We returned to the small, nearly abandoned and forgotten, town of Keno, Yukon for the Canada Day long weekend.

The trip almost didn’t happen for us. Jeff’s truck has broken down and needs expensive repairs that can’t be done locally. Without any way to pull our trailer, we could have gone with a tent and my truck, but we’d be unable to pull our quads on a trailer too, and the local dog shelter had no available room for Hank to board either.

But our wonderfully generous friends, Tim and Liz, not only lent us a truck, they pulled our quads on their flat bed trailer so we could join the fun.

Our group was much smaller than last year, at just 5 of us! Everyone had a super long weekend off work, except me. I started a new job on Thursday (same employer, new part of the company) so I didn’t want to take off my second day! Jeff joined Tim, Liz, and Susan and drove over to Keno on Thursday evening. They spent Friday hanging out in the rain, building a shanty town of tarps over the fire and picnic table, and I joined them by supper time on Friday. (It’s about a 3-4 hour from here).

Saturday’s weather was beautiful! Our first destination was the sign post hill way up above Keno.

The first thing we all did was put on more layers! It is cold up in the alpine areas, and windy!

We all were in favour of heading back down in altitude to get out of that cold wind. Our first stop was an abandoned miner’s cabin that we didn’t stop at last summer.

The forests and alpine areas all around Keno are full of mining relics, shafts, ore cars, and cabins. You could spend your entire life exploring here. There is so much to see and find!

There was still a bed and mattress inside if you’re looking for affordable accommodations!

Baby birds were inside here on a shelf! Once we were back outside the cabin, there were a couple birds going wild. The Merlin app helped me identify them as Say’s Pheobe’s and both parents feed their young.

We left so we wouldn’t disturb them further. The babies didn’t make a sound when we were in the cabin. We almost didn’t notice them, and they were right at our chest height!

The clouds on Saturday were beautiful! What a landscape! Imagine spending time mining up here. Your nice weather season would be SO short though! There is still snow in places up here!

We returned to some of the mining shafts we knew about up that hill to show Susan who hadn’t joined us last summer. It was fascinating how many things had changed in just a year. It feels like a place frozen in time, but relics were moved, the ore car was no longer on the tracks, and one of the shaft doors had been pried open.

Look at the view!

The algae growing in the water flowing out of the mine shaft was really cool! There were many porcupine quills in here too, and another nest of the same species of birds.

Jeff spotted a marmot just hanging out beside where he was standing!

We liked his laid-back style and followed suit, taking a snack/lunch break nearby.

We headed back towards town and stumbled upon an active mine shaft!! Jeff tried to shine his high beams inside to light it up, but it was too vast!

Turns out our phones work pretty decently in low light!

There was a board inside the cage for the tags of everyone working in the mine! I’ve fuzzed out their names.

Here’s the type of equipment that drives in there!

We pushed on to the area of the old town of Elsa, that was almost entirely levelled for the mine. It was a mining town, of the last family mining towns. Now the camps around here are just temporary job site trailers and the workers are flown in and out. Families are left behind in the miner’s home towns. Here are a couple decaying buildings still standing.

We had lots more to explore, like more rocks!

Jeff had an app on his phone that used his camera to identify the type of rock.

Did I warn you how photo heavy this post was going to be? I can’t help it, the views are just amazing, and the clouds are huggable!

Look at this old mine we found! The Hector Mine, dated 1957. It was secured and closed, but one of the old ore car trains were left outside. I have no idea what type of tourist would ever find themselves up here off the side of an active haul road to see this, but we did!

Looks like this one had a cave-in!

That night after dinner we went up to the Sourdough Bench overlooking Keno like we did last year. Last year though, we watched all the growing forest fires in almost every direction. This summer has been cool and wet so far – no fires!

