Teslin is an Inland Tlingit community on the edge of Nisutlin Bay on Teslin Lake, Yukon. It is, in fact, one of the largest native populations anywhere in the Yukon. We’d stopped here for gas on our last trip and noticed the beautiful traditional murals on public buildings. So we were happy to stop for a warm meal and gasoline at the Yukon Motel.
In the ladies’ room, a young woman was anxiously asking about campsites and routes to Seattle. I realized she was traveling alone and did my best to assuage her concerns. Mary asked her why she didn’t head south to Haines and take the ferry.
“I can’t afford it,” she said. “My friends collected $100 for me before I left and that’s all the money I have. I’ll be OK, really.” She was driving a small hybrid but $100 was pretty slim to get her from Alaska to Seattle, even camping and eating out of her car.
At that, another woman pulled out some American currency and pressed it in her hand. “No!” the young woman exclaimed. “I’m all right, really.”
“If I had a daughter traveling like this, I’d want to know that she was being helped by strangers,” said the woman. At that the young woman enveloped her in a hug.
Her car and clothing were too new for her to be a backroads adventurer. I didn’t know what she was running from or to, but it pushed her to drive this road alone, at the start of snow season, with insufficient resources. And camping on the shores of Teslin Lake that night, we realized it was very, very cold.
In 2016, my daughter Mary and I set off across Alaska and Canada on a Great White North Adventure, which you can read about starting here. We arrived in Anchorage at the beginning of September and got home in mid-October. In between, we visited every province but PEI (been there, done that), and Yukon Territory. In retrospect, it might have made more sense to do this during the summer, since Alaska and Canada threw a mess of strange weather at us.