The Sockeyed Blog

Ben Johnson's Blog

Congden Creek, Kluane

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It rained on and off through the night but we slept soundly. What I love up here is the silence. It’s not until you get away from cities that you really realize just how noisy they are; here there is actually pure silence.

The clouds were low when we pulled out of our campsite. We stopped by Kathleen Lake and awed at the autumn colours ringing the lake, the still waters, and the mountains rising into the clouds. The lake is home to landlocked kokanee salmon – once sockeye – who became isolated in the lake system when an ice dam collapsed catastrophically in around 1850.

We drove about half an hour down a freshly-asphalted road into small Haines Junction which lies in an incredibly broad valley, with Kluane park’s awesome presence to one side. We stopped in the park information centre and chatted about hikes, watched a film and enjoyed some exhibits.

For a hike, the first of our trip, we drove back down the highway a short ways to do the Auriol loop. The 16km trail let us up through golden boreal forests then into more stunted sub-alpine environment under the looming peaks of the Auriol range which, while relatively minor in the St-Elias scheme-of-things, were most impressive. The pinnacle of the hike found us on a knoll overlooking the valley, with Kathleen Lake in the distance. We gawked up at peaks above us which were now emerging as the clouds began to clear. Glacier spilled over between peaks in the higher points, and fresh snow dusted the mid elevations on the dark rock of the mountains. Gravelly creeks flowed down past us through the endless golden vegetation, and the sun emerged to bake our faces.

It felt like a long hike for poor out-of-shape slobs such as us (the wedding absorbed all of our time and energy for the last few weeks), but the perfect air was renewing and I’m sure we’ll sleep soundly tonight.

We stopped briefly for a few groceries and some gas (the fellow at the station was watching Cantonese soap operas, which seem incongruous with where we are), then we drove west along the Alaska Highway about 60kms to Kluane Lake, the largest lake in the Yukon. The sun was getting low, setting the vegetation on fire. The turquoise lake shimmered and glowed as we drove along it. We’re camped next to it now in a government campground (Congden Creek). I just whipped up some pasta for dinner, and we’re about to step out for a look at the lake before it goes totally dark.

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Written by sockeyed

September 10, 2010 at 10:42

Posted in Travel

Tagged with ,

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