Yukon Territory

Haines Junction to Snag, Alaska Highway

31 August 2013 - Saturday

The long weekend and fall colours! Could not resist heading out for a couple of nights. Thought maybe on Haines Road again, but then decided to head north of Kluane Lake along the Alaska Highway.

The day was starting out overcast and dampish. Through Haines Junction the sky was dark and overcast. Further north the sky lightened considerably making it possible to take photographs while Steve drove.

I always look forward to seeing Kluane Lake from Christmas Creek. Whenever mom drove through here 50 years ago I asked the tough kid questions ... why is it named Christmas Creek? Does Santa Claus stay here?

In winter, I remember this strip often being icy and mom being too focused on her driving to answer my nagging questions.

AK Hwy in Yukon
First view of Kluane Lake (on the right) with Christmas Creek down in the dip

The fall colours on the marsh and muskeg is wonderful in September.

AK Hwy in Yukon
Christmas Creek

Closer to Kluane Lake with Sheep Mountain in the distance...

AK Hwy in Yukon
Approaching Kluane Lake with Sheep Mountain in the background

Time for lunch and a dog walk. There are sections of the Alaska Highway that have been upgraded over the years. The old sections remain accessible in many places. The one pictured below isn't completely passable as there was a trench filled with water, located in front of the truck in the picture. Makes for a good spot to walk and exercise the dogs and take a quiet break.

AK Hwy in Yukon
Lunch stop on a portion of the old Alaska Highway

AK Hwy in Yukon
The view from our lunch stop, looking towards the St. Elias Mountains

Back on the road we continued by Destruction Bay and Burwash Landing.
Made a quick stop at the Kluane River Rest Area to update my photographs of the views.

AK Hwy in Yukon
Kluane River viewed from the Kluane River Rest Area

A bit further along the Alaska Highway there is a side road that is the old Alaska Hwy, the one I remember as a kid. The old highway parallels the Kluane River and leads to a memorial for
Lt. Roland Small who died in a jeep accident during the construction of the Alaska Highway.

Old AK Hwy
Old Alaska Highway and the Kluane River

It felt like we were getting close to my hometown of Beaver Creek when I had friends who lived near the Donjek River. Have always had a fondness of the Donjek River although now miss the overhead bridge structure that was a long-standing landmark. Without the overhead structure it is much easier to take photographs of the river as we cross over though!

AK Hwy in Yukon
Looking east up the Donjek River from the bridge

There is a small rest area at Pickhandle Lake. It is a popular stop for humans and birds on their migrations north and south. Large RVs might have a problem turning in the small disorganized parking area. This visit there was a group of mallards taking a break.

AK Hwy in Yukon
Mallards on the shore of Pickhandle Lake

Some were busy eating ...

AK Hwy in Yukon

Continuing north on the Alaska Highway we approach White River. It is as impressive as the Donjek River. The wide gullies these rivers create is stunning. During spring melt, the rivers often change their channels a bit as the water rushes through.

If one was to hop in a boat and float downstream, they would eventually reach the Yukon River and could carry on to Dawson City. When Dad flew his private plane to Dawson City from Beaver Creek, he would fly along the White River then follow the Yukon River. This kept us over the valleys and away from the mountainsides.

AK Hwy in Yukon
Looking east on the White River from the Alaska Highway

Tonight it seemed that Snag Junction campground would make a good spot to stop.

AK Hwy in Yukon
Sign for Snag Junction campground, which is on Small Lake

After settling in, I could not resist walking into the bush from the campsite. This landscape is similar to what I grew up with in Beaver Creek. The moss is deep and damp. The colours bright in the fall!

AK Hwy in Yukon
Fall colours in the muskeg

Then I spotted the berries! Cranberries, blueberries and blackberries!
Yum! It was worth getting wet feet while I picked berries.

AK Hwy in Yukon
Various berries and a mushroom in the bushes

Time for a dog walk. The old Snag Road was just short distance away so we walked over to it.
There was some heavy equipment in place repairing some washouts.

Dad worked at Snag in the early 1950s so the route is familiar to me.

AK Hwy in Yukon
Small Lake seen from the Alaska Highway during our dog walk

Back at camp we opted for an early night. As we crawled into bed, a light rain started to fall.

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