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Our route takes us through rainforest, alpine tundra, and boreal forest.Snowcapped mountains, hanging glaciers, turquoise lakes, and cascading rivers contribute to the magnificence of the rugged, scenic area that follows the Chilkoot Trail. Our travel back in time begins with a 3 hour train ride aboard the White Pass & Yukon Railroad from Fraser at the top of the White Pass to Skagway. The train follows the scenic Skagway Valley, past glaciers, through tunnels carved into the mountains, over trestled bridges, and past historic goldrush landmarks.
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Enthusiastic and knowledgeable, our guides offer invaluable source of information on local culture, history and sights making your trip one of a kind.
Dates for 2024 are confirmed with Parks Canada. US Parks are still currently assessing and repairing extensive damage to the trail on the US side, but are confident the entire trail will be open for 2024.Reserve Now
A complete itinerary along with maps, clothing and equipment list, will be issued upon registration.
Day 0: Arrival in Whitehorse
We will leave Whitehorse and begin our drive along the very scenic Klondike Highway to Fraser, the Canadian border with Alaska. It is here that we will leave our van for a 3 hour trip aboard the White Pass & Yukon RR through time and scenery to Skagway, Alaska. After dinner and a short visit to the Gateway to the Klondike we will be driven to Dyea, Alaska, where the trail begins and our campsite.
The first part of the trail is forested, fairly flat, and relatively easy. The trail follows a logging road past a sawmill (1950s) to Finnegan's Point. Across from here is the magnificent Irene Glacier. From Finnegan's Point the trail begins to climb, but not dramatically. We will eventually descend the trail to the site of Canyon City at the mouth of the Taiya River Canyon. This will be our campsite for the evening.
Shortly after leaving Canyon City we will begin to climb high above the Taiya River. The trail is entirely through forest. There are a few spots, however, where the scenery is fabulous. The trail will eventually level off at a site called Pleasant Camp. The name refers to the fact that this was the first level land and decent campsite after Canyon City. We will have some good views of the surrounding ridges as we follow the forested trail along the Dyea River to our campsite at Sheep Camp.
Sheep Camp was a base camp for mountain sheep hunters before the rush. Traffic over the pass during the winter of 1897 was slowed by the snows and, as such, Sheep Camp became home to thousands of goldrushers. By the spring of 1898 most had moved on and Sheep Camp was no more.
We will begin the most strenuous section of the trail today, with dramatic changes in elevation and vegetation. We will leave early in the morning, as progress will be slow. As we begin our assent from Sheep Camp, we gradually leave the rain forest behind. Tree size decreases, and the landscape takes on the barreness of sub arctic tundra. This stretch was called Long Hill by the goldrushers, for reasons that will become obvious. The Chilkoot Pass, nondescript, comes into view. At this distance its ominous reputation seems undeserved. The Scales mark the end of the long, gradual drag up Long Hill. At the Scales, the formidable nature of the climb over the Chilkoot Pass becomes evident. Large boulders and a steep grade mark the route up. From the summit the trail becomes easier as it begins to descend and level off. We are now in true alpine tundra country. The trail to our campsite at Happy Camp will highlight those features which make a tundra landscape uniquely beautiful.
We have completed the most difficult section of the trail. The remainder of the trail is relatively easy. Although there are stretches of uphill hiking they are not long or dramatic. As we leave Happy Camp the trail rises above the valley and follows a ridge along Long Lake. After a short hike Deep Lake appears below us. A descent brings us back below the treeline. The trail skirts the lake and then runs high above a narrow canyon which the river, now known as Moose Creek, cascades from Deep Lake to Lake Lindeman, our campsite for the evening.
The trail from Lake Lindeman to Bare Loon Lake is a tiring climb through sparse forest. There are occasional views of Lindeman Lake as reward for our efforts. Shortly after Bare Loon Lake the trail begins to descend to Lake Bennett. There are some excellent viewpoints along this stretch. Near the north end of Lindeman Lake the trail turns to deep sand, parallels the train tracks, and makes its final elevation gain. At the top of the hill there is a spectacular lookout. In the distance you will see the Bennett rail station from which we will be leaving. Bennett was the terminus for both the White Pass and Chilkoot trails
We will have the morning to explore the area around Lake Bennett. Around 1:00 pm the WP & YR railway will return us to Fraser where our van is parked. Our return to Whitehorse will be punctuated by a stop at Carcross, an interesting and historical Yukon town.
SEA to SKY will pick up for all expeditions that originate in Whitehorse. Should any problems or miscommunication arise, please email our office and we will forward you the guide team's contact info. (cell number and email address).
GETTING TO WHITEHORSE
Air Canada has daily flights to Whitehorse. Air North has scheduled flights from Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria and Vancouver. Please check with your travel agent for details.
Whitehorse Pick up & Hotels
The following represent a cross section of available accommodation in Whitehorse. Former clients have stayed at these and have indicated a satisfaction with them. The asterisk [* ] means a budget and clean accommodation. The Yukon Inn has agreed to discount their rate for our clients. Indicate that you will be doing a trip with us and you should receive a preferred rate.
Best Western Gold Rush Inn
High Country Inn
Midnight Sun B&B
[*] Beez Kneez Hostel
[*]Hide on Jeckell Hostel
[*] Family Hotel
This is a rugged hike for some portions. The best boots for this kind of backpacking are solid-able to take rough talus slopes, water proof, and with a full, stiff shank for ankle support. If you get new boots, it is important to break them in before your trip to ensure that they are comfortable and to minimize the risk of blisters. It is also a good idea to bring a pair of comfortable sandals or water shoes for wearing around camp and for crossing streams or other bodies of water.
