Dawson City, Yukon Friday, September 5, 1997

Finning's entry in the Outhouse Race -- fastest females. Photo by Michael Gates

Feature Stories

1997 Discovery Days Parade
No Records but Lots of Spirit in Outhouse Run
They Do It 'Cause They Can-Can
Daycare Has Safe Lifted
Discovery Days Is a Dawson Event Says Council
Second School Seems Unlikely in Spite of Increase in Student Numbers
Applications for 1998 Dyea Race Available Sept. 1
Interview: Golden Memories from the 1940s
Modern Days on the Chilkoot Trail
The Chilkoot Thirty Years Ago
Uffish Thoughts: The Problem Isn't Boredom

1997 Discovery Days Parade

by Lambert Curzon, Parade Marshall

The streets were paved with gold once again thanks to Greg and Shelley Hakonson from Eldorado Placers; Earl and Lynn MacKenzie, MacKenzie Petroleum; Lenore Calnan, Raven's Nook; Dave Calnan, Midnight Sun Landscaping; and the YOOP.

15,000 gold wrapped bubble gum was tossed on the streets, and they were great tasting too.

A big thank you to the judges who established the categories, Shelley Hakonson, Lynn MacKenzie, Leanne MacKenzie, Lenore Calnan, and Barb Hanulik, and to the judges who had the hard job of judging the parade, Sharon Edmunds, Lenore Calnan, Mary Stueck, and Barb Hanulik. You all did a great job.

1st Place for the most original 1897-1997 theme -- Transportation: Parks Canada $400.00 cash

1st Best Children: Holly Wallis and brother: CIBC T-shirt, pen, pencil, key chain and $50.00 cash

2nd Best Child - Jemma Gould: $20.00 pizza from the Grubstake

Volunteer Participation - Klondike Valley Fire Dept. & Dawson City Fire

Dept.: $100.00 Cash, Riverwest Coffee Certificate $36.00, $50.00 gift certificate Van Every Inc., $50.00 gift certificate Arctic Inland Resources.

1st Place Vintage Car - jade clock from Dawson City Hardware - Tony Hanulik from Whitehorse, YT

1st Place Small Business - $100.00 cash and a case of oil from Bonanza Shell - Hoof Beats

2nd Place Small Business - $60.00 gift certificate Gammie Trucking, $50.00 gift certificate Northern Superior - Midnight Sun Landscaping

1st Place Vintage Truck - $25.00 gift certificate from the Gas Shack - John Van Every

1st Place Non-profit - $100.00 cash, 2 T-shirts Canada Post, and 3 sweatshirts KVA - Dawson City Museum - great mastodon float.

2nd Place Non-profit - $30.00 gift certificate from Klondike Kate's and $30.00 gift certificate Midnight Sun Hotel - Klondike Horsemen.

1st Most Humorous Float - $100.00 cash, double video, handmade soap and scrimshaw crib board from the Museum - Diamond Tooth Gerties.

1st Place Horse and Rider - KCS banner, 1 doz. homemade cinnamon buns from McDonald Lodge - Carleen Kerr

Best Discovery Float - $160.00 worth topsoil from Klondike Transport - Klondike Centennial Society

1st Most Humorous Individual - $30.00 gift certificate from Melody Caywood and a china cup from Klondike Nugget & Ivory - "Sprinkle Sparkle" Kim Mathews.

Best Adult Male - $30.00 gift certificate from Melody Caywood and a china cup from Klondike Nugget & Ivory - Mr. Yukon, Mr. Magnusson, Whitehorse

Best Adult Female - $20.00 gift certificate Hair Cabaret and 2 china cups Klondike Nugget & Ivory - Mrs. Yukon, Mrs. Magnusson, Whitehorse.

Special Judges award this year, the Black Lantern Award by Kluane Freightlines, a brass plate will be attached to the lantern with this year's winner, and will be on display at the Post Office. When someone wins this three times, they will keep the trophy. This year, for ingenuity and a true crowd pleaser - Marty Knutson's Tank.

