July 14, 2009

The Golden Horseshoe

While Fawn and Halia are off at a family reunion in Germany, Jade and I decided we would take a little trip of our own.

The plan was to go to Kluane National Park, find a few good places to camp, and do a few day hikes into the park. I loaded the van full of camping gear and an electric cooler full of keto-meals for Jade and we were on our way.

Jade travels well, and seems to enjoy long drives - especially when she gets to watch Sesame Street and Caillou DVDs on the van's DVD player.

Curious, I turned off of the Alaska Highway and onto the road to Champagne. Halfway down the road, I pulled off and into a meadow for Jade's lunch. The smell of sage and sun-baked grass was gorgeous. For the first time in a couple of days, I was smelling something other than dirty diapers and woodsmoke from distant forest fires. After Jade's lunch, we went for a walk, but quickly returned to the van when I got a whiff of rotting animal. Nanuq tried to warn me about it before, but I wasn't paying close enough attention. I suspect it was a large animal that had been cached by a bear.

We didn't stay long in Champagne, but it was neat. It's a place with a looooong history and a few famous residents. It's also a place with a lot of old log buildings and hubcaps.


Lotsa hubcaps.

Jade, not wanting her picture taken with the hubcaps.

After Champagne, we drove to Haines where we collected some intel from the Parks Canada staff on which hiking routes would best meet our needs.

Dezadeah Lake and the mountains of Kluane National Park.

That night, we camped right along the water at Dezadeash Lake in the Territorial Park. The wind did a great job of keeping the bugs away. It also did a great job of keeping the other campers away from our site. One of the campers was surprised that I would set up my tent in such a windy spot, but I knew what I was doing. Later, when the wind dropped, they were swatting bugs while Jade and I were sitting pretty.

Actually, Jade was doing anything but sitting. The lake was calling to her, as it was also calling to Nanuq. Neither could resist, so we went down to the shore where Nanuq and Jade engaged in their mutually favorite activity.

Getting ready for the throw...

Really ready for the throw...


Oooh! That's not a rock!

A game they both enjoy.

They could have done it for hours had Jade not discovered that swimming in the lake was even more fun. I was amazed at how warm the water was and even though I was concerned that she would soon become hypothermic, Jade did not want to get out of the water.

With the bright sunlight, long, hot days, and sweltering tent, it was difficult to get Jade to go to sleep. I was grateful when, sometime after 22:00, the sun went behind a mountain and gave the tent a chance to cool off.

She was up by 5:00 the next morning.

Packed up and heading south from the campground, I stopped to read a road-side sign and found out why the water in Dezadeash Lake is so warm. Dezadeash, unlike many of the Yukon's lakes, is actually quite shallow, giving the water a chance to warm up. The next time we go to Dezadeash, I'll be sure to bring my swim suit.

The plan for day two was to go hiking up to a small, mountain lake, just south of Dezadeash Lake. After less than a kilometre, we decided to change our plans and head back to the van. The morning air was calm the wet air from a passing rain shower the night before had brought out all the mosquitoes. It was too hot to wear bug jackets, especially while I was hauling Jade on my back, so Jade put herself to work as the designated bug-squisher and I put myself to work as the speedy packhorse. If it had just been me, I would have pushed on, but the last thing I wanted was an over-tired, bug-bitten child screaming and suffering ten kilometres into our hike.

Instead, I decided that we would drive down to Haines, Alaska. Luckily, I had packed our passports!
Where we didn't go hiking.

Another place where we didn't go hiking.Wow, that's a lot of smoke in the air.

We weren't in any kind of hurry and made frequent stops along the way to investigate interesting sites and to give Jade her scheduled keto-meals and snacks. The cooler seemed to be working well, even if it confined us to the van, somewhat.

One of our stops was at Million Dollar Falls Territorial Park. Jade bolted down the boardwalk, navigating the stairs like they were the easiest thing in the world. I still get a little nervous about Jade around stairs, but she hasn't had a seizure while she's been awake for a while now, and her balance seems to be quite excellent. She's now standing on one foot for four and five seconds at a time. It used to be that she couldn't stand on two feet without stumbling.

I tried to snap a few pictures of the falls while keeping an eye on her, hoping that she wouldn't try to climb the railing. I have often made fun of my Mum for not letting us get anywhere near the edge of the Grand Canyon. Granted, I was eight years old at the time, but that doesn't mean I had any more sense than a three-year-old. Now, I think I understand where she was coming from.

Million Dollar Falls.

Jade, not wanting to have her picture taken at Million Dollar Falls.


Jade running up and down the stairs - the reason why I didn't take more pictures at the Million Dollar Falls.

The falls were nice, but Jade was far more interested in the playground. It's sad to think that we drove all that way, spending so much time on a little play structure when there were so many other great places to explore (and dozens of larger, better play structures back in Whitehorse), but I, fortunately, realized that the trip wasn't just about my need to explore. The trip was about spending time with my daughter, so we spent lots and lots of time on the play structure.

Jade loves playgrounds.

After finally managing to pry her away from the playground, we continued our drive down the Haines Highway, stopping at a pullout at Tatshenshini-Alsek Park, where we started a hike up a creek bed and ended up walking up a few bluffs. It's definitely an area that deserves more exploration.

Good hiking in Tatshenshini-Alsek Park.

Hiking up the creek bed.

The Nunavut bloggers no doubt see a lot more of this than I do.

River-sculpted clay.

