Photo Essay: Canyon CityFirst posted in October, 2006
Sam's parents are here for a bit yet. They've really been soaking in the Klondike Gold Rush history and wanted to see the Chilkoot Trail. We don't really have sufficient time left to do the entire trail, nor do I own enough gear for four people, so we settled on hiking a little over half of the US portion of the trail, from Dyea to the old townsite at Canyon City. They saw two grizzlies their very first day here. No bears were spotted on this day, but there certainly was plenty of sign. Another track, framed with autumn leaves. With the fish gone, the bears seem to be eating a lot of highbush cranberry. But they certainly don't seem to process many calories from them. Sam's parents, acting cute and lovey, as usual. I hope Sam and I are as sweet after 25 years. They're on the boardwalk that crosses the beaver ponds, about three miles up. And here's Sam on a section of "floating" boardwalk. It dips a bit into the water, but holds your weight. The autumn leaves on the surface of the beaver pond made for a beautiful scene. My boots at the edge of the boardwalk. With the main hiking season behind us for over a month now, trail maintenance won't occur again until next May. Already you can see the difference. The beavers had also flooded a small stretch of boardwalk. Just a bit past the beaver pond lies a 1950s era sawmill, littered with bits and pieces of rusting machinery, such as this old belt wheel. The wonderful blue of this door stood out. This is one of my favorite trees on the planet. It stands in a clearing at the first campground, Finnegan's Point, about 4.8 miles from Dyea. Love the tangled roots. And across the river from Finnegan's, way up on top of Mt. Yeatman, is Irene Glacier, with a cascade trailing down the mountainside. Just a leaf in the trail. Not the most colorful leaf, but I liked the texture and contrast against the stones. We passed small streams... ...and larger streams... ...and swift flowing, glacially-fed rivers. We walked through a variety of forest types. Sometimes, we'd leave the hardwoods behind and find ourselves in a world of moss and evergreen, without a single autumn leaf. We had lunch outside the cabin at Canyon City campground. Then we walked just a touch past the cabin, across the ever-fun-to-cross suspension bridge that leads to the remains of the Canyon City townsite. There's not much left in Canyon City. Like Dyea, you have to look for the artifacts that tell the story of an ephemeral boom-and-bust gold rush town. But then there are unmistakable pieces of evidence, such as this very large boiler that once powered a tram between here and Crater Lake (on the other side of the Chilkoot Pass, almost nine miles away). If you'd had enough money, you could ship your gear rather than carry it - for 7.2¢ per pound. In today's dollars, given the 2000 lbs of gear required by Canadian law during that period, using the tram would cost you over three grand (US) - and given the depression that spurred so many to travel to the Klondike in search of gold, few had that kind of cash. We decided the end our journey there, given that we'd wandered over eight miles from Dyea and the sun sets early these days. We were a bit sore from the sixteen or so miles, but it wasn't anything that couldn't be cured by pizza and beer at the Red Onion Saloon later that evening.