1st Place Bike - $25.00 cash Nicolle Cook

2nd Place Bike - $15.00 cash Trae Taylor

3rd Place Bike - $10.00 cash Aiden Love

1st Place Family - $25.00 gift certificate Art's Gallery, $30.00 gift certificate Ray of Sunshine - Lorie Sprokkreeff and "Sparky"

1st Place Demo Car - battery Northern Mettalic - Marty Knutson's Tank

2nd Place Demo Car - $50.00 box of steaks Bonanza Meats - Dan Dionne Law-Re-Enforcement

Best Foreign Float - KVA video, framed R.C.M.P. envelopes, also special commendation from City of Dawson signed by mayor and parade marshall - Mr. Kurt Benz, Germany

All other bicycle entries received $5.00 cash.

The City of Dawson donated all the cash prizes, $1000.00

A special thank you to Jamie from the Centennial Society, Triple L Landscaping and Midnight Sun Landscaping for taking care of the horse droppings. The Dawson Ambulance Service, who's help truly makes the parade such a success, as well Bill Jackson and his bag pipes leading the Pioneers, the R.C.M.P. in their red serge truly are appreciated.

Thank-you, one and all for making the parade such a huge success in "1997".


No Records but Lots of Spirit in Outhouse Run

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

For the second year in a row a contingent of eight teams took the field for the Klondike International Outhouse Race. While it may have been a small field, there was a still a good crowd to see them off and to welcome the winning teams, the Midnight Scum (male - 11:51), Westmark Brown Streaks (mixed - 13:15) and Finning Cats (female - 14:45).

No records were set this year, but then the record holders were not running. Chester Kelly's Downtown team ended its participation in the event last year and Kevin Anderson's record holding White Lightning chariot did not enter the race. The two teams had been rivals for 13 years but for this, the 20th running of the race, they were both absent.

Dominic Lloyd, special events coordinator for the Klondike Visitors Association, credits Dan Caley of the Midnight Scum team (sponsored by the Midnight Sun Hotel) for recruiting the final four teams which made the day worth while.

And while the numbers may have been small, the enthusiasm was infectious. This is one of the first years in a long time when every single entry had some sort of theme decoration.

The Brown Streaks were festooned with toilet paper and attired in strangely soiled garments. The Cats were sleek in black body suits. The Sum sported white utility jumpsuits -- with large diapers underneath. Viceroy's Pooh-ery Creek team was dressed in all manner of mining gear, including a cyanide protection suit. The Cantankerous Can-Can girls were living proof that make-up can break you as well as make you. The Downtown Hotel Flaming Farts looked more like a ski team. A Whitehorse entry, Fitton's Misfits, came in the strangest of biffies, an outhouse mounted in a real canoe. The most dramatic group was the West Dawson Liberation Front, dressed for a jihad and afflicted with the need to drop on their knees and pray to Sunnydale at odd intervals.

All the teams were back within the regulation 90 minutes, though the Misfits short circuited the course, taking 75 and just barely making it before the wheels fell off. They had by far the oldest participant, 85 year old Jimmy Lynch, of the MacDonald Lodge, and they won the Judges' special award.

The next longest time was the 22:48 scored by the can-canners ("We do it because we can can.") who captured the best dressed award.

Viceroy redeemed its last place finish at the Yukon Gold panning Championships in July by managing a 4th place finish in this event. They took another official's award, sponsored by Margot Anderson, a KVA Director who works in Viceroy's downtown Dawson offices.

The Cats were the fastest women of the day, which seemed clear earlier on when they were spotted sidling up to the judges in purr-fect form and trying for extra points.

The Scum were the fastest males, and the fastest team overall.

The Brown Streaks were the fastest mixed team and were judged to be most humorous overall.

The WLF team got the most original award and would have had the best music too, if anyone could have heard it over what was coming out of the public address system.

Even the Flaming Farts got an award, called Dom's special, which the coordinator explained was his attempt to keep his bar privileges at the Downtown Hotel.

A couple of the teams had limericks ready for recital, but that part of the show got canned last year after a team from Edmonton went well beyond the bounds of good taste for a family event being held in a public place on a Sunday afternoon.

Clearly the crowd enjoyed the show. Some people also enjoyed the specially designed race makers which had been placed along the route. Organizer Margo Anderson couldn't find any of them when she drive the route after the awards ceremony to clean up.


They Do It 'Cause They Can-Can

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

The Cantankerous Can-can runners. Photo by Michael Gates

Charon Boom and Terri Myeur came from Anchorage to see Dawson and the can-can dancers at Diamond Tooth Gerties. The pair are part of an amateur can-can line in their own community, just outside the big city. They put on a short, three minute act as part of a larger skit. But they're always looking for ways to improve.

