Chilkoot Trail
Reviews & References

Take a look at some of the recent reviews of our Chilkoot Trail backpacking trip!

For additional information on the Chilkoot Trail, we have provided a community article from Anchorage Daily News featuring a group’s backpacking trip on the trail. 

  • Chevron down Chilkoot Trip Reference Letter #1 (Rolly)
  • Good morning Wade.

    Per my promise to you, I am writing a few notes after using Packer for our outfitter and guide for our recent Chilkoot Trail hike.The bottom line is that I could not have been more favorably impressed !  Our guide, Cory Hightower, was fantastic.   Cory is very well educated in the flora and fauna in the area and also has emergency first aid training. He communicated very well and was extremely entertaining as he related the history of the trail and stories of Sophie Smith and other locals of the turn of the century.  Cory was energetic and accommodating.  Cory actually awakened us each morning by bringing a hot cup of the beverage of our choice to our tents. If one of us had concerns about our pack weight, Cory would add the item to his already oversized pack. Cory normally carried about 92 lbs in his pack so adding to it was surprising to us. But, Cory never complained or made comment about it, one way or the other. He did what needed to be done.

    Usually Cory or one of the other support guides (I call them sherpas) would hike ahead of our group and put up our tents at the next camp spot.  That way, we were all close together and located in the prime camping spots.  Talk about great service and concern for your customers. It doesn’t get any better!

    The meals that Packer provided and that Cory fixed, were absolutely fantastic. Each night our meals began with wine or in the case of “Mexican night”, a Margarita ! One evening we had pasta with sun dried tomatoes, basil and artichoke hearts. Another evening we had fresh halibut chowder (I loved this the best!), another evening we had jambalaya containing rice, shrimp, and sausage, and for Mexican night, a wonderful meal of tri-tip steak made into fajitas with black beans and salsa.  There was always sufficient food for at least seconds and sometimes thirds if someone was particularly hungry. There was also warm bread and with a couple of the meals warm garlic bread.  Yum. Just like at a restaurant. Best of all too was that Cory did the dishes and cleaned up. He told us to just relax and take it easy.

    To gauge our food with what others ate, while at sheep camp we had the jambalaya I mentioned earlier. One of the other guided trips was having what their guide said was Thanksgiving dinner. I asked what it was….the guide said it was a combination of water, instant mashed potatoes, dried peas, dried chicken all stirred into what one would say looked like very stiff oatmeal. It was served into a cup (our meals were on plates) with a good solid plop. There was salt and pepper for this mess but not even any butter.  I honestly felt sorry for the two Danish men who had hired the guide, paid good money, and then were forced to either eat this slop or go hungry.  Everybody at the various camps always were asking what Cory was fixing for supper. They were envious.

    For breakfasts Cory provided oatmeal, warm bagels, cream cheese, jam, or peanut butter.  Cory made sure we ate sufficient calories for the work that lie ahead of us.  Of course, as I mentioned earlier, Cory delivered hot drinks of chocolate or coffee to our tents as our wake up call.   Lunches were made up of an assortment of cheeses, crackers, sandwich bread, jam, peanut butter, smoked salmon or smoked halibut, chocolate bars.  There was always hot water available for tea, coffee or hot chocolate, or hot instant soup.

    When the going got tough, such as the day we crossed over the Golden Staircase, one of the sherpas carried our tents and sleeping pads to ease our weight. Talk about thoughtful, I even felt a little guilty when I thought of the weight the men and women of ’97 and ’98 carried over and how relatively easy I had it.

    We had a good group too. There was no complaining or angry words. Cory kept us on track and on schedule and made sure that all our needs were met. Cory even had extra toilet paper just in case.

    Wade, please feel free to quote any of my comments above in your written material or use me for a reference in the future.  I have been on several guided hunting trips in Alaska, Wyoming, Colorado, and Texas and by far, this trip exceeded my expectations and the service level I had received previously from any of the outfitters and guides.  My home phone number is xxx-xxx-xxxx. My cell number is xxx-xxx-xxxx.

    Thanks to all for the wonderful memories.

    Rolly

  • Chevron down Reference Letter #2 (Liz and Reig)
  • I promised to send a note of recommendation and here it is.  Do what you want with it!

    I strongly recommend Packer Expeditions.  Why?  Cory (Hightower) our guide and the whole crew made our first backpacking trip so memorable we may just have to do it again.  Packer Expeditions, The Mountain Shop and Cory made sure we had all the right equipment and that it fit well.The freshly prepared food was great and we were spoiled with the amount of hot drinks and meals.  The Halibut Chowder was the best in my opinion but all the meals were delicious. Shrimp and Sausage Jambalaya can you believe it?  We always had lots of fresh filtered water and we were encouraged to drink.

    Entertainer, Historian, Naturalist, Master at what he does, Cory was always helpful with a kind word and encouragement for us and everyone on the Trail.  The best of the trip however was the fact my husband enjoyed himself and that was an unpredictable gift. By the end of the Chilkoot Trail he was telling everyone we met, “If you plan to hike the Chilkoot in style call Packer Expeditions.”

    Thanks to all at the Mountain Shop, Tim, Wade, Cory, Joshua, Kip, everyone who made our trip so great.  Thanks for the great weather, too.

    Sincerely,

    Elizabeth and Reig

  • Chevron down Reference letter #3 (Jonathan)
  • Just wanted to say how much my wife and I enjoyed our recent Chilkoot hike. Our guide Cory was a wealth of knowledge and an all around great guy to spend five days with…he pulled out all the stops to ensure we all had a very memorable, enjoyable  hike.

