Yukon Gold In Fall Landscapes
A Modern Gold Rush
There is gold in them thar’ hills. Yukon gold. And it is free for the taking, once you discover it.
The gold rush of the past still haunts the other gold rush that has long outlasted the mineral quest of the last century. But unlike the former, wherever you venture in the fall are golden poplars, smattered with red shrubbery and purple hills and, if you are lucky, blue is in the skies reflecting off of the water. The yellow and blue make a colour palette marriage known by artists to create interest. Complementary colours. Intrinsically high contrast, warm yellow and cool blue. In the Yukon, at the beginning of September, warm may be the days but cool is biting the back of your neck and crawling down your spine as soon as the heat of the sun fades.
Head to the rivers and lakes and bogs and ponds for the most dramatic gold and blue landscapes. There you can reflect in the drama of early morning mist or late afternoon sunset, ideal for the sweetest light. As you scout locations for these warm hours, be mindful of the critters that can give you a bad time when you are least expecting them. Even in Whitehorse, with its far reaching suburbs, a grizzly sow and cubs are known to wander through the hood, giving no one any notice.
The essence of the north, breathtaking, dramatic and wild. Always a rush!
For more on the Yukon and golden fall landscapes, see also:
Yukon Fall Landscape ©heathersimondsphotography.com
Yukon Sled Dogs Up Close and Friendly
Dense Sled Dog Living
“The sled dogs are all friendly”, the towering, young Swiss staff member offered with utmost confidence.
Our field of view is a foreground of vigilant sled dogs against a snow dusted mountain backdrop. An atypical yard for dogs, well over 120 in number, all within mere inches of each other by chain. That is dense dog living. Close quarters communing. Considering the famed strong-willed personalities of sled dogs, it sounds and looks like a canine war zone. And this man is telling me that every one of them is friendly with such resolve that a challenge to test his proclamation is on.
Surprisingly, harmony, more or less, prevails over the dog yard. Only a few are curled inside their just big enough dog houses, heads protruding, keeping a wary eye on potential action. Alert to any sign of potential action, poised to spring, if only to the end of their chain tethers. Almost as intimidating is the vocalization of barking, whining and howling. Then, as if the choirmaster has motioned silence, the chorus subsides with a few off-key renditions. Most dogs are sitting on their homes, pacing their allotted space, or making deep circles around their allotment. All are ready for any indication that action in the form of running, chasing, or exercise in general, is about to happen. It is the calm before the hiatus, an opportune time to get to know these indefatigable canines.
After a month of Yukon rain the muddy mire that the dogs are living in gleams with stickiness. “Some may jump up on you” he cautiously warns. Images of gooey, sticky, brown muck pawing all over me clouded my dog loving brain. Momentarily the conflict is overcome. If that is all I have to fear then life is good as they say. Bracing for the inevitable gritty encounters, the only way to experience gregarious personalities of Yukon sled dogs is to embrace it up close. Even if it involves a face freckled with mud splatters.
For more on dogs and the Yukon, see also:
Yukon Sled Dogs – Tenacity and Focus
Head up to Yukon, Canada (The Yukon or The North) in autumn and you will be blessed with landscapes in two primary colours (blue and yellow) in every direction, even if it is raining. Bright azure skies and golden fall foliage are showing off their best on a stage of unspoiled beauty, mountains, fens, mosses and mooses.
You will be even more blessed if you are lucky enough to spend some time with the Yukon sled dogs that the far northern hemisphere is known for. For a location near Whitehorse, Yukon to get your own fresh licks of love, try Muktuk Adventures . They offer the northern dog sled experience, hearty meals and more paw shakes than you can handle in one visit. Four times 120 and counting!
Trained to run at the front of the sled, these dogs know tenacity and strength, focus and drive. And they also know love. But running straight is not instinctive to a species that makes chase to forest critters crossing their path at any and every opportunity. Squirrel intersection ahead! So training is intense, just like the dog breed. The dog yard zooms from zero to one hundred in the blink of a tail swish. They are all about energy, captured and released.
Be warned, if you live with husky dogs for a few days there will be licks and there will be hair. Lots of it, on your coat, on your socks and in your mouth, from time to time. It is all about spreading the love around!
For more on man’s best friend, dogs, see also:
Arshan, Siberia Sleepy Mountain Town Awakens
Mountain towns have a culture and Arshan, Siberia is no exception. Laid back town, invigorating air, mountain drop-back.
Ulan Ude is a popular stop from Mongolia for Lake Baikal touring. From the railway station you can pick up a cramped (Russians are not little folk) local bus that will take about 8 hours with pit stops to Arshan. The trip has the usual attributes, cramped quarters, too many stops, air con wars, long leggeds battling for position. The bus driver obliges a special stop for the opportunity to pick up smoked Omul fish, freshly caught, delicious little morsels indigenous to Lake Baikal, wrapped in newspaper, local honey and field berries available from roadside kerchiefed peddlers. No one will tell you what is happening. No one speaks English, remember? It will not take long for you to figure out that local delicacies are now available once you see their wares. It is not every day you can pick those up. Daily protein and vitamins needs in one stop. Not grocery store fresh but this morning fresh.
Now on the discovered route with Muscovites choosing to venture “over the Urals” to Siberia to breathe the mountain air that Siberians have treasured for centuries, you may have to slip into back streets for your true mountain experience. Sleepy Arshan has been awakened by Eastern visitors, cheap vodka and the requisite accompaniment blaring music. Mist shrouded mountains, unique cottage architecture, gardens brimming with summer harvest, fireplaces crackling, pines whispering.
Like most places requiring the extra effort, Arshan, Siberia is off the track but worth the deviation.
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