"We saw the picture of the can-can dancing and had to come see it," Boom said, relaxing after their turn in the Outhouse Race, where they were part of the Cantankerous Can-Can entry.

They didn't come here planning to run the race, though they did have a full agenda in their minds. They arrived Thursday and went to the see all three shows at Gerties, looking for tips to incorporate into their own brief act.

"These girls are so fabulous," said Myeur, who looked more like a can can hag as she sat on the Minto Park grass resting after the race. Both women were amazed that Diamond Tooth Gerties girls could maintain their energy level for three strenuous shows seven nights a week.

One thing they discovered was that the weight of the performance dresses used in Dawson was about one-fifth of what they were accustomed to. A second thing was that Gerties girls have practice outfits. Boom and Myeur got quite well acquainted with those, because they ended up wearing them in the Outhouse Race.

The opportunity to run the race came up after they'd seen the show and met the dancers. They learned about it at the Visitors' Reception Centre and began to think about running. They were pleased to learn that the Klondike Visitors Association had units available for people to use. Then they decided to recruit the can-can line from Gerties, with the help of Dan Caley from the VRC.

The team arrived on the scene looking for all the world the most hideous parody of feminine pulchritude that the race has seen in some time, a triumph to the powers of makeup and bad clothing choices. The outhouse was hung with cans of all descriptions and finished off with the legend "We do it because we can-can."

They were hardly dressed for the run, and took the course in a leisurely 22 minutes and forty-eight seconds. By the time they arrived at the finish line the semi-collapsed runner from the Midnight Scum team had recovered. Basically he was all right. He just made his mates carry him off the road after the race and lay at the side of Fifth Avenue occasionally screaming "I'll never do this again!" through the hat that some kind soul had placed over his face.

By contrast, the dancers recovered in quiet style back in the park, chatting with passersby and marvelling at all the things they had enjoyed in Dawson: the casino, the Palace Grand, Tom Byrne's Robert Service Show, Jack London's Cabin, the Museum and the Parks tours. The race made their vacation even more memorable.


Daycare Has Safe Lifted

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

Dawson RCMP report that thieves and vandals had a busy couple of nights in Dawson on August 25 and 26, robbing a daycare and defacing vehicles with spray paint.

Rosemary Graham, a local community health nurse and president of the Dawson Child Care Association, says the first break-in at the Dawson City Daycare netted very little for the thief or thieves, who took nothing more than the fanny pack in which the centre's first aid kit was stored.

Speculation is that this break-in was to survey the premises and decide what to take next. That turned out to be the centre's safe.

"They towed it away in one of little tyke's wagons," said Graham. "Pretty pathetic. And they took it down to the dyke and tried to open it without any success."

The RCMP had recovered the safe by the time they put out their press release.

Graham can't recall any previous break-ins at the centre, and no damage was done to Haldenby House, the Anglican Church owned building which the home of the Dawson City Daycare on Church Street.

Graham says that in a way the incident is good because it allows the Childcare Association a relatively painless opportunity to reassess security needs for their building. It has had the same locks for years and whoever broke in may have done so with a key.

On the same night, vandals went on a vehicle spraying spree in the nearby block, painting three that were sitting in the parking lot at the Kinsey Manor.


Discovery Days Is a Dawson Event Says Council

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

Dawson council is upset when any other community appropriates the Klondike's Heritage. It doesn't like Edmonton's Klondike Days festival and it's not too keen on the sudden invention of a Discovery Day Holiday in Whitehorse either.

In the discussion of the issue at the August 19 council meeting, Mayor Glenn Everitt raised the idea of sending out a satirical press release announcing Dawson's plans, in the tradition of capital cities swiping other town's holidays, of setting up committees to hold the 1998 Sourdough (Dawson) Rendezvous and Frostbite 1998 (Dawson) Folk Festival, the dates for these events to be announced as soon as the Whitehorse groups announced their's.

Councillor Denny Kobayashi went further, saying that "Whitehorse has no imagination, no events and no backbone, so why should we get into the slurry with a limp fish? We should let them float upside down in the river and do as best as they can to borrow and steal from everybody else and not hop in the water with them."

Councillor John Mitchell was of the opinion that Whitehorse could happily be allowed to put on a Discovery Days ceremony in honour of the Klondike Gold Rush if the city was prepared to support returning the capital to Dawson.


