Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon: Part I

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Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon

One hasn’t fully lived without a visit to Tombstone and its 9 mountain ranges.

 Words and pictures cannot capture the wild beauty and pristine Arctic air.

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Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon, Mix Hart 2016

 

The beauty and biodiversity is so great in Tombstone Territorial Park that I have decided to post a Part I & II (otherwise my readers will be in for one long session)!

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Tombstone, Yukon, Mix Hart 2016

 

Just north of Dawson City, in northern Yukon, lies one of the most shockingly pristine and wild spaces left on Earth. Tombstone Territorial Park is the most beautiful spot on Earth that I have been to date.

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View of Tombstone Mountain (Tombstone Range) from Goldenside Mountain (Prospector Range), Mix Hart 2016

 

Tombstone Territorial Park boasts nine mountain ranges that either pass through the park or exist in their entirety inside the park. boundaries:

  • Tombstone Range
  • Prospector Range
  • North Klondike Range
  • Seven Million Dollar Range
  • Cloudy Range
  • Seela Range
  • Blackstone Range
  • Patrol range
  • McFarland Range

I pushed my comfort zones in Tombstone—hiking narrow, steep, and uneven trails that challenged my fear of cliffs. I had to stop on occasion to sit on the rocky trail and breathe—determined that I would not let my fear of cliffs prevent me from reaching the mountain summits. I did it! I made it to the top of all our mountain hikes; hence, in some pictures I am celebrating my ascent as it took every ounce of courage, perseverance and mind training that I could muster.

We hiked in remote areas that are frequented by grizzlies, each armed with our own can of bear spray. I sang the entire soundtrack from The sound of Music many times—I swear that is the secret to keeping bears away! I am sure the yodelling song from the soundtrack could be heard throughout all nine mountain ranges at once!

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Tombstone Mountain Range as vowed from Grizzly Lake hike summit, Mix Hart 2016
The scale of the natural beauty, with mountains that roll and stretch seemingly forever in all directions, along with celestial light that illuminates some mountain ranges while synchronically, showering short bursts of heavenly tears on other ranges, enables one to feel that they are viewing an entire other world at once.
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A close up of the tundra above the permafrost on the mountain sides: a mass of shallow roots, lichen, moss–labrador tea is the spiky leafed bush: the tea is delicious as I had some fresh on several occasions!

 

The ground is a mass of roots, moss and lichen, which form the nutrient rich layer above permafrost. The only plants that survive are those that relish being wet and having shallow roots that “float” above the permanent icy layer underneath. The permafrost, when is expands and contracts, often creates interesting rock formations throughout Tombstone Park—rocks are forced upward, from underneath the ground, by the ice and deposited in interesting and sometimes very tall mounds.

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Peter, ascending the Grizzly Lake hike trail, Tombstone Mountain range

Its important to stay on hiking paths as the tundra is very fragile and is easily destroyed by human foot traffic—it can take centuries to recover.

The quintessential Tombstone bouquet includes the flowers below. I always find these flowers together on lower elevations: wild rose, bluebells and dwarf dogwood.

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Another flower frequently found in the mix is the purple monkshood below:

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Monkshood, Tombstone territorial Park, Yukon, Mix Hart, 2016
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Stunning, craggy peaks of the Tombstone Mountain range, viewed from the summit of Grizzly Lake Hike.
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I am so happy to have made it to the top of the Grizzly Lake Hike summit–I overcame some serious fears along the way to get to this peak.

Mix Hart, 2016, Tombstone Mountains

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A panorama of the Tombstone Mountains, Mix Hart, 2016
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Peter at the peak of Grizzly Lake hike, Tombstone Mountains, Mix Hart 2016–Peter is a veritable mountain goat–no fear!

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Arctic hares are common in Tombstone; though, they are very quick on those giant white feet! It was hard to capture a picture of one still

My Arctic adventure is thanks, in part, to the Canada Council For the Arts—I received a grant to return to the Arctic to gather information for my next novel 

I learned so much during this adventure: I read everything I could find, explored every natural and historically significant place that I could reach—I felt as though my brain was a sponge and that I was absorbing the Arctic into my being. It was the most amazing time for learning. I actually felt that my brain was on overdrive and that I was having a period of unusual learning enlightenment.

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