Chris and I had been talking about doing this trip for years, and finally in Summer 2022, we were able to make it happen. We packed up the microcamper for what would be our longest road trip yet. Seven weeks of living out of our vehicle and traveling almost 9000km from Vancouver to Prince Rupert, up the remote Cassiar Highway into Yukon, over to Whitehorse, down into Skagway and Haines, Alaska, up the stunning Haines Highway to Haines Junction, onto the Alaska Highway back through Whitehorse and into Dawson Creek, then back down to Vancouver via the rugged Tumbler Ridge.
We learned so much about the history of the gold rush, seeing the villages it built and the ghost towns it left behind. We were able to deepen our understanding of the first nations, our country's horrific treatment of those who called this land home long before Canada came to be, and the long road ahead of us to reconcile the damage it caused. We experienced the beauty of the north and what it means to be in a truly remote part of the world, seeing more wildlife than we'd ever seen before.
This trip was not easy. Driving the Cassiar highway, with no cell signal or wifi for days at a time to even be able to check in with our families or know we could call for help should one of the many moose wandering on the side of the road decide to move unexpectedly in front of our vehicle, was our first experience with the isolation of the north. Not wanting to get out of our vehicle, because opening a single door for even just a few seconds, would let in the hundreds of mosquitos buzzing outside. Not having simple comforts like hot showers after a long hike, or a full-sized sink to do dishes also took their toll after a while. But there was so much beauty that made up for it.
The 18km long Salmon Glacier was an impressive sight to see, stopping our car for more views and photos as we drove along it, thinking several times that this would be "the last stop", until we saw an even more impressive viewpoint just a few minutes later. Seeing the Drowned Forest in the Nisga'a Nation and how the water flowed high and quickly through the trees gave me an odd feeling of coziness and comfort. Watching humpback whales make bubble nets to catch their prey was something I had never seen before. We had stand-offs with bison, took an unexpected detour to go to the Northwest Territories, camped on Lake Lebarge from the famed Canadian poem "The Cremation of Sam McGee", and took a chance on a gravel road off the Haines Highway to get to a view point surrounded by mountains.
We found amazing free camping spots, like the one on the river surrounded by glacier covered mountains near Haines Junction, and met people doing this trip for the third or fourth time because they didn't see everything they wanted to see the first time. We challenged ourselves by climbing into caves with tight entrances, living out of a vehicle for months, and changing our trip plans based on recommendations of people we met on the road. We thrived in the almost constant daylight of Yukon's summers, forgetting to eat dinner and starting hikes at 9pm because we didn't want to wait until the next morning and we didn't have to. And most of all, we saw new places, met new people, had new experiences, and we will take what we learned into our next adventures with new understandings and ways of seeing the world.