Photo Essay: Canyon City

First 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.