Back to the Mountains at Haines Junction

Our last week in the Yukon has been in a topography without any significant mountains – mostly in the broad valley and plain of the Klondike River along with some rolling hills. All that changed as we travelled down to the town of Haines Junction  – obviously named because that is where the road to Haines (Alaska) turns south off the Alaska Highway. The mountains near here back onto the Kluane Icefield with its mountain peaks and many glaciers.

Haines Junction is only a small town with a few hundred people and one pedestrian crossing on the highway. We only had 120 kms to drive to get here but we stretched it out to last all morning by stopping here and there along the roadside. We  passed some more beautiful scenery of rivers and lakes.

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Back at the start of our trip we bought a cheap kettle and a thermos flask so we have been able to stop for a brew along the way. We’ll donate them to the last hotel in which we stay. Yesterday, we found a lovely stop for a coffee.by a little meadow of wildflowers. It even had a table and seat and there were no mozzies! There were some flowers  that we hadn’t seen before, along with others that we can name – Wild Flowering Pea, Alaskan Lupins, Wild Strawberries and Wild Yarrow.

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I had a surprise while having our cup of coffee when a very long RV (camper) drove past along the highway. This one wasn’t towing a car, nor a boat; it was actually towing a large caravan. I can only assume that the travelling couple had their mother in law with them and they needed a mobile granny flat!

We were delighted to find a very nice little bakery in Haines Junction where we stopped to buy lunch. They not only had some nice food but the owner was working while carrying his baby on his chest in a Baby Bjorn type of harness. Quite a working Dad!. Most places to eat that we have come across seem offer either a greasy hamburger and french fries, or alternatively, french fries with a greasy hamburger. Here, we enjoyed some freshly baked rolls and slices. We would have liked to have gone to their salmon bake for dinner tonight, but we are staying at a different place tonight (i’ll explain later) and our meal is included in our rate.

Our hotel last night was the Raven Hotel – certainly the nicest accomodation in town. Down the side of the building were a row of lilac trees that were very attractive to some flighty butterflies that were enjoying the nectar from the flowers.

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In town, we visited the local tourist information centre that doubles as a museum of local indian tribal culture. We found out that there were some short walks at nearby Kathleen Lake, so we sauntered down there for a stroll and some photography. The water was  crystal clear and the scenery was fantastic.

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The Catholic Church in town is made from an an old Nissan Hut, left over from the construction of the highway. It’s quite unique and apparently the most photographed church in the Yukon.

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We had a leisurely second day in this location by driving for a hundred kilometres, or so, up the Alaska Highway to see Lake Kluane (pronounced Clue-ony) which is in a large National Park of the same name. We reached the little settlement of Destruction Bay for lunch and you can see how big it is in the photo (below).  All that is there is a gas station and motel, a police station and a few other buildings that include a very large Athletics Club with a curling rink, gymnasium and a little boat harbour. How a town off fifty-one people can support this large place is beyond me.

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Lake Kluane is the biggest lake i the Yukon. It was formed by glacial action and about three hindered years ago another glacier cut off its exit. Not only did the water level rise 30 metres, it created a new exit at the other end of the lake, reversing its flow.

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At one rest stop, we came across a family of ground squirrels. They stand upright to look out for threats and predators and make a loud chirping noise when anything dangerous approaches. I’m sure that Americans and Canadians see them   as offensive rodents, but they look awfully cute to us.

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We couldn’t stay a second night at our hotel because it was booked out a year ago for an annual cycling race that takes place tomorrow down the highway from Haines Junction to Haines. As a result, we are staying at Dalton Trail Lodge, some 28 m miles south of Haines Junction. This is on the same road as the route of the race and tomorrow we have two choices – get on the road before 8.00 am, or wait until all the cyclists pass this point and then drive to Haines following the cyclists and going as fast as the slowest one.

2 comments

  1. Pamela Saunders · ·

    Some beautiful photography of idyllic locations Bruce. I suppose the little township is supported by passing trade- perhaps truckies use the athletics club to keep fit while on their long hauls? No doubt there is a larger community in the surrounding country.
    Ground squirrels behaving like meerkats !
    Good old fashioned thermos flask method of providing one’s own refreshment on the road! I like it. At least you get drinkable coffee Jill?

  2. Margaret and Frank · ·

    What a fabulous holiday you must be having. Superb photos of magnificent scenery and fascinating places. Keep enjoying yourselves. xx