Tag Archives: Yukon

Sheep Creek Trail (Yukon)

Sheep Mountain

Time to spot some sheep!

 

Region: Sheep Mountain – Kluane National Park of Canada, Yukon, Canada
Return Trip: 10km (6 mi), 3-6 hours
Trailhead Location: Near the parking area at the base of Sheep Mountain.
Elevation Gain: 427m (1400′)
Skill Level: Moderate
Hazards: Grizzly bears, moose, dust/debris, narrow trail on cliff side, high winds


 

The second hike my wife and I completed while in the Yukon was along the Sheep Creek Trail.

Sheep Mountain sits just across the Alaska Highway from Kluane Lake; the largest lake in the Yukon. It gets its name from the Dall Sheep that call the mountain their home.

Before starting up the trail, we stopped off at the Tachal Dhal Visitor Center. They had some telescopes set up facing the mountain, which the Parks Canada attendant had pointed at a group of sheep grazing for their breakfast.

After spotting the sheep and checking out the visitor center, we got back in the car and drove up the 2km pothole-infested dirt road to the trailhead. They warn people in smaller cars and RVs to hike up this road, since the potholes can get a little deep (roughly 2 feet deep in spots). As is the way of the Yukon, things tend to be a little bit bigger and a lot more wild; potholes are no exception.

 

Sheep Creek Trail Map

You are here. Now go hike up a mountain.

 

The Sheep Creek Trail sees a lot more foot traffic than our newly conquered trail; King’s Throne. This means that bears are less of a danger, but caution is still the best practice. With our bear bells, bear mace and trusty mosquito head nets ready to go, we started up the trail.

 

Sheep Creek Trail River View

Looking back down the trail; Slim’s River is flowing into Kluane Lake.

 

The good news was that the majority of the trail turned out to be wide enough for two people to hike side by side comfortably. It was also windy enough to keep the mosquitoes off us for a lot of the hike, even at the lower elevations. The not so good news? It is an unrelenting, uphill hike. Sure, there are a couple spots that level out for a few meters, but they really don’t last long at all. That’s just part of the fun though.

 

Facing Kaskawulsh Glacier

Facing in the direction of Kaskawulsh Glacier; the source of Slim’s River.

 

There were definitely some great views along the trek up. It was a nice clear and sunny day, with only a few clouds in the sky. We could follow Slim’s River as it meandered down all the way from the far off mountain range. Sidenote: That would be an excellent canoe trip.

 

Sheep Creek Trail Path

Climbing higher and higher; you can almost smell the sheep.

 

Sheep Creek Trail 5km Marker

Reached the 5km lookout point. The wind must’ve knocked it down, or a grizzly.

 

Edge Of 5km Lookout

Not getting too close to the edge; it’s a dead drop and a long way down.

 

Windy At The Lookout

Don’t pay those ridiculous salon prices for hair this good; hike a windy mountain.

 

Kaskawulsh Glacier

Kaskawulsh Glacier is back there somewhere. [Click me!]

 

We made it up to the 5km lookout point, where the wind was extremely strong. So strong, in fact, that it might have been the cause of the fallen 5km point trail marker. After battling the high winds and pushing forward through a creeping fatigue courtesy of the hike up, we were treated to an intensely amazing view of the Yukon wilderness as far as the eye could see. It was definitely worth the effort to get to this ridge.

Being as windy as it was, we didn’t end up staying for very long here at the lookout. We started back down the trail to get out of the high winds.

 

Back Down The Trail

Heading back down the trail and holding on to my hat…so windy up there!

 

The Old Dusty Trail

Back down into the trees. Due to a drought, the trail was very dusty.

 

The Kluane Lake region was experiencing a bit of a drought during our time there. This caused a good portion of the Sheep Creek Trail to be exceptionally dusty. The hike wasn’t so bad on the way up, but on the way down, we seemed to be engulfed in small dust clouds for most of the way.

 

Sheep Creek Trail Parking Area

Back at the parking area. What an awesome hike!

 

A little exhausted and very satisfied, we made it back to the car and jumped in after shaking off a couple stubborn mosquitoes that were still latched on to our clothes in a last ditch effort at a meal. Thank you Yukon, you definitely did not disappoint. Another memorable hike in the books.

 

Thanks again to my wife for helping out with some great shots along the trail. 🙂

 


Get out and hike!


 

Copyright © 2015, Ben Aerssen. All rights reserved.

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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 clichĂ© 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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Filed under Hiker's Hangout, Hiking, Trails