    Feel free to use these comments in your customer feedback section of your website…

    Regards,

    Jon, Saskatoon SK

  • Chevron down Anchorage Daily News Article - Review of Chilkoot Trail
  • “On the trail again – literally”

    Link from July 13, 2010 Anchorage Daily NewsIn late April when my friend Kathy Hosford announced she was organizing a 5-day Chilkoot Trail backpacking trip, I knew it was time to pull the pack out of the attic, break in some boots and train for the trek. Kathy and her husband Fred run the Chilkoot Trail Outpost in Dyea – seven miles outside Skagway and just half a mile from the trailhead. Fred was born in Skagway yet Kathy had never gotten around to hiking the famous route. Knowing there were others in her orbit who might be interested, she dreamt up “Chicks over the Chilkoot” for women of similar age ready to hit the trail.

    And so it was that a week ago today, with four companions ages 53-62, I reached the summit of the Chilkoot Pass. The last time I’d strapped on a pack was in 1972 and my most recent tent camping experience was the two month excursion that took us to Alaska in 1976. Living in Juneau had somehow dampened my desire for camping and backpacking – between the mud, mosquitoes and mere thought of bears lurking in the shadows, it seemed sensible to transition to a cabin or boat to acquire the wilderness experience. But the story of the miners’ 1896-99 rush to the Klondike goldfields was legend and hiking the historic 33-mile trail was something I had always expected to do.

    What made Kathy’s offer hard to resist was the fact we’d be accompanied by a “Sherpa” to carry the cooking equipment, fuel, food and first aid kit. This left the ladies laden with only their tents, sleeping bags and personal gear – between 25-30 lbs. each. Tim Bourcy’s Packer Expeditions in Skagway provided the guide service, every element customized to our needs and desires. Our Sherpa/guide, Kip, even cooked dinner for us every night and had the hot water ready every morning.

    Everything about the trip was diverse – the weather, scenery, terrain and hikers on the trail. The first two days brought basic Southeast summer weather – dry but cool and turning to drizzle by the end of the second day. Heavy rain set in that evening and continued through the night. We managed – because as Kathy reminded us – when you are outdoors in Alaska, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.

    We pulled on our rainpants, struck our tents in the downpour and were trudging along the muddy trail by 7:00 am. Rain and snow melt had swollen the creeks and streams, only a few of which had rudimentary bridges. We rock-hopped across several more, some deeper and scarier than others. By noon of that third and longest day the rain cleared.

    About the time we had climbed above the tree line we were met by two additional “thunder bucks” from Packer who took our tents to lighten our loads before the really hard part began. Soon we arrived at the “Scales” where in 1898 at the base of the pass the Canadian Mounties brought scales to weigh the supplies of those heading for the goldfields. To enter Canada, each person was required to have 2,000 lbs. of provisions, clothing and equipment. From the Scales we began the climb up the “Golden Stairs” to gain the final 1,000 feet of elevation. It’s an all-fours, half-mile scramble up big boulders at a 45 percent grade. There’s no trail – just orange plastic poles to guide you up to the foggy, misty, magnificent summit.

    Just a few feet before reaching the 3,700 foot summit (the border of the U.S and Canada) is a commemorative plaque erected at the site in 1968. It reads: “In 1897 Klondike stampeders by the thousands funneled over this ancient Indian trail enduring incredible deprivations and hardships. Their tenacious spirit dominating all obstacles continues to inspire pioneers venturing north to the future.”

    It was close to 4:00 pm when we were greeted by the Canadian warden, Christine, who welcomed us into her cozy cabin at the summit, her kettles brimming with boiling water for our tea, broth or hot chocolate. There were toasts, snacks, photographs and the necessary visits to the outhouse before beginning our descent across the barren Alpine landscape. Crossing a glacier, and more snow than I expected in early July, we hiked along the shores of beautiful blue lakes before arriving at aptly named “Happy Camp” around 9:00 pm. The “thunder bucks” had charged ahead to pitch the tents so by the time we ate dinner, the rain-soaked tents had dried out.

    Day 4 was a dry and leisurely 8.5 mile trek to Bare Loon Lake while the final four-mile stretch on Day 5 to Bennett Lake was reminiscent of hiking in sunny southern California.

    Parks Canada allows only 50 people per day to traverse the summit and we met many of them in campground warm-up shelters along the way – families, groups, couples, and even a few solitary hikers – from Whitehorse, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Michigan, Manitoba, Anchorage, Juneau and Skagway – sharing snacks, bandaids, stories and finally at Bennett the satisfaction and exhilaration of success.

    While there is no shortage of spectacular scenery in Alaska, the Chilkoot Trail provides one of the best opportunities to see it all – meadows, forests, lakes, glaciers, gold rush artifacts, wildflowers and alpine terrain. For those who need or enjoy an excuse to get in shape, the Chilkoot is a wonderful motivator. My six week investment in serious uphill hikes prior to the trip provided a payoff that included no blisters, sore muscles or stiff joints. (Okay, we took plenty of Advil…)

    Our final few hours in Bennett were spent exploring the abandoned town and dining on beef stew and apple pie in the White Pass & Yukon Route depot. Shortly after the train arrived, we loaded our backpacks in the box car and climbed aboard to return to Skagway on the same narrow gauge railroad that rendered the Chilkoot Trail obsolete in 1899.

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