I joined up with three good buddies that I met in Patagonia in 2012. They wanted to go on another great adventure this time to Yukon, Canada the Northern end of the World, a place that coincidentally is referred to as “Patagonia of the North”. It is located less than 200 miles South of the Arctic Circle, so depending on the time of the year its weather can be very volatile which is exactly what us crazy photographers long for.
Now the tricky part, getting there! At close to 3000 miles, we traveled by air into Whitehorse, Yukon where we spent the night. Early the next morning we drove 7 hours to Dawson City, this left a two hour drive over 45 miles (where rental cars are not allowed btw) to the area where we had to leave our car behind. At that point we were still about 15 miles from our first camping location. Here we had a couple of options; hike the entire 15 miles with a 50lb pack (This hike has been called very strenuous without a pack!) plus we would have to split the hike into two days because of the terrain, certainly not because of our lack of physical prowess. Or the second option was to spend $3000 and take a 15 minute helicopter ride right into our first camp. Yea, we opted for the helicopter where we could sit comfortably checking out the scenery while eating candy bars, I mean health bars.
Our plan was to arrive as close to peak fall season as possible which never seems to work, but fortunately for us the first week of September worked out perfectly, the flight over the Tundra proved it was alive with color!
On our second day we noticed at the Western end of the valley the sky was beginning to darken, and flashes of lightning soon followed, but the sound of thunder was over two minutes away, so no big deal. right? Wrong! A very low front of dark clouds was streaming straight towards us. So what is the first thing you should do in a lightning storm? If you said grab your camera and metal tripods and start taking pictures you would be right. As the storm continued to close in on us I took my last shot and yelled out “retreat” to the gang then ran like a little girl to my tent. Before I had zipped up the side door I saw the rest of the girls scrambling into their tents too.
We just made it back to our tents when the winds hit with a vengeance! We had two, two-man tents and each of us squatted in the corner trying to keep the tent from blowing over with us in it. The lightening was right over us and unfortunately, we were close to being the tallest feature on the terrain; oh did I mention that our tents were held together with “metal” poles. The thunder was deafening and if that wasn’t enough we began to be pelted with pea size hail. Finally after about 20 minutes the front began to pass through and we emerged from our safe houses to find a beautiful carpet of white. The hale offered perfect contrast against the gray mountains. We had survived! Life is good.
The next morning we packed up and hiked to our next location. I’m going to break this adventure into two parts, so stay tuned for the final installment, thanks for looking!