Day 2: Canyon City to Sheep Camp

Its more of the same warm grey wet weather – not inspired, breakfast is slow and we depart about 10:30am. The trail is pretty, winding through dark spruce forest the understory dotted with red bunch berries, ferns and tiny pools of standing water.

Erosion, caused by both the hiker hordes and constant rain, is apparent. The mud in spatters up the back of my legs, soiling the gaiters and reducing their water proofness. Stay on the trail and keep hiker impact to a minimum! Rock steps, natural or made by parks, encourage the hiker to stay on the path. It’s a stretch to climb the steps as they are placed somewhat far apart – maybe good for Klondikers and pack horses?

At Pleasant Camp, some of the campsites are closed for rehabilitation. But we stop only to lunch on the usual salami, cheese, bread and fruit roll up. More telegraph wire and an old wash tub lie neglected in the bushes. I’m more interested in the thorny plant known as ‘devils club’ or ‘devils walking stick”. Growing over shoulder height, it’s formidable defensive spines would discourage harvesting by most except for the most determined.

Just before arriving in Sheep camp, we come across a clearing where many trees had been twisted and sheared about 2 m / 7 ft above ground. The power of an avalanche! Sixty Klondikers were buried in the Palm Sunday avalanche, 1898 plus smaller disasters.

Sheep camp cabin. By 2pm, we are in Sheep Camp.  It’s a huge site, spread over a small island. There is a large heated tent and instead of writing in my journal, I chat to some of the other 45 hikers like the pilot from Fairbanks and his wife. No one is eager to poke around with the wet. In the evening, Ranger Donna gives a pep talk about what to expect going over the pass tomorrow. A 10 hour day is not uncommon! Some people will wait for clear skies but we intend to go tomorrow, rain or shine.

Today’s walk of 6.8km / 4.3 miles took about 4 hours.