From Haines in Alaska to Haines Junction in the Yukon Territories
Eight days are already gone on the road from one highlight in Alaska to another in the Yukon Territories. That´s 1244 miles or around 2002 kilometers and about the them amount is going to come.
We wake up in Halsingland Hotel in Haines in Alaska. We arrived shortly before midnight with the ferry from Skagway. Curiously I open the curtain. How will the weather be today and how does the surroundings look like? It was pitch dark last night, absolutely nothing to be seen.
Our hotel is situated next to a former parade-ground, it was the lodging for the officers. I see high mountains in the background. Haines lays nestled between mountains on a land tongue, that stretches between the Chilkat and the Chilkoot Inlet.
On Haines Highway we drive along the Chilkat River, heading towards the Canadian Border, as our next hotel will be in Haines Junction.
It´s not a long way, just about 250 km. For the first few miles the Chilkat River has got a widely washed out gravel riverbed. During summer time bald eagles love to hunt here for fish. None is to be seen today, but the river itself is fascinating enough. Today it looks quite peaceful and some canoeists are to be seen.
We pass the frontier. The lady only asks us where we come from and where we are heading to and then we can drive on. The road meanders higher and higher, soon we arrive at the Chilkat Pass, the highest point on Haines Highway. An icy wind is blowing here, high up on 1070 m or about 3510 ft. Around us spreads the Tatshenshini-Alsek Wilderness Provincial Park , for a short time we drive through British Columbia. The landscape gets wider and wider, the road goes through a vast high plateau with narrow shrubs and some trees.
Getting out of the car is no fun, as I got the feeling my fingers will freeze while taking photos. Nevertheless it´s awesome and beautiful in spite of or maybe because of the narrowly hanging clouds.
The highway goes along mountains, only few other cars are on the road, mostly huge trailers that come from the other direction. Why do they go there, where we come from? Do they know something that we don´t? Do they all drive away from the upcoming winter?
At Kathleen Lake, not far from Haines Junction we stop again. A ranger who takes shelter from the cold wind in his car approaches us. He wants to be sure that we are properly dressed in warm clothes and warns us that we are in “bear country”. We don´t want to go far, only along the boardwalk at the lake.
When the sun comes out just a bit, the lake shimmers in different blue colors, partly in turquoise, like in the Caribbean but much, much colder…. In the background the lake is surrounded by high, snowy mountains. Very scenic and very cold.
We drive on to Haines Junction, a small place situated at two crossing highways that got a small airstrip.
The door is open at Kluane Glacier Air Tours and Easton the pilot seems to wait for us. We ask him, if a flight over the Kluane NP will be possible today, as it is very cloudy and windy. Easton checks the weather radar and shows us outside where we would fly into the mountains. Over there, a small patch of blue sky is visible.
“We can try it, if there is no visibility or if it´s too windy we turn round and you pay nothing.” That´s a deal we can´t resist.
The Cessna that has normally seats for 8 persons was converted into a five seater, so that everybody got a window seat. But today it´s only my husband and me and our pilot Easton.
After a short safety briefing and the heating up of the motor we start to the runway. The little airplane stutters over the runway and we are airborne.
It wobbles a bit but we don´t care. After only a couple of minutes we are over the mountain mass of the Kluane National Park. And the weather gets better by the minute. The clouds nearly vanish all together. What an overwhelming sight! Easton explains all the mountains and glaciers, where we are and what we see, but I can only marvel at this unbelievable beautiful and amazing sight! Did ever a human set foot on this part of the world? The mountains get higher and higher, some of the glaciers are many miles long. From one point we can see as far as the Pacific Ocean. Wow!
Together with the Wrangell-St. Elias NP the Kluane NP is a UNESCO World Nature Heritage.
Easton points on one of the nearly cloudless mountain tops. It´s the highest Canadian mountain, Mt. Logan (5959 m). Now we have seen both, the highest mountain of the US, Mt. Denali and Mt. Logan, and both nearly without clouds. How lucky we are to see them like this!
Only too fast the 90 minutes of our flight are over and we are back on the ground. We take a last picture of us in front of the Cessna and we are back in our car. Wow, that was a flight!! I can´t stop smiling. That was one of the most amazing things I´ve ever done, flying over the biggest glacier areas outside the polar regions.
Very fast we arrive at “The Raven” Hotel, our hotel for this night. From here we can see some impressing mountains as well, but at the moment we are not interested at this sight, we want to see our pictures.
Our room is so cozy and warm that I have trouble to stay awake until dinner time. Too many impressions, but luckily my stomach growls. I am happy that we made a reservation for a table weeks ago , as the restaurant of the hotel is mostly fully booked. The food is said to be sensational, so let’s try it!
Dinner is really good! On our trip this was by far the best hotel and food we had!
What a nice end of this wonderful day!
See you soon!