Friday, August 21, 2009

Trials of the Weather, Pleasures of the Trail

I relaxed, sipped the latte and flipped open my Manchester Guardian. A soothing half hour spent before beginning the earnest work of hiking the Chilkoot Trail. The first task was to wake up the crew and meet for a big breakfast at the Sweet Tooth Cafe. Then a slow trundle down to the Trail Centre where Dyea Dave met us for the shuttle over to Dyea. Dave also picked up a bear view client and, on the road, we met a German couple Dave had toured last summer. Hearty greetings and they parked their car and joined us for the drive. A grizzly was seen across the valley and the van careened down the road, across the bridge over the heads of a half dozen fly fishers, through the dark woods and out onto the ocean flats. Dave brought his van within 40 metres of the bear as it munched down on a salmon in a sidestream of the Taiya River.

While we watched Dave told us his modern day Soapy Smith story. A couple of years ago a fellow set up a dog mushing attraction in Dyea. For $30 he'd tour you through the kennel and you'd get a dog team cart ride. Local advertizing netted him a couple of dozen rides a day, mostly from cruise ship passengers. It didn't take one of the cruise ship companies long to drop by and ask for the "exclusive" right to his offering. He accepted and still gets $30 a ride, but now the company runs out busloads of passengers several times a day when they're in port and keeps him plenty busy. They market the excursion on ths ship as $119 cruise ship passenger special! I guess that's how cruise fares are cheap, not much different from the casinos in Las Vegas.

Meanwhile the bear finished his salmon. He hunched up and looked upstream, then, he jumped and started to hop forward, then sideways and once backwards and he was back on the bank with another salmon. He wasn't worried about us.

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