walking to scotland

The beauty of living in downtown Whitehorse is the ability to walk to the airport. As the reader will learn from this column, it is not the easiest…

The beauty of living in downtown Whitehorse is the ability to walk to the airport.

As the reader will learn from this column, it is not the easiest thing to do.

It certainly is not convenient, but doing so relieves the traveller of a miniscule portion of the carbon guilt associated with flying these days.

Paying for a taxi would have been easier, but the reader should be aware the reason for going to the airport was to commence a trip to Scotland.

Since money in that fair land is deemed not for spending but for saving, splurging on a taxi would not have been appropriate.

This is the reason some downtown residents were woken early Saturday morning by the sounds of a wheeled suitcase being dragged over concrete sidewalks and asphalt pavement.

Now the block of Black Street road surface nearest the clay cliffs consists of gravel.

The wheeled suitcase noise ceased for this block.

While the sound pollution might have stopped, early morning risers would have been greeted by a visual blight instead.

There this columnist was, one slightly balding middle-age male with a minor weight issue balancing a 22 kilogram piece of luggage on his head, and staggering towards the Black Street gully.

The reason for carrying the bag this way is that it permits for excellent weight distribution.

Carrying that heavy a bag in either hand is physically exhausting due to the weight imbalance.

At the end of Black Street there is a nice stretch of paved walkway up to the dreaded cliff stairs.

While not quite as steep as the ones Frodo had to surmount to get into Mordor, the stairs do present their own perils.

The stairs have a narrow ramp on one side into which bicycle wheels can be placed thus permitting the bike to be easily pushed uphill.

This ramp is too narrow for a wheeled staircase.

Now this is not to advocate for the ramp to be widened to accommodate those rare walkers with suitcases.

It should just be noted that carrying a bag on one’s head up those stairs is sweaty work.

Once atop the clay cliffs the asphalt path that works its way around the north end of the runway is baggage towing luxury.

It is nice and flat and, at 6 a.m. in October, very dark.

There was enough light from the Alaska Highway to somewhat show the path, but this light also lit up a problem.

The airport asphalt trail ends about 10 metres short of the paved surface of the Alaska highway.

It boggles the mind to contemplate the inter-governmental and inter-departmental bickering that must have caused this oversight.

Millions of dollars spent on the Alaska Highway, tens of thousands spent on the paved trail around the airport, yet no-one could agree on finishing a 10-metre section between the two.

Not that accessing the Alaska Highway is all that wise for a pedestrian.

There is no sidewalk, and walking along it in the dark is not to be advised.

The trick is to walk in the ditch on the airport side of the highway.

There is no paving, so it can be muddy or dusty depending on the time of year.

Now it was fortunate that on Saturday morning the surface was surprisingly smooth and flat.

The wheeled suitcase rolled easily along the dusty surface.

But even this bit of good fortune had to end.

The highway and the airport security fence come close together.

The pedestrian and the suitcase are now forced onto the side of the Alaska Highway.

Traffic is light early on a Saturday so there were only one or two close calls involving the suitcase and oncoming vehicles.

Finally, the airport turnoff was arrived at.

It is not very pedestrian friendly for those walking from downtown.

It seems as if the airport has been centred around vehicles.

How else to explain the very new, the very large and no doubt very expensive public vehicle parking lot.

One would think that with all that money being flung around a pedestrian sidewalk could have been included.

Despite this, it was a but a quick walk to the Air North check-in counter.

This was but step one of the nine and half thousand kilometre trip from Whitehorse to Scotland.

And the first two kilometres was done on foot.

This sort of walking might not make the trip carbon-neutral, but each journey begins with a single step.

In this case, a carbon-free step.

And the cheapest step of the trip.