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July 19, 2010

Hiking the Schwatka Trail


I woke to a beautiful day in Whitehorse – perfect for a trip to Miles Canyon. I quickly packed up Ellie and drove out of the Wal-Mart parking lot and into town. The trip to Miles Canyon was a little over 6 miles – not far at all. The nice thing about having a motor home that’s only 24 feet is that you can take it and park it almost anywhere. I find I love that aspect more and more – I have many more options than I would if I were in a larger rig. I parked right at the trailhead and Cooper and I walked over the suspension bridge and down the other side of the river for a little way.

The suspension bridge was not what I expected - not nearly as dramatic or as high above the river as I thought it would be. After walking across, the trails held more appeal than the bridge.

I thought since it was such a pretty day and we had nothing better to do, we’d take a little hike. (Little ended up to be 7-8 miles) I walked back to my “home” on wheels and changed into my hiking shoes, packed my day pack and off we went. We walked back over the suspension bridge and headed back toward town along the Schwatka Trail. It’s a well marked trail, for which I was extremely thankful. Each fork I came to was well marked with the direction of the trail.

Suspension Bridge from a distance
The water is a beautiful emerald green color

Doesn't Cooper pose well for pictures? I've trained him well!
A rope swing for summer time play in the water
Two kayakers taking advantage of the nice day

We walked along the river, through the trees, up a steep hill and down the other side. About half way up that hill I stripped off the bottom half of my hiking pants and met a few runners (who decided to walk up the hill). I struck up a bit of conversation and learned that they had run 31K that morning in preparation for the upcoming trail marathon on August 1st. The Yukon River Trail Marathon grew out of a movement to trail running that also lead to increased interest in ultra-distance running. The trail is both scenic and challenging, and as a loop course offers a diverse and rewarding introduction to Yukon trail running. The steep hill I was currently trying to walk up was part of the trail - according to the runners who were training, it was about mile 20 on the marathon route. No wonder everyone around here seems so fit. I find that all over town – there are so many hikers, walkers, bikers, joggers. The trail I was on was also marked as a cross country ski trail. I’m sure that everyone finds activities in the winter as well as the summer months. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen very many (if any) overweight people around here!

The city of Whitehorse to the north

The trainee's almost to the top of the hill

View from the top looking south
After I walked down the hill, I passed the dam, and then crossed another foot bridge and went into Robert Service Campground to rest a bit.

What a wonderful campground. It’s for tent camping only. They have a nice office with ice cream, cookies, muffins, pastries, espresso & hot chocolate. I bought a yummy cookie and Cooper and I went to a covered outside “living room”. It was so cute and cozy. I met these two older women who live in Whitehorse. We talked about the trails, Oregon, Whitehorse, the controversy of allowing a Walmart in town and then allowing RV's to overnight there & of course healthcare! They were really nice and I enjoyed them. It was so comfortable sitting on these plush sofas and having a nice conversation.

 All too soon it was time to head back. Rather than go back the way I’d come I decided to go around the other side of the lake. I followed Miles Canyon Road for awhile and then branched off onto a dirt road. I met a woman on the trail and asked her if it went back to the suspension bridge. She said that it did but was rather steep and narrow in spots so I might want to find a walking stick. I did - in short order. It really helped. The other thing I did was let Cooper off his leash. It’s more of a hazard having him leashed than on his own. First thing he did was slide his way to the bottom of the hill and get in the lake! Then he runs back up like it was nothing – only a young pup could take that on!! He thought it was great fun to be off leash and he was really good about it – never went far and kept his eye on me at all times.

A float plane landing on the lake

A cozy cabin on the road. It was probably only 300 sq ft at the most and had a cute garden.

Cooper loved being off leash and proved he could behave!

Before long we were back at the suspension bridge, where we’d started. That was such a nice hike I think we might do it again tomorrow – only this time I may start at Robert Service Campground/Day Park and hike all the way around. That way I can start with a muffin and end with a cookie!!

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