Picking up the Alaska Highway at Haines Junction, Yukon meant we were at the jumping off point for exploring Kluane National Park and Preserve, Kluane Lake, and the Champagne & Aishihik and Kluane First Nations. Parks Canada and the Da Ku Cultural Centre share facilities in Haines Junction and at Kluane Lake where we were well provided with information about hiking, camping, and the subsistence life styles of the First Nations in this area that won back their hunting and gathering rights following the creation of the park and preserve. The combination of B.C.’s Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park, Yukon’s Kluane National Park and Preserve, and Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias Ranges form the largest internationally protected area in the world (and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Canada’s highest peak, Mt. Logan, is here, and yet, the area is very difficult to access. We spent our time hiking, flight seeing and late evenings lake side.
King’s Throne hike, Kluane NP (Kathleen Lake) 10 km to 1280m (with 543m gain @ 18% grade)
Sheep Creek Trail hike, Kluane NP (Kluane Lake) 10km to 1281m (with 430m gain @ 10% grade)
Beautiful Kluane Lake by day and night
A spectacular treat was to take a flight up to the top of the glacier deep into the park, with a landing near the north face of Mount Logan. While it was crystal clear all around, Mount Logan rises to over 20,000 feet so tends to have it’s own weather. That was the case on this day, so we could only see the base of Mt. Logan from the top of the glacier/base camp. However, walking on top of a 3-glacier divide at 8500 ft was as thrilling as the flight in a ski plane (a 1966 Helio Courier) piloted by a guy from Yellowknife (who just does the glacier flying in the summer). At base camp (for climbers and scientists), the young lady camp manager lives in the little green tent partially submerged into the ice (the larger arched tent is the communal & cooking area and the only area one can fully stand up in). Each summer, they dig out the buried tents and equipment, set up camp again, and she lives here for the 7 week “season” (and loves her job!)
The road from Kluane through to Tok, Alaska has been in constant repair mode since the Alaska Highway was built. It was a rougher ride through a very desolate area, with stops at Destruction Bay (single hotel/restaurant/book store/gas), Burwash Landing (a nice little museum and the world’s largest gold pan), and Beaver Creek (Canada’s most westerly community–although “community” is stretching it).
At the border…..
More beautiful scenery on the road to Tok, Alaska