Doug Rutherford

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First trip to Lake Laberge

August 2016
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Lake Laberge

T’was on the marge of Lake Laberge
I cremated Sam McGee.
– Robert Service


July 27

I had hoped to have far more done before leaving this morning; however, that did not materialize as it should. For example, there was a bit more cleaning in the house to do before leaving, but I was worried about getting a site. Lake Laberge is a small campground, and many of the sites are not suitable for anything other than a car and tent. There are really only 16 sites at the campground and it is close to town and supposedly rather popular.

I did say supposedly. After all, Clara and I have never camped here before. And, for the first two evenings, it will only be me camping here. Clara is going to a funeral on Friday so probably won’t be coming out until then.

I did find lots of open sites, with the first grouping of campsites open other than one site. I found one after a couple of tries, since the first two I did try made leveling a bit of a chore. I still need to develop some better system for leveling the camper. It’s 25 feet in length, which means it doesn’t take too much of a slope to require quite a few blocks under the wheels.

fig 2

The campsite


We chose Lake Laberge since friends were also going there. It’s a rather easy commute to town, about 35 km from our house. One person was working in the daytime so the commute time was an issue.

There are a few things I don’t like about the campground. Sites here are rather small, and I had a choice of leveling the motorhome or putting my awning out fully (see the campsite picture above). I did put it out partially. My other issue is that some of the access roads are quite narrow and sites were harder than usual to back into. The campground was obviously designed for tent camping.

My other big peeve is that there is no wharf for tying up your boat. I have an inflatable and since the lake can blow up quite well, I don’t like it crashing on the shore when it’s just tied up on the beach. The beaches here are quite rocky to add to the problem. The alternative is to launch it every time you want to go fishing and then reload it onto the trailer when you’re done. This would involve breaking down camp since all I have with me is the camper.

However, with the small sites and the small number of places to camp, even though the campground is quite close to town, it should work out to be rather quiet. We’ll see how the weekend progresses.

fig 3

Many sites are quite small.

Weather wise, as I mentioned, today was rather windy. There was no consideration of going fishing.There were whitecaps on the lake and it seemed to have enough energy built up that it wasn’t going to flatten out this evening. The temperature got up to 20° C, so it was pleasant though. And, while the sun came out again after supper, there was light rain in the afternoon.

July 28

 It was a quiet night, despite the wind. That did die down over the course of the evening. I woke, and made a rather nice breakfast.

The wind blew up again, and was even stronger than yesterday. Around 11 AM, I put the awning back up because I was a little worried about the possibility it may get damaged. I would like to replace the fabric at some point, but not until I have to.

Camping at Laberge has reminded me that I have camped in a fair number of the Yukon Government campgrounds. I did get involved in a “How many campgrounds have you camped at?” thing a few years ago on Twitter. I think I really should review the list again:

  1. Lake Laberge
  2. Kusawa Lake
  3. Fox Lake
  4. Twin Lakes (first place we camped with the old tent trailer)
  5. Quiet Lake South
  6. Yukon River, Dawson (first place Clara and I ever camped together)
  7. Klondike River (working an archaeology contract)
  8. Lake Creek (coming back from Homer, AK)
  9. Watson Lake (easy one to remember since I almost broke my hip when the picnic table collapsed on me)
  10. Tagish Lake (before it was transferred to the First Nation)
  11. Wolf Creek
  12. Squanga Lake
  13. Snafu Lake
  14. Kathleen Lake
  15. Lapie Canyon (another archaeology project)
  16. Pine Lake
  17. Tatchun Creek

I should add one or two more, since, if the weather holds like it has the last three years, an October trip to the Takhini River campground sounds like a decent plan. While we’ve passed it numerous times, and stopped to use the bathrooms on the way to Kusawa Lake, we’ve never stayed there. I had wanted to get to Drury Creek campground this year, but the timing never worked out. Marsh Lake is quite close, and we’ve never camped there either. The boat launch is a bit far from the campground, but something may work out.

I went for a walk, about 2.3 km. This was to completely walk around the campground, including the suspicious campsite number 8. This is a nice site, near the boat launch. However, there was a black truck and camper there the other day, although they did leave Wednesday morning. When they left, they seemingly abandoned a Suzuki quad on their campsite. I walked up the Deep Creek Rd. as far as the bakery. I didn’t take my wallet, although I have more than enough baked goods in the camper as is and buying fresh bread to freeze it when you don’t have to makes little sense to me.