But was I in pain! I had the worst gas pain under my ribs. I can only guess it was from the two ginger ales I drank that day, and then had my stomach absolutely clenched as we banged around on the bumpy haul roads. It was excruciating! Eventually, something had to give, and dinner did. I went off on my own and projectile vomited behind a rock. Here’s the aftermath.

I was all fixed up by the next morning. The internet told me to sleep on my left side, and finally I was able to burp. Good grief, that was ridiculous!

Hank had a pretty chill weekend in our camper. Whenever we were in camp, we’d take him for walks. He seemed plenty fine with that! Whew – Hank turns 6 this week and he’s so chill now!

We headed to the old abandoned mining camp of Warnecke on Sunday morning. I had this urge to explore the massive dump site again, and Susan got to see the big house left on site, the old mining boss’s house.

There is probably an acre or two here of trash. I hoped to find treasure, but every bottle is broken, every plate is broken, and there are thousands of rusty cans.

So many barrels and metal straps. Old vehicle batteries and boards.

Some of our best finds were these two enamel wash basins and an aluminum dish. I took their photo and left them there. Most of the intact “treasures” from here have already been found and preserved in the mining museum in Keno.

There was an enormous set of moose tracks through this old camp! Here’s a photo comparing the moose print to my foot.

Oh and Jeff found a frying pan!!

And a rock that his app said was radioactive!! We left both there!

Jeff has a real knack of finding things. We were booting down an old road and he stops and walks in to the woods and finds another abandoned cabin!

This one had screens on the doors and windows, and likely took old fuel cans from that nearby dump site for shingles and to cover the breezy walls.

It is always amazing to see the things left behind.

After a lunch back at the campground to check on the dogs, we headed for the lowlands, and some lakes we’ve never seen. Turns out they are BEAUTIFUL!

Later on Sunday, we decided to head out to our friends’ gold mining camp that was 30 km away. By then it was raining, but it was just one of the rain clouds with a bit of thunder that churn up on a warm Yukon afternoon. But the ride was ROUGH. I guess I need to learn how to stand to drive my quad like Jeff does because I was seriously jostling all my organs, clenching my abs with self-preservation in mind. I may even have lost a pancreas along the drive. Jostled right out! HA!

We ran into our friend Marcel shortly before we found their mine site and waited at his camp’s dock while they finished up what they were doing.

We headed back up to their remote camp and spent a few hours catching up, laughing, hearing old stories, and learning about their future mining plans.

It was such a fun visit! I didn’t take many photos though! I was so wiped from that drive – but the ride back didn’t seem as bad after such a good evening! We headed back to camp by 9:30pm and soon were all sound asleep. We had put over 221 km on our ATVs over the two days!

I don’t think any of us were ready to pack up camp this morning to head back to Dawson and our day jobs. The weather was warm! Up to 28°C! Summer is here and we could have spent another week camping and exploring.

Instead, we packed it all up and headed home.

But all that terrible construction on the Klondike highway claimed us, one by one.

Even going in a slow convoy together, we had casualties. First it was the straps holding the ATVs onto the trailer that kept coming loose.

Then a jerry can got pinched between a trailer wall and an ATV leaking fuel all over the inside of a cargo trailer holding two quads.

Then Jeff lost a hub on our trailer!! Steel on steel, there was nothing to do but take off the wheel, strap up the end of the axle to keep it off the road, and limp it home. Thank goodness for Jeff’s foresight to buy a double-axle camper!

We were stopped right in the “DON’T STOP – SLIDE AREA” too!

Then our friend’s camper had a sluggish restart and started sounding a mysterious beeping alarm, warning about air bags. I stayed at the back of our convoy (crazy we had 5 people and 5 vehicles) and we went about 50km/hr for the last 50 kilometres. And I don’t think any of us had working air conditioning so we all have really impressive left arm tans now! Or will, once this sunburn settles.

It was an incredible weekend that felt too short and left me wanting more.

Now we likely need a new axle for the trailer, and still need to get Jeff’s truck fixed, but it all seems somehow worth it.