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Dave and Jan's travels, day 14:
Skagway: Hiking and Cycling

2nd June
Skagway is the strangest town.  It is like being on a film set.  All the buildings on main street have been 'restored' (i.e. rebuilt) to look like they did in the goldrush era of 1897-8. But this only applies to the view from the town's main road - Broadway. Nip behind the buildings and you find corrugated iron roofs and standard cheap construction behind entirely fake facades.

In the winter this place has a population of 600.  In the summer that rises to 2,000 with hired help.  Once 3 cruise ships come in, it goes to 8,000 - and all of them are buying tutt. Click here for more information about Alaskan boat people and exactly what tutt is.

We are having a good time here (still not working).We arrived on 31st May for a quick and manageable trot up to "Upper Dewey Lake" and the Reid waterfalls. One small compensation for the recent voluminous rainfall has been some splendid waterfalls, and these were no exception.

June 1st saw our assault on AB mountain. This can be seen from town, although that didn't stop us confusing it with the next mountain along. The truth finally dawned after half an hour of comments like "I really can't see how this trail is going to lead up there" and the like.

Once on the slope we got some beautiful views of the town. The trail is described in the visitor centre handout as "strenuous", which is putting it mildly, especially as none of us are exactly at our fighting weights. Several segments required us to be on all fours, up and down: the final peak we reached is well over 4,000 feet up, and starting at sea-level you feel every one of them.

June 2nd saw more activity, this time cycling into the next bay along. At least 2 of us have never been on mountain bikes before and none of us have done any serious cycling in the last 15 years.  It was great fun and we did about 20 miles in all, but today I am finding it hard to sit down - surely there must be a better way to design a saddle!

Overall, Skagway is a big hit with us. The setting is lovely. There's a small inlet surrounded by snow capped peaks.  It is a tad windy but unless you are cycling into it that's not too bad. Despite the 'Universal Studios' feel of Skagway it is a very friendly, interesting town.  Downtown there's a lovely microbrewery which makes a fine pint of porter. There's also the "Days of 98" show, a kind of vaudeville show which tells a little about the gold rush days. It might sound a bit tacky, but is actually hugely entertaining and pretty informative to boot. The gold fever story is fascinating and there are definitely lots of stories to tell.  However, if I hear the story of Soapy Smith one more time....


   (click thumbnails for a larger picture)

Triumphant on Dewey Lake

Skagway harbour

Lynn canal, south from Skagway

Three cyclists

Silly sign in the town centre