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Over the past few years, I've become an emotional traveler. In the old days, it was simply about checking off as many countries and States as possible in my quest for global exploration. However, running from place to place, frantically snapping photos without the ability to even mentally process or absorb the landscape or person in the image, is no longer appealing, nor does it serve any value in human understanding or connection.

During the Alaska journey last summer, I had the opportunity to make a brief stop in Skagway, a small town with less than 1,000 residents. People here live totally off the grid, surrounded by forests and huge mountains, with no doctors or lawyers for hundreds of miles.  In the summer months, the population swells. Over a million tourists enter the village during the busy Alaska cruise season from May - September. I spent almost no time with the hordes of tourists, and instead ventured into the Yukon Territory of Canada, where this photo was taken. Never in my life have I seen such stunning landscapes, with a deep historical root, combining all elements of the human spirit - endurance, joy, defeat, sorrow...

1. From the hills of Skagway, you can see the steep cliffs and rocky terrain of the Yukon in the distance.  The legacy of the area began in the summer of 1897, when a Seattle newspaper broadcast the headline "Gold, Gold, Gold!" and reported that a group of men had discovered gold in the Canadian Klondike. America was in the midst of a depression, and the nation went gold crazy upon hearing the news. Tens of thousands of men and women began the long journey in pursuit of riches, with most prospectors landing in Skagway and crossing the trails onward to the Yukon River.


2. It is estimated that over 100,000 stampeders set out for the Yukon, yet only 30,000 completed the trip. The journey was long, strenuous and cold. The Northwest Mounted Police in Canada required all miners to carry at least one year of living supplies for the journey, and one ton of goods over the terrain to be allowed entry into Canada. All transported through the dangerous cliffs, hills and rough terrain by foot, or sometimes with the assistance of sleds or pack animals. At the top of the trails and passes, Canadian Mounties maintained a post to enforce the stringent regulations. Winter temperatures in the region could drop as low as -50 F, and hunger was a big problem. Many stampeders simply gave up when faced with the treacherous conditions and others perished, falling to their deaths from the cliffs.


3. After arriving in Skagway, the stampeders had two options to the Yukon. The Chilkoot Trail or White Pass, both steep and hazardous. The Chilkoot Pass was shorter, but required more endurance, rising over 1,000 feet in the last half mile. It was too steep for pack animals, so gold rushers picking this route had to carry the supplies on their own.

Miners_climb_Chilkoot (1)

4. Conditions on the White Pass Trail were worse, but the climb wasn't as steep. The area became known as the Dead Horse Trail, with over 3,000 animals dying on the route due to the inexperience of the stampeders and tortures of the landscape. Both trails led to the interior lake country where stampeders could begin a 550 mile journey through the lake systems to the Yukon River and gold fields.


5. What was the end result? In only five months, between July and November of 1898, the U.S. Mints in Seattle and San Francisco received ten million dollars worth of Klondike Gold. By 1900, another thirty-eight million dollars had been recorded, making it the largest, and most orderly, gold rush in history. At the same time, locals began to think of easier ways to travel to the Klondike. It was then that the White Pass Railway was born! The railroad was considered an impossible task, yet came to life through blasting through coastal mountains in only 26 months! An estimated 20,000 men with picks and shovels and 450 tons of explosives overcame the harsh climate and challenging landscapes to create one of the most scenic railways in the world. In 1994, the White Pass & Yukon Route was designated an international historic civil engineering landmark. The construction project is one of the greatest in history, an engineering obstacle filled with design challenges, granite mountains, steep grades, cliff hugging turns, and unimaginable weather conditions. The end result is pictured here - when I took a ride on the train in September. :)


6. Around each turn, wild and untouched nature awaits!


7. The train ride is not for the faint of heart, or those afraid of heights! You literally feel like you're hanging off the edge of cliffs, and you can stand on the platforms in between the railcars for great views and photo opportunities.


