On Scramble Alert for the Yukon

By , January 9, 2010

January so far has been a slushfest, lots of rain over snow, freeze/thaw cycles, and very little wind. Yesterday was shaping up to be another day to stay close to home, pursuing indoor activities, waiting out the weather.

Then we got a phone call from a friend. Suddenly we were on high alert, ready to scramble at a moment’s notice.

Our friend is in terrible pain from back trouble, and the local chiropractors are booked two weeks out. She found a chiropractor who could see her in his/her clinic—in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. Our friend needed drivers to help her get there, and asked for help.

This is no light commitment. Whitehorse is about 250 miles away, over a mountain pass. At this time of year, road conditions are terrible. Right now, according to the forecast, it’s downright dangerous, with snow and freezing rain. The pass gets shut down fairly often in the winter when conditions get too bad. Even “good” conditions by the pass’s standards are more challenging than most of us care to face.

So, what was our answer? We jumped at the chance!

Next to Juneau, some 90 miles south by ferry, Whitehorse is, for Haines, “The Big City.” It’s a wonderful town, with great museums, two twin-screen movie theaters (as opposed to Haines’s none) and an indoor aquatic center that is, to put it mildly, fantastic. To have the prospect of a 2-3 day visit to Whitehorse dropped in our laps pulled us right out of any slush funk we may have been falling into.

On top of this, our friend has been out of town since October, and we haven’t had a chance to reconnect with her and her family since they returned. It’s about a 5-hour drive under the best conditions, so we’d have a lot of time to catch up with each other.

All we had to do was get there . . . which was why we were on scramble alert. Our friend planned to make her decision within an hour of the call. Because the road conditions are so bad, she’s tried desperately to find an alternative here in town, so it was likely we wouldn’t go. In the meantime, we planned both for extreme weather and survival conditions on the road, and for a mini vacation if we got there!

Our friend called back. The road conditions were extremely bad. She changed her Whitehorse appointment to Sunday, and her husband would likely be able to drive her then. We stood down a bit, but not fully until she called again last night. She’d gotten to the local acupuncturist to ease the pain, and would wait for an appointment in town. Lucky for all of us—this morning’s road conditions are far worse than predicted yesterday!

Such is life here. Just when you think you’re in for the day, plans change completely, then change again.

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