July 25, Tuesday
Today we wanted to see how the other half arrived at the goldfields – via the town of Dyea and the Chilcoot Trail. The Chilkoot Pass became the emblematic trail of the Klondike Gold Rush, and pictures preserve the unbelievable scene of “The Golden Staircase” and thousands of miners climbing literally in the steps of each other to gain the top. Each miner had to climb the trail over 30 times to haul one year’s worth of food and gear up and over, or they would be denied passage. Imagine when they arrived at the goldfields of Dalton City to be welcomed by an established and well-stocked town!
We stopped at the graveyard where many 98ers were buried – some famous (Soapy Smith) . . . and some unknown. Many were young men under the age of 30, along with teenaged girls and infant boys.
At one turnout we had a good view of the harbor down below where four new cruise ships had docked this morning. Each cruise ship holds about 2000 passengers, and it looked to us like all 8,000 were walking from the docks, past our campground, to the downtown shops!
The way to the the town of Dyea and the Chilcoot trail was well marked as we drove the 5 miles. The scenery changed to a tidal plain with lush grasses and beautiful flowing waters. The town of Dyea was a short-lived community and nothing remains at the location.
We walked back to the head of the Chilcoot Trail just as one group of overnighters was coming down, and another group was getting started on the 33-mile trek. Oh, I would LOVE to see that golden staircase!
Another delight was just around the bend, as the road drove down close to the river. Tom saw fish jumping out of the stream! We pulled over, and low and behold here were Pink Salmon and spawning at it’s peak! Hundreds . . . thousands . . . swarms of salmon. My kingdom for a fishing pole! As much as we have read and heard about salmon spawning, it was quite something else to see it in this lonely, peaceful little valley. At times they seemed to spook, and as a group rushed up the river splashing and jumping and making lots of noise!
On the road back we stopped for a few more pictures – always different from another direction!
On the way back into town, I grabbed a picture of the Skagway Welcome sign. Over the three days we have been in Skagway we have walked from our campsite to the downtown several times for dinner or shopping, and it is by far one of our favorite Alaska towns. My parting shots today are of scenes of downtown Skagway. Tomorrow we are back on the AlCan Highway . . . and kind of turning towards home!
We don’t go camping any more . . . we go ‘streamin’ ! The “SIlvermine and His” is our 2016 23' Airstream, and ‘streamin’ is the name we use to describe our adventures. Stream along as we document everything from weekend trips to longer summer excursions and full-blown vacations. You know what they say: if you’re not in an Airstream – you’re just camping!
Tom & Ella Brown