Days: 387-398 (17 July 2015 – 28 July 2015)
Total distance travelled: 101,641.7 kilometres (63,131.47 miles)
Welcome to Whitehorse, capital of the Canadian Yukon Territories!
Our arrival actually found us several kilometres outside of town, but we couldn’t argue with the beautiful location we were now in.
This was Dave and Cyd’s little slice of Yukon paradise, a lovely natural plot, chock full of conifers, gifted with incredible views of the nearby mountains… then there is also the house.
True it is unfinished, but it is incredibly livable, and the efforts that this pair of friends have gone to, to make this place as energy efficient as possible whilst creating a wonderful living space is amazing.
Afternoon walks which would allow the four of us and their two gorgeous Jack Russell Terriers (Gulliver and Ripley) some exercise, were also the perfect way for them to show off this gorgeous part of the world.
Sure, you had to be mindful of bears, but when one stops to take in the gorgeous views, often visible until after midnight due to the ridiculously long daylight hours at this latitude (during summer of course), then such perils are quickly forgotten!
In the months prior to our arrival, we’d learned from Dave (with no small amount of joy), that a new Yukon brewery had opened only minutes away from their house.
To make matters worse (or much, much better), they actually produce quality beer.
It was with some relish that we were able to frequent this place with Dave, finding beverages with which to whet our parched throats as we planned our future days together (for the record, their Spruce Tip Pale Ale, the first we’d ever had, is top notch).
It wasn’t going to be as easy to hang with our northern Canadian friends as it had been back in the Galapagos (where we’d first met), or Peru where we managed to catch up on a couple of occasions, as now they were back at home and back at work.
Still, we’d planned our time around a couple of weekends (they also generously loaned us one of their cars so we could sight-see in their absence), and on our first Saturday, we kicked off our morning at the nearby Miles Canyon.
The first thing that struck us was the colour.
Despite the mighty Yukon being a huge river, the waters that lay before us were not a silty brown or grey mess, but rather, a most magnificent blue!
We’d arrived with a mind to participate in a free walking tour to Canyon City (run by the Yukon Conservation Society), and after waiting for a few more minutes, two others joined us and our guide and off we strolled.
Occasionally we’d stop and either indulge in a group discussion where things might be explained, and often, the information would come from all parts of the group.
Whilst the geological and knowledge of the flora and fauna was primarily from our guide (although that is a slight disservice to Cyd, who is a font of knowledge when it comes to wild plants and birds), we were all able to contribute making for an enjoyable series of exchanges.
The walk itself was in no way strenuous, and it wasn’t all that long before we made our way to Canyon City… only there was nothing there!
But that’s okay, it came as no surprise to us.
Canyon City disappeared long ago, but we came here to learn more of its history.
Just prior to the boom caused by the Klondike goldrush (at the dawn of the 20th century), the easiest means of transportation through the region was by river, with the Yukon being both large and navigable.
However here, near Miles Canyon, the rapids proved treacherous, so a means was devised to portage overland via a series of carts built upon a wooden tramway, and Canyon City was born.
During our return wander, Cyd delighted the crowd by identifying wild cranberries and juniper berries (which when chewed, you could truly taste the basis for gin), before we cruised into town itself to check out the Saturday morning market along the waterfront.
Dave was eager to grab himself a melted cheese sandwich, but was ultimately thwarted in this endeavor, but it was still pretty cool to check out this market (with some seriously quality product) and also just to see a bit more of the town.
I was particularly delighted to discover random wooden boxes, which in fact I learned served a wonderfully intellectual purpose…
We managed to work in several road trips whilst here in the north, some with just ourselves for company, and others being led by Dave and Cyd.
After a week of such adventures, and a second weekend with a couple more, our Yukon time quickly sped towards its conclusion.
Not before however, we were able to add a few more items to our ever growing list of ‘firsts’ during our time up here in the beautiful north.
A relaxing afternoon with Cyd and Dave where we were joined by their neighbours, Steve and Sue, allowed us the pleasure of both our first bison sausage, as well as our first Yukon gin, and when your in the Yukon summer, those afternoons are long indeed…
One final treat lay in store, as Dave and Cyd who had been so generous to us from day one, took us out for a night of entertainment from a couple of folksy, Canadian musicians (although one was Swedish-Canadian, yet another first).
It’s not every day you see a lyrical, musical storyteller rock it out with a piano accordion, however that’s exactly what Wendy McNeill managed to do on this particular night (a night that Sarah and I nearly jeapardised with a late return from one of those aforementioned road trips).
Time was left to squeeze in a drink with Michelle, another Whitehorse resident we’d incredibly also met on our travels, before we bid our sad farewells (although whether we were saddest to say goodbye to the dogs or our friends has never been determined).
Ahead lay another four days across the vastness that is Canada!
* Our Canyon City walking tour with the Yukon Conservation Society was FREE, however you are welcome to donate to the society for their time and knowledge.