Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Snow shoe walking in Skagway, Alaska

Our first attempt to snow shoe walk - we have taken a train from Skagway, a gold mining village of Alaska, and dropped off in the middle of nowhere. Thank goodness for the hiking sticks... The snow is thick and quite often one of our party of 8 sink into the snow up to knee height and have to be dug out.. Hence Kurt, our leader with the shovel below...we have 5 hours in the wilderness.  It's a beautiful day, have had to put my down jacket in my rucksack!

The train stops in the middle of nowhere...

There's just a hut and we get given boots and snow shoes..

Rob mouthing wtf have I let myself in for....

Kurt with shovel, explaining how to walk with the shoes.  They have serrated teeth in the front of the shoes, the shoes slip on but are loose at the back so they are like large flip flops!  When you walk you have to kick your toes into the snow to grip, especially walking down or uphill.

The snow is thick and sparkles in the sun.  Kurt makes a ball of snow in his fist, and sprinkles a home-made sherbet on it, he invites us to do the same- it's delicious, and the snow is full of electrolytes, he tells us.  But the bees, yellow backs, also like the sherbert , and sting him.  Really painful for him - they are more like hornets.

The snow is really thick and soft in parts, so we walk single file, walking in Kurts shoeprints compresses the snow and makes it easier to walk.

Rob and some of our group snow walking.. The alpine firs are stunted in this heavily snowed area.

We stop at some rocks  for lunch and eat the sandwiches we made on the train.  After a couple of hours of walking, it's  great to sit!  Kurt tells us about the different lichens, including moose lichen, which the moose (obviously) eat.  They can even smell it and dig down to find it when the rocks are completely covered.

Walking on after lunch, we come to a slope, Kurt slides down, and invites us to do the same.

The Mexican couple (young) slide down first- with no fear!  Plucking up all my courage I slide down- and it's great fun, although scary, because by now the snow is glassy smooth, so sliding down is super fast.  Rob decides to slide down a less steep bit, but slides over a rock and lands up with ripped pants, and a huge bruise on his ....

The water is turquoise, so clear and we walk really carefully to avoid falling in.

This is the Klondike train we caught - it was built end of 1800's during the Yukon gold rush - more pics of the scenery from the train and Skagway next...

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