65,000 moose roam the Yukon, an area roughly 2 1/2 times the size of New England. This is about twice the human population of the territory. With the capital of Whitehorse having a population of 23,000, the arithmetic says that the human population of the territory outside of Whitehorse is about 9,000….wow, talk about scarcely populated areas!!

The territory is home to fourteen First Nation peoples each with its own unique traditions and cultural heritage. The Tombstone territorial Park is an important heritage of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in people who have hunted and camped here for centuries and who agreed in 1999, in conjunction with the territorial government, to the formation of the park

Sunrise over Tombstone Mountain
Sunrise over Tombstone Mountain

Memorable for its black granite peaks, idyllic alpine lakes and subarctic tundra
landscapes, Tombstone Territorial Park is an icon among Yukon destinations.

Tombstone Reflections
Tombstone Reflections

These peaks always draw your attention as the light and weather conditions provide constantly changing dramatic views of this view. In the scene above, the lake surface became a mirror as the wind disappeared and allowed the capture of this pristine scene in the reflections of the Lake.

Sunset over Tombstone Mountain
Sunset over Tombstone Mountain

This is the same view with a particularly colorful sunset decorating the valley.

Sunburst in the Valley
Sunburst in the Valley

For years one of the cardinal rules of photography was always shoot with the sun at your back. With the advent of new cameras and the technologies embedded in their sensors, that rule has gone the way of the rotary dial phone. In the above image I shot directly into the sun and recorded the stunning back-lit colors of the low lying shrubs illuminated by the setting sun. The ragged cloud formations add to the scene.

The Aurora in the valley
The Aurora in the valley

By professional landscape photographer standards, this is a rather pedestrian image of the Northern Lights. But this was my first opportunity to see and photograph this amazing phenomenon and I couldn’t have been more excited about the opportunity. It meant rising in the middle of the night each night to see if the Aurora was visible. Most nights it wasn’t because of the cloud cover. This night was the only opportunity we had to capture a view of the Aurora. One of my colleagues had the inspirational idea to light up a tent to use as a foreground for the image.

Yellow and Gold
Yellow and Gold

This image has the rough hewn textures of the boulder on the bottom of the image and the peaks on the top sandwiched around the carpet of yellow and gold spread across the sub-artic tundra.

Drama over Tombstone
Drama over Tombstone

Of course this is the same view as above only with a different cloud formation. You will also notice I converted the upper 2/3 thirds of the scene into a black and white image while retaining the golden hue of the tundra which I think complements the stark drama of the image. In the photographic community writ large, some would view this as a complete violation of photographic integrity. Obviously, I’m not in that camp.

Morning Reflections
Morning Reflections

This would be a rather ordinary image but the lovely pink hue of the clouds and the reflections in the still water in the foreground turn it into something special.

Splendor over Tombstone
Splendor over Tombstone

This image was taken only a few minutes after the image directly above.  In just those few minutes the cloud edges were lit up with these wonderful points of light giving the scene a completely different look.

I’ll close this post and conclude the three posts on my Yukon visit with a photo of yours truly and my three photographer buddies (courtesy of Jim Ruff) from whom I learned something every day.

Frank Binder, Doug Solis, Denis Dessolier, Jim Ruff
Frank Binder, Doug Solis, Denis Dessolier, Jim Ruff

Thank you for reading my latest blog entry. If you thought it was worthy of your time and you hadn’t already done so, please take the opportunity to subscribe by clicking the “Follow” button on the right side of the page. You will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Also, you can share this blog entry on your Facebook page by clicking the share button below or you can email it to folks by clicking on the “Email” button.

Frank

Shrewsbury, MA

Formerly an important summer gathering spot and base for moose-hunting in the Klondike Valley as well as a camp for the First Nations’ community in the area, Dawson City rose to prominence as the center of the Klondike Gold Rush. It began in 1896 and changed the First Nations camp into a thriving city of 40,000 by 1898. By 1899, the gold rush had ended and the town’s population plummeted as all but 8,000 people left. When Dawson was incorporated as a city in 1902, the population was under 5,000. The current population is 1,300.

Dawson City, Yukon
Dawson City, Yukon

The City of Dawson and the nearby ghost town of Forty Mile are featured prominently in the novels and short stories of American author Jack London, including The Call of the Wild. London lived in the Dawson area from October 1897 to June 1898.

Riding the Dempster
Riding the Dempster

Reaching north for 457 miles, the Dempster Highway runs from Dawson City to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories, 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle. If you wish to drive to Inuvik, you’d better fill up the gas tank because there is only a single gas station complex on the journey.

Yukon Color
Yukon Color

The Dempster Highway bisects Tombstone Territorial Park and the mountains on either side of the highway are covered with a colorful montage of reds, yellows and golds that are startling in their brilliance.

Sentinels
Sentinels
_DSC7901
Rivers of Gold

The yellow and gold stripes on the mountainsides mark the areas where water runs off the mountains and supports mostly scrub vegetation.

Jack and Janice
Jack and Janice

Today, Dawson City’s main industries are tourism and gold mining. Gold mining started in 1896 with the Bonanza (Rabbit) Creek discovery by George Carmack, Dawson Charlie and Skookum Jim Mason. The area’s creeks were quickly staked and most of the thousands who arrived in the spring of 1898 for the Klondike Gold Rush found that there was very little opportunity to benefit directly from gold mining. Many instead became entrepreneurs to provide services to miners (Wikopedia). Today’s gold miners are mostly small time operators, sometimes single individuals working their claims hoping to find that one rich vein.

Jack and Janice are boyfriend/girlfriend and each has staked out a claim in Dawson and work them nearly year round. Janice works on one of the big cruise ships that explore Alaska’s inner passage each summer and returns to her claim once the season ends.

Al the Toe Captain
Al the Toe Captain

I met the Al at the same time I met Jack and Janice. He introduced himself as the “Toe Captain” over at the National Hotel. Seeing my quizzical look, he went on to describe the rite of passage that happens each night at the hotel. The short version is that years ago an unfortunate local lost his big toe to frostbite and brought the toe over to the National Hotel bar and started dropping the toe into people’s drinks as a lark. This turned into todays Toe Society where thousands of people have come to the bar and paid the Toe Captain $5 to toss back a shot of Yukon Jack with a human big toe floating in the glass. I’m proud to say that I was the 53,314th person to join the Toe Society by downing a Sourtoe Cocktail. You might wonder how a single toe survived all these years. The answer is that it didn’t…people donate severed toes from all over North America to the Toe Society.

Yukon Beaver Pond
Yukon Beaver Pond

We waited a while for the beavers to show themselves but they were shy that day.

Shaft of Yellow
Shaft of Yellow

This is another section of the beaver pond above.

Yukon Mountain Stream
Yukon Mountain Stream

All of these images were shot on the same overcast day. Since there is no reflected sunlight on the leaves, these overcast days provide the perfect light to show off the brilliant colors of the Yukon landscape.

Golden Reflections
Golden Reflections

The amount of color in a Yukon autumn was completely unexpected and as a New England native I would have to say that it rivals any New England autumnal color display. You have to work to get there…but it’s worth it!

Thank you for reading my latest blog entry. If you thought it was worthy of your time and you hadn’t already done so, please take the opportunity to subscribe by clicking the “Follow” button on the right side of the page. You will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Also, you can share this blog entry on your Facebook page by clicking the share button below or you can email it to folks by clicking on the “Email” button.

Frank

Shrewsbury, MA

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