Sunday, September 30, 2012

Squeezing Every Last Sunny Drop

8:05 sunrise
19:35 sunset

Whitehorse may have served up a pretty crap summer weather-wise, but I am willing to forgive and forget because fall has been awesome.

Mountain Hero in the fall

The month has been filled with sunlight and lots of bike rides.  I'm guessing that's a huge surprise (insert sarcastic voice).  

Bottom of the Mountain Hero trail

I've even been out on my road bike a couple of times (riding to work and riding down the Alaska Highway just for fun).  That part actually was a surprise to me.

Alaska Highway looking south

There were even a couple of days that cracked 20C, a temperature that we experienced all too infrequently  in June.

View of Bennett Lake from MacDonald Creek trail

Bennett Lake

And the light - ooh the beautiful, beautiful light.

Powerline at the bottom of Boogaloo


Sunset from my bedroom window

Last year it snowed in early October and I took my fat bike out for a ride on the 15th.  By October 30th it was full-on snow season and finter was just a distant memory.  Overnight lows are projected to be down to -4C tonight and as I write it is already just below zero so indeed, winter is coming.  Thanks, September, for being so darn gentle.  I needed that.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Annual Mountain Hero Ride

7:09 sunrise
20:47 sunset

There is nothing better than spending the day on a bike, with awesome friends, in a spectacular setting. That's what I got up to this past Labour Day weekend.

Riding Mountain Hero is an all day effort.  The ride begins in Carcross (a Gold Rush era town that takes it name from a mashup of Caribou Crossing) and immediately climbs up and up into the alpine.  It's a strenuous climb but I take comfort in the beauty of my surroundings when I am up there.  After nearly 2 hours of climbing, this is the view you are rewarded with.

And, after another 1/2 hour or 45 minutes, a completely different landscape greets you at the top of a long hill.

Calling a trail "Mountain Hero" may seem imperious, but the name comes from the Mountain Hero mine that was part of a 1905-06 silver boom.  John Conrad, an American businessman, built a tramway here to carry ore from the mine sites down to a wharf terminal on Windy Arm 3500 feet below.  It was quite the construction project given that, by the time the tramway was finished in 1906, the rush for silver was pretty much over.

While riding up and over Montana Mountain you not only get awesome view but you also get to see lots of physical evidence of the mining activity that took place over the years. These stone houses were built "for cook houses, offices and bunk houses" at the Montana property.  To cyclists, they are the sign that the climbing is over and the downhill begins!

Photo thanks to Sierra.

At the end of it all the trail pops out at the Klondike Highway.  We generally leave a vehicle here so as to avoid the 17km return trip on the road by mountain bike.  "Here" is actually the site of Conrad City - the town that was to become the capital of the Yukon.... had the mining thing actually worked out.
Taken from  Yukon Government's Carcross Region Heritage Report

I like to think that we ate chips and drank a cider at the end of our ride in the same place that, more than 100 years ago, men set up a tent city on Armour Avenue or Miller Street.  Like the Chilkoot, much of the pleasure in this trail resides with the company you keep and the historic area through which you travel.