Lake Bennett with the WP&YRR station in the background.
Gabe and I arrive at Bennett Lake at 7:20pm. Though clear and sunny, there is a depressing wind blowing strongly from the north. Bennett Lake is a rather desolate place. Most of the area is owned by the White Pass and Yukon railroad. There are KEEP OUT! signs all around the property. Though there are a few mobile homes near the railroad station, and a ramshackle house near the trail, there is otherwise not a living being in sight.
Gabe and I both have a feeling of anti-climax. Part of that feeling is the last mile of trail coming into Bennett. Obviously, the WP&YRR thought they could gain some PR by dumping waste sand on the trail to create what they thought was a good trail surface. The problem is that loose sand creates the worse kind of hiking surface, and this is compounded for the hiker by the weight of a 50(+) lb pack.
This uphill battle against loose sand and wind seemed endless, and I began to worry about our food problem, and Gabe's hunger, made worse by this unnecessary expenditure of energy.
According to the elevation scale on the map, the trail should have been all downhill from Bare Loon Lake. It wasn't. The trail was constantly up and down rolling rocky hills. We could not make more than one mile per hour.
Unpacking everything at Lake Bennett
Gabe and I decide to save our last meal until morning rather than eat it this evening. We did finally see someone at Bennett. It was our welsh friend. We talked for a little while, exchanged goodbyes and good luck, then left to settle in for the night. The Welshman seems to be the only other human being at Lake Bennett.
The next morning, Gabe wakes up shakey, and with a slight fever. I tell him he probably needs food, and that I would cook him up our last meal of rice and sauce and hot chocolate. I don't tell Gabe, but I begin to worry and think again about the possibility of helicopter evacuations.
Once again, any concerns I had about Gabe's ability to handle the problems of the trail were washed away by Gabe himself. After eating, he was fine, and ready to tackle another ten miles of trail.
The Train arrives at the Bennett Lake station
As the train arrives, the temperature at 1:30pm is 59 degrees. It is somewhat overcast, and the wind has died down. Some rain this morning. We board the train at 3:15pm. The conductor seems embarrassed about the $72.00 fare, each, for the two hour ride down to Skagway. He should have been embarrassed, as should the WP&YRR itself. The fare is an unvarnished tourist rip-off.
The conductor tried to find a way to make up for it by determining that Gabe was under 12 years old, so he could be half fare. (I should have said Gabe was only 12 by two months). Then he tried to give me change for $180 when I had only given him $160.00. Not wanting to set any bad examples for Gabe, I insisted I had only given him $160.
As our train pulled out of the station, we finally see some human beings. The trip to Skagway was otherwise uneventful.