Kluane NP… The Impenetrable Wilderness

Kluane NP… The Impenetrable Wilderness

From the minute we researched Kluane National Park we knew one thing, that our ultimate Canadian road trip had to include it. Described as being a land of mountains and ice and a true final frontier, Kluane NP is part of the largest protected land mass on Earth. It was always going to offer us a formidable landscape and an adventurous natural playground but we didn’t know to what extent.

.

The Alaskan highway races right towards Kluane NP before having to make an abrupt turn to the north where it skirts the western fringes of Canada’s Yukon Province. The mountains run parallel to the road for 300km and onwards as they disappear onto Alaskan soil. It was this drive that we had been recommended and we were truly mesmerised to be speeding alongside some of the most beautiful landscapes we’d ever seen. One thing that we couldn’t help noticing however, was how impenetrable the place looked, it seemed like the mountains were a blockade rather than an invitation to play. We camped beside Kathleen lake, a little to the south of the Alaskan highway’s abrupt right hand turn and stared at its pristine blue waters, stunning mountain reflections and even caught a hint of northern lights. We didn’t just want to gape in awe at this place, we wanted to get involved but to get into the heart of Kluane’s wilderness we were going to need a little help.

.

Oriole Day Hike, Kluane National Park, ultimate Canadian road trip
Oriole Day Hike

.

Approaching the Parks Canada visitors centre we were soon overcome with possibilities; Day hikes, lookouts and backcountry camping. We couldn’t help but enquire about the latter and the staff couldn’t help to keep the smile from their faces as they described the popular three day hike to a remote summit and arguably Kluane’s most beautiful view. We decided to take this on there and then, signing ourselves up for permits and making mental notes on how to prepare ourselves for the trip. Later on we discussed what food to take (Prue’s superfood porridge, soups and rice would do), bear awareness gear (a bear resistant food container, walking bell and just-in-case bear ‘maize’ spray) and gathered enough large bin-liners to protect our gear from rain. Our tent, we quickly realised, would cause us some dilemma, the five-man ‘palace’ was ridiculously large but with no other option it would have to do. Over the next few days we strapped this beast onto the outside of my backpack leaving it overtly protrude out past my shoulders, more than once it caught me like a ‘coat hanger’ as it wedged itself between two tight trees.

.

Kathleen Lake, Kluane National Park, ultimate Canadian road trip
Kathleen Lake

.

We were brand new to hiking but took to our heels with absolute enthusiasm, the kind of enthusiasm you need to walk over 22km towards an impenetrable mountain blockade. We lost sight of the sparse trail on two occasions and had to stride across marshland to get ourselves out,  we also safely helped each other across a wide creek whose frigid water thundered up to our thighs. By the time we approached our campsite our energies were exhausted but we felt a burning sense of achievement. This sense that would grow over the next few days as we boiled glacial water by making a fire, cooked everything on that very same fire and made an almost vertical ascent to view one of the most beautiful glaciers in existence. As bewitched as we were by Kluane’s interior we were also very grateful to ourselves, for having the stamina and ability to work together to make this experience come true. Check out ‘Tackling Slim’s West’ for more information and pictures.

.

mountains Kluane National Park, ultimate Canadian road trip

.

Of course it was necessary to absorb the lessons of how we also went wrong for next time… but with such an incredible trip under our belt there was certainly going to be a next time!!

.

Proceeding this trip we accumulated more and more of our ‘favourite’ spots in Kluane NP by taking day hikes (we even had a close encounter with a grizzly), driving to the best lookouts when a sprinkling of snow appeared over the mountains and keeping a keen eye out for animals, including the Dall sheep living way up high. In the evenings, we often enjoyed listening to presentations given by Parks Canada staff detailing the lives of grizzlies and salmon and sitting under the milky way with a crackling fire, whispering the nights away. One night, while camping beside the harmoniously blue Kluane lake itself, we waited patiently for nightfall (that’s around 2am in the Yukon’s summer) to view a spectacular night sky with a dancing purple aurora and meteor shower.

.

.

Kluane National Park, ultimate Canadian road trip

.

We felt the pull to stay longer and longer but after 8 days and nights it was time to push on… oh but that was ample enough time for Kluane to outlive our every expectation.

.

Return to ‘Ultimate Canadian Road Trip

.

.

.

 

Written by

Rebecca Mayoll is a ‘just turned 30’ freelance writer and photographer from England. She is the co-founder and author of straightondetour.com, a travel website with the mantra ‘find your own adventure.’ Promoting adventurous destinations, independent travel and giving a humorous insight to the World of travel is what Becky does best.

We Would Love to Hear From You...

Hi we're Prue and Becks, travel writers and photographers who have been travelling the world together since 2012. Without taking ourselves too seriously, we divulge the lesser known, out of the way places and give you the tools to replicate it. Want to know more? Click on our pic.
Trips100 - Travel Blogs
Trips100