Heather Helzer is a Hike it Baby mom who is backpacking a 4-day trip with her son. We got a chance to interview her before she left for the trail.
WHERE ARE YOU HEADED?
This week my son and I are solo backpacking the 33-mile Chilkoot Trail. The first adventure is getting to the trail. From Anchorage, AK, you can either drive 17 hours or fly to Juneau then to a ferry or seaplane to Skagway. We are taking the flight, ferry and seaplane route!
Skagway is a small village in the Inner passage in Southeast Alaska. And it’s a very special village. Unlike most villages in southeast Alaska that were wiped out because of the 1964 earthquake, Skagway survived. It still has several historical charms in this quant community. The Chilkoot Trail is also a historical charm, known as the original gold rush trail to Dawson City. My understanding is that along the trail I’ll encounter several remnants from the past that were left on the trail along with lots of historical signs to learn about the past.
YOU’VE MENTIONED THAT IT’S LOGISTICALLY UNIQUE AS WELL?
Another unique thing about this trail is that I’ll cross the Canadian border on day two at the top of a 4,000-foot pass. I’m hiking with my son and my passports. The border patrol only allows 50 people to pass through the border a day so they require permits. These permits sell out quick! I got ours in January!
The trail also has designated campsites which are regulated. My understanding is that they’re unlike your typical Alaskan campsites with wooden platforms for every tent site, bear lockers and ranger house with someone at the houses June through September. When you get your permits, you also are required to pick your campsites because it’s part of the permit fees.
Lastly, on my last day, I’ll be hiking a short four miles to the historical Whitepass train! The trail is one of the last coal trains that still are running. The train will take us back down the pass to Skagway! Again, one other important detail to nail down in January because the train only goes twice a week to Bennett, Canada, to pick up hikers.