Some people might think that 200,000 kms is a good time to trade in the old car for a new one. But not us. For Oscar, it’s just time for fresh start.
We met another couple in Whitehorse who agree with us.
After a week on the road, we were keen to get out into the wilderness and experience the true beauty of the Yukon. We ended up changing our plans slightly and headed west instead of north, to avoid the snow, and stumbled across the Slim’s River West trail in Kluane National Park.
This is grizzly country, so after watching the ‘Whoa Bear’ video, we set off with our packs loaded, a fresh can of bear spray and all of our food in bear proof canisters. Our first day was a 22.5 km hike along the river valley, crossing creeks and swamps to get us to the main campsite, which was totally deserted. We had a quick meal and collapsed in our tent totally exhausted only to be woken a few minutes later by what we thought was a bear in camp. It turned out to be a fellow aussie traveller, with lots of interesting stories and ideas to share.
The next day the three of us set off together to hike up Observation Mountain for a view of the glacier. We crossed another creek and stashed all of our gear on the other side, just in case the water was too high on the way back. On the way up a young hitch hiker from France caught up and joined us for the hike.
The view of the Kaskawulsh Glacier from the saddle of Observation Mountain is amazing. Words cannot describe the beauty and immensity of it. We sat there in the sun and had lunch and snoozed for a while in the sun, looking up every now and again to take in the view.
Perhaps too inspired by the glacier, the four of us decided to try the descent on the less travelled southwest side of the mountain. So, down we went, bushwhacking through head high shrubbery until we reached an old creek bed that soon became a deep canyon filled with ice and snow. After scrambling out of the canyon, which had too many unnerving loose rocks, it was decision time. Should we keep trying to find our way around the mountain, or head back up the way we came? We decided that it was probably safest to head back up the known route, but WHAT A MISSION. After 18 hours of hiking, we made it back to our gear and set up camp by the river. Two-minute noodles have never tasted so good!!!
Exhausted, the four of us slept and ate for most of the next day and decided to hike about half of the way back to the trailhead and set up camp. We woke up by the river with the sun shining and fresh animal tracks near by…eeeek! It was a hot slog back to our cars, but some fresh guacamole and semi cold beers with new friends made it all ok.
So we have officially been on the road for a week. Oscar (our van) is running like a dream and we’re adapting well to the gypsy life. We’ve managed to camp for free on five out of seven nights, and we’ve had beans for nearly every meal. This is absolutely necessary if we want to stick to our budget because fuel is ridiculously expensive up here.
Next week: on to Dawson City and Alaska.
Here are some pictures from the road.