Tag Archives: Hiker’s Hangout

King’s Throne Trail (Yukon)

King's Throne Mountain

Hail to the King. A view of the mountain from below. [Click me!]

Region: Kathleen Lake – Kluane National Park of Canada, Yukon, Canada
Return Trip: 10km (6 mi), 4-6 hours
Trailhead Location: Old mining road near the parking area at Kathleen Lake.
Elevation Gain: 548m (1800′)
Skill Level: Difficult
Hazards: Grizzly bears, black bears, moose, avalanches, rock slides, loose rock, narrow trail on cliff side


 

In June of 2014, my wife and I were fortunate enough to be able to make our way up to the Yukon for a few weeks. We had planned a few hikes for our time up there, the first being the King’s Throne Trail. Yep. Hiking up a mountain. Go big or go home, right?

King’s Throne towers above the beautiful, blue waters of Kathleen Lake. Both are located within the boundaries of Kluane National Park of Canada.

 

Kluane National Park Sign

Now entering Kathleen Lake – Kluane National Park. Let the adventure begin.

 

King's Throne Trail Map

That’s a lot of switchbacks; must be a little steep.

 

Having already hiked several kilometers of the Cottonwood Trail (following the mountain’s base) the afternoon before, we knew what to expect along the trail at this lower elevation; mosquitoes. Not just your run of the mill little blood suckers, but the gigantic, mutant variety that spawn only up in the Yukon. Huge, hungry swarms of them. Luckily we came equipped with mesh head nets. These were such a cheap investment and they turned out to be money extremely well spent.

With mosquito head nets in place, bear spray latched on to my belt and bear bells on our packs, we set off down the old mining road alongside Kathleen Lake.

While hiking down this first stretch, we came across a few older grizzly bear paw prints imbedded in the mud. By this point, we had already launched into several choruses of “Hey bear! Hey bear!” with a little jingle jingle from the bells and some clapping. We were now repeating our performance for the bears a little more often. Better to warn any bears we’re coming, then happen to sneak up on an unsuspecting mama bear. That would definitely not end well…for us.

The trail is fairly easy in the lower elevation, so we made good time here. As the trail started to rise up higher and higher along the mountain, it suddenly became more rocky. At the same time, we noticed that the trail had become quite steep in areas. This is where we started hitting the first of many switchbacks. Since we were concentrating on climbing up some steep trail bits, we didn’t stop to take photos until we were almost up out of the trees.

 

King's Throne Trail Tree Line

The trees are thinning out at this height. Only the strong survive.

King's Throne Trail Side

Careful with your footing, or you’ll be tumbling for a good distance. No pressure.

King's Throne Trail View

Part of the view on the way up. Motivation.

King's Throne Trail Almost There

Taking a breather after a very steep incline.

King's Throne Trail Clinging

One foot at a time as I shimmy up along the very narrow “trail” in the scree.

 

I have a special memory about this area of the trail because it was pretty damned scary; both on the way up and then down again. One particular spot here seemed to have fallen victim to a couple of rock slides. In effect, the already narrow trail (about 10″ wide here) had been cut away in two places creating two 4 foot gaps. Luckily, there was a tiny section of trail still in tact sitting all lonely and stubborn between the two affected areas of trail. Let’s call this small trail portion “Trail Island”. To reach the proper trail once again, you had to take a giant step across the first 4 foot section of nothingness and have your foot hit the 14 inch section of “Trail Island”. After managing to bring both feet over onto “Trail Island”, you then had to balance yourself and once again take a giant step across the second 4 foot gap in the trail. I can tell you from experience that when you’re a size 12 shoe, trying to not only fit my two feet onto a space of about 14″x6″, but also trying to balance my body weight and gear all at the same time is sort of a challenge. I guess it’s a good thing I had a mountain to partially balance my weight on. The other thing that my wife and I can be thankful for in this situation is that we both have long legs. It definitely worked to our advantage. This was one of those times where a certain cliché phrase popped into my mind…”Don’t look down!”. Great, thanks for the useful tip brain.

 

King's Throne Trail View From Top

We made it! Time to sit back and enjoy the amazing view. [Click me!]

The owner of the B&B across the Haines Highway (where we were staying) had warned us that there was the potential for avalanches, as the snow was still thawing out and melting down from the peak at this time of year. We decided it would be best to heed his warning, so we didn’t hike all the way up to the peak. We reached our destination at the “seat” of King’s Throne. Man, what an insanely amazing view. It was unreal and truly breathtaking.

