Saturday, June 23, 2007

Thursday was Skagway. You might have noticed that I haven't been taking pictures of towns. Juneau is a pretty town, but it's not particularly remarkable - there's nothing as cool as the neighborhood by the creek on stilts in Ketchikan. Juneau is big enough that the area around the harbor is ignorable - probably p5% of the residences and businesses in Juneau are nowhere near the docks.

Skagway isn't like that. It has a year-round population of around 700 people, and most of town is within walking distance of the docks, although the Natural Foods store would be a bit of a hike. It seems like it would be a bit maddening to live there, because all of the downtown businesses are aimed at feeding off the tourist trade. There are real businesses there off the main strip, but the place is tiny, so the real businesses are, based on what I saw, which is probably not perfectly accurate, maybe 2% of the total for the town, and the rest of the town is tourist-oriented.

On the other hand, Skagway has a Thai restaurant. This was a really nice discovery - I was really tired of the food on the ship, so Andrea humored me and let us go to the Thai restaurant. It's on Fourth Street, most of a block away from the main drag, so it doesn't appear to get much tourist business. I suspect most of their business is tourists and boat workers, but what I mean is that it's not mobbed. Although they were doing a decent business when Andrea and I went in there. The Tom Kha Pak was really good.

We burnt out on taking photos on the train ride, so I don't have any pictures of the restaurant. But here are some from the train. Andrea had the camera in hand, and I saw a carpet of flowers, so I said "Look! Flowers!" and she pointed the camera and shot. It came out pretty nicely:

This is a lake at the very top of White pass. Supposedly it's 100 feet deep. Brrr. White Pass is one of two passes that the gold rush miners took to the Yukon. The other is Chilkoot Pass. This pass is considered the easy pass - to get up Chilkoot Pass, at one point you have to ascent about three thousand feet in less than two miles. The slope on this one is more gentle, but by no means easy.

This is the Trail of '98. It's as narrow as it seems. Imagine schlepping a ton of stuff along this trail. It's narrower than a typical sidewalk. One of the things that you get from reading accounts like Jack London's is just how rugged the terrain they were crossing is. My imagination conjured up pictures of rugged crags, fields of snow, steep cliffs and trails, but frankly seeing it in person, and seeing the easy trail, no less, is quite sobering. There isn't a word of exaggeration in these accounts - if anything, they fail to truly convey the hardship the miners undertook to get to the Yukon. The picture below is nearly to the pass - it must have been an amazing feeling to get to this point after perhaps a month on the trail.

This is at the top of the mountain. The train did not cross it. Which is fortunate, because I already had the willies from the exposure over Dead Horse Gulch.

But we did cross this one, and indeed the tracks we were on at this point were on a shored-up ledge on a sheer cliff face, although fortunately we couldn't see that that was what we were perched on.

Gratuitous shot of Andrea, in the cabin.


Post a Comment

<< Home