Everytime we go to Dawson, I have this same feeling. We are not locals, but not tourists either. As we drive the Third Avenue in our (very dirty from the Dempter Highway) Westy, locals smile at us. We fit the bill. The Dawson summer crowd is quite colorful: lots of artists and crunchy hippies, too many tourist and some First nations cross paths on the wooden boardwalks... The atmosphere is welcoming and warm. We walk in the Alchemy café and are served in French, we meet a long-lost friend at the Taco stand... I understand better why people are attracted by Dawson's magnetism. There is definitely a sense of belonging here.
As we cover the 7 hours that separate Whitehorse and the Tombstone Territorial Park, I try to make sense of my impatience of the last few days. That’s one thing the road does for me: it allows me to sit with my feelings. Sitting with discomfort is never fun. It’s so much easier to run away and get busy with something else. But here, between Carmacks and Pelly Crossing, there are only rows of spruce trees and the nagging rain. I feel frustrated. As I talk to JF, I realize he also feels the same. There is 100 reasons to feel frustrated. There always will be if we choose to be frustrated. It’s all about attitude. We can choose to focus on what we wish we had or we could try and turn this frustration into gratitude for what we actually have. And we do have a lot. By Steward Crossing, the frustration had dissolved and we both felt lighter and ready for a weekend of fun.
We arrived at the Tombstone campground a bit after 11 pm (yes, it was still light out. And no, there would be no Perseids watching for us this year!). In the Yukon, you don't make reservations, you just show up. For $12 (or $50 for the entire season in any Yukon government campground if you are a resident) you get a gorgeous campsite and free firewood!
On Saturday monrning, the sun was shining. We made cinnamon-apple latkes while the girls made their most beautiful fairy garden ever (because there is all sorts of mosses and berries here, mama!) and we hit the new interpretation center for some more info on the hikes. There, we got to try some bannock bread and delicious tea made of yarrow, blueberries and labrador tea leaves, while the girls practice a puppet show with Joanna, a park interpreter that also spoke French. That interpretation center seriously rocks!
We decided to drive North a bit more (we were a mere 350 km from the Arctic Circle!) to do a hike called Surf Bird in the alpine tundra. It is quite fascinating, 20 km North of the campground, the boreal forest is no more, there is only alpine tundra.
When we arrived at the trailhead, there was no trail. Only 360 degrees of mountains and wet and mushy tundra. There were tons of ripe blueberries and moss berries and almost ripe cranberries. We feasted on them every ten steps. The dwarf birches and alder were already starting to turn red and yellow. We could see the moon the whole time we were there. Is it because we were so far north?
The next day, we decided to do a guided hike (with our beloved bilingual interpreter Joanna) to Grizzly Lake overlook. It's fun to notice things we wouldn't notice without an interpreter and it seems to motivate the girls to be in a group. Here, Aïsha gave highbush cranberries to an Irish man for him to try.
I stopped at the lookout with Mathilde who had a sore knee, while JF and Mara and Aïsha kept going up. Here, we can see Monolith mountain. Many people do an overnight hike to Grizzly Lake (11 km) down in that valley. We'd like to do it in 2 years with the girls.