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Stairs of Gold: Hiking the Chilkoot Pass

Program Number: 20059RJ
Start and End Dates:
6/26/2013 - 7/3/2013;
Duration: 7 nights
Location: Skagway, Alaska
Price starting at: $2,167.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Walking/Hiking Activity Level: n (see description)
Meals: 20; 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

The Chilkoot Trail became a major route during the Gold Rush, and today the trail rises up over the challenging Golden Stairs and crosses into British Columbia. Hike the trail with expert instructors and your group of seven hardy hikers and enjoy historical narratives provided by local outfitters as you spend four nights camping along the route. Return to Skagway riding the narrow gauge rails of the spectacular White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad.




Highlights

• Relive history as you hike in the footsteps of Gold Rush adventurers and camp in pristine landscapes.
• Ride the historic White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad.
• Witness dramatic contrasts in terrain from Boreal forest to Alpine tundra.



Activity Particulars

Walking/hiking 5-10 miles per day over steep terrain while carrying a 30-50 pound pack. Experience with back country camping necessary. Elevation gains of 3,100 feet.



Itinerary Summary

Arrival Skagway, 2 nights; on Chilkoot Trail, 4 nights; Skagway, 1 night; departure.



Coordinated by Road Scholar.




Skagway

The Klondike Gold Rush of 1897 took Skagway by storm as prospectors poured in seeking riches. Today, this seaside town in the southwest Alaskan corner retains much of its mining era charms, including a historic downtown and narrow-gauge railroad.



Chilkoot Trail

The Chilkoot Trail is a 33-mile trail through the Coast Mountains that leads from Alaska into the Yukon. It was one of the main access routes to the gold fields between 1897 and 1899. Long before the Gold Rush, the trail was established by Tlingit people as a trade route. It is managed and maintained by the National Park Service and Parks Canada.



Accommodations
Victorian hotel in Skagway; camping in double or single (with upgrade) dome tents on trail.
Meals and Lodgings
   Westmark Inn Skagway
  Skagway, AK 2 nights
   U.S. Chilkoot Trail
  Chilkoot Trail 2 nights
   Canadian Chilkoot Trail
  Chilkoot Trail 2 nights
   Westmark Inn Skagway
  Skagway, AK 1 night
 Westmark Inn Skagway
Type: Inn
  Description: Close to shopping and entertainment and adjacent to the historic district
  Contact info: Third and Spring Streets
Skagway, AK 99840-0515 USA
phone: 907-983-6000
web: www.westmarkhotels.com/skagway.php
  Room amenities: 151 guestrooms with cable TV, in-room hair dryers and coffee makers.
  Facility amenities: Free Internet access in lobby for hotel guests. Onsite bar and grill.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Check in time: 2:00 PM
  Check out time: 10:00 AM

 U.S. Chilkoot Trail
Type: Tents
  Description: Self-supporting dome tents are provided. Tents are comfortable for 2 people with some remaining floor space for clothing, etc. There will be two people to a tent unless single occupancy is booked in advance. Hikers carry a 50 lb backpack, and everyone shares carrying all supplies (food, etc.)
  Contact info: On the Trail
Alaska, AK none USA
phone: na0-0 0-0-0/ x0-
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Canadian Chilkoot Trail
Type: Tents
  Description: Self-supporting dome tents are provided. Tents are comfortable for 2 people with some remaining floor space for clothing, etc. There will be two people to a tent unless single occupancy is booked in advance. Hikers carry a 50 lb backpack, and everyone shares carrying all supplies (food, etc.)
  Contact info: On the Trail
Canada, BC none Canada
phone: na0-0 0-0-0/ x0-
  Smoking allowed: Yes


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Hotel check in begins at 3:00 PM. Orientation begins at 6:00 PM. You will be staying at Westmark Inn Skagway that night.
  End of Program:
9:00 AM after breakfast. Hotel check out by 10:00 AM. You will be staying at Westmark Inn Skagway the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. Participants are asked to complete a Transportation Information Form. We've included a copy of the "Agreement of terms of participation" for you to review in advance of the program. You will be required to sign this agreement onsite before participating in the program activities.
  Parking availability:
At the Westmark Hotel
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Skagway, AK
  Nearest city or town:  Skagway
  Nearest highway: The northern terminus of the Alaska Marine Hwy and the southern end of highway 2 which leads to the Al-Can Hwy and Anchorage
  Nearest airport:  Skagway (small planes) Juneau (jets)
  From End of Program
  Location: Skagway, AK
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Westmark Inn Skagway

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Hotel Shuttle
phone: 907-983-6000

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Free
Prices are subject to change.