Second School Seems Unlikely in Spite of Increase in Student Numbers

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

Robert Service School at noon. Photo by Dan Davidson

School has begun once again in Dawson, and with numbers substantially up from those of last year, it should come as no surprise that the annual debate about the need for a second school for the town has begun as well.

Less than a week into the new school year, MLA Peter Jenkins has called on the NDP government to reopen the discussion, based on the commitment made by the Yukon Party government to dust off the plans and reexamine the situation when the school's population hit the magic number of 300.

At the time that former minister Willard Phelps made this commitment the school had dropped to about 276 students, giving the government of the day the excuse it needed to put off construction.

In the months since then, the number of students has crept up again, and stood at 320 by the end of the first week of school.

Local support for a fresh look at the issue was immediate, with acting mayor Denny Kobayashi and school council members Sue Dragoman and Bob Laking chiming in to support Jenkins.

According to reports on CBC radio and in the Whitehorse Star Education Minister Lois Moorcroft reacted negatively to Jenkins' call for immediate construction of the facility which his party had postponed twice when it was in power.

Moorcroft pointed out that the situation has changed somewhat since Phelps put the plans on hold last year. She cited the need for a school in Old Crow to replace the one which burned last winter. The communities of Ross River and Mayo are also crying for new facilities. Mayo has suffered with portables for decades now.

The Star story by Yvette Brend quoted the minister as saying, "In view of the many other rural school replacement and expansion priorities presently facing the department (of Education), it's difficult to justify proceeding with the Dawson school."

While the Robert Service School is typically described as one of the most beautiful schools in the territory, it has been plagued by a shortage of classrooms almost from the day it opened in May 1989.

The building was constructed with fewer classes than the community had demanded on the understanding that two additional classrooms could be added over the shop area.

When it came time to do that, it was found that this wing of the school could not support a second story and portables were brought in to stretch the classroom space.

Even before that teacher workrooms were pressed into service as undersized classrooms, new storage areas were jammed under stairwells and new programs -- such as Han language and a dental therapist's office -- were shoehorned into areas which had been designated for other purposes when the building was planned.

At present the elementary and primary classes occupy the ground floor and two portable classrooms (which eliminated the school parking lot and ate into the playground) and one upstairs, while the high school (grades 7 to 12) uses most of the second floor.

Only the fact that the Dawson Community Library is a joint-use facility with public access in the afternoon during the school year has prevented this area from being used more for teaching, as the old library had to be in the former incarnation of the Robert Service School.

When the portables were first installed Peter Jenkins, then Dawson's mayor, prophesied that they would be in place years after they were supposed to have been removed and built a penalty clause into the occupancy lease to encourage any government to get on with fresh construction.

During the last year and a half of the Yukon Party's mandate, it decided to proceed with a second school. To that end it reversed itself on the relocation of the highway compound (not before the turn of century, C&TS Minister Bill Brewster had said) on Fifth Avenue and spent some millions building a replacement facility near the new municipal boundary, thus freeing up the space which has been designated as the best place in town to build a second school.

The Department of Education established a building committee and worked with local residents on designs and specifications for this building, putting some $238,000 into the planning for an elementary facility, and another $67,000 into removal of the old highway buildings, leaving only the cement building pad which, this summer, became a skateboard park.

Dawsonites can be forgiven for being skeptical about the long range plans of the Department of Education. The town has had its school expansion plans placed on and removed from at least two five year capital works projections in the last eight years.

The original building committee for the RSS recommended that the planning for the second school begin within a year of RSS being opened, but that suggestion was never followed.

Robert Service School was constructed to replace a condemned building which had been placed on a 24 hour fire watch. The old school had no working sprinkler system and the furnace room was slowly sinking into the ground. It was a mere 30 years old, having been placed in service in the late 1950s after the Dawson Public School burned.

With the school council's annual general meeting and regular September meetings both scheduled for the week of September 1st, it is a safe bet that this issue will be given a thorough airing in the immediate future. Education Minister Moorcroft is slated to meet with the school council this week, though it is not known if this will be a public meeting.


Applications for 1998 Dyea Race Available Sept. 1

(WHITEHORSE) The application period for the 1998 Dyea to Dawson Centennial Race to the Klondike will open September 1.

The 1998 race will have an open field of at least 50 two-person teams traveling the historic 1,000-kilometre route to the Klondike gold fields with backpacks and canoes. The race will be held from June 13 to June 26, 1998.

