Sunday, June 24, 2007

Skagway, Alaska
Tourists Trap Ala-Carte
The Klondike Highway ends in Skagway, Alaska. One crosses the Yukon-British Columbia border and then the B.C.-Alaska border into historical Skagway. It is rich in history and the town comes alive when the cruise ships arrive as tourists scamper about town picking up trinkets made in Taiwan and take them back to their ships. When the tourists leave, the town basically closes up and begins to look like a ghost town. For the curious, there is a side trip to the remains of Dyea, where the remnants of a thriving gold rush village and a disheartening site of the slide cemetery (where 60+ miners are buried from an avalanche at Chilkoot pass). Among the dead were many from the greater Seattle area. It was a tough area to live in. In amongst the tombstones, a lone marker identifies the grave of a boy who was shot as he was mistaken for a bear in a tree. We camped out on the tidelands near Dyea and soon discovered that we were not alone. A local informed us that there were two grizzly bears (brothers, who had been set free last year by their mom). We pulled closer in to a dog sled camp and dined with the grizzly brothers at a safe distance. Dinner was scenic with the glaciated peaks and the Lynn Canal serving as a backdrop for the bears out our window that evening.
The local dog sled camp gave rides to tourists and the trails in the woods served as a training ground for the owners as they plan to do the Yukon Quest (An annual dog sled race from Whitehorse to Fairbanks). The ATV was a nice touch and really the only way to go in the summer.