 

Distance:

 

4 blocks

   

Alaska Airlines flies from both Seattle and Anchorage to Juneau. From Juneau, fly either Air Excursions or Wings of Alaska to Skagway. Each has flights out daily weather permitting. Contact the hotel for pick up upon arrival.

 

Westmark Inn Skagway

 

From Ferry Landing

 
 

Service:

 

Hotel Shuttle
phone: 907-983-6000

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Free
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

11 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

0.6 miles

   

Skagway is the northern terminus of the Alaska Marine Highway System. Northbound passengers can access the system at Bellingham, Washington and Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Almost all of the cruising lines calling on Alaska include Skagway on their itineraries. Be sure to check with cruise operator to see if Skagway is included on the itinerary. Contact the hotel for pick up upon arrival.

 

Westmark Inn Skagway

 

From Train Station

 
 

Service:

 

Hotel Shuttle
phone: 907-983-6000

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Free
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

10 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

5 Blocks

   

Start in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada and buy a ticket on the historic White Pass and Yukon Route, includes bus service between Whitehorse and Fraser, British Columbia via the Klondike Highway. At Fraser or Carcross you'll board the narrow-guage railroad for the rest of the journey to Skagway. White Pass & Yukon Route phone- 800-343-7373.

Elevation Note: 3,100 at highest pass

Equipment Requirements: Sleeping bag (good to freezing and below); sleeping pad (preferably "therm-a-rest"); backpack; rain jacket with hood; rain pants; warm jacket; heavy duty broken-in hiking boots with excellent tread; pair of camp shoes; water bottle (no glass); head lamp or flashlight.


The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Independent arrivals to Skagway/ Welcome/Orientation
(Wednesday, June 26)

Note: This is an expert level expedition hike, not for novice hikers. Walking distances are up to 10 miles per day with pack up to 50 lbs for 5 days in a row. Chilkoot Trail is 33 miles. Gear and equipment will be split between participants to carry. Bushwhacking, cross country boulderhopping, easy scrambling, some snow in remote locations where weather is unpredictable. Be familiar with back country camping. Above all, you need the right attitude, one of cooperation and flexibility.



   
 Arrive To: Transportation to or from Skagway is via the Alaska Marine Highway, www.ferryalaska.com or 1 800 642-0066 or by several commuter lines such as Skagway Air 907 983-3318 from Juneau.
 Afternoon: This is a program for the hardy and adventurous! Trek the arduous trail that hundreds of gold rush adventurers traveled. You will be one of only seven other adventurers on this trip to hike the historic Chilkoot Pass trail!

Welcome to Skagway, and to this adventurous program. Get acquainted with your fellow hikers at orientation and learn about the upcoming week.

 Dinner: At a local restaurant.
 Evening: Presentation: Gold Rush History
   
Accommodations: Westmark Inn Skagway
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Skagway Exploration/ Taiya River Float Trip/ Skagway Museum
(Thursday, June 27)

Note: This is a trip for the physically fit. Equipment provided includes self-supporting dome tent comfortable for 2 people with some remaining floor space for clothing, etc. There will be two people to a tent unless you book single occupancy in advance. We also provide cooking and eating utensils, and table ware. Sleeping bags and pads can be rented.



   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: A morning raft float trip on the Taiya River gets us acquainted with the rugged beauty of the area. As you float down the gentle Taiya River, your guide will point out wildlife, native plants and tell stories of the area’s fascinating history.
 Lunch: At a local eatery.
 Afternoon: Explore historic Skagway, where during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, some 30,000 gold seekers arrived by steamship, ready to travel over 600 miles (1000km) to the gold fields at Dawson City. Today, the town is bustling with visitors and still retains its “Gold Rush” flavour.

Step back a century in time at the Skagway Museum to get an inside view of the famous, rowdy days of the Gold Rush. Skagways most treasured artifacts, memorabilia, photographs and historical records are held here. It is renowned for its fine Alaska Native heritage collections as well as it Gold Rush collection of artifacts and tools used by the gold seekers.

The quaint streets of Skagway are perfect for strolling; wooden boardwalks, saloons with batwing doors and false-fronted buildings provide plenty of ‘colour’ for your snapshots. Some free time this afternoon to explore on your own.

 Dinner: At the hotel.
 Evening: Perfect night and perfect strolling town! You’ll feel like you went back in time to the Old West and tonight you’ll have a little time to wander, explore, or rest and relax before our great adventure begins on the trail tomorrow.
   