It started to warm up a bit during my walk. I’m glad for the wind, since the breeze made it seem a bit cooler. I was breaking a bit of a sweat when I got back to the camper, in spite of the wind.

fig 4

I was glad for the breeze.

After supper, I dropped in on our friends and after a bit, the wind did die down enough to try fishing. It was still a bit bumpy, although we kept to the leeward side of the lake. However, as the evening went on, it became obvious the wind and the lake were going to die off a bit. Neither of us had any luck, even though we trolled for a while and then tried or hand at casting for pike. However, we shall see what tomorrow offers, since it looks like the weather will turn nice tomorrow morning,

July 29

I woke about 9, when friends came over to visit. We followed that with another round of fishing, this time heading north around Richthofen Island. Fishing was not the most stunning. We did see some on the fish finder but they weren’t biting.

The lake was rough, but there wasn’t any wind. There was still a lot of built up wave energy from the wind the days before. We thought we might try across the lake, on the lee shore, but gave that idea up shortly after starting out. Instead, we decided to try the lee behind the island. On the north point, it was rather sheltered. We fished there for four hours but, as mentioned, had no luck,

Once we came out of the lee, we realised it was somewhat windy and had to deal with up to 3 foot waves on the way back. It was slow, and getting the boat onto the trailer was tricky, but nothing too much to manage.

A quick note on the rest of my weekend. When we were on the lake, between the shore and the island, I could get a bit of cell service and got a text from my Katrina that Clara would not be coming out tonight. I guess I’m on my own, and am now trying to decide if I’ll stay out tomorrow night or come back to town. Hmm. There are advantages to going back, but this is the last weekend of my vacation and I really should be catching fish rather than getting stuff ready for work.

The weather today was cooler, with a high of only 18° C and cloudy most of the day. Hopefully, things settle down and we get a nicer day tomorrow, which would also help me make up my mind about what to do. However, I did get a chance to sit down in front of the campfire finally, although there were a few black flies around. My bug lantern was enough to keep them down and I didn’t need to smother myself in insect repellent. However, I do need someone to explain to me why I brushed my teeth and then made s’mores.

July 30

A nice sunny morning, although there is a bit of a breeze. The outside temperature dropped to its lowest I’ve seen in a few months, 6° C. It got down to 10 in the camper. However, it was 17° when I woke so it was actually warmer outside than in. I went out to start the generator to make toast for breakfast and opened the door to warm things up.

Daryl had come to wake me earlier, probably to go fishing, but I had been up a lot last night and just wasn’t into getting up quite that early. I think I was lucky I could haul myself out by 9:30 as it was. I still haven’t looked at the lake so I don’t know how calm it is.

We did go fishing, actually, and it was probably the nicest day on the water this summer. While Daryl caught a single fish, and I only got two nibbles, the water was dead calm and the sun shone. In retrospect, I could have put a bit more sunscreen on; however, it was a nice day to run across the other side of the lake and into Upper Laberge to fish. We came back and tried the side of Richthofen Island as well.

After fishing for four hours, we came back in for supper and then went out again, fishing until 10 PM. It was still calm, and the lake was quite nice. I was really regretting forgetting my camera this trip. After we got back, I sat by the fire for a bit before turning in.

July 31

Where has my vacation gone? This is the last day, and I have to celebrate that by cleaning up after a camping trip. I woke at about 8:30. It was, about 13C with a small breeze. I made tea and started getting things ready to drive home. I will admit that the prospect of the short drive home does appeal to me; however, another trip has come to end and that usually isn’t that appealing.

This will probably be the last time I camp here. It’s simply too close to town, which makes it a prime party spot. I don’t know why people go to a campground to drink. It’s easier and safer to just stay and home and be hammered before 10 AM.

And, if rules aren’t your bag, stay out of campgrounds. For example, quiet hours run between 11 PM and 7 AM and you aren’t supposed to run a generator during that time. I saw one person, in a group of partiers that occupied the four sites around me, wait a few minutes after a Park Officer asked him to turn off his generator, and then take it and a long extension cord and put it across the campground boundary where the rules don’t apply. This doesn’t demonstrate your expert legal prowess. It means you’re a jerk…



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