July 6th chilkoot trail today we took the ...
Trip Start Jul 06, 1999
6Trip End Jul 11, 1999
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Today we took the shuttle to the trailhead and hiked 13 miles to our first campsite. The plan was that we'd do the longest stretch on the first day because it's usually on the second day that you're stiff from unaccustomed exercise and we planned to do the steepest part of the climb on Day 2. We figured that we didn't want to do any more distance than necessary on Day 2 as the recommendation is to allow 10 hours for the 8 mile hike between Sheep Camp (the last campsite before the stretch which includes the summit and so named because hunters of mountain sheep used to camp there) and Happy Camp (the first campsite after the summit). We made good time on the first 5 miles until Finnigan's Point where we took our first break but were mighty glad to see Canyon City where we were stopping for lunch. Many people, we found out later, break up the 13 miles by stopping at Canyon City for the first night and then going on to Sheep Camp on Day 2 and not tackling the summit until Day 3
It was on the second leg of the hike that we were besieged by mosquitoes. I generally don't use insect repellant - I heard years ago (so I don't remember the source unfortunately) that it takes seven minutes from the topical application of bug spray for traces of it to be detectable in your urine and that's always freaked me out - but in this case I had to give in. I'm sure everyone's familiar with the way mosquitoes buzz you and follow you in a small cloud? Well, every other time I swung my arm back, when I swung it forward again there would be a mosquito on it. Ugh! So I used the Muskol we'd brought and I have to admit, it worked very well.
Part of the point of hiking the Chilkoot Trail is its historical significance. It was the trail taken across the Rockies during the Klondike Goldrush. Each person taking it had to have a year's worth of supplies, which amounted to about a ton of goods brought in over multiple (about 55) trips, in order to be let into Canada. A lot of people bringing goods along the trail discarded things they'd used to live on while they were hiking such as tin cans, or things which broke enroute or goods they'd just pitch to lighten their load. These artifacts are still found along the trail and it is forbidden to disturb them. In fact, the American side has been designated a 15 mile long outdoor museum. There is a suspension bridge which crosses the river at Canyon City which leads to the original site of the camp where the Klondike Goldrush people stopped over
As it turned out, Jay and his friends were about 15 minutes behind us and did the same thing only they turned back because a large bear was blocking the trail. It must have come along right after we'd left. Good timing on our part.
The scenery was beautiful, however, you had to remind yourself to look up from the trail occasionally or you'd miss some of the best views. Generally, you'd have to stop to do this since the trail demanded your full attention if you didn't want to miss your footing. The first day we were in forest for most of the day so there weren't a lot of places to stop and look around, particularly if we wanted to make the camp in reasonable time
Tomorrow the summit!