To ensure that the race has an international field as in the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, race organizers are holding 10 team slots for participants from outside the U.S. and Canada, in addition to the five spots reserved for the top 1997 finishers from Alaska and the Yukon.

The inaugural 1997 race was won by Jim Lokken and Art Ward of Fairbanks in just under four days and nine hours. They were followed by Todd Boonstra and Adam Verrier of Anchorage, Steve Reifenstuhl and Mark Gorman of Sitka (Alaska), Joe Bishop and Thane Phillips of Whitehorse, and Terry Jacobsen and Paul Wheeler of Haines. The top-five teams finished the race in under five days and they will face tough competition in 1998.

"We'll be staking our best against the rest of the world in '98," said race co-organizer Jeff Brady. "In 1897, the first ones to get the gold were already here, but they were pretty much overrun by the rest of the world in '98. We'll see if history repeats itself."

The remaining 35 slots will be open to anyone on a first-come, first-serve basis. To get on a mailing list to receive an application, contact race organizers Buckwheat Donahue or Brady at (907) 983-2354 / 2544 or e-mail skagnews@ptialaska.net and leave your mailing address.

Applications also may be picked up at the offices of the Yukon Anniversaries Commission in Whitehorse, the Klondyke Centennial Society in Dawson City, the Skagway Visitor Center in Skagway, Alaska, and at REI stores in Seattle and Anchorage. The race application deadline is March 1, 1998, but race organizers believe the field will fill up fast.

The race is an official event of the Klondike Gold Rush Centennial and is organized through the City of Skagway Convention and Visitors Bureau and Centennial Committee, with assistance from the U.S. National Park Service, Parks Canada, the Yukon Anniversaries Commission and Klondyke Centennial Society.

Corporate sponsors are National Bank of Alaska, Holland America Westours, Alaska Power & Telephone, White Pass & Yukon Route, and Temsco Helicopters.


Interview: Golden Memories from the 1940s

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

The Bushell family as they left Dawson in 1950.

Bill and Kerry Bushell aren't related to anyone who hiked the Chilkoot. On the day we talk they're wearing Klondike descendants' buttons as they sit beside my tape recorder, but their presence here in Dawson that week is more personal than a connection to an ancestor's history.

Both men have an attraction for the place that seems almost to be a longing. For Bill, now in his late seventies, this might be his last chance to visit a town where his four year stay gave him some golden memories 47 years ago. Kerry left the place when he was 4 1/2, but he too seems anxious to soak up the past.

They have not spent much of the five intervening decades talking about the Klondike. It wasn't a welcome subject at home. Bill's wife, Laurel, was traumatized in the 1950 fire that destroyed Saint Mary's Hospital where she had given birth just three days before. Once they left Dawson, six months later, she never wanted to hear of the place again.

But Laurel's has been in a home for a few years now, suffering from Altzheimer's disease. Father and son have been talking a lot about the Klondike since that happened. They too recall the events of that May, but they see it in a larger context.

They both recalls fondly the log cabin with the clapboard addition on the corner of Judge and Front Streets. Bill owned three lots there -- one for a woodlot -- and his yearly taxes were a mere $20, with a $2 rebate if you paid early. My taxes are probably more than that per week.

Bill came to the Yukon on purpose, having reapplied to the Canadian Forces after World War Two with the express notion of getting a posting here. There was something of adventure in his mind, after his years of war in Italy, but he was also aware, in a practical sense, that there were certain monetary rewards attached to isolated post service. Both things were an attraction.

He worked as a radio operator at the Signal Corps building which still stands across Front Street from the offices of the Klondike Sun newspaper. One of the five fellows who worked with him bought the Orpheum Theatre next to the station and Bill remembers that there would be movies in the winter if it wasn't below -35 degrees F. He and the other signals men would help to get the fire going because it would take all day to warm up the theatre enough to let you sit still for two hours.

One of Bill's jobs was to radio the weather from here to the south. The signals station here had been doing this since it was founded in 1923 -- the first one in western Canada to his recollection -- a year before the office opened in Edmonton. He remembers the satisfaction of recording what he thought would be the record low temperature of -73.1 degrees F., only to find that it was broken by Snag's -85 degrees F a little later on.

