My son, Alaska and a touring newbie
By: Eric Rogers
Date: Jul 01, 2012
Publication Type: Magazine
This loop began in Skagway on Highway 2 and meandered upward in a wondrous ascent to the White Pass toward the Canadian border, passing Emerald Lake, Summit Lake, and Lake Bennett, where many gold stampeders waited for the spring thaw so they could take boats down the Yukon River to Dawson. It was raining and overcast, so we only got glimpses of the scenery, but those glimpses were magical. We arrived in Whitehorse for a ribsticking, delicious lunch at the Klondike Rib & Salmon Barbecue. I had the musk ox and Ethan had the elk stew.
We then saddled up for the ride to Haines Junction, Yukon Territory, Canada. This 96.32-mile section of the legendary Alcan Highway is not very exciting; a straight line right through the forest with nary a turn nor curve the entire diaStance. Our only excitement was a porcupine that decided to sprint right into the center of our lane. We were at speed at the time (I'll take the Fifth on exactly where that speedo needle was), and this little guy required first a brake, then a swerve maneuver right out of my MSF class — thanks to my instructor! We stayed at the Raven Hotel, a clean, well-run place right in town. Not much to do in Haines Junction proper, but if you have a few days, there are myriad opportunities for backcountry mountain adventure. We spent the evening playing catch under towering mountains and taking in a Canadian Football League game between the BC Lions and the Edmonton Eskimos - that 110-yard field and forward motion took some getting used to.
Now comes a harmonic convergence of topography, life force, and spirit — the 147.8 mile stretch of highway heaven between Haines Junction and Haines, Alaska. Others will argue there are more impressive roads on the planet; they are wrong. Alaska Highway/Provincial Route I to Haines Road/Provincial Route 3 into Haines is packed with soaring mountains, vast river valleys, and bright blue glaciers, all on sweeping, curving roads that just beg to be ridden aggressively. Wildlife abounds; we saw mountain sheep, moose, and black bears on the ground, and golden eagles, falcons, and bald eagles in the air.