Sunday, July 12, 2015

Whitehorse to Destruction Bay, Yukon

Tuesday, July 6, we left Whitehorse and made our way to Destruction Bay, on Kluane Lake, our last stop in the Yukon before we hit Alaska.  It was pretty overcast with some rain most of the day, along with smoke.  But there were times when it cleared up, and when we got to the campground at Destruction Bay it was pretty clear.  On the way out of Whitehorse we drove past the airport, where there is an old DC-3 on a pedestal.  We had seen it the day before when we were driving to Yukon College, and this day I felt like it was turned in a different direction.  Trisha looked it up and it's billed as the world's largest weather vane.  It was originally in use in the Army Air Force in 1942, then in civilian service for a number of years before being retired in the '70's.  It was acquired by a flying club and restored, and they mounted it on a rotating pedestal, which does indeed turn with the wind so the nose is facing into the wind.  Pretty cool!

Drove through areas where massive fires destroyed much of the forests, a big one in 1958 and again in 1994.  You can still see lots of charred trunks, but it's amazing how much has come back, when you consider the difficult growing conditions, due to the permafrost.

Stopped to look at an old log bridge, built in 1920, over the Aishihik River to Silver City on Kluane Lake.  It was built totally of logs, but a new bridge just up the river was constructed in 1942 when the Alcan was built. Pretty interesting to see how they did it though.  As we continued toward Destruction Bay we could see the snowcapped peaks of the Kluane Icefield Ranges and the St. Elias Mountains. Stopped at the Sheep Mountain Visitor Center, where there was a lot of info about the mountain sheep.  They had binoculars and spotting scopes set up on the deck to see the sheep, and we were able to see some, but they were so far up it was hard to make them out.  Still hoping for that big horn sheep sighting!  We passed the site of the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Alcan on November 20, 1942.

We spent the night at an RV park in Destruction Bay, population less than 100.  This is an RV park where Chuck and Sally have been bringing Fantasy Tours for a number of years and they know the owner quite well.  He puts on his buffalo burger supper when they come, so we felt like we had to sample the bison burgers--not a lot different tasting to us than a regular beef hamburger, but suffice it to say, our systems let us know that we flat out ain't used to eating red meat for a long time!!  Don't think we'll be doing that again!   Anyway, he did have some killer potato salad and corn on the cob so that was good.  The owner told us about Destruction Bay, which was originally called Camp Mile 1083.  Kluane means big fish, and the lake is good fishing ground, though none of our group caught anything when they tried that evening!  He explained that they have spring, which is just the month of June, summer, which is July, fall, which is August and then winter.  The lake ices over beginning in September and doesn't thaw until May.  There is a top frost layer on the ground which does thaw out each year, but it only goes down a few feet below the surface.  Then the permafrost begins, which is always frozen and that layer goes down about 165 feet--it's truly amazing that plants, animals and people can survive and thrive in these conditions!  After supper several of us walked down to the lake  where we found a really beautiful log house that was obviously a private residence, a seasonal place and since there was no evidence of anyone around, we did go up and look in the windows.  It was a beautiful construction, with the posts on the deck made out of tree trunks that had lots of burls--a really unique and beautiful effect.  They also had a small cabin near the main house that turned out to be a sauna house.  It had a small bedroom in the front, but the back was a sauna, with a log-fed stove that is loaded from the outside to heat the rocks inside the sauna--really cool!  We also got a handmade portable table that a friend of the owner made out of several different species of wood.  It's really beautiful and will be a real help when we are at campsites that have no picnic table.  Several folks bought these, as Sally and Chuck told us of how good a deal it was compared to some they'd seen in stores and how much they've used theirs.  It's becoming increasingly lighter for longer--out at 10:30 PM and it seemed like mid afternoon!

Here's the airplane weather vane in Whitehorse
Shots along the way

The old log bridge

Hey, you like the hairdo??  Looks like Santa stuck his finger in the light socket, huh?  Found this hat when we first got into Canada and thought it was a hoot!

I tried to keep Sophie walking on the timber treads on top of the logs, but she kept wanting to walk on the logs and was slipping in the gaps, so I carried her

The new bridge built during the highway construction

Visitor Center at Haines Junction--this is a replica of the cache building, where First Nation people stored food to keep it away from the bears
artifacts on display in the center

They also had lots of art by present day native artists, very beautiful

This is hard to see in the photo, but it was a fascinating installation of faces made out of some sort of acrylic, suspended from the ceiling
Love these masks!

We've seen a number of bowls made from aspen wood, like this one--love it!

This vase was created from hog gut, and treated with wax and varnish

Couple of crows, hanging around outside

Felted creation of a woman playing some sort of game at a table

Love to see how native people spent so much time and energy into creating intricate decorations on everyday items like these gloves

A beautiful painting, showing the snow covered mountains
like these would look in full snow
tried to get this lovely split rail fence, but moving a little fast

Some beautiful flowers at the rest stop where we had lunch

When I walked over to take the wildflower pics, Sophie sat on the dash waiting for me to come back

Pretty awesome scenery!!

Trisha created some spectacular effects using different settings on the camera as we drove along

At the Sheep Mountain Visitor Center

These are salt deposits from some spring waters at the base of the mountains

Driving along with all this gorgeous fireweed on both sides of the road made it seem like we were on nature's red carpet!

At the campground in Destruction Bay on Kluane Lake

Can you see Trisha riding this in the winter with all the snow??!!

On our walk down to the lake
A skull of some sort tacked onto a tree
Daisy, with her parents, Emma and Maynard, from North Carolina
The sauna cabin
A young eagle who flew in and perched atop a small tree by the water
Dee and Ray

The main house

The outside of the firebox in the sauna house
Looking in the window to the sauna, with the benches supported by burl posts
Here's the inside where the heater heats these big rocks

Porch on the main house
Mr. Chipmunk came to say hi

Down by the small marina

Early the next morning when I took Sophie out for a walk

these two huge rigs came in overnight--knew from the sound that they were big!

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