Every day has the potential to teach us things. If we are open to learning, our experiences can teach us life lessons that carry over to every other part of life. This past weekend I had one of those experiences. 
  

 

 

Top of the White Pass on the border of Alaska (USA) and Yukon Territory (CAN).

This past weekend I ventured into the Yukon Territory to stock up on groceries, do a bit of hiking, and potentially photograph some wildlife. Living in Skagway is a bit different than a lot of places, to say the least.

Not to derail the subject before I even get started get but Whitehorse in the Yukon territory is the typical go to spot for groceries and goods not found in Skagway. It’s a solid 2.5 hour drive but it’s quite scenic and there’s always potential for wildlife.

When one goes to Whitehorse, it’s customary to spend the day. My trips typically include a (or more) Tim Hortons stop and a lengthy visit to The Real Canadian Superstore. The Canadian Superstore would remind you of a large Walmart; it’s where I stock up on beef, egg whites, oatmeal, and beans, among other things. 

Previously, I hadn’t spent much time in Whitehorse. It’s primarily just a stop before arriving to Skagway or leaving. But today, I made all the typical stops along with a short adventure.

 

A beautiful morning scene at Bennett Lake with Mount Gray in the background.

 

Carcross in the Yukon Territory is about 104 kilometers from Skagway. That’s roughly 65 miles for all you not familiar with the metric system. (Don’t feel bad, I had to look up the conversion myself).

Like most of Western Canada, and Alaska for that matter, Carcross is a small community. It has a thriving  population of 301 and is solid spot for it’s mountain biking on Montana Mountain. Carcross is also home to the “worlds smallest desert.” 

One of the more scenic parts of Carcross is Lake Bennett. We stopped here and enjoyed a light breakfast and some coffee. Not a bad way to start off a Saturday if you ask me! 

 

Emerald Lake serves as a great reminder of the natural beauty that can come from change.

 

Just down the road from Carcross you’ll run into Emerald Lake, which is another beautiful spot along the way to Whitehorse. The emerald color is made by light reflecting off a mixture of clay and calcium carbonate. (Source) 

The lake really is a site to see. I’ve passed the lake a handful of times but this time had to have been one of the prettier days I have witnessed.  The landscapes of Western Canada and Alaska are often breath-taking. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been able to live, work, and play in such an amazing place. 

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We finally made our way to Whitehorse. As we were just about to get into town, we passed next to the Yukon River. I told my friend that I always feel like this is a great spot for an eagle but I’ve never seen one here. Well, this was a different day. 

 

My shoes fell victim to the banks of the Yukon River. I had to snag these fancy flip flops the rest of my day in Whitehorse. My feet probably look a little rough but considering all I put them through, I don’t think they’re that bad. 

 

The Story

I was walking along the river banks, tracking an eagle. I had originally spotted the eagle sitting on a light post, just outside the city of Whitehorse. I turned the truck around and parked, quickly assembled my camera, and made my way to get a better view of the eagle. 

It was still sitting on the light post but he didn’t stay there long. He flew off and went in and out of sight over a large hill and through trees. I snagged a few photos of him in mid flight. I didn’t think I would have any quality photos from the flight, as he was a little far. 

I still followed him with my camera, finger on the trigger. He eventually flew across the river and landed in a tree. At first, I couldn’t tell exactly where he landed. So, I decided to make my way down to the bank of the river to get a better view. 

Sure enough, I saw him perched in a tree not too far from where I was. I walked down the bank to get a closer look and hopefully a better shot. The bank was mostly firm and I didn’t see any obvious signs of places that I could get stuck in. 

 

Eagle flying toward me, as clouds moved into the Yukon Territory. This was one of the first shots I got of this eagle. It was a bit far away but I couldn’t help but try to capture this bird as he flew closer.

 

As I approached the eagle, my right foot did sink into some mud but I quickly recovered and made my way closer to the eagle. I got as close as I could before I ran out of room to get closer and I watched the eagle through the camera lens, snapping photos pretty frequently. 

I was hoping that he would see a fish in the river and swoop down to grab it. I waited for a while but the eagle stayed perch, which did allow me to get quite a few shots of him looking in various ways. I was pretty stoked at this opportunity.

