A spectacular trip that exceeded my (high) expectations.
The hikebot has done a pretty good job of describing the trail itself, so I will skip that part -
We stayed at Canyon City, Sheep Camp, Happy Camp and Lindeman. There is a 'library tent' at Lindeman, replete with period photos, stories, newspaper clippings, etc., which I especially enjoyed. Also very enjoyable was the comradarie of the travellers at the warming cabins each afternoon/evening - it was a blast sharing stories with hikers from around the world. Coming up from 115+ in Phoenix, it seemed a bit chilly sometimes (to me) but those western Canadians were in shorts and a T-shirt - a hardy bunch for sure and very fun-loving to boot.
Although at the campsite area there was a 'crowd' of sorts, on the trail I barely saw anyone (maybe I was OFF the trail?) - so it seemed very peaceful and serene.
One thing that the hikebot and even most photos cannot capture is the immensity of the area. We walked past glaciers that had to be 300 acres - huge snow-covered mountains as far as you could see surrounded us.
Another item that really hit home was how hardy the Gold-Rushers were - these folks were BAD-A$$! Having to carry a literal TON of gear up this impossible pass, 50# at a time, making boats, sleds and such from scratch, trying every-which-way to forge a way up to Dawson. These folks did more in a day than most of us do in a YEAR - oh, and sometimes they did it when it was 40 below 0.
Of the 4000+ period photos I saw, many of them posed, I never saw one smile on the face of these guys and gals - they were just trying to survive and many did not. There is an abundance of artifacts that can be seen on or nearby the trail, so doing this hike in 4.5 days allowed a lot of time to see these items, even the ones 1/4 mile or so off the trail.
Traveling light realy helped here, as the trail has a ton of elevation changes and the tread is much less than ideal, with jagged rocks (and roots when below treeline).
Gear-wise.... it is at least likely to rain every day (more like a heavy drizzle in Alaskan terminology), so having some dry, warm clothes for camp is essential - you may even consider drybagging your camp clothes & sleeping bag.
Often a breeze accompanys the drizzle, but my umbrella still worked quite well - I was able to hike in a poly shirt while most were sweating away in their breathable(not) rain ponchos/jackets. Another advantage to the umbrella is that you can look around when using it vs. with a rain jacket hood having your head down to shield the rain. I could have sold my umbrella many times over.
The warming cabins are nice but get cramped, so I brought my custom Te-Wa sil-nylon tarp and it served us quite well, providing a nice communal cooking/card-playing/hooch-drinking area out of the rain.
Anyway - if you can't tell, I really enjoyed the trip - including the wonderful, scenic train ride back from Bennett to Skagway after the hike.
This backpack & trainride, coupled with the pre-hike excursions that included the 3-day/2-night Prince William Sound fishing we did (yes, many halibut were slayed along with yellow-eye and of course a few salmon), a hike up to Flattop in Anchorage, a road-trip from Anchorage down to Homer, a gnarly 4x4 drive to an off-the-grid Russian boat-building village, traveling by large catamaran from Juneau up to Skagway and then flying back to Juneau in a small 6-place Piper while overlooking mountains and glaciers on a bright and sunny day all helped make it an unforgetable trip - you should put it on your list.
BTW - none of this was through an outfitter - it was all self planned and self-led.
* Should anyone want the 'skinny' on the how-to's of the hike logistics, just ask.
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