Bill and Kerry came equipped to share their northern experience with anyone willing to listen. A half dozen manila envelopes spread out on my kitchen table contain an assortment of goodies that we pour over for 2 1/2 hours. Bill was a photo enthusiast, and has a lot of the oversized colour slides that went with the old style slide projectors. His black and white snaps, by contrast, are tiny little things that look as if they might be the actual size of the negatives, about 70 cm by 50 cm.

There are four copies of the Dawson Weekly News, which I have never been able to handle before. They look a lot like turn of the century papers from here: cramped text, tiny headlines, no photos or illustrations except in the ads. The paper is a bedsheet size, one large piece of paper folded in half. In modern terms it would be an eight page tabloid size. I will keep that in mind the next time someone wonders how they could produce it so much more often than we produce our 20 to 24 page bi-weekly Klondike Sun. If we printed just eight pages in 8 point type (or smaller) people would feel gypped.

The Bushells are thinking that all of this material might best find its permanent resting place here in Dawson , and they are looking to have some of it published. I make arrangements to borrow half a dozen photos from them to go with the three major anecdotes that Bill wants to tell me. Then I encourage them to visit the Dawson City Museum while they are here and make a donation. They do.

A week later I begin work on the first of the three stories, one of which, the hospital piece, has already appeared here by the time you are reading this essay. I find in the notes bits and pieces that don't fit the bigger stories, but which give an impression of Dawson life the late 1940s. There's a column in those vignettes, I figure, and this is it. I hope it has conveyed some of the feeling that I heard on my tapes.


Modern Days on the Chilkoot Trail

by Leanne MacKenzie
Sun Staff

"Be kind to your web-footed friend..," Robin sang with gusto. So started our journey from Dyea to Lake Bennett via the Chilkoot Pass.

Patty, Robin and I had been hiking all summer in anticipation of this adventure. But after only a few minutes of flat trail you start to climb up and up and up. It felt as if we had never hiked before; of course we didn't hike every day with forty pounds on our back either. We wondered if the trail was like this all the way to Sheep Camp (our first stop), thankfully the old saying "what goes up must also go down" proved true.

I decided to establish a rule to keep us lively, each hour we were to sing one song. Our two-line versions of everything from "Rubber Ducky" to "Yes, Jesus Loves Me" quickly ended that trail rule as we ran out of songs to squeak -- oops -- I mean sing.

You can't beat the scenery, everything around you is changing constantly. The terrain went from rocky to packed earth and the climate went from rain forest moisture to torrential downpour to sunny warmth in a matter of minutes. With crystal clear ponds, humongous mushrooms, many different kinds of berries, glaciers high up in the mountains, waterfalls and rushing streams our eyes were constantly moving trying to soak up the beauty of our surroundings.

On our first day we hiked to Sheep Camp where we met up with two of Robin's friends from Ontario, Chris and Wendy. After detouring two kilometres in the bush in search of the elusive Canyon City ruins we turned back only to find out later that the boiler we saw five minutes in to the ruins was the only artifact remaining of Canyon City.

The trail from Canyon City to Pleasant Camp was definitely the most rigorous. From the notes left by our predecessors we were not the only ones exhausted when we reached Sheep Camp. Upon signing in at Sheep Camp we were given a presentation on the history of the area and an update on the trail conditions by a park ranger.

First order of the day was to remove the pack and put up our tents. Too tired to do more than heat water for a cup of soup and hot chocolate we quickly consumed our dinner and put our tired feet to rest.

Being downright terrified of bears, my first few hours in my sleeping bag were spent thinking up the many different ways the bear could attack me. It was a good thing that Patty shared my tent. It gave me a feeling of security knowing there was someone else for the bear to snack on.

We all had hung our wet clothing (due to the rain and sweat) in the warming shelter in hopes of it drying but as the little potbelly stove only had wet wood we discovered that it was hopeless. So jumping into our damp clothes we set off for the most frightening (according to tales) challenge of our trip, the "Golden Stairway". You gradually increase your elevation until you reach what is called the Scales. Packs were weighed at this point in the Gold Rush days and if your pack weighed too much you dumped what you absolutely didn't need. There are lots of artifacts scattered over the hillside because of this.

Looking up at the pass we saw a red backpack moving upwards at a steady pace. It really hit us how much of a climb we had to do. Chris being an avid rock hopper started us off. Climbing rocks twice your height made me an acrobat at times and shaking in fear others. It was tricky but they have orange poles stuck in the rocks to guide you and take it from me veering off the marked path is not a good suggestion, the high road is not always the right road.

