Driving to Alaska Day 9: The Yukon Territory

Welcome to post 9 of 18 in our Driving to Alaska series. We hope you enjoy the stories from this unforgettable 4,000 mile road trip!

The Cassiar Highway to Tagish, Yukon

We were met by only a few broken clouds this morning, the glorious warmth of the sun able to greet us for breakfast.  Rainfall overnight had me picturing us packing up in a wet, scurried frenzy so I was as delighted as ever to have the time and comfort for a delicious meal before starting the day’s drive.  

We resumed our drive on the Cassiar highway and passed through a massive burn area.  In the 1300 or so miles we’d covered so far in Canada, we had witnessed nothing but dense forest and lush vegetation.  The scorched earth we witnessed in this region, with nothing remaining but the black remnants of tree trunks, was a startling contrast.  I could see how fires in this part of the world could rage and decimate a forest for miles.  Multiple fires from last year actually managed to smolder through the winter and had recently flared back up, closing long stretches of highway.  Last week, when discussing which of our two route options we preferred, the Alcan route or the Cassiar route, we learned of these closures.  The Alcan was not an option and so we ended up on the Cassiar by default.  

Not long after the burn area faded from our rearview mirror, we entered The Yukon Territory.  Each gas stop felt more primitive than the last, it was obvious that we were continuing to get further and further away from any kind of supply chain.  While resources weren’t plentiful, the wildlife definitely was.  In the first couple of hours of our drive we saw two caribou and three black bears.  In two days time I’d seen more bears than in my entire life up to that point.

South of Whitehorse we met up with two local paragliders whom Cade & Becca had connected with through their paragliding community.  Lifelong paragliders and long-time instructors, Cade & Becca were hoping for some opportunities to fly during our trip but so far the weather conditions had prohibited it.  This was our first truly sunny, dry day in Canada.  The flying potential was promising.  We were shown to two launch sites and while the lack of wind wasn’t ideal it hinted at possibility.  With that, they hiked to the first launch site while we watched from the quiet highway that hugged the edge of a postcard-perfect lake.  I basked in the sun and scenery while Cade & Becca prepped for their flight.  I also kept my eyes open for the black bear that we had seen on the hillside ten minutes prior.  By the time they were ready to fly, only a whisper of wind remained and nothing more ever transpired.  A long flight was not in the cards today but they both still enjoyed a short and sweet ride back to the truck.  Watching them both land with graceful precision illustrated their level of expertise.

Stefan, one of the local paragliders that joined us, offered his property for us to camp.  A short drive brought us to his beautiful cabin.  A large flat, grassy area, complete with picnic tables and fire pit, surrounded by pines, birch, and mountain views, was an idyllic setting for our first night in the Yukon.  At 9pm we enjoyed a delicious Pho prepared by Cade & Becca, though it felt more like 6 than 9.  The sun wouldn’t set for at least another hour.  This being our first Canadian sunset not obstructed by clouds, we could truly experience the increasingly long days of the north.  The sun may have eventually set but the night never turned dark.  It remained dusk until seamlessly blending to dawn at 2:30am when the slowly rising sun painted the clouds pink.  It officially rose at 5am.

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We’re Mark & Michele, modern-day nomads perfecting the art of slow, full-time travel.  Our tiny home on wheels and slow-paced travel style allows us to minimize our expenses while maximizing our freedom.  May our unconventional way of life inspire you to design a life that you love.


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