The Final Alaska Town
~Friday, September 9, 2022~
Day 817 (Travel Day)
Day 81 of Alaska Trip
We’re about 60 miles away from Haines Junction to take care of a few necessary things before landing in Skagway. Getting gas in Canada is once again putting us in sticker shock. Today we paid $2.45/liter which is $9.27/gallon. And there’s a lot more Canada driving still to do. At least we got a free dump service after our fill-up. Does a free bag of corn nuts come with that (our favorite road snack)? And what do we have here? Is that what I think it is? Our vent cover on top of the rig is tilting up toward the sky rather than in its anchored “down” position. When Jeff went up to inspect, he discovered the plastic was cracked in several places, near the latches that hold it in place. With the high winds while driving today, and all the vibration, that likely did it in. Whew, good thing it didn’t fly off and hit someone behind us, although thankfully, the highway was pretty empty. These covers are known to get brittle over time with all the UV exposure so we might as well replace not just one, but both when we’re back in California. We also discovered a missing screw on our truck shell’s back window (this screw holds the glass in place to the piston). We already had what appeared to be a defect in the interior lining of the truck to where the back window’s piston attaches to the body of the truck shell. So now it looks like we’ll have 2 things to get replaced…..all casualties of Alaska highways.
While parked, we phoned the RV park in Skagway, Pullen Creek, to see about availability. They had none for tonight, but would the following morning. However, their sister site, Garden City RV Park, just a few miles down the road, had plenty of space. Once we found out that they offered potable water, we dumped our fresh water tank to lighten our load. And it looks like we’ll have the luxury of our evening fires inside the trailer.
The drive was a much different experience today…..nice to be able to see a “normal”, nicely paved section of the AlCan, and one where we can drive a normal speed. Sure beats the 35 to 40 mph as of late. Now that Jeff doesn’t have to dodge potholes and frost heaves, he hopefully won’t be quite as exhausted tonight. We were headed in a southerly direction and noticed the flowers that were spent in Alaska, are still blooming in Canada. The scenery is still Fall like, but not quite the intensity that we saw north of here.
Arriving back in Whitehorse, YT, Canada, we have now made a complete circle of our trip, as we were just there in June,
right before crossing the border into Alaska. Whitehorse sticks in my mind because that’s the town we purchased a much needed screen house in anticipation of all the mosquitoes and biting flies we’d encounter.
We made note of a few things we want to see when we head back into the Yukon Territory, specifically in a town called Carcross…..the Carcross Tagish First Nation Totem Poles and one we already had on our list…..the Tutshi Sleddog Tours. We just can’t get enough of those sled dogs!
With 2 hours to go before destination Skagway, we crossed into British Columbia from the Yukon, soon crossing the Alaskan border, again. The misty clouds and dust shrouded us with very little visibility as we approached the Klondike Highway. Getting closer to Skagway, the scenery became much more dramatic as the glacial valleys narrowed with endless, stunning blue lakes at every turn,
which seemed to go on forever. The terrain….steep with much of the area being avalanche prone. Poor Hank was really put through the ringer as we made our steep descent back to sea level. In fact, we saw 3 runaway truck ramps which I guess are good to have in a pinch. We finally arrived at the compact, charming town of Skagway around 7:30 p.m. Home to gold-rush era buildings and the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, it reminded me a bit of Ouray, CO, but not as much of the WOW factor. But what really stood out were the 2 cruise ships on a 12-hour stopover as part of their “Inside Passage” tour. The port of Skagway gets at least 2 cruise ships per day, sometimes 4, staggering the number of passengers that get off. At least we know the town won’t be deserted!
Arriving at our campground, we saw about 4 other RVer’s camped for the night and were met with heavy wind and rain when trying to settle in. Staying at this site only 1 night, we would have preferred not to unhitch, but the ground wasn’t perfectly level enough to put the slides out. So we had to unhitch which really wasn’t that big of a deal. Though we weren’t told ahead of time, it appeared the water was shut off at all of the sites. They really must be winding things down for the season. At least they offered a water fill-up station at the laundry building which was when we saw an unusual running event. I say unusual because of the inclement weather and the police escorts that lead the way. A parade of runners came down the main entrance into town, adorned with their race numbers and flashing lights attached to their torsos. I’m telling you, rain or shine, not to mention wind, Alaskans are one hearty bunch! Of course curiosity plagued me. This race is called the Klondike Road Relay which is an overnight road relay race that follows the direction of the Gold Rush Stampeders from Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon, along White Pass. So yes, you must have your passport to cross the border. In 2023, it will be celebrating its 40th year! Participants are put into teams of 10, starting at sea level in Skagway, making their way to an elevation of 1,004 meters (10,806 feet) and descending 610 meters (2000 feet) towards the finish line in Whitehorse. All in all, the race is 175 kilometers (109 miles), broken into 10 legs, varying in distance from 9 km (5 miles) to 25.6 km (15 miles). What a way to honor such a passageway and the people who endured it.