8. Steel cantilever bridge in the wilderness, viewed from the platform of the train.


9. Rolling through clouds, forests and mountains.


10. The destination from the train was Carcross, in the Yukon Territory. The town was a layover point for the Yukon fortune-seeking stampeders making their way to the creeks and rivers. Today, indigenous people still reside in the area, maintaining some traditions. This is most clearly visible when driving along the roads, where you will see many inuksuit, man-made stone or rock formations. They are used for navigation, as a point of reference, and in the Yukon, to assist with the herding of caribou for slaughter. Common formations used by tribes in the Arctic regions.


11. Slogan of the Yukon Territory - "Larger Than Life Plus Grand Que Nature."


12. I never grow tired of nature, and in this region the landscapes are pristine. Beautiful lakes, mountains, greenery, vivid colors and even dirt and dust! Everything you could wish for, a constant feast for the eyes! My favorite is Emerald Lake, the intense green color here is not manipulated at all through photoshop. The color is a result of light reflecting off of white deposits of clay and calcium carbonate at the bottom of the shallow waters. The high concentration of calcium carbonate comes from limestone gravels eroded from the mountains and deposited over 14,000 years ago by glaciers.


13. Mountainous area, with yellow autumn foliage in early September.


14. I don't remember the name of this lake, but throughout the Yukon, the mountains are your constant companion. Surrounded by them at all times.


15. More barren landscapes, typical dirt road in the area of Carcross, with absolutely no potholes or craters. :) Imagine if the wild regions of Russia were so accessible! It would be awesome.


16. During the journey, I learned that Carcross has the world's "smallest desert." One square mile of rolling dunes, located off of the South Klondike Highway. A sort of geological anomaly for a region with Arctic temperatures. Even in September, it was freezing!

skag11_PM (1)

17. Mountain landscapes I love more than any other for road trips! Excellent infrastructure and highways in this part of the Yukon. Smooth pavement and serpentine roads, a dream on which to drive.


18. What can I say about such images? They speak for themselves.  If you love nature, you should make it a goal to venture to the Yukon Territory once in your lifetime.


19. Houses in most of the villages are ordinary, nothing impressive. Small, but fairly well-maintained. Some stand alone on dirt roads, while others are part of small villages.


20. Small village.


21. My favorite - it looks like some cottage out of a romatic film, with the flowers and bicycle. :) In search of a mountain man to join me here for a weekend trip!


22. Train tracks pass through the central part of Carcross, where there are still a few shops and a small trading post. In the summer, the area is totally overrun with tourists, but in late autumn and winter, I anticipate that the region is completely desolate, with the exception of locals.


23. I spent only seven hours in the Yukon, traveling with my parents during one of the port stops on our summer Alaskan cruise. The region is large, parts of it are completely remote, wild and even inaccessible through normal roads. Many indigenous people reside there, some still living a subsistence lifestyle, gathering everything for survival only from the land. The region is steeped with dramatic natural landscapes, amazing history, stories of perseverance, joy and sorrow. A huge testament to the will and diversity of the human spirit.

There are times in travel when I become completely speechless, due either to an intense and moving human encounter, or something strange that stirs in my soul. I can't adequately explain it. On the drive back, at the point where this last photo was taken, I stopped. And I felt, in the silence that followed, everything that had happened on the trip brought me to this place, to utter calm and peace. I sat on the shoulder of the road and cried for a brief moment, overwhelmed with the beauty of the world.


To the Yukon, I'll definitely return...someday!