We sat up there for a while just taking it all in. It was quite the accomplishment. We decided to eat our victory snack – good old Clif bars – and washed them down with some water. We didn’t have anywhere else to be but up there. It was such a great feeling. After some time had passed, we eventually decided that we should start heading back down from our quiet, little spot at the top of the world.

 

King's Throne Trail Back Down

It started to get a little chilly after resting for a bit. Ready to head back down now.

King's Throne Trail Tree Line Back

The trees are starting to reappear. No mutant mosquitoes at this elevation though.

King's Throne Trail Steep

My hiking pole came in really handy here. My knees were very thankful.

King's Throne Trail Halfway Down

A little less steep, just as many loose rocks.

King's Throne Trail Dirt Trail

Back down to where there is more dirt than rocks. Cue the giant mosquitoes.

King's Throne Trailhead

Mission accomplished! No mutant mosquito is going to crash this party.

 

Our time spent on the King’s Throne trail is something we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. It’s just one of those incredibly awesome things. It was difficult and a little scary at times, but the payoff was priceless. It was not only about the incredible views that were presented to us from our vantage point up at the top, but also the immense satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that we got from being able to push ourselves and overcome the difficulties of such a hike. The Yukon is a special kind of place that keeps calling you back for more. I know that both my wife and I will be heading back up there the very next chance we get.

Thanks to my wife for being patient and grabbing some great action shots along the trail. 🙂

 


Get out and hike!


 

Copyright © 2015, Ben Aerssen. All rights reserved.

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Review: Black Diamond Trail Back Poles

Black Diamond Trail Back Poles

 


 

Some people might argue that hiking poles are glorified walking sticks. Why not just grab a stick on the side of the trail and use that instead? This manner of thinking is why hiking poles get kind of lumped into that group of gear that is considered a “nice to have” for some hikers. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that; to each their own as the saying goes. However, after trying out a pair of poles while hiking on a glacier in Alaska, I was instantly sold. When I got back to civilization, I ended up purchasing the Black Diamond Trail Back hiking poles.

BD Hand Grips

Simple rubber hand grip. Grip it and rip it.

Pros:

  • Comfortable hand grip
  • Easily adjustable to various heights with the FlickLock® system
  • Collapsible
  • Colour (easily visible in most environments)
  • Durable
  • Comes with powder baskets (great for snowshoeing)
  • Weight (525g)

Cons:

  • Price (they cost more than deadwood)
  • Made overseas
BD FlickLock

The FlickLock® system in action. Clever design.

Review:

The Black Diamond Trail Back hiking poles come with a hand grip made of rubber. While I find this to be comfortable and perfectly serviceable, others might find they need the extra padding offered by dual-density foam. That being said, you’ll also be dishing out more cash for the foam hand grips as they’re only offered on more expensive models. One of the main draws to these poles is how easy it is to adjust their height. You open the FlickLocks®, adjust the height, close the FlickLocks® and continue along your hike. It’s so easy, adjustments can even be done on the fly. Just watch your footing. The poles also come with height markers printed directly on the legs for you to use as a guide when setting them up from their collapsed position. After adjusting the height, they stay locked in position. The FlickLock® system does not come loose and start sliding down when in use. During several difficult hikes (like hiking up two mountains in the Yukon for example), I’ve never had these poles bend or bow out when supporting most of my body weight on some risky descents. These poles are very sturdy. Even though they are made of aluminum, they are fairly light-weight at 525 grams. Although, for the hiker that counts every gram, there are lighter options. The poles are easy to store with a collapsed height of only 65.5cm (25 inches). The “fire red” colour on the upper body make them fairly easy to spot in different environments if you happen to lay them down. With the addition of removable powder baskets, these poles are great to use in the winter for snowshoeing. The poles are also very useful on icy trails. For me, there are only two real drawbacks when it comes to these hiking poles. Firstly, the price point for these poles is fairly high, but I wanted a decent pair of poles that will last a long time. Secondly, these are made overseas. Unfortunately, this seems to be the case with most of the hiking poles I have seen.

BD Powder Basket

The powder baskets are on and ready to break some trails!

Final Thoughts:

  • The Black Diamond Trail Back Hiking Poles can definitely be a Godsend on trails with constant elevation changes. They’re easy to adjust and take a good beating. Even on moderate trails, people will find these useful to stay balanced and upright. Give your knees a bit of a break and grab some Black Diamond Trail Back hiking poles for your next outing.

5 out of 5

 

 

 

Copyright © 2015, Ben Aerssen. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Gear, Hiking