|Category: Wendy's Wanderings||16 December 2013|
The drive into Dawson city an historical nugget no bigger than Sherborne found us seeking information about the famous Klondike goldrush of 1896-98. A stampede caused by the gold found by Cormack, Skookum Jim and Tagish Charley. Folk came from all over the world to get wealthy quick. The reality of which in the harsh winter climate was to live in shacks or worse tents filtering out the fittest of men and women to survive it. The wooden cabled houses in pastel shades are as they were, as well as the wooden boardwalks to keep long dresses and shoes out of the wet mud which, after the rain was very muddy indeed. The best food in town was at the ‘Drunken Goat Taverna’.... greek food....’its all greek to me!!’
With names like Peabody's photo Parlour, Sourdough Joes restaurant and Diamond tooth Gerties we have entered a time warp, eat your heart out Doctor Who! Over 30,000 people visited Dawson City when they heard about the gold. The town had electricity, motion picture theatre, prostitution (Diamond Gerties) saloon, dancehalls and gaming parlours in full swing all day, every day. The Spanish American War and new found wealth found in Alsaka stopped the rush in 98.
Photo: David Noton
At 1am in the morning after 2.5 hrs sleep we get up, tog up and hope to see the Northern Lights over the Klondike river that David eyeballed yesterday, where we had came across a local Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in lady fishing for chum salmon. When we told her we used to live in Bristol, ‘Oh ‘ she said ‘I have a friend in Bristol called Derrick.....do you know him?’ it would have been rude to laugh! Back again we stand on the water’s edge waiting and waiting wondering why we are waiting. It is pitch black, we can see the stars, how long do we give it? Out of the silence an almighty splash, I am terrified, it has to be a Grizzlie running into the river in pursuit of breakfast.....us! But given a few seconds to decide on 'fight or flight' I realise it must have been the elusive chum our friend was fishing for yesterday. Get a grip Noton.
Another hour and we wonder if bed beckons, but is that a green glow above the tree line, is their mist forming? Maybe we have stood here too long. But whats that? It starts to quiver, shake and build, I think we are onto something. There is an intensity to the light as it grows before ribbons can be made out trickling across the sky, streaks of light start to arc up all the while reflecting off the river, we are beside ourselves as David shoots away. After a few minutes it abated, is that it, Is it time for bed? No, look it is building again with more shapes and swirls this time into a shape of a great bird in the sky, it is the spirits of the wild watching over this land (now she is getting too romantic!) at best it feels all the world like a window into one’s own soul, it is totally amazing, if I die now I die happy! We are riding back to camp so high at 4am it is amazing we managed to get back to sleep. The next morning a smattering of snow sees us shooting the autumn colours in a still landscape of subtle reflections.
Next month I will tell you what we found there. I think my snap will suit my Christmas greeting to you.
Have a lovely Christmas and a Happy New Year, all the best with your plans for 2014.