On the Discovery Channel I watched the first of three weekly television episodes featuring four adventurers attempting to traverse the Klondike Trail that was followed by thousands of gold seekers in the late 1890s.

Gold Rush: Parker’s Trail

To honor his late grandfather, John Schnabel, gold miner Parker Schnabel; his company foreman, Rick Ness; Karla Ann, an accomplished wilderness guide; and Parker’s long-time friend, James Levelle, set out on foot from Haines, Alaska. They headed north through heavy forest and then rocky snowfields toward the fabled Golden Stairs, a harrowing 45-degree climb over which the 1890s multitude struggled single file as did Parker and company.

After reaching the top of the Golden Stairs and resting in the summit cabin, they headed to Baxter Lake, at one point crossing into Canada, and made several attempts to take two canoes up the lake. Strong winds hindered their canoeing efforts. After four days hoping the wind would subside, the quartet turned their canoes into a makeshift catamaran, using hastily downed and cut logs for a mast and braces to hold both vessels together, but made no headway on the lake.

(There is a train that goes through Baxter Lake but since it did not exist until after the 1890s gold rush, Parker refused to use it.) As the television episode neared its conclusion, the four came across a sturdy wooden railway trackcar, loaded the catamaran on it, and began the journey to their next planned destination in the Klondike.

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Two more golden episodes

I was engrossed with the adventurers’ struggles but wondered why the four did not plan ahead more thoroughly before setting out. (Who, the night before the endeavor to emulate gold seekers of the 1890s began, thought it a good idea to chug five beers? Why did the four adventurers not wait for spring? Did they not expect strong winter winds and possible ice at any lake or river?)

I await the second television episode on April 7, believing the quartet’s water journeys will be stalled by ice. When they are on foot, I expect them to encounter bears and/or wolves at some point.