June 2, 2015
This morning I walked to town, and got pastries from the General Store. Canadian pastries look different from what I’m used to.
The tour group gathered in the morning and took a 3-minute bus ride to the river, where the paddle boat “Klondike Spirit” was docked. Ironically, it was right where I had just walked back from.
The guides were dressed in period costume. Carolina, the narrator, was expecting a baby late in the year. She lived on the far side of the river in West Dawson. There is no grid there, so they use solar and a generator for their cabin.
Another guide, Emma, told me that the river was covered with ice less than a month ago. The ice broke on May 5. When the ice is just freezing, or about to thaw, nobody can cross the river, not by walking, driving, nor ferry. People are accustomed to planning which side of the river they will be on for the few weeks critical period. Carolina plans to say on the East side, in town.
The boat took us by the Trondek Hwechin camp. When the Stampeders (Klondike Gold Rush) arrived at Dawson in 1897, Chief Issac wanted to get his First Nation people away from the corrupting influences of liquor and unsavory elements, so asked permission to move the tribe two miles down the river to Moosehide camp. Ironically, the people who had been there for 40,000 years (since the ice age Bering Land Bridge) had to ask the people who had just arrived a few years ago. The camp is still owned by First Nation people, but only used as vacation homes. There is still no alcohol allowed in the area.
After the boat ride, we got sandwiches from Cheechakos Bake Shop, and ate them outside Danoja Zho, the First Nation museum. I had a Teri Chicken sandwich with pickled vegetables. When we finished eating, we went into the museum. Chief Issac’s foresight was astounding. Had he not moved his people, they might have been wiped out. Moreover, he led some of them into neighboring Alaska at the time to give the neighboring Tanana people the Trondek history and songs for safekeeping. Some 80 years later (not sure of the time frame), the Trondek Hwechin won back a claim on their original land, and proceeded to donate it be used as a historical site. We also learned about traditional tools and use of animals. The picture is of a fox hide.
We found that our Canada Parks tickets were not good for the Dawson Museum, nor Jack London House, so we toured the Commissioner’s house.
Again, the guides were in period costume. We all had to put on plastic booties before entering the house.
We found possibly the only bargains to be had in the town of Dawson, at the Anglican Church Thrift Store.
It was getting later, and Cheechakos had closed. But we were able to get a very economical lunch from the General Store, in the form of sandwiches and potato salad.
Each sandwich came with Smarties, which are the Canadian equivalent of M&M’s.
I wanted to hike across the Moosehide slide. Here is a picture of it, taken later in the day than the actual time of 6:15 that we went.
At one point, the 9th avenue trail forked. It seemed right to me to take the upper fork, as we weren’t gaining altitude, but the hotel had told Merrianne to take the 9th ave trail, so we followed the sign. It went below the slide, and no further. We went back, and looked at a trail going up, but encountered this sign. It wasn’t clear whether the sign applied to the trail on the slide itself, or just the Moosehide camp. I decided to err on the side of respect. We went back. Just as we were exiting the trail, a jogger told us that there was, indeed, an upper trail going across the slide.
We got to Diamond Tooth Gertie’s at 8:15, just in time for the 8:30 pm show. It was a can-can type 1890’s show, song and dance. Not the best show I’ve ever been to, but the dancers were better than on the cruise.
It was 9:30 pm, but remember, the sun sets very late in Dawson at that time of year. I asked our tour leader about the permission, and he said he wasn’t aware of any required for hiking the upper trail. We decided to attempt it, again. I took my harmonica, to make noise and avoid startling any bears.
We got up to a place with a view, and talked with a few other hikers having a picnic. Left to right, Corrina, Dog, Angela, Manny, and Mike. They said that the trail across the slide itself was neither treacherous nor narrow, but that we would have to scramble over large boulders.
The trail became narrower, and Merrianne was nervous. Usually, I’m the more timid one with heights.
We decided to turn around when we reached a rise. About 15 minutes later, we got back to the group of hikers we saw earlier, and Angela told us that were just about up to the slide, itself. Could have been just around the bend. I was not disappointed, as it was my choice to turn back.
It was about 10:30 pm by then, but the sun was still up, so we decided to take the ferry across the river. The ferry is considered to be part of the highway system, so there is no charge. On the trip across, we met Chris, a local who had just hiked 30 km. He lived on the west side, and was going home to his cabin up the trail.
On the other side, Merrianne thought that she saw a dog, but Chris said it was a fox. It seems that local foxes are large and black, like the hide we were shown at the Danoja Zho. It’s not a very good, because I had to use telephoto.
By the time we took the ferry back, it was just about sunset. This picture was taken a few minutes before midnight.