Nothing spoils a good bowl of Count Chocula breakfast cereal like your parents looking at the weather forecast and rolling out a classic Yukon saying such as, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad rain gear.”
Or the more pointed version: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad attitudes.”
There is an even more extreme form, which is usually only heard when you are just five minutes in from the Chilkoot trailhead in Dyea and already soaking wet: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just character building opportunities.”
The global weather gurus at AccuWeather are forecasting a lot of character building opportunities in the Yukon this summer.
When I saw their national long range summer forecast map for Canada, I nearly spit out my organic muesli. Four whole provinces plus half of four others are covered with warm orange blobs indicating above average summer temperatures.
There is only one rainy-blue coloured blob indicating below-average temperatures on the whole map. And it’s right over the southern Yukon and northern B.C. And don’t think of escaping to the Alaska panhandle if the border re-opens. The rainy-blue blob of character building looks like its epicentre is Juneau.
A different Accuweather map promises above-average summer rain for us.
“Most of the Pacific moisture, at least for the first half of the summer will likely be directed to northwestern British Columbia,” predicted Accuweather, referring to the blue blob that also covers the southern Yukon. This will cause “cloudier and cooler days compared to normal.”
Unfortunately for the tourist industry, white-hat hackers at the Yukon Intelligence Agency were unable to take down AccuWeather’s website before the map went viral. Of course, it doesn’t help that so far this season some Yukoners have already been posting photos to Instagram showing them relaxing after picnic lunches wearing nothing but their summer down jackets with long johns under their hiking shorts. The best photos I’ve seen so far this “summer” include people holding onto their hats as a wet tarp flaps maniacally in the background.
Of course, AccuWeather could be wrong. Weather forecasters take some heat for their forecast accuracy, but not as much as economists or astrologers.
But they could also be right.
Which would be too bad. After a long winter, and with Outside travel plans in the deep freeze thanks to Covid, I was really hoping for brilliant Yukon summer weather to do some big trips around the territory.
But we shouldn’t let AccuWeather’s computer model get us down.
It still is going to be a great summer for Yukon trips and we should all take advantage of it. There won’t be many tourists stumbling into your landscape pics. The last time I camped near the Kaskawulsh glacier, we had to share the campground with three people from Outside. This summer, we’ll have it to ourselves!
Indeed, this could be the summer to do some really memorable bucket-list trips. Or to learn a new thing, from kayaking to overnight boat trips to birdwatching.
On the hiking front, a great source of ideas is yukonhiking.ca. It has a huge range of hikes of various durations, difficulty levels and regions of the Yukon. The info for each is very useful, and you can download map files.
The full Chilkoot is off limits until the border is open, so this is the year to try something in Kluane, Tombstone or farther afield.
The Yukon is also a great place to get into all kinds of water sports. You can canoe, white-water kayak, sea-kayak, pack-raft, paddleboard and more. Paddling in the Yukon: A Guide to Rivers, Lakes and the Arctic Ocean by Ken Madsen and Peter Mather offers 73 different flatwater and white-water trips.
There are good places to rent boats, so you can decide which kind of paddling you like.
Safety is critical here. So be sure to sign your loved ones up for the right paddling skills course before you set out. We were on the Takhini River last weekend, and saw lots of Yukoners learning the ropes with savvy local instructors.
Motor-boating is also a lot of fun. For those who live in Whitehorse, it is amazing how many big lakes are within an hour’s drive. It’s also amazing how many boats spend the summer sitting in the driveway. Maybe this summer is the time to make some memories on Tagish, Marsh, Laberge, Atlin or Bennett.
Again, safety is important here. Those lakes are as famous for their surprise windstorms as for their fishing and viewscapes.
Then there’s mountain biking. Carcross and Whitehorse have fantastic trails for a range of skill levels, and long-distance trips like the Cottonwood in Kluane are also options. It rained so much on our bike trip on the Cottonwood last year that I don’t think AccuWeather could make it any wetter this year.
It’s also a lot of fun to try to check off all the territorial campgrounds. This way you can see lots of the Yukon, but have a dry home base in between day trips.
Given how the tourism industry is suffering, this is the summer for you and your wallet to travel around the Yukon. If it’s raining, stay in a local hotel. If you’re tired of dehydrated gruel, live large at a local restaurant. If you need a new rain jacket or kayak paddle, get it at a local shop.
But I do recommend good rain gear. It’s easier to have a good attitude when at least some parts of your body are still dry.
Keith Halliday is a Yukon economist and author of the MacBride Museum’s Aurore of the Yukon series of historical children’s adventure novels. He is a Ma Murray award-winner for best columnist and received the bronze for Outstanding Columnist in the 2019 Canadian Community Newspaper Awards.