Tok Alaska: Cleft In the Rock

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Tok, Alaska marks the end of the Alaska Highway. We stayed in The Cleft In the Rock, a lodge of quaint cabins in the wood whose name alludes to God’s promise to Moses that His presence would go with His people, and that they will someday stand in His glory.

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The owners’ garden. That is rhubarb in the foreground. We had fresh rhubarb muffins for breakfast, along with fresh blueberry pancakes, eggs, reindeer sausage and potatoes, all made and served by the owners. The Cleft is only open in the summer and is a must stay.ak-0476

Yukon Territory: Destruction Bay on Kluane Lake

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This old boat lies along the shore of Lake Kluane. The lake is the largest in the territory and in the native tongue means “place of many fish.”

The lake is known for its wild tempests. Back in 1942, one such storm wreaked havoc on the engineers building the highway, so they named this place Destruction Bay.

If you like pictures of old boats, you must visit Marion B.’s Du cote du Teich.

Yukon Territory: Kluane Lake

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1942. War raged around the world. And in the interior of Alaska and Canada, 11,000 engineers waged war of a different kind against muskeg, mud, subzero temperatures, permafrost and mosquitos. The objective? An inland military highway to protect Alaska from Axis attack.

Work began in April as crews moved southward from what is now Delta Junction in Alaska, and northward from Dawson City in British Columbia. Somehow, in just 6 months, the last link in the 2700 km (1700 mile) highway was forged on October 25, 1942 in the hills above Kluane Lake, which you see pictured above.

The color of the water is accurate. Copper oxides leaching into the water from the surrounding rocks produce the beautiful shade of blue-green. When you look straight down into the water, it appears crystal clear.

Yukon Territory: Westward From Whitehorse

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We stayed in Whitehorse for two days. I did not enjoy much about the town, the stores or the region, and wouldn’t stay there again. Having said that, I would definitely stop by to have Sunday brunch at the Burnt Toast Cafe. Wow, what a burst of originality and flavor! I had the salmon benny (benedict). Wheat muffin, smoked salmon, spinach, poached egg and smothered in a explosive hollandaise spiked with cayenne. Holy Smokes, was that ever good!

We travelled west from Whitehorse to Haines Junction, where the Alaska Highway turns northwestward and skirts the Kluane National Park and the St. Elias Mountains. Mt. Logan is further into the park than you can see in this picture, but it is the highest peak in Canada, rising 5,959 meters or 19,551 feet. On the North American continent, it is second only to Mount Denali.

Yukon Territory: Tlingit!

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About halfway between Watson City and Whitehorse, there is a small community named Teslin, where you will find the Teslin Tlingit Heritage Centre. The Tlingit (pronounced Klinkit in English) people are a First Nations Tribe.

Long ago, all the Tlingit lived on the other side of the mountains. They were a coastal people. They are skilled artisans, renowned for their woodwork and totems. If you visit the museum, you will see exquisite examples of their work. Eventually, the coastal Tlingit began trading with others inland. After many generations, some of the Tlingit moved moved inland and built settlements in the British Columbia and Yukon interior. That is how the Teslin Tlingit came to be.

Like most First Nations peoples, the Tlingit have battled cultural erosion, but they are undergoing a cultural revival and embracing the beauty of their culture again.