It seemed like we would never reach the summit but what a feeling of accomplishment and relief when you see the Canadian flag waving in the wind. Jane Vincent peeked her head out the door at our yell, she was the park warden. With this being our second day of rain we were wet, cold and tired. After a short break (the outhouse was a welcome relief but a little scary as it was perched on the edge of a cliff) we set out for Happy Camp which I renamed Pure Unadulterated Pleasure Camp. You hike beside Crater Lake for most of the journey, we even climbed over a few patches of snow. Upon reaching Happy Camp we did our ritual of setting up camp and then we sat back, relaxed and chatted with people from around the world, some of whom traveled here just to hike the Chilkoot (Austrians, Germans, Swedish, Alaskan and a fellow Canadian). We then hit the sack in anticipation of the final part of our trek to Lake Bennett.

With wet boots I needed to put plastic bags around my feet to try and keep them dry for a while. It proved well worth it as we had to ford some streams.

As we got closer to Lindeman the scenery became lush and hilly. For the first time since we started our journey the sun shone through the clouds. Thanks to Chris (a musician) our hourly singing no longer scared the wildlife away. I don't know if that was always a good thing as we did eventually see and hear a bear in the bushes. My pace picked up and I think we made it to Lindeman in record time.

The park warden gave us the bear update. We needed to travel in a pack of six from this point on due to the recent bear activity. It seems one bear developed a bully attitude. The bear figured that he could scare the packs off your back and have a seven course meal. Unfortunately he had already gotten away with this once before. Hoping to reverse this the park wardens have everyone updated on what to do in the event you encounter this bear. Of course the trail is only wide enough for you to travel in single file. The fight for the middle spot was on. I led the way for the first portion (talking nonstop in my nervousness). Anytime we would stop for a break my position was up for bid. Robin took over eventually with nary a scared bone in sight. Chris lead the way out singing his lungs out.

Reaching Bennett we gave a cheer and enjoyed our first dry night. Waking up to the sun shining and our rescue boat -- oops! -- I mean our ride to Carcross roaring across the lake we couldn't help but smile. Would I do the trip again? In a heartbeat! I have even suggested to everyone that they do it to retrace history and get a great view of our country at the same time.


The Chilkoot Thirty Years Ago

By Barb Hanulik

They tell me there are Rangers along the trail now to help you if you need help and to direct you when you need direction.

They tell me the trail is well marked with graveled sections, signage and the like. And they say there are bridges and crossings over streams, creeks and swampy spots. Plus it costs money!

It doesn't sound like the Chilkoot of thirty years ago. It sounds like a four lane toll road.

I tried climbing the Chilkoot in 1966 with another woman and two sturdy Idaho College Students. To that date I hadn't climbed anything higher than a kitchen step ladder and the only thing I was "in shape" to do, was toss back a beer.

So our four and a half day trip was an exciting challenge to put it mildly. We managed to get a hold of a map of sorts and got advice as to where to cross creeks and what landmarks to follow and which ones to steer clear of. But we were pretty much in the dark as to the route and I nearly threw in the towel after the first mile of steep climbs. I thought that if the whole route was that bad I may as well quit, but it leveled off shortly after. The two Alaskan cabins had been built a few years before and they offered us the only signs of civilization with the exception of an old cabin at Lindeman.

We managed to follow the old trail for the most part, discovering rotting corduroy sections that proved to us that we were in the right spot. But the lush Pacific undergrowth on the Alaska side hid us from view of anyone and anything (including grizzlies, we thought in horror!).

By the time we reached the Golden Stairway on the third morning we were climbing rocks high on the right side of the valley (which recent climbers know as the wrong side), so we scrambled higher (and went over what's known as Horse Pass) on a huge snow field and slid down to Crater Lake, happy enough to have gotten that far alive.

Father Bob (Bobillier) said he and Father Boyd met a grizzly on the pass and had only the Lord and a small hatchet to fend it off with, but all we saw were two frightened caribou and not one solitary soul.

Our feet were never dry as we crossed all the water in our boots, there were NO bridges. The river at Lindeman was especially scary to cross. The boys managed to cross it with ropes and helped us cross without drowning. We then hiked along the shore of the lake, in the water as there was no beach, until deciding to strike off overland towards the railroad tracks and civilization.

