The Trans-America Challenge 2012

7th May - 8th June 2012


Dawson City Loop

JUNE 4TH, 2012

Dawson City, a drinking town with a gold mining problem

We woke this morning to the sight of ‘them thar hills’ shrouded in a thick dense fog and a very damp feeling in the air. 

A long gravel loop was planned for the morning and as we sat down to breakfast in the Westmark Inn we all hoped and prayed that the mist would lift before we got going. 

We’ve become used to fine long range views and we didn’t want anything to spoil our day of romping down the remote tracks that circle through the forests south of Dawson.Once the cars had been coaxed into life it was up into the sound of the basoons from the Bentleys in the street outside reverberating off the wooden clapboard houses heralded the start of another day.

As we headed towards the old Klondike hills via Bonanza Creek Road and Adam’s Gulch a bright golden sun shone through and the mist began to lift. What lay ahead of us were two regularity-test sectons through working gold mines and past excavations of exhausted hopes up to a high ridge... here a view stretching to the far horizon gave us all a glimpse of the snow covered Ogilvie mountains to the North and the darks slabs of Tombstone mountain was just about visible among them.

Bonanza Creek Road was so named because in 1896 one of the biggest ever gold deposits was found just off this ridge by Skookum Jim, Dawson Charlie and George Carmack, and the hunt for gold continues today with rally-crews looking to strengthen their grips on the medals they’d earned over the last four weeks.

The leaderboard remained unchanged with the red Jaguar of Richard and Nicola Shackleton still leading the blue and white Leyland P76 of the all-Australian crew of Gerry Crown and Matt Bryson. The Jaguar crew reckoned they dropped a few seconds and at the end of the run looked apprehensive, knowing the Leyland team were keen to regain the lead. The Leyland is a replica of the car Matt’s father, John, navigated on the epic 1974 World Cup Rally, the first-ever event to make a double crossing of the Sahara Desert. We could hear the unmistakable growl of the Rover-V8 engine powering the big car up the side of the mountain as the crew hunkered down to another day of intense concentration.

We returned to Dawson after the fun and games of the morning to sit down on the cafe boardwalks in the sun, drink coffee and eat the locally made cakes. All very agreeable. A stroll around the dirt-roads walking the wooden boardwalks of a town that looks and feels just like a film-set from a Western is like a step back in time... with most of the town being totally original.

Dawson is situated at the meeting point of the Klondike and the Yukon rivers. A grave-yard of old broken wooden stern-paddle steamers, is just outside the town. 

Tomorrow we take the ferry of a more modern sort to cross over the Yukon into Alaska... Canada will be left behind as we re-enter America for the final few days to Anchorage.


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