Current News – Well we made it to San Francisco and with a police escort to the golden gate bridge (you’ll have wait about six months to hear about that). We are staying with a friend Patrick in Fremont for a few days before we move off again, so we may be able to get some blogs written for you in amongst the sightseeing. The next few are about Dawson city and the area.
Blog 279 Dawson City – here we come 25th June 2013
After having a great sleep we were able to cope better with the mozzie onslaught that morning. There is something about these northern latitudes that they seem to like.
Kev’s first job of the day was to improvise a temporary repair for one of our air filters, some of the rough roads made the carbs bounce about on their rubber mounts so much that the left one had rubbed on the sidepanel and holed, as you can see from the photo the filtering part was not really happening. Karen came to the rescue with an old pair of socks as a temporary solution. Kev fitted it over the hole and oiled it to help keep the dust out. We ordered some replacements online and got them sent to Denny’s for the way back.
Leaving Mayo we turned towards Dawson and met Marianne and Rad at a lookout point on route. They were really friendly and after chatting for a while they invited us to come stay with them in Fairbanks where they were heading back to after their trip away in their camper.
We stopped again shortly after to view this moose grazing on water weeds, every time the camera clicked she looked up but realised we weren’t holding a gun so continued her foraging. Hunting is popular in Alaska, moose and elk are hunted but only in regulated seasons.
We knew Dawson was going to be unique when we passed this town sign and we weren’t wrong, it was like riding through a movie set of a period film. We will dedicate a blog to the city and its buildings later for now we were heading to the campsite on the west side of the river.
West Dawson across the Yukon river was settled 1899 by people wanting to avoid overcrowding and typhoid outbreaks in Dawson City itself. Farms also became established and later as mining increased a link with Dawson became necessary. In 1902 a ferry guided by a cable supported by 37 metre tower began operating. The cable had to be high to allow the paddle-steamers passage underneath.
A ferry still operates today although the cable is long gone, traversing the river was a great experience. This free ferry ran 24hours a day in the summer months crabbing its way across the fast flowing Yukon river, the current so strong it went downstream a way before it could claw its way back up the other bank.
The campsite was very social and we met up with several fellow travellers on bikes and in 4wd’s.
From our riverside pitch we could watch the replica paddle-steamer as it raced downstream then began the slow crawl back up against the fast current. The rocks on the other side of the river were bathed in the light from the (almost) sunset. The only downside to the camp site was the mosquitos and bush flies which alternated in their mission to be most annoying but it was the summer and mosquito season.
Waiting for the ferry each morning was no hardship, we enjoyed sitting in the sun on this great driftwood bench or chatting to the locals going about their daily business. The puppy on this bike was well used to this mode of travel.
We headed up Dome hill the lookout point over the town and surrounding river which was a great spot for pictures. While we were up there we watched this model helicopter (with a go pro camera attached) flying.
Here at the dome on June 21st 1899 about 150 people gathered to see the midnight sun both the British and American flags were raised and a bugle call sounded, the sun disappointed the crowd setting half an hour before midnight and rising again two hours later.
The spot remains popular to this day to celebrate the long summer nights and to take in the views. Looking at the vastness of the Yukon river it was hard to accept that it froze solid in winter, there would be a brief period of approximately three weeks when West Dawson became isolated and a game of chance would begin with the locals as to who crossed the newly iced river to get supplies. The official ice road would open a few weeks later and normality resumed until spring when it was a game of chance once more until the ferry could begin again.
Next up – Panning for gold