The Yukon Summer Bucket List
Summer 2012 (V6I2)
II by Cethlinn Cunningham II
Summer in the Yukon is the perfect time to venture out and enjoy the long, sunny days that drastically differ from the snow-filled winter months. Each day offers the opportunity to try something new, whether it’s as simple as an outdoor picnic or something as complex as a mountain-bike excursion.
Why not take advantage of the midnight sun and cross a few things off your bucket list? Everyone has a number of activities they’ve neglected to try, so why wait any longer? There are plenty of unique adventures lurking right in our backyard. Consider adding these items to your bucket list and then revel in the fulfilling sensation of crossing them off.
For the warm blooded:
Toe in the Arctic Ocean
Photo: Peter Mather
Few people get to touch the Arctic Ocean, but if you aspire to be one of those few, raft down the Firth River and get ready to dip your toe in the chilly water. The Firth River runs from the British Mountains in the Brooks Range to the Beaufort Sea. Many companies offer the chance to raft down the Firth’s class IV rapids through Ivvavik National Park, a tantalizing, once-in-a-lifetime adventure. If rafting isn’t your thing, you can either traverse the Dempster Highway--the most northerly road in Canada--to get to Inuvik, N.W.T., or catch a flight to Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T., and explore the Mackenzie Delta, where the Mackenzie River--the longest in Canada--smashes into the Arctic Ocean, creating an incredible basin of lakes, river channels, and marshlands. Just don’t forget your camera to capture the moment your toe finally hits that chilly water!
For the athletic:
Run the Mayo Midnight Marathon
Running a marathon is a familiar bucket list item, but who runs one at midnight under the endless sun? The Mayo Midnight Marathon offers that distinctive opportunity, making it the perfect endurance test. Ranked by Yukon, North of Ordinary readers as the “Best Place to Win a Marathon,” who can resist the challenge? The run starts at 8 p.m. and takes racers out of Mayo and toward Stewart Crossing along the Silver Trail. While you may not still be running at midnight, you will certainly be awake to bask in the glory of finishing the 42-km run in the crisp Yukon summer air.
If you want to run but aren’t up for tackling a full marathon, both the 5-km and 10-km options offer a great chance to still enjoy the occasion. Mark your calendar and get those running shoes ready because on June 23 it’s time for a new, invigorating way to take in the midnight sun.
For the discoverer:
Experience the Bluefish Caves
When Jacques Cinq-Mars was exploring the Bluefish River, in 1976, he had no intention of unearthing some of the oldest known archaeological evidence on the continent. Inside three caves--located 54 km south- west of Old Crow in the Yukon’s Keele Mountain Range--he found mammoth bones that had been chiseled and carved by humans. But the truly amazing thing about these bones is their age. Humans were long believed to have crossed into North America via the land bridge from Siberia, 13,000 years previously, but the bones from Bluefish Caves are evidence of human presence in Beringia roughly 40,000 years ago. No human remains have been recovered from the caves, so it’s believed the sites were used for short
stays and as a butchering station for small hunting groups in the region.
The caves are a huge find for the archaeological world and just a short distance from Old Crow. For those who don’t feel like partaking in the long hike to the site, there is an exhibit about the discovery at the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre that is equally fascinating.
For the leisure-sports enthusiast:
Top of the World Golf Course
Golf fans get chills of excitement when talking about PGA Tour events or courses like Pebble Beach. While the Midnight Sun Golf Tournament and the Top of the World Golf Course may not be on the pro circuit, there is something to be said--and seen--about Canada’s most northerly nine-hole golf course.
There is no better place to play in the summer’s endless light than the picturesque Top of the World, which offers golf 24 hours a day with no tee times to dictate your schedule. Scratch this item off your bucket list by trying your hand at a midnight game with friends. If you’re worried people will poke fun at your novice use of the 9-iron, just remember: it’s after midnight and you can blame it on sleep deprivation.
For the nature lover:
Hike the Chilkoot Trail
Photo: Nigel Fearon Photography | nigelfearon.ca
While hiking is a common pastime in the Yukon, many people have not tackled the historical hike of the Chilkoot Trail, from Dyea, Alaska, to Bennett Lake, B.C. The trail is mountainous and follows in the footsteps of First Nations traders and the 1898 Klondike gold rushers.
The 53-km trek is manageable as a multi-day hike and can even be completed in one day if you’re ready and willing to really feel the burn. If rushing along the trail isn’t your style, fear not because going slow has its benefits. Different ghost towns, preserved artifacts, and beautiful photo opportunities provide perfect reasons for a small break or side trip. No wonder it was rated “Favourite Trail” by Yukon, North of Ordinary readers. Since only 50 people can start the hike each day, you might even luck out and get to enjoy extra time in beautiful Skagway, Alaska, before you start your journey. To avoid the wait, make sure to obtain a hiking permit in advance.
For the road tripper:
Crossing the Arctic Circle
One of the greatest things about living in the Yukon is having the Arctic Circle just a short trip away, and yet many Yukoners have never seen the imaginary line. But it’s certainly a bucket-list-worthy destination as one of five major circles of latitude that ring the Earth.
Plan a trip up the Dempster Highway, just east of Dawson City, and head north towards Inuvik. While watching the millions of trees fly by your window, take a second to reflect on the fact that RCMP Inspector William Dempster took this rough route on his dogsled in the middle of winter to reach Fort McPherson, N.W.T., in the early 1900s. Once you reach the Arctic Circle at Km 405, snap a photo of the iconic signpost emblazoned with the coordinates--66 degrees and 33 minutes north of the equator. This is a great trip for visiting family members who want to return home with a special story. Y