That title is a quote from one of the original Stampeders that I now fully understand. I carried 250 pounds of gear which included my 17'-3" canoe across the Chilkoot Trail to Lake Bennett. I ended up with three carries to leap frog my outfit across most of the way. Had to go with 4 carries for the steepest part to the summit, though. This was physically the most GRUELING 12 days of my life!
Encountered deep snow from Sheep Camp to Deep Camp (12 miles) so there was no trail to follow. It was more like winter mountaineering through this stretch and I was the first of the season to go over the summit. Took a couple poor routes and had to backtrack and find a better way. Avalanche possibilities were real so I kept that in mind as I chose a route. Had a couple slush slides come down the slopes too near.
I paddled and lined the canoe where I could (Taiya River and Lindeman Lake), dragged it like a sled when it was too windy to shoulder and also across frozen Crater Lake, but mostly carried it on my shoulders. I even carried it going up the final 45 degree slope (the Golden Staircase) to the summit. My canoe paddle became a hiking staff and then a snow ax when climbing. Used climbing crampons and/or snowshoes more than I liked. Snow was very wet spring snow and temperatures were hot never getter below freezing at night. Here are the portage stat's for my Chilkoot crossing starting at Skagway:
Paddled Taiya Inlet & River(twice) and Lindeman Lake: 40 miles
Lined Taiya River: 5 miles
Portaged Trail Length: 141 miles (82 of which were with load)
Climbed Elevation Gain: 18,000 vertical feet (based on park info which I think underestimates the up and downs along the way)
Did I mention it was GRUELING? Yes I did and yes it was! I came to appreciate what the Stampeders of 1897/98 went through in chasing their dreams. Those 30,000 people who made it over the Pass and onto Lake Bennett have my deepest respect.
|"Sheep Camp, just below snowline"|
|"approach to the pass"|
|"top of the pass looking back the way I just came"|
|"Parks Canada warming shelter at the summit"|
|"celebratory cigar and drink bought by friend in Skagway"|
|"coming down off the summit, standing on Crater Lake"|
|"Happy Camp camp, treacherous ice/water jam ahead"|
|"end of trail-Bennett Lake and open water once again"|