The Klondike Highway is in pretty good condition so I made good time. The landscape is subtly different; rounder contours, less craggy, less evergreens and more deciduous trees. It changes more though, the deciduous gave way to more evergreens then - devastation!
Mile after mile of blackened tree trunks pointing at the sky, branches mostly burned away; or felled, criss-crossed on the ground like a child's jackstraws and large areas of scorched earth. The occasional stand of green trees where the fire that had caused this desolation had miraculously spared them for some reason. I've seen smaller areas like this over here but the sheer scale of the disaster here is overwhelming. I know it's necessary to the ecology, following a cycle of burning and renewal, but it is desperately sad to see and must have been terrifying to witness.
Marilyn, in Burwash Landing, had told me about the fire they had at the end of the 1990's, long before she got there. It had swept down on the township taking three houses and the logs Horace had prepared for building his cabin. The owners of the Resort were determined to save it and had been dousing the building with water. But the fire was beyond their efforts and before they realised it, was roaring down at them where they cowered, laid flat on the roof. Suddenly the wind, which ALWAYS comes from the same direction, miraculously changed and took the fire elsewhere. You can stand overlooking Burwash Landing and see the path the fire took and how narrow their escape was.
This fire in the Klondike must have been a hundred times worse and is the sort of threat Yukoners live with every year. Nothing is permanent here it seems and you have to learn to roll with the punches to survive. Small wonder they are a hardy breed.
I arrived early in Carmacks and as it was Sunday there was nothing to do - not that there is much to do in Carmacks anyway. I walked 2.5 kilometers down the length of Carmacks (there is very little width as the hills come so close to the waters edge) and got caught first in hail and then rain. I actually rather enjoyed it although I looked like a drowned rat by the time I got back to the hotel.
The only thing left was TV and there were only 2 channels, one with some rather strange costume dramas and the other with obscure Indian and Australian programmes. Suddenly I felt very tired!