We wish we could tell you more about Whitehorse, but we really only pause there long enough to be impressed by their roomy, gorgeous, efficient, comprehensive and helpful visitor center and to spend the night at the Hide on Jeckell hostel—which we cannot rave about enough. We never even made it to the fish ladder in town (something that’s still a sore spot with Eric).
The next morning we’re Alaska bound. Along the way we decide to check out a little dot on the map called Atlin in British Columbia. We figure we’ll make a 100 mile detour, check out the town and still get into Alaska by dark. What we don’t figure is how interesting Atlin is.
Part Northern Exposure, part Norman Rockwell part Gunsmoke, Atlin was a booming gold town in 1898 and is now home to a collection of gold rush era buildings moved from a nearby ghost town optimistically called Discovery.
The town now has about 400 residents and has become an artsy little charmer with an annual arts and music festival and some really good local craftsmen and women like Kathryn Taylor who runs Simply Gold where she sells beautiful jewelry which she makes out of nuggets that are still found in the area.
That night we cook a delicious meal in the cabin’s kitchen—complete with pumped in running hot water and a Coleman stove. The shower is hot, the wood stove is warm and we could not be happier. It’s not a hard decision to stay a second night.
Atlin is also on British Columbia’s largest lake, Lake Atlin which is considered to be the source of the Yukon River. The name Atlin is the native Tlingit word for "big body of water." Part of the Atlin Wilderness Park, the lake is fed by the Llewellyn glacier—just one of many glaciers you can kayak to from Atlin.
By the time we’d figured all that out it was late in the day and we started thinking about finding a place to spend the night. Atlin town runs a beautiful city campground ($5) but the swarms of black flies made that idea a little less appealing. Then we remembered seeing a sign offering cabins for rent on our way into town, so we backtracked and pulled into Minto View Cabins.
Abby, the happiest dog ever, is the first to greet us, followed closely by Carla who runs the place with her husband, Gary. Carla and Abby show us the Cozy Cabin, a snug building with two single beds, a wood burning stove and a basic kitchen. It is charming and just the right mix of comfort and rustic-ness, but when Carla takes us inside the two-story Homestead Cabin we fall in love with the huge picture window and shower and lovely sleeping loft. Even thought the Homestead can sleep four and rents for nearly twice the price of the smaller cabin Carla lets us take it for the same price. We are home.
Both cabins share an immaculate outhouse which, we are warned, has been taken over by squirrels who have stashed mushrooms into every nook and cranny. Carla says she’s tried clearing the mushrooms out, but an hour later the industrious squirrels simply put their winter cache back where it was. So now we all share the outhouse in a kind of truce that works just fine except for the occasional screams from a squirrel who thinks we’re going in there to steal his food.
Near sunset Carla asks if we want to join her on a walk around the property (she and Gary own a large tract of land beyond where the cabins are located) and the three of us (and Abby) head out across a wide field toward a small hill. The view from the top is so spectacular that even the biting black flies can’t spoil it.