The Chilkoot Trail Artist Residency is an award of two weeks living on the Chilkoot Trail, the historic Klondike Gold Rush Trail running from Dyea Alaska to Bennet British Columbia. It is where over 100,000 people traveled to seek their fortune in Dawson City, Yukon, though very few made it and even fewer got rich. The trail is only 33 miles, but the steep 3000-foot climb destroyed many of the gold seekers and over 100 years later that still created anxiety for many of the hikers. Trail runners can cover the distance in one to two days, many hikers, speed through it in 3, leisure hikers in 5 days, but we had 14 days.
One the US portion of the trail, Alaska, there is Finnegan’s Point, Canyon City, Pleasant Camp, Sheep Camp, Happy Camp, Deep Lake, Lindeman City, Bare Loon and Bennett Lake. The first four camps are in Alaska and the last five in British Columbia. The entire Alaska side is in the wilderness, except climbing the boulder fields to the pass. It then opens up into the most spectacular scenery I have known.
We quickly got our routine down. Hike at a decent pace to our next camp, pitch our tents, felt the water, put anything with a scent, all food, toiletries, gas canisters, cook pots, bug dope, stove, etc., into the bear lockers. The area is home to both black and brown aka grizzly bears, and it is imperative not to invite them into camp with your food. We would then cook and eat our dinners, mine was usually dehydrated soup mix with couscous or dehydrated mash potatoes.
My “worst” meal, because I ran short of food calculating two weeks was 12 days instead of 14 (clearly I was not thinking) was a mixture of instant mash potatoes and a small handful of pistachios. But you know, no matter what one eats, it always tastes good out in the woods. I would often skip breakfast, but I still had coffee, lunch was often almonds. It may sound dismal, but I had carefully planned three meals a day plus snacks, 2000 calories each day, into little ziplock backs. I just ran short a couple of days, which was not a big deal.
I see so many hikers with tons of unwanted and food, fearing they will starve in their short hikes I cringe at how heavy their packs must be. I would rather be mildly hungry than carry unwanted and excess items. I already had almost 50 pounds of gear on my back, with my art supplies and 200 bingo games.
I had my tent, sleeping bag, rain gear, one pair of pants, one pair of shorts, two short sleeve shirts, one long sleeve shirt, a hat, gloves, puffy jacket, 12 pairs of underwear. I can wear the same t-shirt and shorts for two weeks straight as long as I have a change of underthings. I had my MSR pocket rocket stove, two small gas cans, matches, lighter, toothpaste, sunscreen, lotion, bug repellent, parks communication radio, and a giant can of bear spray. I had all I needed.
Continued at Part 3 coming next week. If you did not see Part 1, click here
Artists, don’t forget the application for the Chilkoot Trail Artist Residency is due February 1, 2019. click here for details at the Yukon Art Center .