Haines Junction

Haines Junction010The morning was really windy, no chance of taking the kayaks out on Dezadeash Lake. And so we hung out inside the RV in the morning.

Haines Junction007Then we headed for a very short hike out by Kathleen Lake with Angel. It really is quite a beautiful lake, but there are lots of warnings about the wind picking up rather quickly. The hike is just a ½ mile mostly on a boardwalk but you can continue around the lake at the end of the boardwalk.Haines Junction008

Haines Junction005We were hoping to publish a blog post, so we had a plan A and a plan B. Plan A was to stop at the nearby Kathleen Lake Lodge and ask if we could use their WiFi, plan B was to continue another fifteen miles to the Visitor Center in Haines Junction and use theirs.Haines Junction001

Haines Junction006Haines Junction002But plan A worked, the very nice proprietress, Annette, at Kathleen Lake Lodge allowed us to use their WiFi, and we had some home made pie and ice cream at her lodge.

The Kathleen Lake Lodge has several cabins, but also has a nice grassy area out back for dry camping. We may stay there in August when we head visit Haines.

On our way back to our campground, we were forced to stop by a couple of men standing in the middle of the road. They had spotted grouse with babies in the middle of the road and stood there to protect them from traffic. Sweet! But the grouse quickly went out of sight.Haines Junction013Haines Junction014The same guys told us they had spotted a huge grizzly on their way here, somewhere past our campground. We were interested in driving out a bit in that direction anyway, so off we went in search of the grizzly. The landscape on the way to Haines is just spectacular with more views of the Kluane Range, and more lakes and wetlands, it just gets better and better as you continue towards Haines.

Haines Junction011But since we will be visiting Haines in August to see eagles and bears when the salmon start running, we only went a short way down the road and stopped short of the US Border. And we did not find the grizzly. What we did find was a third Yukon Government Campground, Million Dollar Falls. It has a few sites overlooking the river in a pretty wooded area.

It also has a short trail out to an elevated boardwalk with multiple views of the Million Dollar Falls, and we took this opportunity to check them out. This is definitely bear country and I was thinking about the huge grizzly so we took our bear spray. The falls are not very big, but are quite pretty.Haines Junction012

Haines Junction015Back at the campground it was still windy, but our site was a bit protected so we were able to have a campfire.

Tip of the day: Bring an ax, as the wood provided by Yukon Government Campgrounds consists of entire log sections that need to be split, and we suspect that there will be other places where that is the case as well.Haines Junction017

Haines Junction062We decided to stay one more night, as the next day we planned to attend the Festival of Aboriginal Dance, Singing & Drumming at the Da Kµ Cultural Centre.Haines Junction063

Haines Junction016That night it rained quite a bit and the winds picked up. And the next morning it was so windy that the lake turned brown and had white caps and waves. Definitely not kayaking weather.Haines Junction030

So we headed to the Cultural Center, which features exhibits about the lifestyles and traditional identity of Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. This beautiful structure was built two years ago is shared with a Yukon and Kluane National Park Visitor Center.  It displays traditional artwork, cultural artifacts and interpretive panels. It is one of the most informative displays of First Nations that we have seen.Haines Junction031

Haines Junction032The Festival was the first at the new center and the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations invited dancers and dignitaries from neighboring nations, including the towns of Haines and Anchorage, Alaska to participate.Haines Junction033

Haines Junction035Haines Junction036We watched several of the groups dance. It seemed that many of these groups had not come together in a while, and many people were warmly greeting each other like old time friends.Haines Junction038

One wonderful thing about the dances is that they included all generations, from babies held by their mothers to the elders. The regalia they wore was very different from the regalia that First Nations wore in at the Pow Wow we attended in Eastern Canada two years ago but also quite beautiful.

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Haines Junction059We also stayed for a few presentations by the dignitaries which included Chiefs from many of the groups. The Chiefs from the other Nations, many of which were women, all expressed gratitude for having been invited to the land of the Champagne and the Aishihik.Haines Junction060

Then the Mayors of Haines Junction, Yukon Territory, and Haines, Alaska spoke. The Mayor of Haines Junction spoke movingly about an experience he had while staying with First Nations. Then the Mayor of Haines, Alaska spoke and said that she and the Mayor of Haines Junction had just met and were going to partner for some activities. Even though they are 130 miles from each other, they are in different countries, so I imagine those opportunities do not come often.Haines Junction058

The festival was mostly geared to First Nations people with workshops on traditional arts and other relevant topics, but we thoroughly enjoyed the brief time that we were there and we felt warmly welcomed to this very special event.

