I have this crazy idea to run the Chilkoot Trail after the NAOC.
It’s a very historic trail, up and over the mountains. Expect a long tough day. Because it’s also the end of August, two months past the longest daylight, it’s be a sunrise to sunset experience.
It’s in a national park. More general information here, https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/yt/chilkoot/activ/...
A pretty trail; did it as a leisurely multiday hike with some fellow orienteers. Interesting history too, including the definition of the American/Canadian border via Gatling gun, in response to the influx of gold seekers who thought the goldfields were in America, and border requirement to bring something like a tonne of supplies up the steep trail to the border, per person.
This looks amazing! I am interested in participating, though I will need to work on my fitness for such an attempt.
Suddenly I have a legit reason to maybe go to NAOC. Hmm.
I’ll also have to improve my endurance running and do hill workouts but there’s ample time—8 months.
A note on the safety aspects.. it's quite remote between the start and end. Make sure to be prepared in case of an injury, as it could be days to get out. It's far more isolated than, say, the famous ultras that I can think of; emergency warmth and hydration is essential. It should be a really fun run, but take just enough extra to be safe.
I only saw one grizzly, near the station for the tourist train, sniffling for the scraps left by the tourists" box lunches. A park ranger came to scare the bear off with an air horn when the train arrived.
Interested, but not fit enough to pull it off and enjoy it. May need to do as a multi-day trek instead.
Pam James and I did it as an over-night a decade ago. It is normally done as a multi-day which is a good idea so you can sight see. Most people who run it in a day go backwards. There are park wardens at many places along the trail, so I wouldn't worry about the "isolation" factor.
That all being said, you do need to book a spot, so I'd recommend looking into that sooner rather than later.
Pam and I did it in a day after the COCs in 2011. We did the route backwards. Logistics are much easier that way for a one day. You don't need to book if you aren't camping (at least we didn't need to in 2011)
The Parks Canada website linked above says:
"Day users remaining on the US portion of the trail (Dyea to Chilkoot Pass return) do not require Permits. A Day Permit is required for day hiking or running on the Canadian portion of the trail. Group size is limited to a maximum of 12."
Trying to convice my rogaining partner to go to Whitehorse. He's a keen ultra runner so this just might do the trick :-)
I love the run it backwards suggestion for several reasons, such as route elevation profile,...will have to look into getting to the backwards start but logistically it should make more sense.
Pam and I flew in via small charter plane from Whitehorse to Bennett Lake. My mom and a friend drove my rental car down to Skagway the day before so it was there when we finished the day on the trail.
Charm: was your plane flown by a former JWOC runner by chance?
It was not Nev-Monster, but I understand that a few pilots up there have some orienteering connections.
I did it a couple of years back from Dyea to lineman lake and then out on the train tracks. We saw no bears and the weather was fine. I also did this hike around the end of August. I walked it in a day because some people couldn't run the whole thing.
How was it using the tracks? Walking on the ties or is there any sort of a side path?
The end of August means less hours of daylight compared to June or July—you were able to walk the entire Chilkoot Trail in daylight? What did you do for logistics?
We started at 6 in the morning and the light wasn't that bad. Walking out on the tracks is boring, you are right on the tracks or just beside. When we hit the tracks it was getting dark so you pull out your headlamp. We left one car at the Log cabin parking lot and the other in Dyea.
A few years ago when the COCs were in Whitehorse, I hiked the trail. I flew to Juneau with my gear in a cardboard box as checked luggage, repacked it in my pack at the airport (ladies restroom), then I think I took a bus into town and camped in some nearby woods, before taking the ferry the next morning to Skagway. There I picked up my permit from the Ranger office. They wanted to make sure I had a cord or rope with me and knew how to use it at the campsites to hoist my food bag over the high wooden bar there to keep it away from bears. The permit was for camping at two specific overnight campsites along the trail.
I then got a ride with some other hikers to the actual trailhead in nearby Dyea, and set out. It was a terrific hike, especially the long steep ascent to the Pass, shown in all the famous winter photos of the gold seekers in long lines carrying their gear up. Each had to ascend the Pass many times with their loads until they had each accummulated the required 2000 pounds of supplies, before the Mounties would let them in to Canada. Then they spent the rest of the winter building a boat or raft at Lake Bennett so at spring breakup they could float down the Yukon to the Klondike gold fields. It was a mighty sight they say to see the flotilla of 2000 boats set out when the ice had melted.
