Back to the beginning
On my way back to the south I had the chance to drive through the Yukon Territory’s vast backcountry. A trip I have really enjoyed. No wonder why so many Germans decide to immigrate into the Yukon! There is a saying, which goes like this:
In British Columbia there is a bear behind every tree.
In the Yukon there is a German behind every tree!
From the Canadian border I follow the Top of the World Highway, which is traveling through the peaks of the mountain ranges to finally arrive at the great Yukon River in Dawson City. As far as I can see, there are miles and miles of mountain ranges all around me. Breathtaking views wait behind every corner, while I try to avoid big potholes in the road.
In Dawson City I take the (free!) ferry to get to the other side of the river. Because it is getting dark already, I begin to look for a place to sleep right away. I find a perfect spot on top of the Midnight Dome, a beautiful vantage point overlooking the Yukon River and the Klondike Valley.
The following day I meet Brent from The Newschool Nomads in Dawson. He and his wife are travelling in an RV full time, homeschooling their kids along the way. Like me they had just came from Alaska. Brent tells me about a bizarre tradition in a bar in Dawson. They serve The Sourtoe Cocktail, which is a beer glass of champagne seasoned with an amputated toe. Yes…a real human toe! It has been swallowed by accident multiple times, but supporting citizens have always donated new toes to keep the tradition running. There is even a fine for swallowing the toe…
Unfortunately I can’t stay for this experience, because I had discovered a decent chance to see the Northern Lights again the same night. After walking around the city, I have lunch and drive up to the Tombstone National Park then. Being the last National Park on this trip, I had planned to do another backcountry hike there. But in the park I learn, that this trail has been closed down for the season already due to extensive flooding and snow.
I drive up to the trailhead of the Goldensides Mountain Trail, parking my camper next to a microwave tower. Then I wait for the night and hope for the aurora. At around midnight I look out the window and see some fluorescent green glow in the night sky. I grab my camera and tripod and hurry outside.
Because it is just a few days after the full moon, the night is not very dark and the aurora is not as visible as it could be. In this situation the best thing I can do is to try to bring some foreground into the pictures, which is quite bright on a 30 seconds exposure in these light conditions. After shooting for an hour, I head back into the camper because my feet are turning into ice chunks.
The following day I hike up the Goldenside Mountain in the morning to have a great view over the area and do a second hike in the afternoon up to a viewpoint over the Grizzly Creek Valley. I then drive back along the Dempster Highway till the Junction with the Klondike Highway, which I follow down south till Carmacks. Along the highway I see some Marmots at the side of the road and in the evening even two Moose. I am impressed by their sheer size. Like two giant deers, they flounce across the highway in the far distance. When I get there, they have already vanished into the near bush. After jumping out of my car and running into the bush like a madman, I get a few shots of these impressive animals, before they run away into the dense forest.
From Carmacks I take the Robert Campbell Highway through the remote and spectacular wilderness of the Yukon Territory. I was warned about the rough conditions of this 582-kilometer long gravel road, but the road is really not that bad! I guess the good weather of the last days has made it such an easy drive for me. Along the road I find countless opportunities for great wilderness camping.
The second night I camp on a lake and get my kayak from the roof for a little paddle session. I decide to take my Fujinon 55-200mm telephoto lens this time and am rewarded with some great pictures of a beaver. When I first see the beaver it is still very cautious and stays at a large distance from me. But after I have followed the beaver for a few minutes, it seems to get used to my presence and I am able to get closer. At some point the beaver just swims directly into my direction and starts to eat some blades of water plants just about two feet in front of my kayak.
The Campbell Highway ends in Watson Lake, from where I continue down south on the Alaska Highway. The next days are filled with countless hours of driving. I stop at the Liard River Hot Springs, where I take a nice relaxing bath in the natural hot springs surrounded by lush boreal spruce forest. For some time I have the whole pool to myself and enjoy this treat before some intense days on the road.
Except for some gigantic bisons next to the road, there is not too much along the way to make me stop. I drive about 2000 kilometers in three days to get to Squamish, where I will be staying until December, to find a job and refill my travel funds.