Sunday, September 7, 2014

Gateway to the Klondike

Our first port of call in Alaska was Skagway, a sleepy little town of only about 800 residents.  It's best known for being the threshold to the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1880's.  I went out for a run first thing in the morning and found out the town itself is all of about 7 blocks.  I came upon and crossed a footbridge over the Skagway River and wound up on the Yakutania Point Route until the trail became too rocky.  Wish I had a camera with me!

We originally planned an excursion riding the historic White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad up into the mountains, but once my parents canceled, we swapped it out for a helicopter ride and glacier tour.  Best. Decision. Ever.

We took a 20 minute helicopter ride and landed right on a glacier!  Joseph got to sit up front and was not even remotely scared.  It was actually a pretty smooth ride, and the views from above were beyond spectacular.

We landed near a little base camp - that teeny white spot in the lower left corner of the photo below is the tent where the guides hang out.  The company outfitted us with special shoe covers to help with walking on the ice.

The most unexpected thing is that the surface of the glacier is not pure white ice, but rather is covered with lots of rocks and boulders as a result of glacial erosion.  There are random chasms everywhere, and even running water on the surface and underneath as well.

Believe it or not, we all drank some of the crystal clear, ice cold glacier water, and took a bite of the ice too!

Really, this has to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my life, and I'm so thankful we had the opportunity to experience it.  It seems they very rarely get such clear blue skies, and aside from some intermittent drizzles, the weather was just perfect.

We spent about 45 minutes on the glacier, and after another helicopter ride back, we dropped Joseph at the kids' club on the ship and explored the town for a bit.   (Let's just say he's not a fan of walking and shopping.)  The hall of the Fraternal Order of the Arctic Brotherhood is said to be the most distinctive building in all of Alaska, with over 10,000 pieces of driftwood nailed to the exterior.  And wouldn't you know, there was a quilt shop!

Brent and I also went for a nice hike on the Dewey Lake Trail System.  We made it up to the Lower Dewey Lake before running out of time and having to turn back.  Again, absolutely beautiful, and luckily, no bears!

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