I’m quite content to be a little slower on Saturday mornings. Multitasking is my work-week morning ritual, so on the weekends, instead of gulping my coffee down while sorting out client emails, making my daughter’s lunch and trying to remember to brush my teeth before I rush out into the brisk Whitehorse winter, I get to actually sip my coffee, and enjoy the flavours (Vanilla Hazelnut!). AND I can do all of this in my underpants, for as long as I wanna. Or, at least until my brain starts nagging at me to NOT WASTE THIS GODDAMN DAY and to get my ass in gear.
After loading up my and my daughter’s pack, gathering enough dog food for TWO (yes this is my NEW doggos FIRST family hike!) and MacGyvering a world-class bed composed of 7 super comfy blankets and sleeping bags in the back of my Santa Fe, we set off for the 13.5km hike just North of Haines Junction, Yukon. A hop skip and a jump away. Just kidding, it’s 2 hours and it’s almost noon! GOSH DANG YOU TASTY, TASTY COFFEE!
VROOOOOOM! fast forward to 1:45, we pull into a PACKED trailhead. There’s at least 15 cars here, and not a soul around. Google said this trail would take at least 2 hours to make it to the Ice Cave nestled in the voluptuous valleys of Mt.Archibald. I was determined to make it up in less than 1.5 hours.
An hour of slipping on the ever-inclining icy river, and already almost out of water, with my sleepy daughter groaning her disappointment several feet behind me, I knew we were getting nowhere fast. People were coming down one after the other, passing us, wishing us good luck. When I asked how much further, they said we might be half way. We continued on, watching the dogs enviously with their unyielding energy.
The people coming down started thinning out, and I knew I had to start asking for water. A group of four people emptied their remaining canisters, and told us we were about 15 minutes out, and to start bundling up because once you turn the bend [way the heck] ahead, the wind, they said, was a brutal force.
30 minutes later we finally reached the bend, and “brutal force” was an understatement. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in all my days and nights on trails. Aziza wailed, bawling when the gusts came and knocked us down. The snow particles felt like glass ripping at my face. When the gusts came (every 10 seconds after a brief reprieve), I gathered her in my arms and tried as best I could to stand against the relentless winds. She yelled, screamed, even Luna and Kinley had run out of relish and winced hard at the gale.
At last, I could see the blue gleaming gash in the earth ahead. When we arrived, Aziza collapsed in tears, and the wind was even more concentrated, bellowing through the Cave with bits of the collapsed ice hurling towards us. We were all alone up here… and what a sight!
Cracked, and crumbling it is barely holding itself together. Knowing this cave wouldn’t stand the tests of time much longer, it was a very special moment, to witness this natural beauty.
The sun was already ducking behind the mountain range, having taken us over 2 hours to make our ascent, we had little time to linger. After a quick snack and the last gulp of our water, we turned our backs to the big blue ice cave and headed down.
Total Trail Time: 3.45 minutes
Total Tears Shed: 3 million.