It’s finally getting dark. It’s near 11:00 PM ADT and we’re steaming toward Glacier Bay from Skagway. The air is chilly. The sky is overcast. We’re in a fjord. The mountains come right to the shore!
We had an amazing day. The morning started with an early departure on the White Pass and Yukon Route, a narrow gauge railroad that took us up nearly 3,000 feet in 20 miles. That’s steep.
Narrow gauge means the tracks are closer together than what we’re used to seeing. Narrow gauge railroads can navigate sharper curves… and this one surely did!
I spent most of the journey standing between cars shooting stills and video. The scenery is breathtaking with mountain vistas, sheer dropoffs, trestles, tunnels, waterfalls and rapids.
At White Pass Summit we crossed the border to Canada. We met our tour driver Mike at the station in Fraser, BC.
Mike drove north past large and beautifully clear lakes toward Carcross, Yukon Territory. This is one of those weird stories where an early settler was tired of his mail getting sent to one of the other settlments named Caribou Crossing, so he shortened it to Carcross. The name stuck.
We stopped there for lunch and to take a quick dog sled ride. There’s snow on the mountains, but where we were the dogs pulled a wheeled sled.
Helaine and I were apprehensive, but we both felt the driver who took us out was sincere in her love for the dogs and her explanation of their breeding and desire to pull.
Each dog was tethered to the main lead. Those tethers were taught. Each dog was pulling hard with no encouragement other than the driver’s voice. It is what they were born to do!
We headed south back down the mountains toward Skagway. We made a few stops at lakes and waterfalls and then Mike pulled sharp to the right. We weren’t in an official parking area, just on the shoulder. It didn’t take long to understand why.
Right under our window was an adult brown bear! Mike’s estimate was 165 pounds. Nop one was questioning that.
I picked up my camera. Wrong lens!
My 10-20mm was on. It’s a wide angle lens good for scenery, not bears. The lens makes him look farther from the camera than he really was. In reality he was nearly close enough to reach out and touch!
From inside our small bus the bear looked soft and playful. Cute. He was the emodiment of a teddy bear. Looks are deceiving.
The bear was the icing on the cake. It was another amazing day in a region that’s larger than life in every possible way.
I have noticed lots of questions on Facebook and in the comments here. As soon as I return I’ll try and answer all of them. Right now slow Internet access and vacationing is taking up all my time.
Some of you have said Alaska is on your bucket list. We still have three full days to go, but my advice is fill your bucket!