Last August I spent 8 days in Tombstone Territorial Park in the Yukon Territory, Canada. It's a wild, vast land. Empty, eerie and full of gothic beauty. The early explorers found the ragged, dried magma mountains that jutted from the earth in strange and prominent angles to resemble grave markers-- hence the name of Tombstone.
Talus Lake and surrounding mountains of Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon, Canada. This was my campsite for night 3 of my 5 night/6 day backpack in the park. Notice how the jagged mountains rise off the hill like tombstones marking graves of giants passed.
Tombstone Territorial Park lies about 2 hours north of Dawson City, the gold rush town of Klondike fame. The park receives about 8,000 visitors a year and has an excellent visitor center with a very friendly staff. Here, I enjoyed wild herb tea and bannock, a type of fried bread of the Inuit and other First Nations peoples, on both my first day in the park and my last. The main campground is an excellent place to camp and I particularly enjoyed the day use cabin where me and several other campers ate meals and waited out the rainy weather. We fed the pot belly stove log after log and talked story throughout the day. It was really quite cozy.
Day 1 of my 6 day trek through Tombstone TP leads through a gothic landscape of wild beauty. While the hike begins in Taiga forest, the majority of the trail is above tree line and offers awesome views (if the clouds and fog allow). The hike is about 9 miles long and covers ridge line, scree and boulder fields (lots of boulder fields). I found day 1 (and the return leg on day 6) to be the most difficult of the 6 day trek. Below is a profile of day 1 to Grizzly Lake and day 2 to Divide Lake.
When i first saw this profile, I thought it was a joke or a charting error. I immediately looked down the page to Glissade Pass. I have never before seen a hiking profile like this before-- straight up and straight down!?! But it's true. That's what it is-- it's pretty much straight up and straight down. It's not really a pass. It's just a way up. Ropes should be anchored, but there are not any. It's totally doable, but It's a tricky climb up and down with full pack.
The view going up Glissade Pass. I was thankful that it was dry going up, but 4 days later going down it was all wet with fog and rain and quite slippery. The good thing is this day was short and sweet, and Divide Lake on the back side was pretty impressive-- especially the following morning.
First light falls on the mountains beyond Divide Lake.
Without doubt, my favorite day of the trek was day 3-- Divide Lake to Talus. This was prime alpine hiking. Very few scree slopes. No side hilling. And only one or two boulder fields. Oh, and the scenery was fucking epic.
Fields of green tundra and blue skies. I was a happy hiker on this day!
Here's a little marmot that I met along the way.
As I write this post the premier backcountry trek in Tombstone is an out and back to Talus Lake. There's talk of making a circuit to limit impact on the vegetation of the tundra. I had planned to spend two nights at Talus Lake and hoped to explore around the Tombstone Mountain on my second day there, but because I was running out of food and fuel I decided to turn back after sleeping just one night at Talus.
Tombstone Mountain and Arctic clouds. Fittingly goth and cooly alluring. This is Tombstone Territorial Park: vast, remote and more than a little chilling.
Random Notes on the trek:
If you have any questions about this hike or about my experience in this wonderful park, please feel free to reach out to me in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading and happy trails.