Journey America Part 3

Road to Whitehorse

n our final push to the Yukon’s capital, Whitehorse, we visited the Long Ago People’s place in Champagne Landing. 

A recreation of a traditional First Nations village, it has traditional living structures as well as tools and hunting recreations! 

“It is important for me to share my culture with the people of the world,” said Harold Johnson, the museum’s founder and our tour guide. 

We got to see a traditional cache, where first nations people would store their food harvested during the summer for the long winters – usually built up high so animals couldn’t get to it easily. A smoke house where the fish and meat were smoked. And even learned about the importance of eating gophers.

“My people relied on eating gopher meat because these animals live off different weeds and grasses that offer vitamins and nutrients,”  Harold explained as we toured the village he built with his own hands. 

The tour ended with warm bannock and tea. Clara and I loved the Long Ago People’s place!

From Champagne Landing we battled a terrible heat wave as we inched closer and closer to Whitehorse – now in the heart of summer. For Canada Day we drank cold beers with a friendly German who lived in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. The following day we met a nice French expat who allowed us to turn our horses out in a corral behind his log home. 

In this section of land, although we didn’t see any, we crossed several herds of wild horses. Apparently many years back, an outfitter, tired of the hunting industry, turned all of his horses loose next to the Alaska highway. The horses adapted to the wild and today have formed several herds that can be seen next to the highway before you reach Whitehorse. Worried that the studs would give us trouble, I tried to cross this area as quickly and quietly as possible. All day I rode by horse manure and tracks. 

Smokey had other plans. The mustang who was cut days prior to our journey beginning, wanted to meet these wild horses so badly, one day he puffed his chest out and began whinnying as loud as he could in the direction where their smell was coming from. 

“Stop Smokey, stop,” I tried to shut him down but he wasn’t having any of it. 

We rode south quickly and I prayed that the studs would not come looking for a fight. Luckily they didn’t and a day before arriving in Whitehorse we rode into a beautiful ranch called Heart Bar Ranch. 

“Filipe and Clara we are happy to host you and your horses,” Gale, the owner said. 

As luck would have it, we arrived during the week Gale runs day camps for excited little horse girls from the area. It was too much cuteness to handle as little blond girls ran around laughing and loving on their horses.

“We teach them how to do chores, basic riding and some equestrian vaulting,” Gale explained while we ate dinner that night. 

It had been a long and hard road since leaving Fairbanks nearly two months back. I was over the moon to be only 30 kilometers from our next resting point. 

Finally, on Friday July 5, 50 days after leaving Fairbanks, Alaska, I rode a grey horse and ponied a dun horse into Whitehorse. To say I felt proud of my two mustangs is an understatement. We arrived 12 days ahead of schedule and my ponies looked like they had walked 31 kilometers not 951 – both with their heads held high and muscles bulging.