Accommodations: Westmark Inn Skagway
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Skagway to Finnegan's Point
(Friday, June 28)

Note: In the spirit of camaraderie of the trail, we will share all experiences....hiking, climbing, cooking, cleaning up, and setting up and taking down camp. Today's hike from Skagway to Finnegan's Point is 4.8 miles.



   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: This morning, we’ll travel 10 miles to the former townsite of Dyea, where we’ll start our hike on the Chilkoot Trail. This 33-mile trail follows in the footsteps of the thousands of stampeders who over one-hundred years ago, headed in search of gold during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898.

Today we’ll hike to Finnegan’s Point (approx. 3 hours hiking time). The first part of the trail climbs steadily along the Taiya River. Spruce trees tower above the trail and house eagle nests and the occasional black bear. Spawning salmon can be seen in the river in late summer. Yet, signs of the Klondike Gold Rush are also evident; from remnants of the old telephone line, built in 1898 to connect Skagway with Bennett and Log Cabin and the 1950’s era logging road that forms the trail near our campsite.

 Lunch: On the trail.
 Afternoon: Hike on to Finnegan’s Point, named for a fellow who built a bridge and for a short time collected a toll from passersby. The thousands of miners soon over-ran the bridge and his efforts to hold them back were futile. You’ll end your day in view of the beautiful Irene Glacier across the river.
 Dinner: At our campsite – whip up a great hardy, full-of-flavor meal with your fellow hikers.
 Evening: Stories as we gather together for a refreshing evening.
   
Accommodations: U.S. Chilkoot Trail
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Finnegan's Point to Pleasant Camp
(Saturday, June 29)

Note: Today's hike from Finnegan's Point to Pleasant Camp is 5.7 miles.



   
 Breakfast: At our campsite.
 Morning: We’ll continue our adventure through the rain forest. There are lots of creek crossings, as we follow the banks of the Taiya River. This is a pleasant day with some easy and some fairly steep, but thankfully, short climbs.The Rock Garden is a pleasant meadow with few trees and lots of small boulders, rolled to the side of the trail for easier walking.

A little further ahead, we’ll reach Canyon City. Once a thriving town servicing the thousands of miners on their way to Dawson, all that remains today are the foundations of a few buildings, a stove and some pots and pans, and the old boiler that powered the tramway. In 1898 you could save a lot of time and effort by using the tramway to get your goods over the pass for 7.5 cents/pound…or $5 in today’s money!

 Lunch: On the trail.
 Afternoon: Continuing on, we’ll encounter “Bent Tree”; miners would often mark a trail by tying a loop in a young sapling that would usually die as a result. This one has defied the odds by continuing to grow all these long years. We’ll soon arrive at Pleasant Camp where we’ll rest for the night.
 Dinner: Our own tasty creation at our overnight camping site.
 Evening: Our group leader leads informal discussion about wildlife, First Nations (native) history and culture, or other topics that have arisen on our travels today.
   
Accommodations: U.S. Chilkoot Trail
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Pleasant Camp to Happy Camp
(Sunday, June 30)

Note: Today's hike from Pleasant Camp to Happy Camp is 10 miles.



   
 Breakfast: At our campsite.
 Morning: Today is our longest, but most memorable part of the hike. We’ll have an early breakfast and hit the trail in order to cover the 10 miles to Happy Camp. Shortly after departing, we’ll pass through the Enchanted Forest - a region of gnarled trees, twisted and pitted due to the excessive snowfalls that bury them under several meters each winter.

You’ll see many Gold Rush era artifacts littering the trail as it begins to climb towards the Scales. After weeks of hauling a ton of goods up from Skagway, 110 lbs (50 kilos) at a time, the miners of the Klondike Gold Rush began to toss aside the non-essentials. Surprisingly the Treeline Sign is surrounded by trees, demonstrating the weather was colder in 1898 than today. But not much further along, the last tree appears, and then disappears, and soon there is nothing but rock in all directions.

This is where the avalanche that claimed the lives of many gold miners in the spring of 1898 occurred, and the victims are buried nearby.

 Lunch: On the trail.
 Afternoon: A little further and we arrive at the Scales, where the Canadian Mounties weighed the goods of each person entering the Yukon to ensure they had their mandatory 1 ton of provisions before being allowed to continue. This precipitous climb goes almost vertical as you travel up the Golden Stairs. This is where the famous photos of the long lines of men and women bent over from their toil, were taken in 1898. It’s a tough climb, scrambling over and around large boulders, but we’ll soon reach the top and cross the border between Alaska and Canada, at over 3700 feet (1100 meters) above sea level!

