Dawson Overland Trail

7:41 sunrise
18:42 sunset
Ya know, if this was a different sort of blog, I would probably share with you a really grotesque photo of the excruciating crotch abrasion I gave myself over last weekend on the Dawson Overland Trail.  But it’s not that kind of blog so you will just have to imagine and trust me when I say it hurts.  I chose to not wear a chamois or padded shorts during our 100km bike excursion.  I figured I never wear them in the winter; there’s already so much going on down there with long underwear and ski pants.  I figured I’d be fine.  I was wrong.  But early on our first day you can see that I had a smile on my face.
And now I am home and I am well and I am still smiling.  Two days biking the 100km trail that was part of the first winter road between Dawson and Whitehorse with three other grrls on fat bikes was a lot of fun. The Jills drove all the way from Anchorage to spend the weekend on bikes in Whitehorse.  How cool is that?!
                                                           Photo: Jill Homer
We got a late start on Sunday and left Braeburn around 2:30pm (orange marks the overland trail and grey shows the current highway).  We got dropped off at the north end and rode 100km to the Takhini River.

The road was constructed in 1902 as a winter route between Whitehorse and Dawson.  Although the fastest (and I would assume easiest) way to travel between these two communities was via the Yukon River, river travel was problematic during the seasons between open water (boat) and frozen (dog team or snowshoe). Once the winter road was complete, it was used to transport mail, freight, and – in a White Pass & Yukon Route sleigh – even passengers.  

Maps courtesy of the Klondike Snowmobile Association and yukoninfo.com

The kind of cool thing about biking along a trail like this is that from time to time you come across artifacts from when the route was used prior to the Klondike Highway being built.  Giggle all you want, but I love seeing things like this when I am out exploring.  This cat track is from the c.1930s and was probably used to haul mail along the route.

We enjoyed a long, mellow ride divided almost perfectly in two by spending the night in a fabulous trapper’s cabin along the trail.  While the trapper’s cabin wasn’t the original plan, we were extremely grateful that Sky, a friend who snowmobiled food and wine in for us, found it as an alternative when the Klondike Snowmobile Association cabin was occupied by bison hunters. 
Splitting the trip into two days was the prefect way to ride this trail.  I’m enthusiastic about adventures, group rides, and being outdoors.  But I am also not an endurance machine and by the second day, somewhere around the 85km mark, I developed a wicked headache and I was tired.  Perhaps I bonked, perhaps I was just done.  And, remember my mistake in not wearing bike shorts?  Yeah well that caught up to me too.  I walked several sections of trail.  But the company couldn’t be beat and I enjoyed several hours of what I enjoy most about trips like this: the silence and the particular meditative state that comes only from cycling. It’s the rhythm that comes from turning the pedals and, in the winter, the crunchy noise of the tires on the snow.  It’s the sound of mellow happiness.

Good times, awesome women.  Excursions like these remind me how lucky I am in life.  Thanks, friends.


One comment

  1. Wow Jenn! I love this post, and as a fellow history/northern nerd I also LOVE klondike trails and the cool stuff along the way. I got to go off road on part of the klondike trail in north/central Alberta “dead horse” they call it…very muskeggy and yes..lots of bones. very cool to be where have others have been before, I get it! So glad you had fun… boo to the Bison Hunters:(


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