Tombstone and Back Again, A Squirreler’s Tale: Part Four- “Ragged Mountain Land”

June 15, 2014

Today we were up at around 10 am again. So late but it has felt so good not to set an alarm! I always seem to regret it a bit later but at the time it’s so nice just to relax and take it easy and not have any schedule at all. After deciding to pack up and stay at a different campground tonight we headed to the visitor’s center. It is a gorgeous little center, a lovely wooden building that offers lots interpretive signs and activities as well as natural tea made from local ingredients every day. We met two of the Park Interpreters and what a place to have that job! I would love to do that for a summer. It looks like the staff each gets a small cabin for accommodation that has a beautiful view of the mountains. It really made me miss working as a naturalist in the Adirondacks. At the Interpreter’s suggestion we decided to hike up Goldensides Mountain. The hike was quite short, only 1.7 km one way but offered stunning views of Tombstone Pass and the Tombstone Range in the distance. From the top we could just see Tombstone Mountain, even though it was a bit overcast. The view was really spectacular and the landscape reminded me in part of Ireland with the rocky talus sloes covered only with bushy vegetation. The natives call this place Ddhäl Ch’èl Cha Nän which means “ragged mountain land”, and it is no wonder why. It is a mythical landscape that reminds me of something out of a fantasy novel with its sweeping valleys and jagged peaks rising in the distance. I am half in love with this land to be honest. With little to no trees it is a hard landscape to imagine falling in love with, but I can’t deny the way it made me feel staring across that valley and imagining so easily disappearing into an adventure.

Headed up Goldensides

Headed up Goldensides

Our first view of the Dempster Highway wending through the mountains.

Our first view of the Dempster Highway wending through the mountains.

Tombstone Pass

Tombstone Pass. Tombstone mountain is the tiny jagged peak in the distance.

Off the edge.

Off the edge.

View from on high.

View from on high.

Headed back down.

Headed back down.

The hike didn’t take us long so we decided to finish up the afternoon with another hike before hitting the road. Since it was on our way out along the Depster Highway we decided to hike Grizzly Lake Trail as far as the viewpoint, which is close to the summit of the trail. The whole trail leads into Grizzly Lake and a campsite but is 13 km long- a bit too long for a second day hike. The trail wound through much more dense forest that Goldnesides and so offered fewer views along the way. The ascent to the viewpoint was also quite steep and fairly strenuous but he view from the top was worth every aching step!

The final ascent!

The final ascent!

We ate a squished lunch (tomato, avocado, cucumber, and cheddar wraps) at the top of a particularly nice outcrop of rocks that offered a spectacular view of Monolith Mountain (which we though was Tombstone Mountain at first). The view was beyond words and I could have sat up there for hours- barely any wind to chill our sweat covered body and no bugs! It was the quintessential lunch spot and the perfect end to our too short time in Tombstone. Next year I plan to backpack in and actually see Tombstone up close.

As we crested the ridge this is the view looking back at the Snowy Range or O' Brien Range, I'm not entirely sure.

As we crested the ridge this is the view looking back at the Snowy Range or O’ Brien Range, I’m not entirely sure.

Our lunch spot. Perfection!

Our lunch spot. Perfection!

Our view of the Tombstone Range.

Our view of the Tombstone Range.

Monolith Mountain

Monolith Mountain

Close-up of Monolith Mtn.

Close-up of Monolith Mtn. hidden in the mist.

Reluctantly we head back down the trail... but we can't complain about the view!

Reluctantly we head back down the trail… but we can’t complain about the view!

Tonight we are staying at Moose Creek Campground. A very nice spot but more mosquitoes than we have seen our entire trip (we’ve been quite spoiled). We had a scrumptious dinner of vegan sausages (Lisa is vegetarian) but they were really tasty and could almost pass for real meat! (At least in my ravenous state).

Our campsite at Moose Creek.

Our campsite at Moose Creek.

Tonight is the last night of freedom. Tomorrow is our last day off and the last leg of journey. It will take us most of the day to reach Whitehorse, run errands and then return to camp. But only a few days of work before we are off the Kluane-Chilkat International Bike Relay on the summer solstice! Today also marks Day 9 since I’ve showered. The longest I’ve ever been without a shower that I can recall. Really starting to feel it in the dirt-encrusted pores of my face and my hair, which is now utterly a greasy rat’s nest. But some part of me can’t help liking the utter simplicity of it. No shower, no extra clothes, just me, what I’m wearing on my back, a tent, sleeping bag and pad and I could go anywhere in the world…

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