragonfly cookstove- just waiting to crisp up a small tortilla, which we topped with a drizzle of honey and a dash of cinnamon. A bonafide backcountry Sopapilla on the Chilkoot Trail!

Anyone who’s spent time in the wilderness knows the power of food, where aromas of butter and cinnamon border on the intoxicating when you’re 5 days “out”.

So it shouldn’t have been a surprise when, about the time the dragonfly turned out its 3rd tortilla, we heard a rustle in the bushes around our Chilkoot Trail site.  Like scavenging rodents whose eyes shine into your campfire circle betraying their hiding places, our fellow campers crept, one by one, towards our site,  peeking timidly through the pine trees, wondering what in the WORLD could smell so good this deep into the Chilkoot Trail!

Shy at first, they soon realized we’d share our treat, so they whistled in their comrades and soon, we had almost the entire camping area around our fire ring! Foreign accents and diverse generations and drippy tortillas all mingled together at our impromptu backcointry soiree! 

This was indeed the highlight of our Chilkoot Trail adventure, but there had been many other special moments…

In Bear country on the Chilkoot Trail, you must hang food!


The bear orientation at the Chilkoot Trail ranger station back in Skagway, where we looked around our group, worrying if any one of us were wilderness worthy enough to venture outside of cell distance from the bold and wise rangers…


The actual Chilkoot Trail into the woods, which became increasingly littered with the outcasts of goldrushers– first a limp pair of boots, then some horsetack and metal cans,  even tools and, unbelievably, an iron woodstove–  all items the 1890s gold seekers had thought they might need but ultimately could not shoulder.  
(NOTE:  the Chilkoot Trail is a living history museum, with all these artifacts left untouched, just as they were discarded over 100 years ago)




 And the famous “Golden staircase”– 1500 stairs, rising 1000′ up into the air through rock and ice, where the miners queued up on the Chilkoot Trail to summit, single file, the Pass.


For us, it was 400 yards or so of  pure scrambing over boulders. In the cool alpine air, I was sweating and anaerobic, and I shook my head af the thought of the Rushers doing this same climb undernourished, overladen, at -20*! 









There were also idyllic sections of shaded Chilkoot trail that ran alongside babbling brooks for miles!




And at the end, on the shores of Lake Bennett,  the narrow-gauge WPRR waited to chug us back through the stunning jagged peaks, to the Chilkoot Trail head, in Skagway. 



In the end, we did see predators on the Chilkoot trail, though they weren’t bears– only hungry trekkers!


Are you enticed to tackle the Chilkoot Trail?   
I’ve done it and can show you “the ropes”!   
CALL OR EMAIL TO TALK ABOUT WHAT 
YOUR TRIP 
on the CHILKOOT TRAIL COULD LOOK LIKE! 

melanie@toughlovetravel.com         (609) 923-0304

2 thoughts on “The Chilkoot Trail: 1500 Golden Stairs in the Yukon

  1. Skagway Fishing Charter

    November 23, 2012 at 7:22am

    Wow! That was a nice travel destination. Our family is planning to travel somewhere in Yukon. This would probably be the best choice we have. Thanks for informing us.

  2. Candles Votive

    April 18, 2013 at 4:00pm

    I would have to agree with that. I’ve been to Yukon and I must say it was absolutely a nice place.

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