07-Sep-2002 -- 61 North and 136 West is a confluence point close, about 60 km West-North-West, to the capital city Whitehorse, where 65% of Yukoners live and thus an obvious candidate for a visit. The point is the upper left corner of the 1:50,000 topomap105D/13 (‘Thirty Seven Mile Creek’) and located in the foothills of the Sifton Range, approximately 20 km north of the Alaska Highway.
Traveling the full distance from pavement on foot would mean an overnight hike, but a combination of biking and hiking could allow for a one-day trip. The topomap showed a trail passing within a kilometer of the target point and on a promising fall day - September 7/2002 - I decided to explore the access route by mountain bike. To my pleasant surprise, most of the trail was so easily traveled by bike that the exploration became a successful visit of the confluence point.
Traveling west along the Alaska Highway, I turned off the pavement onto a dirt road about 8 km past the Takhini River bridge. After a few kilometers the mudholes forced me to park the van and I continued on mountain bike. Soon I crossed the Thirty Seven Mile Creek over a primitive bridge and turned north on a 4WD road along the eastern slopes of a broad valley (see picture #6). I made good progress and reached the next crossing of the same creek, about 3 km from the confluence point within two hours. Several vehicles were parked here – presumably of hikers or hunters – and across the creek the road continued as an ATV trail.
After a kilometer the trail became so steep and bony that I tucked my bike between the poplars and continued on foot. By now, the confluence hunting had almost become incidental to a beautiful fall trip. I was gaining altitude quickly and with it panoramic views opened up of valleys ablaze in yellow, orange and red fall colours, mixed with the forest green of the now occasional spruce tree. At close to 4000 feet altitude I was walking in the transition zone between the boreal forest of the valley floor and the sub-alpine of the mountain slopes. The trail was snaking east and north of the confluence point coming as close as 350 meter. Picture #1 is taken where I left the trail, looking south-west with Harrison lake in the background.
The confluence point is located just behind the yellow poplars and across a little gully. Getting there was a bit of a challenge only because I was wearing bike shorts and my legs endured numerous scrapes and scratches from the stubborn buck brush.
I took my time spotting the exact location (WGS84) and taking a few pictures of the landscape. Unlike the visitors of neighbouring confluence points, I was not bothered at all by mosquitoes or other biting insects, partly because of the biotope, but mainly because of the time of the year. No sooner was I back on the trail again and I met two hunters on ATVs. They pointed out a large bull moose way down in the valley, but they had no way of reaching it and were returning home. After taking temporary shelter under a large spruce from a nasty rainstorm I picked up my bike and coasted back to my vehicle. It took about 3.5 hours to reach the confluence point but with gravity working in my favour less than 2 hours to return.