( 113 comments — Leave a comment )
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Apr. 20th, 2015 05:16 pm (UTC)
Традиция такая
Apr. 20th, 2015 05:19 pm (UTC)
Re: Традиция такая
What? Are you drunk? :)
Re: Традиция такая - andrey_kaminsky - Apr. 20th, 2015 05:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Традиция такая - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 20th, 2015 05:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Традиция такая - andrey_kaminsky - Apr. 20th, 2015 06:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Традиция такая - moxel - Apr. 20th, 2015 05:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Традиция такая - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 20th, 2015 05:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Традиция такая - moxel - Apr. 20th, 2015 05:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Традиция такая - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 20th, 2015 05:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Традиция такая - moxel - Apr. 20th, 2015 05:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Традиция такая - andrey_kaminsky - Apr. 20th, 2015 06:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Re: Традиция такая - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 20th, 2015 05:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Re: Традиция такая - andrey_kaminsky - Apr. 20th, 2015 07:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 20th, 2015 05:26 pm (UTC)
Now you will give me Russian lessons in my posts? :)
(Deleted comment)
Re: - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 20th, 2015 05:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Apr. 20th, 2015 05:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - qi_tronic - Apr. 20th, 2015 06:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - qi_tronic - Apr. 20th, 2015 06:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Apr. 20th, 2015 05:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 20th, 2015 05:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Apr. 20th, 2015 05:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 20th, 2015 06:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 20th, 2015 05:31 pm (UTC)
Apr. 20th, 2015 05:36 pm (UTC)
Привет, спасибо!
Apr. 20th, 2015 06:08 pm (UTC)
Love such landscapes!
Basically it's the same as in Seattle but colder.

It's interesting how the nature steadily changes when you drive South along the Pacific coast.
From all conifers around Seattle to apricots growing in Oregon.
And to hills with yellow grass burned by the Sun in Silicon Valley.
Apr. 20th, 2015 06:10 pm (UTC)
In Washington State, I've only been to Seattle and never to Oregon! :(( This must be corrected, but it's so expensive to fly to the West Coast.
(no subject) - qi_tronic - Apr. 20th, 2015 06:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 20th, 2015 06:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 20th, 2015 06:10 pm (UTC)
понравилось, спасибо за рассказ)
it was pleasant, thanks for the story)
Apr. 20th, 2015 06:11 pm (UTC)
Apr. 20th, 2015 06:12 pm (UTC)
Как долго Вы могли бы прожить в таком месте? Как у нас говорят " у черта на куличках" :)
Apr. 20th, 2015 06:18 pm (UTC)
не авторизировалась, сорри
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 20th, 2015 06:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vasha_masha - Apr. 20th, 2015 06:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 20th, 2015 06:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vasha_masha - Apr. 20th, 2015 06:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 20th, 2015 06:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vasha_masha - Apr. 20th, 2015 08:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 20th, 2015 08:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vasha_masha - Apr. 20th, 2015 08:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 20th, 2015 06:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks, you delivered a moving story reminding me Chaplin's Gold Rush :))
Could you share who was your tour provider?
Apr. 20th, 2015 06:27 pm (UTC)
If you arrive in Skagway via an Alaskan cruise, there are two options. First, you can rent a car and drive to the Yukon on your own, but my parents didn't want to do this. So, we picked the second option and rented a private driver through https://chilkootcharters.com/product/yukon-rail-bus/. Very good company! I did not book any excursions through the cruise line, and did everything independently. I didn't want to be with the huge crowds, on a big bus. So, there are a lot of other alternatives if you visit the area.
Thanks! - pin_gwin - Apr. 20th, 2015 06:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Thanks! - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 20th, 2015 06:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Thanks! - pin_gwin - Apr. 20th, 2015 06:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Thanks! - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 20th, 2015 06:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 20th, 2015 06:31 pm (UTC)
Yukon is beautiful. And so empty! We camped, and it was just us for the whole campground.

Yukon river is impressive, the water so clear.