Morew artsy clay.

Alluvial fan.

A plant I have yet to identify.

The perfect place for a sunny afternoon nap.

Summer ice.

Very hike-worthy.

Mountain glacier.

More good hiking.

Nanuq enjoys chasing the ground squirrels.

Gotta return.

Bigger than it looks.

There weren't any mosquitoes around, but there were a lot of biting flies. Fortunately, Jade resumed her role as the official bug-swatter. Unfortunately, she was swatting the bugs on my neck with a couple of rocks that she had asked me to collect from the creek. I have to admit, though, as much as it hurt, she was very good at her job.
Me and Jade. Note the rock in Jade's hand, which she was using to bash flies off my shoulder.

More mountain vistas.

Returning to the car, we were surprised by a couple of distraught bird families. The babies flew off in all directions while their mothers pretended to have broken wings, luring us away from the little ones. Nanuq was excellent, heeling when told to do so and leaving the brave birds alone.

Eat me, not my babies!

Eat us, not our babies!!!

Back in the van, we reached the summit and began the long descent to Haines. The views were stunning. I was so caught up in the scenery, I didn't even thing to stop and take pictures. Jade even looked away from her episode of Blues Clues to look at the mountains.
Near the summit on the highway to Haines.

It's hard to watch the road with all these great views! The really amazing view came soon afterwards. No pictures, though. Sorry!

Jade fell asleep just before we pulled into Haines, giving me a chance to find out the schedule for the ferry to Skagway. I had decided that we would go to Skagway that night instead of spending more time in Haines. One of Jade's keto-meals had leaked and I wasn't sure which one. I was able to narrow it down, but the meals I had to rule out left us a day short.

After I bought the ferry tickets, we had a great time. Of course, given the opportunity, Jade and Nanuq resumed their favourite past-time.
In Haines, the game begins anew.

Ready, aim...!

And so, the game continues...


Old pilings.

Harbourfront Haines.

The Lynn Canal.

Salty dog.

Sunbathing by the seashore.


Jade makes good use of the beach.

I ordered a pizza and after I ate some, we drove out to a lookout at the nearby Alaska State Park where I fed Jade her supper while we sat on a picnic table, enjoying the view of a distant glacier on the opposite shore.

The ferry sailed late and it was now well past Jade's bedtime. I was worried about what it might do to her seizures, but I didn't have any choice, short of driving back home in the direction we had come. She did very well in spite of the late hour. Ever the social kid, she hobnobbed with the bikers on the Ride Yukon tour and the Alaska Marine Highway System staff.

The trip from Haines to Skagway goes by fast, especially when there are cruise ships to see, giant, cascading waterfalls, and whales to spot.

Aboard the Malaspina, with a big ol' cruise ship ahead.

Now that's a big boat.


All aboard!

When we got into Skagway, it was late. I drove part way out of town and found a place to park the van. By now, Jade was exhausted and I wasn't sure that I'd have quite enough gas to get back to Whitehorse. Collapsing the seats and rearranging our gear, I was able to carve out a comfortable sleeping space for us inside the van. Snuggled into my side, Jade fell asleep with a little smile on her face. So did I.

The next day, after a stop at the Carcross Desert, we made it home just in time for Jade's nap. The trip didn't go as planned and we had to cut it short. It was not without its frustrations, but it didn't matter because one little thing made the whole trip worthwhile - trumping even the fantastic scenery of the Golden Horseshoe: that contented little smile.


Jennybell said...

BRAVO!!! I know how hard it was to get all those meals together!
My husband has maybe made up 5 meals total in the last 9 months! He has never been alone with Naomi for more than a few short hours and if I had to go away for a trip he'd be lost and he'd definately NOT leave home! So good for you for being equally as responsible and devoted to the diet as Fawn!

Meandering Michael said...

I have to confess that I've gotten off pretty easy on the meal preparation front. Amanda, our helper, prepared every single one of the meals for the trip. There's no way I would have been able to do it, juggling work and packing all the clothes and gear.

Marianne said...

What a wonderful father-daughter trip!

Marian said...

I'll never be forgiven for the Grand Canyon episode! Just remember...three kids and me with an inner ear infection that made me extremely dizzy!
Glad you and Jade had a great trip, and thanks for the photos.

Carolyn said...

What a wonderful trip and special experience for you and your daughter. Good on you both!
Blessings and smiles

APF said...

For a second there, I thought you were talking about the Golden Horseshoe in Southern Ontario. Ouf!

We're planning a similar trip with the kids next week. I hadn't even thought of Dezadeash Lake. Good idea! Looks like it was a memorable father-daughter trip.

Meandering Michael said...

Yeah, it needs a better name, for sure. If you go to Dezadeah, make sure you bring your bathing suites! As far as I can tell, it's the best, warmest swimming-hole in the entire Yukon. It's even warmer than Long Lake.

Marianne said...

There is definitely something about parents and the Grand Canyon 9or other heights). My mother didn't let my 6-year-old self get anywhere near the edge either. I didn't understand why my mother forced me to abandon my book and get out of the station wagon to look at the Grand Canyon when she then didn't want me to get close enough to get a good look! Lol!
Now that I have a daughter of my own, I completely understand.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a wonder filled trip Michael. Fantastic photos, fantastic scenery, and the fantastic smile of a little girl.

Anonymous said...

Great photos and great weekend! I love the game she plays with Nanuq...very cute!

- Kathleen O