From here we’ll descend over snowfields, passing small lakes, creeks and rock outcrops to reach “Happy Camp,” the only campground on the Trail in the alpine, in the late afternoon.

 Dinner: At our campsite - a welcome repast!
 Evening: Our group leader leads informal discussion about wildlife, First Nations (native) history and culture, or other topics that have arisen on our travels today.
   
Accommodations: Canadian Chilkoot Trail
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Happy Camp to Lindeman City
(Monday, July 1)

Note: Today's hike from Happy Camp to Lindeman City is 5.5 miles.



   
 Breakfast: At our campsite.
 Morning: The trek from Happy Camp to Lake Lindeman is thought by many to be the best part of the trail. There are some spectacular views, and more importantly, the trail is relatively flat (except at Long Lake). As we leave Happy Camp, the trail rises above the valley and follows a ridge along Long Lake. After a short hike Deep Lake will soon appear, as will the first trees, before the trail begins to drop in elevation.
 Lunch: On the trail.
 Afternoon: The trail skirts Deep Lake and runs high above a narrow canyon where the river, known as Moose Creek tumbles down from Deep Lake to Lindeman City, where we’ll camp for the evening.
 Dinner: At our campsite - another great creation!
 Evening: Go fishing, put your feet in the river, explore a bit, or just relax under the stars!
   
Accommodations: Canadian Chilkoot Trail
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Lindeman City to Bennett Lake / Skagway via the historic White Pass Railroad
(Tuesday, July 2)

Note: Today's hike from Lindeman City to Bennett Lake is 7 miles.



   
 Breakfast: At our campsite.
 Morning: We will awaken with mixed emotions today. With just 1 more hike left, there is the feeling of accomplishment after having completed an arduous hike. Yet, there is always a little sadness when the end of the trail is near. But there is still some beautiful scenery to be seen as we continue our trek, first to Bare Loon Lake and then onwards to Lake Bennett.

Some of the most stunning vistas in British Columbia are found here, overlooking Lake Bennett. As we approach Bennett Lake, we catch glimpses of the old Gold Rush era church and rail station, all that remains of the community that once was home to over 15,000 people.

 Lunch: Hot lunch at the WP&YR Bennett Station.
 Afternoon: After some time exploring the old townsite, we’ll board the historic White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad from Fraser to Skagway. Now a UNESCO International Civil Engineering Landmark, the White Pass Railroad was built in 1899 to assist in the transport of goods and people to the gold fields at Dawson City.

The narrow gauge railroad takes a circuitous route from 3200ft to sea level in just 20 miles. The mood on board the train is bound to be pensive as you reflect on your journey as the train passes by the azure waters and green-sided, snow-capped mountains.

On arrival in Skagway, we’ll take you to your hotel, where you’ll enjoy a welcome hot shower!

 Dinner: Our Chilkoot Trail Celebration dinner at a local restaurant (cooked by someone else for a change!) with your new friends!
 Evening: Time to share highlights of our adventures and to say farewell to our “comrades of the Trail!”
   
Accommodations: Westmark Inn Skagway
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Farewell/ Departures
(Wednesday, July 3)
   
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: After breakfast, we’ll bring you to the airport or ferry terminal for your return trip home.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


After the Ice Age: The Return of Life to Glaciated North America


Author: E. C. Pielou


Alaska Trees and Shrubs


Author: Les Viereck


Alaska's History: the People, Land and Events of the North Country


Author: Harry Ritter


Description: This is a small, easily readable "digest" of Alaska's history. It is great for a quick overview and it is a good size for tucking into a suitcase or reading on a plane.



Alaska: An American Colony


Author: Stephen Haycox


All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms


Author: David Arora


Description:



All poetry by


Author: Robert Service


Call of the Wild


Author: Jack London


Gold Diggers: Striking it Rich in the Klondike


Author: Charlotte Gray


Guide to the Birds of Alaska


Author: Robert H. Armstrong


Klondike: The Last Great Goldrush


Author: Pierre Berton


The Alaska Native Reader: History, Culture, Politics


Author: Maria Sháa Tláa Williams (Editor)


The Boreal Herbal: Wild Food and Medicine Plants of the North


Author: Beverley Gray


Description: Available for purchase online at www.borealherbal.com.



The Nature of Gold: An Environmental History of the Klondike Gold Rush


Author: Kathryn Morse


The Yukon


Author: Pat & Baiba Morrow


Wild Flowers of the Yukon, Alaska & Northwestern Canada


Author: John Trelawny


Wildflowers Along the Alaska Highway


Author: Verna E. Pratt




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