But I actually prefer Beautiful British Columbia.
Apr. 20th, 2015 06:33 pm (UTC)
I was only in Victoria, British Columbia. In general, I think Canada looks amazing, but I haven't seen much of it. The country has amazing nature, accessibility and parks, esp. in the Canadian Rockies, where I dream of visiting! :)
Apr. 20th, 2015 06:33 pm (UTC)
не хуя ни панятно
Apr. 20th, 2015 06:59 pm (UTC)
Stunningly beautiful!
Apr. 20th, 2015 07:00 pm (UTC)
Yeah! Fill out the form for a Canadian visa and go visit! :)
Apr. 20th, 2015 07:33 pm (UTC)
What a fantastic beauty! I dream that Russia could look similar way sometimes in future (I mean villages).
Apr. 20th, 2015 07:36 pm (UTC)
The main thing is to make such places accessible to tourists by building infrastructure, roads, signs, etc. Such wild and remote places exist in Russia, but they are very difficult and expensive to reach. :(
Apr. 20th, 2015 07:53 pm (UTC)
My friends travelled to Kola peninsula in Russia, and showed me their pictures - very similar to yours. So, maybe, next time being in Russia - think about this possibility. I suppose, you'll enjoy that landscapes. Ps. And Karelia as well.
Apr. 20th, 2015 07:56 pm (UTC)
Good suggestions! But I find it difficult to navigate in Russia on my own, and need fellow travel companions. Unfortunately, none of my friends are very interested in traveling to Russia. There are too many hassles with the visa, infrastructure and language barriers. :(
(no subject) - vitsky - Apr. 20th, 2015 08:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 20th, 2015 08:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - minerman61 - Apr. 20th, 2015 10:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 20th, 2015 11:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - minerman61 - Apr. 20th, 2015 11:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 20th, 2015 10:41 pm (UTC)
ShAn. Id like to ask u a (stupid) question.
How much money u make & how much money u'd afford to organize all your annual dreamingzzzzzzzzzz to be come true? (I just want to compare possibilities between you & an ordinary ones here in Russia ----- for instance, me)
It's because that i want to compare lives,,, may be..... between your country & mine.

That doesn't mean that u could think all u want :-)

Anyway. Id like to hear your inner mind! :-) YeaH YeaH my friend in America !!!
Apr. 20th, 2015 11:11 pm (UTC)
The main expense for me is plane tickets. I usually travel to countries where I know people, like in Russia. So there aren't many hotel expenses because I stay with friends. I make over 100k per year, but it isn't a lot after all bills are paid. The Washington, DC area has a very high cost of living, and I have a lot of student loans from my doctorate degree. Finally, I'm single, and pay all expenses on my own. There's money to travel occasionally, but not as often as I'd like.
(no subject) - minerman61 - Apr. 20th, 2015 11:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 20th, 2015 11:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - minerman61 - Apr. 20th, 2015 11:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - minerman61 - Apr. 21st, 2015 03:50 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 21st, 2015 02:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - siberian_cat - Apr. 21st, 2015 12:39 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 21st, 2015 02:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - siberian_cat - Apr. 21st, 2015 03:14 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 21st, 2015 01:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mi5ter_fi5ter - Apr. 21st, 2015 01:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - peacetraveler22 - Apr. 21st, 2015 01:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 20th, 2015 11:17 pm (UTC)
Wonderful nature and nice story. Thank you!
Apr. 20th, 2015 11:22 pm (UTC)
Hi Olga! You're welcome! You have some great mountains there in California also. :)
Apr. 20th, 2015 11:34 pm (UTC)
Beautiful! I'm going to travel the same cruise in May but on different ship. On Princess.
Unfortunately my wife is very scared of any extreme activities like this you described. It means no visit outside vicinities of the ports.
Apr. 21st, 2015 02:04 am (UTC)
Great! Alaska is beautiful, but to truly see the nature you need to go on some of the excursions from the ship, or book them independently as I did. If you simply stay in the port cities, in the area where you're dropped off, there will mostly be tourist and jewelry shops, esp. in Juneau. I hate shopping, so they were of no interest to me. In Juneau, you can take the local bus to the Mendenhall Glacier. It's pretty cheap, and not an "extreme activity." :) Skagway and Ketchikan have a lot of nice walking areas, so your wife will probably like these places best. And you will see a lot of nice scenery from the cruise ship while you're cruising from port to port. Enjoy!
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