After a rain soaked night we woke up at 5am, made breakfast and were on trail at 7:11am. The trail started steeply uphill through a narrow path with lots of blueberries. Perfect bear habitat! It was slow going as Ellen did not have much energy.
The fog and clouds were filling in below and seemed to be chasing us up the mountain. There were lots of waterfalls, creek crossings, and talus fields (broken rock).
We finally reached “The Scales”. This is where the prospectors had to stop and weigh their gear and provisions before proceeding up the “Golden Staircase” over Chilkoot Pass and into the Canadian Yukon. Prospectors were required to have “a ton” of food and gear – enough to last a year. The ground was littered with rusty relics.
Now we came to the “staircase”, a steep 45 degree bolder strewn chute one half mile in length. It is steep enough to require scrambling on all fours and the fog was so thick that we could not see far ahead.
After 5 hours of hiking and boulder scrambling we made it to the top. The boulder hopping was both scary and exhilarating but we both had smiles on our faces as we reached the pass. Although there was no view down the mountain, the thick fog added a certain adventurous quality. We had a quick lunch at the safety shelter and then started down the mountain into British Columbia.
All the reading we had done about this trail did not describe conditions over the pass. The first section was very steep and rocky with slippery snowfields. The fog limited visibility to maybe 40 feet. As we broke out of the fog the trail continued through more talus fields, rock gardens and beautiful purple wildflower fields.
A very large section of tough trial went along Crater Lake. Finally what seems like forever we made it to Happy Camp.
After the chores of setting up camp we had dinner and exchanged stories with fellow hikers as everyone eventually arrived. Then Jeff played some “Bush Bocce Ball” games with Eric from Yellowknife and Duncan from Whitehorse.