Every time I drive by this river I tell myself that this is a great place to see an eagle. But, this is the first time I’ve actually seen one here. And, to be able to get some pics was just icing on the cake! I waited for a good little while but decided that I should probably head back, as a friend of mine was waiting on me. I could’ve stayed there all day but figured it might be a bit inconsiderate of me. 

As I made my way back, I found some much softer ground. I sank in much deeper than before, with both feet this time. Both feet were completely emerged in the mud and I grabbed ahold of a dead tree to help pull me out. Thankfully, I wasn’t stuck too long and managed to get out with both of my shoes still on. How, I’m not real sure. 

My shoes were completely covered in thick, grey mud. These weren’t exactly my best hiking shoes. These were much more my hang around town, kind of shoes. Heck, I didn’t even have them tied up and I usually wear them a bit loose for comfort. If I would’ve known that I would be walking a river bank photographing an eagle, I most certainly would’ve worn the proper footwear. 

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You never know when things like this are going to happen. I suppose you need to be prepared at all times, which I usually am. As much as I travel, I’ve turned my truck into a second home. Typically, I carry extra shoes and clothes and am prepared to survive cold temps and harsh conditions. 

But, being in Skagway for the summer, I’m not in my truck often and I have most of my stuff in my apartment. As of now, my truck kind of serves as a closet that I store things that I’m not currently using. I mean, this is one of a very few trips I’ll take all summer in my truck. And, of course, it happened to be a trip were an extra pair of shoes would’ve come in handy. 

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I remained calm and tried to laugh at the whole situation. After all, I was pretty sure that I had gotten at least a few decent eagle photos. And, the experience was pretty cool too. Once I got back to the firm part of the bank, I scrapped the thick mud off of my shoes with a rock, then rinses them off in the river. I hiked back up to the trail barefoot, about 35 yards of climbing large rocks that lead down to the river. 

Once back to the truck, I looked for an extra pair, knowing all the while that I didn’t have any. We decided to drive into town and grab some cheap flip flops to get me through the rest of our day. Thankfully, my friend ran into Walmart and found just the pair. 

I enjoy doing a lot of things by myself but it’s always great to have friends along for the adventure. In situations like this, I’m extra thankful! 

As the saying goes, it’s not an adventure until something goes wrong. Well, I’d hardly say that this was a catastrophe but it was less than ideal. However, it’s things like this that make for good memories and it makes the photos even more special. 

I got home later that night to find a few nice shots of the eagle… 

 

This photo was a nice surprised when I plugged the memory card into my computer. I was certainly trying to capture an awesome moment as I watched this bird soar above me. As he soared, with the baby blue sky behind him, I couldn’t help but think of how awesome the scene I was witnessing was.

 

I got watch this eagle for a good while. He was very aware of his surrounds, constantly panning left and right, patiently awaiting his opportunity to grab a meal. I love the intensity of eagles. They don’t play around; they mean business, which makes them a great symbol of the United States. 

 

The Lesson 

This is a small example of how things can quickly go bad for us, if we let it. I’m pretty sure a younger me would’ve been pretty upset at this happening. And, although I wasn’t super stoked about it, I managed to look at it as just part of the experience. 

In the grand scheme of things, it was just a minor problem. No need to have it ruin the rest of my day. It’s a pair of shoes that can be easily replaced if need be. But, a day out with a friend cannot be replaced. If I would’ve let this small inconvenience control my attitude the rest of the day, it wouldn’t have been near as fun or as memorable. 

So today, when we are minor-aly inconvenienced, let’s look at the big picture and ask ourselves if it’s worth having our whole day ruined? Will you look back on this and be embarrassed how you acted just because some small thing went against you that day?

If so, let’s just roll with the punches and keep movin’. There’s plenty out there that’s going to try to steal our joy but let’s fight back and do our best to enjoy as much as this life as possible. Let’s do our best to be ready for whatever life may throw our way. But, if find ourselves vulnerable, let’s learn from the mistake and keep from making it twice. 

 

 

 

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