First Stop In Yukon: Marsh Lake
Marsh Lake is about 30 minutes southeast of Whitehorse right off of the Alaska Highway. There is a residential subdivision at Marsh Lake where we stayed. Some of the houses are right on the lake while others are behind those houses, we were at one of the latter, so it was an easy walk to the beach. The windy Marsh Lake is almost 19 miles long and was once known as Mud Lake. During the Klondike Gold Rush, the railway in the southeast left prospectors at Lake Bennett and they would have to paddle across Lake Bennett, Tagish Lake and Marsh Lake in boats they built themselves to get to the Yukon River. Eventually a network of steamboats were developed and ferried passenger to right outside what is now Whitehorse. Nowadays, Marsh Lake seemed to be a popular swimming spot for locals. There’s also a public campground with sites large enough to fit RVs walking distance from the subdivision.
After so many days of go, go, go in Banff, Jasper and driving to Yukon, we were looking forward to some nice, quiet days to catch up on stuff, especially since we had access to WiFi at the house.
The walk from the house to the beach was short enough that Tybee could make it and play in the water. Sometimes I would push her there in the dog stroller so she could reserve her energy for playing rather than walking. Jerud and I also took strolls along the beach while checking out the houses (I love looking at houses). We didn’t swim or paddle at Marsh Lake as I originally had hoped because it was extremely windy and the water was so cold that watching the locals swim gave me the chills.
We visited Kookatsoon Lake, a nearby lake, because it’s a lot smaller and very shallow (as in you can walk across the entire lake). I figured it would be more ideal for paddling and swimming. The first time we went by the lake it was just us and another couple with their dog and newborn baby. We chatted while their energetic chocolate lab chased Tyki and Tybee sat in the water.
It was another extremely windy day, so we ended up leaving our Alpacka packraft in the truck. On our second trip to the lake, we were very surprised to see the small sandy beach packed with people, kids, and boats. We figured school must have just ended. Despite the fact that the locals were lounging around in their bathing suits and the kids were splashing around in the water, neither of us found it warm enough to be anywhere that naked. Jerud wore his wetsuit and I had on my splash top when got into our boat to paddle. The lake stands out because the water is a shade between jade and green tea, unlike the common sapphire color most lakes in this region have.
With all the people on the beach and trying to keep Tyki away from them (or vice versa), we hastily squeezed everyone into the packraft. We were a short distance from shore as we started to settle in. It was then that I heard a loud “pssst, pssst” sound. Tyki was standing up in front of me with his paws on the bow of the boat. I freaked out and starting looking around for the leak in the boat, thinking Tyki’s nail somehow managed to puncture the boat, as I’m frantically yelling, “We’re sinking, we’re sinking!” From behind me Jerud calmly responds, “We’re not sinking. You are.” Turns out I didn’t fully close the valve to my seat and it was deflating under my butt. Did I mention that the lake doesn’t get more than chest deep at any spot?
Thankfully the rest of our paddle was not as embarrassing as that.
Although when we got back to the Toaster and I picked Tybee out of the truck, I noticed this black slimy creature laying on the dog bed. I leaned in to get a better look and promptly ran off. It was a leech. Disgusting. Just thinking about it makes my skin crawl. Leeches and tapeworms are two of my least favorite things. I have this totally unjustified fear that a tapeworm will one day crawl out of my throat. I give you permission to kill me if that happens. (Although I’m pretty sure Jerud will fight you for that.) Anyways, I yelled for Jerud to take care of it, asked him to check both dogs to make sure they were leech-free, and then we stripped down and checked ourselves. After all that Jerud made me watch this part of the movie “Stand By Me”. (You know you want to click on the link.) That led me to double and triple checking myself afterwards. Also check out this video Jerud made of the leech I found. Cat later told us that leeches are fairly common in Kookatsoon Lake because the water is on the warm side.
M’Clintock: West Ridge
This was our first hike in Yukon. It’s right down the highway from Marsh Lake so we figured we might as well check it out while we were staying in the area. It was a super short hike, but at the top we got a good view of Marsh Lake.
Jerud and I agree that, so far, lakes in Canada are more beautiful when seen from above. That’s the best way to get a good view of their intense cerulean colors. We didn’t know it at the time, but M’Clintock was a good example of what the trails in Yukon were going to be like: not maintained and steep. Actually, we couldn’t even find the trail hiking up the mountain so we ended up bushwhacking through the woods. We found the trail on our way back down and realized that our way up was better because we got to experience dense moss beds and had better views.
We did also go mountain biking twice while we stayed at Marsh Lake, but more on that in the Whitehorse post.
We were at Marsh Lake from June 24 - July 4, 2016.