Posted by: cherylyoung | May 19, 2013





Prior to the arrival of European and North American

traders, the Chilkoot Trail served as a trade route to the

 interior for the coastal Tlingit Indians.


It was the lure of Klondike gold that led thousands of

fortune seekers to travel the Chilkoot Trail, rising from

dockside in Alaska to Lake Bennett in Canada’s North.

Although numerous routes to the gold fields were

available to the stampeders,

the Chilkoot Trail provided the shortest and cheapest way to the Klondike


Consequently, the Chilkoot attracted the majority of the gold seekers. So arduous

were the conditions on the trail and in the Klondike, and so unprepared

were the prospectors, that the North West Mounted Police sent to monitor

the pass turned back anyone who did not carry a year’s worth of supplies.   

 The Klondike Gold Rush had an immediate and lasting impact on Western

Canada and the United State


 Seattle became a major staging point for fortune hunters headed north,

a steady stream of rail cars doubled Vancouver’s size, and

Edmonton’s population tripled overnight.  

The legacy left the Yukon with most of its present day

 settlements including Whitehorse, Dawson City,

Haines Junction, Watson Lake and Carmacks.

Klondike fever left the route strewn with boots, shovels,

 picks, wagon wheels, pot-bellied stoves and other

 artifacts of a time long past.

Unfortunately, like many of the Chilkoot’s treasures,

 they have been plundered over the years.

 Numerous items have since been distributed to

 various museums.

Today, the Chilkoot Trail is as demanding on hikers

 as it was on gold seekers 100 years ago.

 Summer weather and modern backpacks ease the

 strain, but adventure seekers must still be prepared

 for the  challenges that mother nature dishes out.

 Even in the middle of the summer, a hiker needs to be

 prepared for just about any kind of weather at the

 summit, including snow.

 Today’s visitors aren’t rewarded with gold, but rather

a hike through history.

In fact, the Chilkoot Trail is the largest National Historic

  Site in Canada.

The entire hike takes from three to five days.

The Chilkoot Trail is recommended for intermediate

 to advanced backpackers only.

 Hiking with a partner, or with a small group,

 is preferable.

 The maximum group size allowed is 12.

The trail is isolated, strenuous, physically challenging

 and potentially hazardous.

 The glaciers, which surround the west side of the park,

were instrumental in shaping the present landforms.

 The highest elevation along the trail, 1122 m (3680 ft.),

occurs at Chilkoot Pass.

 Interesting geomorphologic features in the park include

 braided streams near Stone Crib and the alluvial fans

at the south end of Mountain and Lindeman lakes.

Not only do modern hikers enjoy the benefits of a well-

maintained trail, they also avoid some of the challenges

 the stampeders faced.

 For most backpackers, direction of travel over the

 Chilkoot route is not an issue – they want to follow in

 the stampeders’ footsteps, starting at the coast and

 ending at the headwaters of the Yukon River.

Trekkers usually go from south to north; it’s easier

 and safer.

 The most famous, and the most dreaded, portion of the

trail has always been the nearly 45-degree ascent that

became known during the Klondike era as the Golden Stairs.

Climbing up the Golden Stairs is more of a cardiovascular

 workout, but descending this rocky slope places a much

greater strain on knees and ankles, and is more

 treacherous, especially in wet, windy or foggy conditions.

 The timing of travel over the pass is also better for

northbound hikers.

Another factor is the weather.

 Almost all summer storms flow inland from the

 Pacific Ocean, blowing up the valley and over the

mountains in a northerly direction.

Therefore, no matter how bad it gets, if you’re heading

 north you can nearly always count on the wind and rain

being at your back.

 This is an important consideration for the one-third of

 the trail that is above the treeline and fully exposed

to the elements.

The trail is also extremely rewarding, with great natural

beauty and spectacular mountain scenery as you climb

 through lush coastal rainforest to high country atop

 the pass.


 The boreal forest beyond attracts modern-day outdoor

 enthusiasts wishing to replicate this historic journey.

A world of recreational opportunities awaits, whether

you’re a weekend adventurer or a trail-hardened


 People who go out unprepared into this wilderness,

however, don’t come back.

 Ignorance and arrogance in the face of nature are the

 surest ways of getting yourself killed.

 Come prepared, and enjoy the rich and varied

wilderness, a place where people are scarce,

 but the exploits plentiful.

You also need to register at the ranger station located at

the trailhead in Dyea, Alaska.

 Every person using and hiking the Canadian portion

 of the Chilkoot Trailrequires a permit.

 Day hikers remaining on the US portion of the trail

 do not require a permit.

The Chilkoot area is subject to cool, wet weather

during the visitor season (June to September).

Strong winds blow through the valley all year long, and

waterways are ice-free for about five months of the year,

however snow can be expected at higher elevations

 in any season.

The Chilkoot Trail is maintained cooperatively by the

 Canadian and U.S. parks services – half in the U.S. and

half in Canada.


 The trail is accessed from the town of Skagway, Alaska.

By car or bus, Skagway is a scenic drive from Whitehorse

 on a paved road known as the Klondike Highway.

Otherwise, access is by ferry or air from Juneau.

 The Alaska Marine Highway System, runs ferries from

 Bellingham, Washington, and Prince Rupert,

 British Columbia, up the Inside Passage to Skagway

 and Haines.

 Three local airlines fly daily between Juneau and


 If you are not taking your own vehicle to Skagway,

 a number of local operators run shuttle buses or taxis

to the trailhead at Dyea.

The White Pass and Yukon Railway, which was

completed in 1900, runs an historic train in summer

 from Skagway up through the White Pass on the

 Canadian border and on to Bennet Lake.

Native control of the trail by the Chilkoot tribe of the

Tlingit weakened in the latter half of the 19th century

 as the entire Tlingit trading system came under pressure

 from the Hudson’s Bay Company and American traders.

 By the 1880′s, the Indians were allowing prospectors

 and exploration groups to make limited use of the

Chilkoot route.

Sidney Meet Up Newsletter-page-002 (2)




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