The first day of our canoe trip started with a train ride from Skagway, Alaska to Bennett, BC. Since the kids don’t go to sleep until very late at night (11 pm) getting them up for a 7:45 am train was our first challenge. Luckily the train turned out to be on Alaska time so it was 8:45 am for us on Yukon/BC time.
The train had a flat car for our canoe, which they put on special for us. All our bags fit in the box car and we sat comfortably in the first passenger car. The train staff were all excited about our trip and were so accommodating. One of my stresses had been not getting all our stuff off our train as in addition to our two barrels and three large dry bags we have a lot of smaller bags to fit into the canoe. The train ride turned out to be such an easy experience it reminded me that imagining problems was not the best use of my energy!
The train ride itself was beautiful, as expected. It took approximately two hours to get from Skagway to Bennett. While the brochure picture shows a train driving along the side of a steep mountain there was no time on the train that I felt scared. The only nervous part was approaching a falling apart bridge, until the guide said that bridge was retired in the 60s and the track had ben diverted across a more narrow part of the canyon and thru a new tunnel.
Molly loved the tunnels. There was only one tunnel on the original track for 250 feet. The second 600 foot tunnel was built in the 1960s. She held my hand thru the pitch black tunnels and when we came out the other side asked if we could do it again.
Another impressive site was seeing the original narrow trail along the wall of dead horse canyon used by the stampeders who hiked the White Pass Trail. The shallow canyon was filled with dead horses back in 1898 because so many horses, used as pack animals, fell off the narrow path. Seeing the same path today I can understand how.
At Fraser, BC we had to stop so Canadian customs can come thru the train to check passports. During the gold rush the Canadian police were situated closer to the boarder, but since the border is on the mountain summit both US and Canadian customs have chosen to locate themselves further down on their respective sides of the border to make life easier in the cold winter.
When we got to Bennett we realized it was a bit of a walk from where the train dropped us off to the Parks Canada campsite. Dwane thought we would really enjoy spending time at the old Bennett townsite and had booked two nights at the campground. However when we walked over we found it to be really busy with people who had just finished the Chilkoot Trail. Since it was mostly young adults sitting around it didn’t seem like the scene I wanted to hang out in with my kids. To Dwane it wasn’t what he was longing for in wilderness camping. For the kids it was difficult because the park was full of treasures, broken glass & rusty metal, that they weren’t allowed to touch! Instead of staying there even one night we decided to pack up the canoe and head out on the water.
To read the next leg of our trip click here.