Kluane Lake, Yukon Territory
Wednesday, July 18, 1973
The morning after our last night in mainland Alaska (but not in Alaska altogether) began with sourdough pancakes. This must have been the fanciest campground we stayed in on this trip, because it had a breakfast room as part of the facilities, which specialized in sourdough pancakes.
Sourdough, as the term is used in Alaska, has two meanings. One of them is the stuff used in place of packaged yeast to make baked goods of all kinds rise. The most common baked goods made with sourdough in Alaska and the Yukon Territory are pancakes, or flapjacks, or hotcakes, or whatever you call them in your part of the world. They were a staple food for miners in the area’s many gold rushes, from Juneau to the Klondike to Nome to Fairbanks.
The other meaning of the term is someone who has lived in the North through at least one winter. As opposed to the term cheechako, which is an Indian term, and used to mean roughly “a newcomer.” Getting called a sourdough is a term of approbation in the North.
And now’s probably a good time to talk about moosequitos, too. We saw a lot of moosequitos while we were in Alaska. Mostly in gift shops. Apparently my google-image-fu is failing me, but no, a moosequito is not just a misspelled mosquito. A moosequito is a piece of moose dung, dried and varnished, then gussied up with pipe cleaners and googly eyes to look like a mosquito. They’re not just a gag gift, though. They’re a nod to the fact that Alaska and the Yukon have enormous mosquitoes. Ubiquitous, too, yes, but the biggest ones I’d ever seen. And they apparently thought of bug repellent as some sort of interesting sauce. If there’s one thing I really, honestly did not like about our trip to Alaska, it was the mosquitoes.
After our breakfast, which I for one was pretty impressed with, we drove on into Tok and turned east on the Alaska Hi-way again, for the first time since Fairbanks way back on Day 12. We crossed the border back into Yukon Territory, and the skies opened up on us and turned the gravel road into a sea of mud, and coated our trailer clear up to the windows.
We stopped that afternoon at the Kluane Historical Society Museum, which either no longer exists or doesn’t have a website. I wasn’t very impressed with it, which is the first time I said anything like that about a museum on this trip.
Then we stopped for the night at Kluane Lake Campground, the same campground we’d stayed in on Day 10, where I met a boy fishing along the shore. “We had a couple of arguments.” I wonder what about?