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  • Writer's pictureRoy Thomas

Chilkoot Trail

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

Most people look back and reminisce on the adventures they took in their twenties and thirties. Remembering fondly those hikes, getaways, tents and hostels. Of course these musings are generally prefaced with, "before". Before: kids, my knee..., responsibility, career or some other anchoring event in their life. Crystal and I; however, are not most people. Our adventuring didn't really begin until we had firmly reached our forties. After completing the El Camino de Santiago, The Hadrian Wall Path, Great Glenn Way, as well as some other albergue to albergue, hostel to hostel, B&B to B&B, long distance walks, our next adventure will take us to the backcountry, hiking the Chilkoot Trail. Now I know that some hiking purist may argue that developed campsites, bear boxes, and rangers along the way mean that this is not backcountry hiking. This is; however, still Alaska and Canada, and we have to be fully self sufficient carrying everything we need with us, for us this is our first step into the backcountry.

The Chilkoot Trail Begins Near Dyea, Alaska and ends at Lake Bennett in Canada

The trail is approximately 33 miles long and traverses Chilkoot Pass. The pass was one of two routes to the Yukon Gold Fields and the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1800s. It was shorter than the White Pass route leading many to choose this formidable route in search gold. We will be completing the route over 4 nights and 5 days. We will only be ascending the "Golden Staircase" once. Those pursuing gold during the rush had to climb this formidable stretch numerous times to transport the ton of goods required by Canada to enter into the country in search of Gold.

For our journey we will be camping at Canyon City, Sheep Camp, Happy Camp, and Bare Loon. We will then finish at Lake Bennet and enjoy the historic White Pass & Yukon Railroad back to Skagway, Alaska.

Living on Kodiak Island, in Alaska means that our adventure will begin well before we even arrive at the trail-head. There are two ways to leave our island home, plane or ferry. We generally travel to and from the island via Alaska Airlines. It tends to be cheaper and of course cuts the travel time significantly. The ferry ride is approximately 13 hours followed by a 6 hour drive to get to Anchorage. When we set out on adventure we typically fly out two to three days in advance of our trip and spend some time in Anchorage, Alaska. This is our form of travel insurance as the unpredictable Kodiak weather can prevent air service even in the heart of summer. From Anchorage we will fly to Juneau, Alaska. From Juneau we will board one of the fast ferries of the Alaska Marine Highway and enjoy the scenic six hour ferry ride to Skagway. After an overnight in Skagway we will pick up our trail permits and catch a ride to the trail-head with one of the local shuttle services.

Just a sample of what it takes to get to where you want to go in the largest state in the United States.

We have our trail permits reserved and our train tickets purchased. We have also started purchasing our gear including our JetBoil Stove

and tent. We chose the Cablela's XPG Ultralight tent for its price to weight ratio. There were lighter tents and there were cheaper tents but we felt that this tent was a good fit for us.

Next up we need to make a decision on our sleeping bag purchase. If you have a recommendation for a comfortable, packable, non-mummy 20 degree bag please leave it in the comments.

Join us on our journey.

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