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My first day in the Yukon : Tagish and Carcross


Version en français de ce texte.

Hello everyone! I’m writing these few lines while admiring the view on Marsh Lake (Yukon) and the surrounding mountains. It is 10PM and the sun is just about to set. It’s wonderful to be able to enjoy such long days.

I’m in the Yukon for the next two weeks and this is my very first visit. I’m starting off in the « Southern Lakes » region, south of Whitehorse, where I am staying at the cozy Old Screen Door B&B owned by Mo & Paul Hartigan. My room is on the 2nd floor and has a balcony. Oh! What a beautiful view of the lake. Originally from Toronto where she worked as a police officer, 30 years ago, Mo accepted the invitation of her twin sister to come visit her in the Yukon. Her sister had come up on vacation, fell in love with the area and decided to move up here. Mo would soon come to join her sister as she discovered in the Yukon a lifestyle and a pace that suited her perfectly. This is where she met her husband, Paul, originally from Ontario’s Niagara Falls area.

My objective for today was to photograph the Trumpeter Swans by Tagish Lake. Every spring, a few thousand of them stop here during their migration from California to their breeding grounds higher up in the Yukon, in Alaska or in eastern Siberia. Unfortunately, I’m arriving a few days late, the majority of them having already left. This morning, I saw only 5 swans, a few Canada Geese, thirty or so ducks and at least 3 sandpipers by the Tagish bridge (which crossed the 6 mile river linking Tagish Lake to Marsh Lake). Here are a few photos taken the hour I spent by the bridge but, if you haven’t already done so, have a look at our friend Claus Vogel’s blog. Claus has spent the last three weekends photographing the swans from this same spot. A big thank you to Marc Latreille for lending me his 400mm lens 😉

Tagish Bridge

I then went back on Road #8 and continued my way to Carcross, a community of 430 inhabitants, located on the shores of Bennett Lake.

Panorama on road 8 between Tagish and Carcross

My second objective for the day was to spot a caribou. It should be feasible based on the road signs telling me that my route was right on the Carcross Herd’s path.

Also, Carcross used to be called Caribou Crossing (but because the mail was regularly being incorrectly redirected to the Cariboo district in British-Columbia, the authorities decided to change its name by combining the first syllable of each word). One can’t miss the sculpture of a caribou welcoming us to the community. There sure must be a couple of live ones in the area.

During the summer, Carcross is the most visited community in the Yukon. The vast majority of tourists arrive from Skagway, Alaska (where the cruise ship stop) either by bus or by the scenic White Pass & Yukon Railway in order to relive part of the Klondike Gold Rush era. We will come back at another time to this fascinating period. There is just too much to say about it. For the time being, here are a few photos taken while strolling in the community. By chance, I happened to meet Dorothy, an employee of the tourist office (which is not yet open). We chatted for a while and she even declared me to be the very first tourist in Carcross for the 2011 season 😉

Visitors center and the railway station for the White Pass & Yukon Rail

View of Bennett Lake

The oldest general store in the Yukon and the famous Hotel Caribou (closed for renovations)

After my visit in Carcross, I headed to the smallest desert on the planet : the Carcross desert (260 hectares, 2.6km2). I walked in the sand dunes for about an hour. A few teenagers where enjoying the huge sloped with their ATV or motorcycles and a group of about 15 cyclists made a well derserved stop in to regain their energy. Several of them took the opportunity to fly some kites.

Carcross Desert

Carcross Desert

Carcross Desert

As you can see on the photos, the day was very cloudy. The temperature was about 6C – 7C.

On my way home around 7PM, a few kilometers after Jake’s Corner, my wish came true : two caribous grazing on the side of the Alaska Highway!! What a great way to end the day!!

To be continued…

P.S. Do I hear right that it is snowing in Eastern Canada? Oh well! We’ve got sunshine today in Whitehorse 😉

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