It’s been a rough week here in Australia with too many bad and sad things happening. As this is my last post for the year, I wanted to leave you on a more inspired note and the timing for my impressions of the Yukon seems just right. When I was invited to Canada’s Yukon Territory I realised my knowledge of the region was practically non-existent. At best all I could come up with were clichéd images of gold panning, swinging bar doors and potatoes (Yukon Gold is a Canadian-developed variety of spud). I looked it up on a map and discovered it to be tucked away in the north-west corner of this enormous country, reaching up to the Arctic in the north of the territory – so I figured it was going to be remote and pretty distinctive.
While I was on the right track with that notion, I was totally unprepared for the reality. Without a doubt, the Yukon is simply the most breathtaking place I have ever visited. I used to think that we did big spaces fairly definitively here in Australia, but it seems we are not alone. The Yukon may be Canada’s smallest federal territory, but it excels when it comes to vast and unforgettable landscapes.
I spent my first night there in the capital, Whitehorse (more about that later), and was driven to Kathleen Lake, Haines Junction and the Kluane National Park the next day, feeling like I’d landed on another planet – and it wasn’t just the jet-lag causing it. I remember once being told that the Yukon was like Narnia on steroids and I have yet to find a better description. This place is jaw-droppingly arresting. The vistas are endless and uncluttered by almost any signs of civilisation. The few towns are very small – Whitehorse, the only city, has a population of less than 24,000 and the gold-rush town of Dawson is home to around 1,500 souls (according to Wikipedia).
Along with Jessica, my escort from Tourism Yukon, I spent a couple of hours clearing my flight-addled brain on a guided walk around Kathleen Lake with the incredibly informative Brent Liddle of Kluane Ecotours. Brent is a professional naturalist and wilderness guide who has over 30 years experience in this region. Located within Kluane National Park, the lake and surrounds was gloriously dressed in early autumn finery and, with bears particularly active as they get ready for a long nap, I was quite relieved to see nothing more exciting than a bold squirrel in the way of local beasts.
The Yukon’s catch-phrase is “Larger than life” and it is easy to see why. This is a visually astounding place which filled my senses and left me lost for words. I quite literally run out of superlatives when trying to describe my impressions of the Yukon to friends and family and only wish my photos did it more justice. With Whitehorse just a short 2 hour flight from Vancouver, it is also incredibly accessible and just another reason to spend more time in western Canada.
I wish all of my lovely friends and readers a very happy and safe holiday break. I’ll be taking a break from the blog over Christmas and look forward to sharing more of my food and travel adventures with you all in the new year.