On a car ferry we cross the wide “Great river”, as the Natives call it here. From the shores of the Yukon river, it is only a short ride to Dawson city in the Yukon Territory, which covers an area that is 11 times bigger than Switzerland!
After gold was discovered there in 1896, the Klondike Gold Rush, sometimes referred as the Yukon Gold Rush, drew people from all over the world to this remote area. The gold rush lasted only a few years, but changed the First nations camp into a thriving city of 40,000 by 1898.Â Today the population of Dawson city is about 1400 people, but this place has retained his original character.
And still, especially during the summertime, hundreds of adventurers come to this place, to dig in the rivers around the local area for the precious medal. Here, we meet again Rene and Claudia. We have met them already in Chicken, near the US-Canadian border. They both want to drive along the Dempster Highway, and ask if we like to join them. The Dempster highway leads through the Arctic wilderness from Dawson City to Inuvik. What a great offer, then this remote area offers a unique landscape.
After a longer drive, we arrive at the “Two Moose” lake. On the way to the Dempster Hwy, we already spotted 2 Moose and we are lucky again to see more of these large species. This lonely Moose stands very picturesque in the middle of the small lake and dives calmly for fresh grass! The Moose, also called Eurasian elk, is the largest extant species in the deer family. An adult easily weights more than a thousand pounds!
If they are with their cubes and you get to close, the consequences can be fatal. With their long spindly legs, a Moose can kick in all directions. Locals tell us that people has been trampled over by these giants, when they feel their young ones are in danger. We decide to remain in a safe distance and watch from far, as these heavyweights enjoy a relaxed bath in the lake. When we return early in the morning to the campsite,
itÂ is still dusk. After the long drive we are tired, but we do not feel going to bed, it is to bright! And it does still amaze us that during the summer it never gets completely dark in this latitudes. Before we continue our journey towards to Whitehorse, we visit the local non-profit casino in Dawson city. We are not fortunate, and very quick we have lost our stake. But It was definitely fun and by the way, all â€œproceedsâ€ are donated to the town to use on restoration of the aging gold rush buildings.
After a rich breakfast, we say goodbye to Rene and Claudia. The first part of Dawson City to Whitehorse is a little monotonous and we will bring this section quickly behind us. As we pedal along the road, a red VW Bus appears just next to us. â€œDo you come from Switzerland?â€ We look to the side and see a young couple, which leans out the window and grins at us. â€œOf course!â€ we answer in Swiss German. We stop and start chatting with Guido and Miriam. They travel with Guschti, an older Volkswagen Bus, which Guido has lovingly restored. Both were traveling for quite a while too and we make an appointment in the next village, where we will buy some grocery.
In the mean time, they already explored a suitable place for the night. When we reach a bit later the beautifully situated spot just next to a river, they just started a fire. After a refreshing bath in the clear stream, we are ready for the Barbeque. Guido tells us, that he drove with his VW-Bus all over the American continent and Miriam joined him later in Mexico. We exchange many travel tales and so it is getting late until we crawl into our tent.
A couple days later, we met them again on a bright sunny day in Whitehorse. We decide spontaneously to celebrate a picknick on the shores of the Yukon River, just next to a nice renovated paddle steamer. The steamers played a big role during the gold rush. These huge steaming ships brought food, tools and other resources, but also gold seekers, who could afford this passage, to the gold fields. We continue our way southwards and are planning to cycle along the Cassiar Hwy.