The couple behind the popular Yukon Hiking website is breaking a new trail.
Twelve years after moving to the Yukon, Meghan and Marko Marjanovic are turning their online guide to the territory’s trails and hikes into a book. The 180-page full-colour Yukon Hiking is due out this December, a badly needed update to previous out-of-print options.
“There’s nothing that’s quite comparable to what we will be putting out, because it’ll be quite different than those other books,” said Meghan.
Guidebooks abound for Alaska and specific areas such as the Chilkoot Trail, but the most recent Yukon-wide hiking guide was Curtis Vos’s The Yukon Hiking Guide in 1999.
Whitehorse and Area Hikes and Bikes, published by the Yukon Conservation Society in 1995 and most recently re-issued in 2005, is more recent but focused just on the area around the capital.
Two more recent guidebooks exist for other specific sections of the territory. The 3rd edition of the Kluane National Park Hiking Guide by Vivien Lougheed was most recently updated in 2007. In 2019 the title Along the Dempster: An Outdoor Guide to Canada’s Northernmost Highway by Walter Lanz was also recently released.
Aside from those titles, the Marjanovics’ website, along with the comments visitors leave below each hike description, are the obvious guide for those looking to hike in the Yukon. The website has over 90 hikes, along with a few skiing routes.
“Basically, we moved here because we wanted to go hiking,” explained Meghan.
When the couple arrived in Whitehorse and began the job search they had plenty of time to discover the trails. Marko, a web developer, decided to make a website documenting trails.
“There wasn’t anything like that here and I guess there still isn’t because it’s just our website. We just like documenting and sharing and I think it’s a pretty useful resource to people,” said Meghan.
The couple began talking about maybe putting together a book, “when they had the time.”
Eventually, they approached a local print shop, Arctic Star Printing, to talk to a designer about what would be involved. Around two years ago a concept came together that would eventually become Yukon Hiking.
The book has 80 hikes for summer and fall, with 180 pages divided into eight regions. The book has context for Annie Lake, Carcross, Haines and Haines Pass, Keno, Kluane, Tombstone, Skagway and White Pass and Whitehorse and an overview map with trailhead locations. Each hike has two pages with full colour photos and includes driving directions, time, description, difficulty, distance and elevation gain.
“We’ve been working back and forth with them constantly since April. So any free time you know, we had to edit all of the photos. The nice thing with a website is obviously, you can update things anytime. But we never fully combed through all the text for spelling mistakes or issues, so that was a huge thing,” she said.
Besides editing and sorting through already taken photos, the Marjanovics also re-hiked a number of treks in order to get updated information and photos before publication.
“When we realized, ‘Oh, we don’t have any good photos for this hike, we need to actually go do that’ we made that a priority this past season to do that. One of us, or both of us, have done each hike on the website – multiple times too and multiple seasons,” said Meghan.
The book also includes easier hikes for beginners and trail etiquette to make sure hikers are following leave-no-trace principles and staying safe in the Yukon’s remote areas.
The Yukon Government’s wilderness guide cautions that “your backcountry trip will take you far from help and rescue. Be prepared to travel safely and handle any emergencies on your own.”
The guide cautions visitors and residents to do an assessment of their skills before leaving on a trip. For hiking, people should know how to use a compass, make stream crossings and negotiate terrain such as steep ridges and boggy areas.
The guide recommends research in a book, but also buying a topographic map in advance and consulting with someone who has already travelled the route.
Completing the impressive list of hikes on the Yukon Hiking site has resulted in a few adventures over the years for the Marjanovics – even when conditions didn’t allow a completed objective. In particular, Meghan said she always has a memory for unusual weather.
In June last year her sister visited and the pair headed to the Bock’s Lake Area near Kluane Lake. Overnight they were greeted by a foot of snow.
“So that was a fun memory, although it kind of thwarted a few of our day hike plans from our camp, but we still had a great time,” she said. “We get snowed on in July sometimes, it just happens. But you know, snowstorms in the mountains can kind of make things exciting.”
Many of the journeys detailed in the book are hikes, rather than established trails, said Meghan. That makes following leave-no-trace and staying on established routes more important to minimize impact on the landscape.
The book is available for preorder and will be available at locations around town when it is released in early December.
Contact Haley Ritchie at firstname.lastname@example.org