For years I had this super lofty goal of someday walking all the way up to the top of the Dome. That’s the highest point behind Dawson City where you can look out and see the town, the Yukon River, and mountains off in all directions.
Every year it got postponed because I was too out of shape, too scared, too lazy, or sick from cancer treatment.
Last night I headed out with Hank after work and we just kept hiking and climbing and panting, and we did it!!
We started from our house, and hiked up to the 9th Avenue trail behind the Robert Service cabin.
Then we cut up to the Crocus Bluff trails.
We hiked the day before, and I was feeling pretty good, so I decided we’d at least cross Mary McLeod and see what that trail was like. I’ve only ever done a bit of it before.
I had just two 500ml bottles of water, a Clif bar for a snack for me, two big dog cookies for Hank, bug spray, and I had a bear spray canister clipped on to me.
The first part of the Buried Treasure leg of the trail goes by some old cabins, debris, cans, old stove pipes, a lawnmower, and more rusty cans.
The trail is really nice. Oddly crazy dry already, since the snow *just* left. Firesmart crews cleared out all the underbrush for the next kilometre or two, keeping it safer from a fire catastrophe, since it is right above town. It makes for a really nice trail, and it is nice to have that visibility.
I had downloaded all the trails up here on the TrailForks app on my phone. I could tell we were climbing pretty high, but I was feeling good so we kept going.
With the trail app, I kept noting a “back up plan” as in, how can I get my carcass out of here, to somewhere Jeff can pick me up, should need be.
Eventually we crossed under the power line, and then saw a shed. We missed any sort of route sign here and then started going in the wrong direction, along the Acklen ditch!
This was a feat of engineering back in the early 1900’s. A ditch carrying water for miles and miles. Here’s where we joined the historical ditch.
It’s a total dream to hike on! You are in the ditch for a ways, then along side it.
There was even a big puddle of meltwater for Hank to get refreshed, since he refused my bottled water.
By the time we got close to the Moosehide slide and saw an unrecognizable trail name, I knew I did something wrong.
The trails are crossed often by mountain bike trails, and some said one way only with no enter signs. I couldn’t remember missing any obvious sign for the Dome hiking trail that went up. So we back tracked the ditch, and then we cut straight up to where my map showed me the trail should be. It was so steep that once I had to get on my knees to climb up. But we did it!
We got back on the trail, and then it started getting really steep!
I could see from my app we were getting closer, but still had a ways to climb!
This picture is supposed to show you how steep it was, but it really doesn’t come through on this 2D photo!
We kept climbing, but got slower and slower. Like walk five steps, take a break, slow. Hank was panting so hard. My heart rate seemed pinned at 175 beats/minute. Hank wouldn’t rest though!
So I sat on a log to get him to take a break. Then I quickly slid off the log into the moss. Awwww perfect. Finally he laid down. I was still feeling pretty optimistic. A bit scared to take a break, thinking rigor mortis would settle in if we rested too long. But we’d been walking for a long time, no harm in a break!
Hank promptly started chewing a stick.
I couldn’t see the top of the Dome, but knew at some point we had to get above the treeline and I couldn’t see that up ahead yet. Should we keep going? We’re so close! I was okay to keep going. Hank was panting, but fine. So we kept going!
When it got crazy steep, we veered right on a mountain bike trail for a bit of sanity.
Then I saw a man. He was on top! We were almost there! And there was a tour bus full of tourists behind him!
We caught our breaths, so we didn’t look like crazy bush folk, and climbed up the rest of the way. There was a bunch of lady tourists reading the sign and when they caught a glimpse of me coming up from below, their jaws dropped. They asked me in German and mixed English if I climbed from town. I nodded and they were even more shocked. HA! 2.5 hours I told them it took!
I asked one of the tourists to take a picture of Hank and I! But he had trouble figuring out how to take a picture on my iPhone, and Hank and I didn’t stay still very long, so this was on we got!
As it turns out, the elevation gain is only 545 metres, according to my Apple Watch. My pace on the last km really killed our average pace!
But now what? Jeff was headed to a baseball practise. The tourists got in the bus and left. So decided to walk the road back home. It’s way longer, but there was no way I could go back down that steep trail with Hank on a 6 foot leash without destroying my knees.
There wasn’t a soul around, so I turned on some music on my phone and down we went.
Only my hiking shoes are too small. And the steady down hill starting killing my toes. Killing. I wanted to slice the end of my shoes to let my feet out. Finally there was a wee bit of a hill to climb, which was instant relief, then down again.
After 1 hr we had walked down 4 kilometres to the Dick North road. I was about to take off my shoes and just wing it on this crushed/seal gravel mix. How bad could it be. And then Jeff turned the corner! Woo hoo! We got a lift the last few kilometres home!
Hank seems no worse for wear. I’m a bit sore and dehydrated, but crazy proud of my persistence!
It is a really doable hike, even back down again, with the proper shoes. I’d bring more water and snacks next time. And maybe not pick the hottest, most humid, day of the summer so far, but we did it! And as a bonus, there were really no bugs yet. The odd mosquito, but I didn’t even need the bug spray.
For those wondering what the dome it, here it is from my back deck. It’s the top peak you see in the distance.
And when you are up there, you can look down on town like this:
Here’s to a summer of hiking! It feels good! If I can keep this up, next summer we’re going to climb the Chilkoot! (5 day thru hike/backpacking trip).