Day 31 – July 6, 2001 – We got up in the rain again today but stayed in Skagway until 10:00 am to do some sightseeing. Skagway is a pretty little town consisting of a main street and a few cross streets and the entire town is a historic district. Most of the buildings have had restoration to their 1890’s appearance when this was the jumping off point for the Alaska gold rush. Thousands of people, including some women, landed here and then loaded with their gear, climbed the “golden stairway” of the Chilkoot Pass or the not as high but even steeper White River Pass to get into Canada and over to Dawson City where gold had been discovered. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police set up a check point at the top of the pass and required each prospector to have nearly 1000 pounds of gear and food before they could enter Canada. They had to make that climb 30-40 times to get everything up to the top before they could move on. This is a difficult climb in a car over paved roads; these people climbed it on foot, frequently in the snow, loaded with everything they could carry. There is a famous photograph, reproduced in part on the Alaska license plates, showing a line of men trudging up that mountion in the snow and there isn’t six two feet of space between them for as far as you can see.
Once we had all reached the top, we gathered at the Customs Office at the Canadian border. Fortunately, they don’t require you to bring in 1000 pounds of goods anymore – we’ve got these T’s loaded about as much as they can carry as it is! The rest of the drive passed through some pretty country and by some beautiful lakes but that was our only serious climb for the day. After a long day, we arrived at Carmacks, Yukon Territory, a stopover place for the miners on the way to Dawson City and not much more than that now for modern travellers. The Hotel Carmacks was pretty basic and had a really low-class bar attached. We all went to bed concerned about the drunken native americans who were standing around outside the bar and were pretty taken with our cars. We hoped that the lack of darkness would serve as protection and went to bed.