The view this morning was different. The air was crisp and clear. For the first time in what seemed like forever, it wasn’t raining. I walked out onto the balcony and in front of me was the side of a rocky mountain, covered in paintings of maritime flags of various ships and lines who had previously been in today’s port of Skagway, Alaska.
We had another early outing planned so we hurried with breakfast and headed off the ship. Next to the ship was a vintage train run by White Pass Yukon Railroad. We boarded and found our seats. Once everyone was settled in the train started down the trains, headed for the top of White Pass Summit. On the way up we learned that the town of Skagway was known for being the Gateway to the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898. The mountains towered over us, some topped with glaciers. One dubbed, “Saw Tooth Mountain” was particularly beautiful. Stepping outside of the vintage railcar gave unsurpassed views of the Alaskan wilderness. The wind blew my hair and I held the side rails tight as the train curved around countless cliffs and over trestles and bridges. We passed Dead Horse Gulch, Bridal Veil Falls, and the original Trail of ’98 before reaching the summit. In just 20 miles we had climbed 3000 feet and barely crossed the border into British Colombia.
The train turned around and began it’s descent. It was interesting to me that the views on the way back seemed so different considering it was all the same scenery as on the way up. All that changed was our perspective and a chance for a second look. This was one of the rougher outings for Søren. He was very interested in the tunnels and my camera and nothing else. He was restless for most of the 2 and a half hour trip so Steve and I took turns keeping him calm. The magic “toys” were my camera, a wrench, and a talking Toby from Thomas the train.
By the time we arrived back at the dock in Skagway Søren and Steve were both exhausted. I was too but didn’t want to let another port slip by unexplored. Aiden and I finished our lunch quickly and headed back off the ship. The quarter-mile walk to town took ten minutes by foot. The town was much smaller than our earlier ports of Juneau and Ketchikan. What strikes me so odd about these little towns is that their population is so low compared to the crowds of people who come off of the cruise ships during the summer. I wonder what it would be like when the towns are not full of happy-go-lucky cruisers? I’m glad that we ate on the ship because in passing I heard the wait time at a couple of cafe’s was 45 minutes to an hour. We walked until our feet told us it was time to head back.
It was near sunset when the horn blew and we headed for our next destination, cruising by the town of Haines, Alaska on the way out.