Yukon and Alaska 2016 travel blog

Skagway port

Bill & Bowie in town

Finally leaving port

View from the ferry

July 12th

Our ferry from Skagway doesn’t leave until 2:30 so we spent the morning driving the very narrow gravel road to the original townsite of Dyea at the head of the Chilcoot Trail. Between Skagway and Dyea, Dyea which was the more important of the 2 towns as it was closer to the trail head. So much history here with the gold rush and the first nations. The Tlingit (correction to the spelling of the name of this band from my entry the other day) used these trails for generations to move goods between bands that lived on the coast and those that lived in the interior. Once the gold rush started their historical lands and trails were wiped out. Very common story for them throughout much of the north. Dyea’s townsite no longer exists but at its peak it housed over 5,000 people, mostly gold seekers who would provision there and start up the trail. Back in Skagway we wait for our ferry and watch another 12,000 people disgorge from 4 more cruise ships and take trains rides, helicopter rides, bike tours, bus tours etc. and the rest who don’t want to do that walk around town and buy jewelry because there must be a jewelry store every 100 feet or so. We line up 1 hour before departure and much to our amazement it took 1.5 hours to load 50 cars on to the ferry…no idea what the Alaska ferry people were doing that took so long. Vehicles were loaded one at a time. Each vehicle had to back in to the ferry. We left Skagway at 3:45 pm. Bill and I applauded when the boat pulled out but we were the only ones who felt the need to display this vote of confidence in their ferry system. BC Ferries looks like a far more efficient system after this experience! It was a stunning trip of only 1 hour with the sun was shining on the distant mountains the entire way. Arrived in Haines late (a lovely little town also a cruise ship destination) only to find that their tourist information center closed shortly before we arrived (along with a boat load of other travellers). But it was not a worry for us because we have the Milepost which directs us to a remote camp site outside of Haines. The road in a very rough and the site is not well maintained but we select a site and park. It is then we realise that neither of us has more than $4US between us and the camp site requires we deposit $15.00 US cash….That starts an argument about who should have remembered to go to a bank and get some cash before we embarked upon a remote site.. On the long and bumpy ride back to town we sit in silence until we get to a bank machine at the First National Bank. It spits out $50 bills in response to our request for $100!!! Thank god for local bars that will give us change so we can camp for the night. Neither of us wants to drive back to the State Camp Ground so we opted for the Chilchoot Lake Recreation Site and low and behold it is a stunning location on yet another magnificent lake surrounded by mountains. Sometimes these things happen for a reason.

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