After a few days of oatmeal goup, Lipton soup, two dozen candy bars and all the cigarettes I could stuff in my pack, the meal provided by White Pass at Lake Bennett was a life saver.

I believe this trip took place early in July. We HAD to get to Dawson City by July 17th to take part in the Discovery Day celebrations. Discovery Day, July 17, ??? I was a real atomic scientist back in those days. I climbed the Chilkoot, didn't I?


Uffish Thoughts: The Problem Isn't Boredom

by Dan Davidson
Sun Staff

Each time there is a new outrage of vandalism there is a renewed discussion about what ought to be done and what the causes might be. Somewhere in the cycle, someone will raise the same tired old points.

To wit: "The kids are bored." "There's nothing for them to do."

This comes from various sources. When it's from kids, it's often from those whose lives truly are empty. Their idea of a great time seems to be to avoid their families, first by sleeping in all day and then by roaming the streets all night. Doing the latter is so unbelievably mind-numbing that they need chemical assistance of some sort to convince themselves that they really are having fun. Once they've got that, it's easy to move on to the stage of creating their own "fun".

This is not what all young people do, of course. The numbers involved are blessedly few, but they raise havoc all out of proportion to their population.

I'm never sure whether this "boredom" is supposed to be an excuse of an accusation.

As an excuse it fails miserably because all it offers is a reason. An excuse would be a reason which somehow ameliorated the damage. Reasons simply tell why things happen.

Put simply, and in an older vernacular: "The devil finds work for idle hands." Before the outcry, let me say that I intend this as a metaphor, not an altar call. People who are bored entertain themselves somehow. Human nature abhors a vacuum.

When the "boredom" claim is made by adults, that's another matter. It's my opinion that it's often made by people who really do mean well, but who ought to know better. They would like to believe that the kids involved in this sort of activity wouldn't do it if they just had better opportunities in life.

I would like to believe that, but I don't think there's a lot of evidence to support it. It's wishful thinking. If it were not, then we wouldn't have had that celebrated kidnapping of the wife of a local businessman in Whitehorse just a few years ago. The young men who did this do not fall into that category of people for whom it is currently politically correct to feel sorry.

Again, that's not an attempt to make a sweeping generalization about the socio-economic status of people who go to the bathroom in other people's vehicles. That's a pretty low standard of behavior, though not much lower than that of the adult who was relieving himself in the doorway of an establishment near to the hotel where I stayed the last time I was in the city.

There is no easy way to cure the "boredom" problem about which these two groups of people like to speak. The proffered solution to the problem usually seems to involve the providing of some sort of alternative to hell-raising, some activity that will occupy the affected youngsters and keep them out of trouble.

This is where the accusation part of the excuse comes in. Somehow it is everyone else's fault that they have chosen to do this or that, and the rest of us ought to do something about it.

Well, we can't, at least not in the way that is usually intended. I'm afraid the only activity that will serve the purpose is the one they have already rejected: sleeping at night and living during the day. A person doesn't have to look all that hard to find opportunities to stave off boredom, but you have to be prepared to look at the right time of day. No one is going to provide meaningful programming activities for young people between the hours of midnight and six in the morning, which is when most of this stuff seems to be happening.

Young people should be at home during those hours. Their homes should be safe places for them to be. Responsible adults (this is where the blaming can begin) should be there to make sure that they are nurtured and kept from the kind of behavior that will get them in trouble and plague the rest of us.

Before anyone says that this is a simple answer to a complex question, let me assure you that it is not. I have two children of my own. They have friends. The various parents involved keep in touch with each other just to make sure things aren't getting out of hand. Sometimes it's really easy; sometimes it's a lot of work. Sometimes it's almost a joy; sometimes it's a tedious chore. Either way it HAS to be done.

I have two images that can sum up this column. I can't decide between them so I'll use both.

A scientific metaphor: Families obey the Third Law of Thermodynamics, which says that systems tend to become chaotic unless external pressure prevents it.

A poetic metaphor: William Butler Yeats wasn't talking about families when he wrote that "Things fall apart. The centre cannot hold." But he could have been. The centre needs to be held together because it cannot hold itself.

The family, in all its various permutations, is the answer to the problem of boredom. It provides the atomic bond or the external force that keeps the loose bits from flying about and doing damage. It doesn't always work, but it works a lot better than doing nothing.


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