Haines Junction019Haines Junction061Then, after some time using the WiFi at the Visitor Center, we headed back to town to check out a couple of places we had read about.Haines Junction021

Haines Junction023First, we visited the Village Monument, “the most photographed spot in Haines Junction”, nicknamed “The Muffin” or “Animal Cupcake”. It depicts a mountain with wildlife from the area, but apparently has raised much controversy as many people despise it. Art is definitely in the eye of the beholder.

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Haines Junction025Haines Junction026The other interesting structure we visited was Our Lady of the Way Catholic Mission. This Quonset hut that was used by the American Army during the construction of the Alaska Highway was converted to a Catholic church by an enterprising priest, Father E. Morriset. He added a steeple and bell tower and created a very unique church.  Supposedly the most photographed church in the Yukon!

Haines Junction027Haines Junction029Haines Junction065Haines Junction066It was still really windy, so we decided to head out the next morning. Onward to Alaska!

~ BrendaHaines Junction028


19 thoughts on “Haines Junction

  1. Following your trip daily, and we just love the quality of your photographs and your writing. We don’t comment every day, because how many times can you say “wow, what a beauriful shot!” I especially like the clouds that shroud the mountains. It gives them such great depth and drama. I know that you would rather have warm sunshine for your trip, but it would really screw up the magnificent mountain images.Great job. We are travelling with you vicariously. Good luck, and “Via con Dios.”

    • Thank you! We actually do love the clouds, and you are right that too much bright sun can be bad for photography (of course Hector is the expert). The one kind of weather that is really tough for photography is when it’s just a gray sky (which we had today in fact). And don’t get me wrong I like a bright blue sky too. But we are fully expecting all kinds of weather, last time we came to Alaska (on a two week cruise/rental car vacation), we had lots of rain so we are ready with our rain gear. Thanks again for your nice comments, glad you are enjoying the blog.

  2. As mentioned in the previous note, I continue to be an avid and appreciative follower of your adventures, but I do not comment each time I am almost brought to tears of emotion by your amazing photographs of the exquisite landscapes you are encountering. Please just know how thankful I am that you continue to share your journey. Also, I am learning so much about the history of the regions you are visiting and the people that you see and meet. You 2 are the best!

  3. You two are having such a great time. It looks like your weather has been pretty good until you got the wind. What gorgeous views of the mountains:) Great timing with the Festival. I’m sure that was a wonderful time. Love that church!

    • Yes, we are, and time is just flying by – we reached Alaska today – hopefully can post about that tomorrow.

    • apparently it is a product of the Yukon beautification program gone awry. it is lovingly maintained as locals tend to occasionally blast holes in it! 🙂


  4. Too bad the wind didn’t allow you to get the kayaks out but it seems that you are finding plenty to do to entertain yourselves. How lucky to be there for the festival.

  5. Did you go to the bakery in Haines Junction?
    How lucky you were able to attend a very colorful festival.
    We stayed at the Million dollar Falls on our way out of AK.

    • OMG,yes! We had a fabulous lunch there, a great spicy lentil soup, spinach pie and Hector had a hot dog in a yummy looking puffy thing. We also got a loaf of Chia bread. Fabulous place! Shoot, I should have written about it – oh well, trying to keep up. The festival was really interesting. We have just loved the Yukon Government Campgrounds at less than $10US a night they are a real bargain!

  6. The colors of the water and sky and clouds are absolutely breathtaking! Gorgeous, gorgeous photos. How cool that you were there for the First Nations celebration. Exactly the kind of thing we would love.

    • Thank you! We are fortunate that we just happen upon cool events sometimes, since we do not normally plan for that type of thing.

  7. Wonderful. That gathering of the First Nation People was great … and much better than the demo dancing we watched at the Alaska Heritage Center in Anchorage … but better than nothing. I love the Quonset Church. Too bad the weather didn’t cooperate for a kayak on the lake while you were there.

    • Yes, it was a happy coincidence that we were able to visit the gathering of First Nations. In a way, it may have been a good thing we didn’t get to kayak, people kept telling us about the ominous winds that came up suddenly on these lakes and how dangerous they were.

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