top of page

Yukon winter road trip


Oh  Canada...


At the end of January 2019 I went to the Yukon for 10 days. There a long-cherished dream came true for me. I was able to watch the Yukon Quest, known as the world's toughest sled dog race, live on location. Two hours before the start of the race, I was on the field at -38 degrees where the mushers are making the final preparations for the race. There was a colorful mix of trucks, dog handlers, dogs, veterinarians and other race officials, journalists and visitors. After a few minutes I met the first acquaintance. Hans-Jürgen called "Sui" from Cologne gave me a warm welcome and was in his element. He accompanies the Yukon Quest every year and is now a real insider. He knows everyone and everyone knows him. However, I was a bit surprised that we recognized each other at first sight, because we were so hooded that you could only see the frozen eye area.


A little later I spotted Hugh Neff, who greeted me with a friendly "Hey Annie, what are you doing here?" welcomed. Hmm, a not entirely unjustified question on a Saturday morning at -38 degrees in a parking lot in Whitehorse. Hugh has competed in the Yukon Quest 18 times and won the race twice. I've known him for a few years, once organized an event for him during his lecture series in Germany and visited him during a tour of Alaska.

It is incredibly impressive what people and dogs achieve in this race. It goes around 1600 km through Canada and Alaska and the teams master this distance in about 10 days.


After watching the teams start, we made our way to Sky High Ranch, where we went on a little dog sled tour ourselves. The -25 degrees felt really comfortable in the afternoon when the sun was shining. In the evening it got colder again, we went on a northern lights safari at -40 degrees. The lights were great, but the camera stopped following after a few minutes.


The next day we drove to Dawson City and from there the following day onto the Dempster Highway. The trip was a real highlight. However, the word highway is somewhat misleading. In fact, it's a 450-mile gravel road from Dawson City to Inuvik. On the way you see nothing but breathtaking scenery. We were also lucky enough to see a lynx and then another one later! Unfortunately, I was not prepared for this and was not able to photograph the animals well.

We drove about halfway down the highway to Eagle Plains. There is a small, quaint hotel where we stayed the night before, after a short stop at the Arctic Circle, we went back through the beautiful landscape to Dawson City the next day.

The first Yukon Quest teams had meanwhile arrived there and I immediately threw myself into the fray. I could see some teams at the finish line, among them the German participant Hendrik with his special team of Greenland dogs and Alaskan Malamutes. While the majority of mushers in the racing scene rely on Alaskan Huskies, Hendrik wanted to show that it is possible to finish the race with a purebred team of original Nordic dogs. And he did it! Although he came last, but with 10 happy, real Nordic dogs.


Dawson City alone is worth the trip. I just find the small town with its colorful wooden houses and the antique Wild West charm incredibly likeable. Walking through the sleepy little town in winter, it's hard to imagine that up to 40,000 people lived there during the gold rush days.


Of course, our program also included the Sourtoe Cocktail, a must for every would-be gold digger and Yukon adventurer. The dare is to drink a liquor with a dead black toe floating in it. He has to touch his lips. What can I say, it wasn't that bad and now I'm a proud member of the Sourtoe Club, just like the rest of my tour group. The next day I discovered my new favorite sport - curling! What seems a little boring on TV is actually a challenging and fun sport. Even sweeping is fun there. Who would have thought that!

On the last day we did a scenic flight in a tiny airplane and got an aerial view of some of the Yukon Quest teams on the Yukon River. Very impressive!


After nine days in Canada it was back, from the north to the north. That sounds simple, but it is not so. Now, Whitehorse and Kiruna both have no airports, which can boast a variety of international flight connections. So it went from Whitehorse via Vancouver via Toronto via Frankfurt via Stockholm to Kiruna. And just 39 hours later I was home. Admittedly a bit tired, but very happy about this beautiful trip.

bottom of page