Skagway, Alaska

Puffy clouds and blue skies in Juneau gave way to cloudy, rainy, and windy weather in Skagway. An early morning walk along the promenade deck revealed majestic mountains rising from the bay.

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Arriving in Skagway, Alaska

We weren’t the only ship in port. In the foreground is where the ferry docks. Note the tube that passengers walk through on their way to shore.

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Other ships in port

Our excursion for the day was a ride on the White Pass Yukon Railroad, an International Historic Engineering Landmark. We arrived about 30 minutes before the departure time and joined the queue. The best thing to do when waiting in line is to pull out the camera and find things to photograph. Geometric shapes will do.

 

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Raindrops on wrought iron fence

Thank goodness the crew allowed us to board early when the drizzle turned into a full-on rain. Many of the passengers carried umbrellas to ward off the drops. While waiting for the all aboard, I spied this pair walking beside the train.

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Watermelon umbrella

Built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush, the narrow gauge train climbed 2,865 feet in elevation from the port to White Pass Summit. Crewmembers pointed out mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, and historic sites as the train traversed the rails through tunnels and atop trestles during the 40-mile round trip tour. It wasn’t the best day for seeing all the sites as clouds shrouded many of them.

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Mountains, valleys, trees, and clouds, oh my

We shared a train car with other tourists and a triplet of older couples from Germany. One woman in the group from Germany was so excited she reminded me of a hyperactive child who forgot to take her Ritalin. In and out the door she came and went, hogging the space on the platform, snapping photos on her mobile phone, humming, and chit-chatting with her family members, all the while with a big smile on her face. I doubt she sat down for more than five minutes.

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Waterfall tumbles over rock-faced cliffs

After the woman shoved me aside a couple of times while I attempted to take my photos, I gave up. Perhaps she would cede possession of the platform and let the rest of us take photos on the way back down the mountain.

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Glacier runoff on its way to the sea

During the Gold Rush, mounted police stationed at the cabin shown in the photo below checked the provisions carried by people wishing to enter the territory to ensure their supplies were sufficient to sustain every man, woman, and child for at least one year. If provisions were not sufficient, entry into Canada was denied. The flags of the United States, Alaska, Yukon Territory, British Columbia, and Canada fly next to the cabin.

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Flags and cabin at White Pass Summit

The train switched direction at Summit Lake. We all stood up, moved the backs of our seats from rear to front, and changed seats from one side of the train to the other. This allowed everyone the opportunity to have views from the windows, either going up the mountain or down.

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White Pass Yukon Train engine

Yes, my turn to take photos. I hurried out the door to claim my space on the platform, snapped a few shots and let a couple take my place. I was shocked when the woman barged out the door and muscled her way between the couple so she could click away with her phone.

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Crossing a gorge

I must admit I may have been a bit rude myself on the way back to the dock in order to capture the photos I did. The woman just would not budge otherwise. This was my last opportunity to capture the Ghost Trestle and I wasn’t going to miss out.

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Ghost Trestle
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Yes, all cars made it across the bridge
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Another bridge on the other side of the canyon
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More mountains, valleys, trees, and clouds

Isn’t Bridal Veil Falls beautiful? I wondered how many falls are called bridal veil falls. Wikipedia lists 24 in the United States, 5 in New Zealand, 4 in Chile, 3 in Canada, and 8 in other countries.

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Bridal Veil Falls

We looked forward to exploring the little town of Skagway when we returned to the station, except the rain and cold pushed us toward the ship instead. We were sorry to miss out on the Klondike Gold Rush National Park and the seven blocks of shops and restaurants that line the colorful Victorian storefronts along Broadway. Another time perhaps.

Back on the ship, Jon and I opted for a two-top table that night. We needed quiet time to ourselves after a day spent with annoying strangers. Then we posed for a photo, watched comedian Russ Nagel perform his act in the Princess Theater, and ended the night with a stroll around the Promenade deck.

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Portrait on the Grand Princess

We hope to return someday to the town incorporated as a city on June 28, 1900, and as a borough on June 5, 2007. I’d like to see how the 750 Skagway residents accommodate up to 8,000 visitors when 5 ships dock for the day.

Next up on the itinerary was a cruise up and down Tracy Arm Fjord to see icebergs and glaciers.

Safe Travels

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