Alaska 7/8: Just Another Day Crossing Borders
The unfortunate thing about booking the ferry too late in the year is that you won't always get the route that you want. Due to this minor detail, I had to backtrack and add an additional 1216 kilometres to my trip. And while I certainly don't regret it, since I think the drive from Haines Junction to Haines was one of the most beautiful I'd ever done- I would definitely recommend advance bookings.
Kluane Lake had totally captivated me, so I set that as our target for evening camp. We took our time as usual, stopping to stretch, take walks, photos, and for the occasional snack.
We arrived at Congdon Creek Campground close to 9pm. It is a gorgeous little campsite with 39 pads lakeside. I was so excited to sit and watch the sunset from my gorgeous little tentpad. Driving through the gates, the sites looked so welcoming after our long day of driving. All was good until I read the sign that said "tent camping restricted". A quick lap around the campground made it apparent that due to the threat of bears, tenting was not permitted. That piece of information would have been all fine and dandy had my pamphlet stressed that. But no, my publication had just mentioned that there was a "campground" (I don't know about you, but to me, a campground means you can camp there...). Anyway, off we went, another 2 hours of driving to the next closest campsite smack in the middle of Haines Junction. By the time we set up the tent and crawled into our sleeping bags that evening the sky was awash with the pinks, purples, and oranges of sunset (which meant it was damn near midnight since it's the land of everlasting sun during the summer).
Our visit to Haines Junction was short and restricted only to sleep and breakfast. A 20 minute drive down the road brought us to another wonder of a place, Kathleen Lake. We decided to spend our morning on the beach building sand castles and playing in the trees. I was tempted to rent a canoe and paddle the lake but was quickly distracted by the giggles and hums coming from Gaia's direction.
The drive to Haines was. just. so. beautiful. The border guard seemed a little skeptical of my daughter and I travelling around Alaska by ourselves (is this the 21st century?) but after a few minutes he let us through. Upon arrival, I realized that the same issue of not being able to tent in many of the "campgrounds" due to the threat of bears was starting to become problematic. With rumbling tummies, we quickly decided that our tenting issue was a problem for after dinner.
We did the usual "dinner overlooking the ocean" and on a whim grabbed some after dinner candies on the way out. I had wanted to drive to the grocery store to stock up on snacks but made a last minute decision to run into the liquor store first. While browsing the wine section Gaia started whining and telling me that the candy was stuck. I gave her some water, checked to make sure she was breathing properly and continued browsing. I was about to pick a fabulous vintage of cheap ass wine when she started saying that her throat really hurt so I took her outside for some fresh air. After a few minutes of her crying and coughing she ended up puking all over me. There's nothing quite like being thousands of miles from home standing in a liquor store parking lot covered in puke and a restless 2 year old child with no prospects for shelter. On the bright side, after vomiting she felt like her normal happy self again- AND- the laundromat was a stone's throw away. We managed to shower and do our laundry in record time.
I just loved the campsite that we stumbled upon that night. There was no parking lot since it was "bike/hike in only" but it did happen to lie roadside and oceanside. Being the innovative person I am, I found some parking down by the docks, loaded up my bike trailer with Gaia and all of our gear for the night, then biked back to the site. Hauling toddlers and gear is such a great way to shed a few pounds.
Our sweet little campsite had the usual "luxuries" of a campsite: a bear pole for stashing your food and an outhouse ( or maybe even a proper bathroom I can't remember). It being our last night in the tent, I sat and watched the stars for a few hours after Gaia had fallen asleep before snuggling up to her. There's nothing quite like the solace that the sky offers.
By the way, I never did get my wine.