Saturday, August 22, 2009

Trials of the Weather, Pleasures of the Trail - Shelter

We're dropped at the Trailhead, heave on our packs and start the climb. An overcast day, the gloom of the coastal rainforest lowered around us but we scarcely notice - we are dry and there are no bugs. A couple of hours and we're in Canyon City. Nothing hurts. I am pleased.

The shelter cabin here is being renovated. A large wall tent however gives shelter from the light shower that started just after we got our tents up. Three other pairs are travelling with us - a Juneau mum and her 15 year old son, a German couple and, late that night, a couple from southern Alberta. Over the course of the next four days we shared the trials of the weather and the pleasures of the trail.

It was great to see work being done on the cabin. Especially auspicious was the presence of Parks Canada crew member, John. There are four of these cabins on the trail - one each at Canyon City and Sheep Camp on the American side and a pair at Lindeman in Canada. All were built by inmates from the Juneau and Whitehorse correctional institutes in the 1960s. In what may be among the earliest "community corrections" projects in North America, far sighted corrections officials committed to programs allowing low risk inmates to volunteer to reopen the Chilkoot Trail for hikers. This fulfilled a strong community interest to have a historic trail attract tourists. Over the course of almost ten years inmates cleared the trail, built bridges and the four shelter cabins to make the present trail a reality. The park services showed up later to run the trail the inmates recreated. Today there are few reminders of the dedicated and arduous work accomplished by these men. Congratulations to them! For more on the corrections work on the trail see Chilkoot Trail Cabins.

Andrew and I returned to the tent after supper to find rain dripping onto our mats. Bad news! We rolled out our sleeping bags and arranged our raincoats to divert the water to the floor. Resigned to the leaks we fall asleep to the roar of the rising river beside the tent.

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