This column is called Wheeler’s Walkabout and not Wheeler’s Hike, or Wheeler’s Trek for a reason: It is just a low-stress introduction to some excellent trails. Most of my outings take an hour or two, and really just get you out of the house. There are times, however, when you want a little more than a casual stroll. For me, today was one of those days. So how do I go about getting a bit more exercise into my low-stress routine without adding a lot of time? Often, I simply choose a trail that involves more varied, or hilly, terrain.
One of the best Whitehorse areas for a bit more sweat can be found just beyond Riverdale around Hidden Lakes. There are two “hidden” lakes in this area. They are all what I would describe as “pothole lakes”; they appear to be landlocked bowls of water. However, an interesting fact is that they are fed under the ground by the Yukon River water table, a dynamic that caused their levels to rise after the Whitehorse power dam was built in the ’50s. Many trees were drowned then and their bleached trunks can still be seen projecting above these lake’s winter ice.
Some of the hills surrounding Hidden Lakes are quite impressive when you’re trying to set a brisk pace, so they really burn the calories. Today, the family and I decided to circumnavigate Hidden Lakes One and Two. The trail begins just off the Chadburn Lake Road and is known to many who fish there. It starts heading south then curves west around the second lake, traveling up and down a number of hills as it goes.
By the time we made it to the far western end of the second lake, I was beginning to think that this beautiful day required something new. There’s a fork in the trail here and I wanted to see where the western path went. A tree at the corner had a big “C” and an arrow carved into it, so I was thinking that perhaps this was the path to the mythical (in my mind) Chadern Lake. After a short discussion, the kids agreed and we all headed down this new path, which was well-packed by other walkers and Skidooers.
We walked and walked, passing two small pothole lakes and taking in some interesting hills. It was getting close to noon and the sun was shining brightly, warming things significantly from the morning’s minus ten. After an hour or so, we finally reached a three-way intersection in the trail. There were a couple of signs here. One, pointing back the way we had come, said “Hidden Lakes”, while the other, pointing ahead, said, “Chadburn Lake.” The third trail was unmarked, and I guessed it could be the way to Chadern. Unfortunately, we had used up our time and needed to head back so this will remain a mystery to solve on another occasion.
Having taken some pictures, we backtracked over our original path until we reached the Hidden Lake trail and then struck off to the north crossing the first lake and arriving back at the truck. Needless to say, the hill climbing left us all feeling thoroughly exercised. Time now to reflect and enjoy a well-earned dinner.