For a multiday backpacking trip in varied terrain, you will want a backpack with a capacity of at least 65-85 liters, depending on the size of your gear and the type of trip you are taking.
Some key features to look for in a backpack for this type of trip include:
Comfort: Look for a backpack with a comfortable and well-padded hip belt and shoulder straps, as well as a good ventilation system to prevent your back from getting too hot and sweaty.
Durability: Choose a backpack made from strong and durable materials, such as ripstop nylon, to withstand the rigors of the trail.
Weather resistance: Consider a backpack with a waterproof or water-resistant cover or built-in rain cover to protect your gear from the elements.
Load-carrying ability: Look for a backpack with a sturdy frame and good load-carrying capacity to support the weight of your gear.
Organization: Choose a backpack with plenty of pockets, compartments, and attachment points to help you keep your gear organized and easily accessible.
Size: Make sure the backpack fits you well and is the right size for your body and your gear.
It is also a good idea to try on a few different backpacks and load them with weight to get a feel for how they carry before making your final decision.
Hiking poles can be a helpful tool for a rugged backpacking trip, as they can provide additional support and stability on rough or uneven terrain. They can also help to reduce the impact on your joints and muscles by distributing some of the load to your upper body.
However, whether or not to use hiking poles is ultimately a personal decision, and it may depend on factors such as your physical abilities, the terrain you will be hiking on, and your personal preference. Some people find that hiking poles help them to maintain balance and reduce fatigue, while others prefer to hike without them.
If you do decide to use hiking poles, it is important to choose a pair that is comfortable, lightweight, and adjustable to your height. It is also a good idea to practice using them before your trip to get a feel for how they work and to ensure that you are using them correctly.
You can expect to carry up to 40 lbs, depending on the gear you bring. (about 18.2 kg)
We pack and prepare the food, usually about 9 to 11 lbs (4.1 to 5.0 kg). We also share out the group gear. We are also supplying the tents, which typically weight 4 to 6 lbs., depending on whether they are double or single tents (double occupancy is standard, singles require a supplemental charge). Double tents are split between guests, so usually contribute about 3 lbs. to pack weight.
Altogether, expect to be given about 14 to 16 lbs. (6.4 to 7.3 kg). If you want your pack weight to be 35 lbs. (15.9 kg) or less, then your backpack and gear that you bring, along with 2 Litres of water, can only weigh up to 19 to 20 lbs. (9 kg).
This is a strenuous hike on some sections; it is a mountain backpacking trip, so elevation changes are the norm, and this trip has one big elevation day, going up and over the Chilkoot Pass. You need to be fit enough to carry a heavy, fully loaded backpack up a fairly steep, 1000 m elevation gain in one day (the pass day). It is a truly spectacular area, which is why we do it, but it requires training and preparation.
Tips, or gratuities, are not mandatory. However, please consider what service is actually being given to you. While you might think that the company should just pay the guides better, it is not so simple. We do work in a competitive market, and pay rates are a function of the trip prices. If we could double prices, we would pay guides significantly better. At Sea to Sky, we have some of the better pay rates in the industry, and we are always pushing our competitors to increase pay rates for guides, but there is only so much we can do. Guides are seasonal workers. They shift off of their summer season to winter activities, or fill in with retail work, which is usually little more than minimum wage, often to periods of no work between seasonal jobs. It is a hard job, and wearing on the body.
The guides carry most of the group gear, so they have heavier loads than you have, all for you, because they would not be carrying much of the extras on a personal trip. Your guides are teaching you, helping you through challenges, cooking for you and serving you your meals, providing a safety envelope for you, and if you have a really good guide, they are filling you up with a deeper experience of being in the place you are visiting by telling you about the flora, fauna and history of the place.
So, how much should you tip your guides?
If you ate every meal out in a day, at a good, but low-cost restaurant, you would probably tip between $10 and $15 per day. If you were travelling and visiting a city and ate all your meals out, this is about how much you would tip for the day, low end. I would submit that the guides are feeding you all three meals in a day, AND serving you in so many more ways. That makes $10-$15 a day a minimum consideration, really. 10% to 15% of a trip price has been another rule of thumb that has been used. If your trip price is $2000, then $200 to $300 split between the guides is reasonable, and falls within that standard. Like most humans, guides are motivated when they are recognized and valued.
Your circumstances matter. If you are a student and clearly struggled to put together the cost of the trip, or have other circumstances that limit your ability to tip, guides understand and honour your appreciation, no matter what the size. However, if you have a large income or high net worth and means, a small tip might be a slap in the face. If you have means and you clearly and vocally appreciated the guides and all they did, and then leave a $50 tip after a 7 to 9 day trip, that amount would probably be insulting. If you have a fairly large income or net worth, you likely spend it on higher end restaurants, and maybe higher cost wine, drinks or desserts. You might even give a $50 tip for a dinner meal out-for ONE meal, so just consider your ability to tip and the level of service you received over the whole trip.
The largest tip any of our guides has received from one person is $1,500.00 for a 9-day trip. This was highly unusual, and was because we went way out of the way to replace her boots in the middle of the trail because her boots were falling apart, and was on top of paying for the boots and the transport out to the trail. That was extraordinary service, and an extraordinary tip. On average, guides usually receive about $75 to $125 from each guest for each guide.
At Sea to Sky, we also split the tips between the lead and assistant guides, and proportionally with any drivers. We have a strong culture of teamwork and both the lead and assistant guides play essential roles for you, so we ensure both share equally in the tips for the trip. Tips are not shared or taken by owners and managers not on your trip, unless you send it separately and specify it is for service before or after a trip.