We began the day knowing that tonight would be our last camping night of this trip. We will be in Haines, AK tomorrow with a B&B reservation at House #1 on the Fort Seward Hill. (Remember, our ferry leaves from Haines on Labor Day.) Months ago, we thought that we would want a night inside just before we were scheduled to depart on the Alaska Marine Highway (aka the ferry Malaspina). Today, we are not convinced. We found ourselves cherishing this last night of sleeping under the stars – you are correct, we haven’t seen the stars much, but we know that they are there.
Kluane National Park had been calling to Jorge for months, and we were determined to spend at least one night there. Jorge even called the Provincial Park system to inquire about a reservation for the night, as this is also a Canadian long weekend. Don’t worry, the woman told him. There are plenty of places to camp here…you won’t need a reservation, we are in the middle of nowhere. (You should know that the Yukon only has about 36,000 inhabitants.) Canada’s tallest mountain, Mt. Logan, sits nestled in the middle of this park and the preserve is part of the largest protected land mass on Earth. Having visited Denali, we were excited to see this 19, 551-foot Canadian peak peering through the clouds sharing a glimpse of its glory.
As we arrived at the first provincial camping area, we found that it was packed with campers settled in for the long Canadian weekend…Canadian Labour Day was originally intended to allow the working population to campaign for better working conditions and pay. We wondered if the woman to whom Jorge spoke was actually near the camping area when she said there were plenty of camping spots in this vast park. We ventured on, consulting both iOverlander and the MilePost, to find that she was indeed correct – there were plenty of places to camp. We found a spot situated at the edge of Kluane National Park along the Saint Elias Mountains called Dezadeash Lake. This warm, shallow lake hosts hundreds of trumpeter swan pairs and our camping spot was just a few steps from the shore. It was a perfect place for one final camping night of this Alaskan adventure. The sky was crisp, the air was cold and we sat eating dinner snuggled near the fire looking at the big moon rising high over the lake. We woke in the middle of the night hoping to catch one more glimpse of the aurora. As I unzipped the skylights (Yes, our Tepui is awesome!), I was taken not by the northern lights, but by the multitude of stars I was able to see. It was magical.
The swans woke us with a joyful morning noise that sounded like no other – trumpets. (Really, it wasn’t annoying, it was joyful…I didn’t know that is the nature of their names.) The lake was filled with moms and babies practicing diving with little butt tufts wagging in the water. After a final breakfast with toast and jam, we packed up and headed in the direction of Haines. Along the way, we stopped at sites with spectacular water falls, river confluences filled with spawning salmon and deserted mining roads leading to nowhere. We continued to savor each hour along the way, knowing that while the Tepui would be resting, we still had almost a week of travel before heading home.
Day 26 – 125 mi…slowing down to enjoy each moment.