The Sockeyed Blog

Ben Johnson's Blog

Beaver Creek

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With some disappointment, we woke up to another cloudy day. The clouds were higher, however, and there was promise of sunshine.

After a breakfast of granola and frozen blueberries, we drove about 10kms back down the highway to Tachal Dahl, or Sheep Mountain, at the south end of Kluane Lake. The bare mountain is known for its population of dall sheep, but sadly none were to be seen.

We bumped about 1.5kms down a dirt road and parked when it looked too steep for the camper. From there we set out on a 12km hike above and along Sheep Creek. The going was easy along a former mining road, but it was steep, gaining about 500m. Again, we were among the blazing autumn colours. Down below the braided Slims River carried meltwater down from the heart of the St. Elias to Kluane lake, while other gravelly creeks fed in from the side. The clouds were high enough for us to see some of the larger peaks around us and even the distant toe of the Kaskawulsh Glacier. The higher we climbed, the more open the landscape got. In the sub-alpine, it was carpeted in scrubby bushes in autumn colours.

We reached our high point (1300m) where 40 Pup Creek cut our path as it made its way to Sheep Creek far below us. Unfortunately clouds started to roll in and obscure the surrounding peaks and distant views. A couple of parties who were behind us going up the trail probably missed out, although perhaps the clouds parted for them (weather changed quickly).

The walk down was smooth and easy, and we were back to the van shortly after 2pm. After a change of clothes and lunch, we were on the road northwest towards the Alaska border. We gassed up and emptied our tanks in Burwash Landing at the north end of the lake. At this point the Alaska Highway took a turn for the worse. This section is infamous for potholes and heaves resulting from the permafrost. The van didn’t do too badly, but it did force us to drive slowly. My gas/brake foot ached by the time we reached our destination. The scenery was gorgeous, however. We took in a stunning vista over the Kluane River, and the low angle of light illuminated the fall colours around us. The landscape changed as well; the very rugged mountains of the St. Elias gave way to more openness and smaller trees. Distances really opened up around us.

At around 7pm we rolled into Beaver Creek, apparently the most westerly settlement in Canada. It boasts a population of 140 year-round, swelling to 200 in the summer. We checked into the functional Westmark RV park (it has showers, which we’re excited about). We then walked from one end of the town to the other in the low, glowing light. The most exciting find was a Catholic church built out of corrugated metal, looking a bit like a miniature airplane hanger.

We’re about to eat some curry.

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Written by sockeyed

September 11, 2010 at 10:44

Posted in Travel

Tagged with , ,

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