When I got to the end of the trail at Lake Bennett, I then walked along the side of the railroad tracks a few miles to where it intersected the road over White Pass. There Jim and Mil Plant, who had driven up the Alcan Highway, met me and we continued on up to Whitehorse for the orienteering. (They brought my O-gear with them.)
I remember as I started along the tracks from Bennett, a railroad hand car came up behind me, and the man inside said to get in. There was a mother grizzly bear with two cubs just up the tracks, and he would take me around them. It was sure a thrill to see them up close as we went by.
It was a very fun three day hike for me. The several designated campsites are spaced out so one can do the hike in 2-5 days. Running it in a day would be fun, and naturally easier north to south because less elevation, but I think much more interesting in the original direction the gold seekers went.
White Pass has gotten pickier about people hiking along the tracks (it is illegal). Many still do, but you might meet someone officious. It's definitely more fun to take the train back to the highway, or all the way to Skagway.
Hi folks, my current plan is to day run/fast hike the trail backwards, on Saturday 25 August, the day after the last COC event. Get day permit on Friday in Whitehorse. On Saturday start as early as possible and finish in daylight within 12 hours of starting.
Logistic ideas: Saturday am to Bennett; air charter a floatplane from Whitehorse or get dropped off by vehicle and run/hike to Bennett, and onwards. Once done, get a vehicle pickup at Dyea. Hopefully our partners and friends will be interested in driving to Skagway, checking it out, and then picking us up and driving back to Whitehorse.
I’m happy to keep the conversation here as well as move to email as we figure things out and confirm logistics and participants.
Here's former Canadian JWOC athlete Colin Abbott describing running the trail in 2008:
Note, the Knute he mentions is one Knute Johnsgaard, who's just made the Olympic ski team.
3 of 11 on Canada's Olympic XC ski team are from Whitehorse.
And how many of them have orienteered with YOA?
Both Dahria Beatty and Emily Nishikawa were fairly active in orienteering as younger teens. Dahria was on Orienteering Canada's HPP in 2011: http://www.orienteering.ca/2010/05/athlete-profile...
Emily's older brother Graham who guided Brian McKeever to the gold medal in the sprint race at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games also used to orienteer as a young teen. CCC profile: http://www.cccski.com/National-Ski-Team/Athlete-In...
@JRance - A 4th Yukoner (Graham Nishikawa) will be guiding for Brian McKeever again in the 2018 Paralympics. As Ross points out, three of the four have been active in orienteering.
Emily Stewart-Jones, daughter of former Nat Team member Kevin Jones, finished just off the Olympic team.
Has anyone approached Dahria, Emily and Graham for promotion?
Getting sidetracked, but article on Team Whitehorse, including picture of Dahrria and Emily:
Nice article but not sure where he got the figure of 700 km of groomed trails from. Ski club website speaks of about 105.
200 days to go, which is a good milestone to at least start thinking about the Chilkoot Trail run.
4 month’s out—is it time to confirm your interest and firm up the plan and logistics?
I’m still keen on starting at the Bennett lake end and finishing at Dyea/Skagway mostly because the logistics seem easier.
Who’s still interested?
Bchubb’s rogaining partner?
Any new additions?
I'm out. Vacation schedule this year unfortunately doesn't have room for a trip to the Yukon.
Apologies, as I have made plans to bring my 2-year old son to the event. He can only do about 20km. Good luck!
It’s June and it’s starting to look like I’ll be running the Chilkoot Trail solo the day after the Yukon NAOC.
It’s not too late to join us—so far there is two of us.
FYI, best to check with Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park. Conditions may change by the time you want to go, but this is from their Facebook page earlier today:
The U.S. side of the Chilkoot Trail remains closed this morning as the river water has risen to over 18' in Dyea. At least a half foot higher than yesterday when these photos were taken.
We anticipate that the trail will remain closed throughout the day and into tomorrow morning. After we can assess the trail and stability of the bridges through mile three Friday morning, we will make a determination regarding reopening when the water levels recede to below moderate flood stage. You may continue to get condition updates from the Trail Center by phoning 907-983-9234.
Thank you for the information. Well do.
Spotted a notice in Skagway today which said that the trail is open, but that there is a minimum group size of four in one section because of bear activity.
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