After months of isolation in this frigid land north of 60, finally the much-anticipated Yukon summer is nearing.
Sure, there are the obvious signs, like the longer days, kids eating ice cream and the temperatures finally warming … but that’s not how I know.
In my eight years in the North, I have come up with a few sure-fire ways to determine when Old Man Winter has finally gone to bed.
It is the smell of patchouli that is filling the air, especially near the Robert Service Campground and atop the clay cliffs.
It is the drumming of the bongos that reverberate from the same locales.
It is the French-speaking baristas now serving me my morning Americano.
It is the RVers from Texas slowing to a crawl just before the turnoff to Whitehorse … “Is that the exit, Doris?” …
It is the brown grass turning less brown.
It is the sudden height increase you may notice in many who call the Yukon home … not due to a sudden growth spurt, but rather the thicker soles on their hiking boots.
It is the editor of What’s Up Yukon walking around town in his white socks and sandals (OK, OK, he did that once when he didn’t think he needed to stop for anything).
It is the glazed-over look of the locals on Main Street, who stand dumbfounded at the immense amount of new people now wandering around.
“Who is she?”
“Are they single?”
“Finally the new people, the transients have arrived!” they think to themselves.
It is the southern twang overheard in the Wal-Mart parking lot by the folks in the matching track suits cooking the “All-American” franks.
It is the die-hard cross-country skiers rolling down the Alaska Highway because eight months of winter is never enough.
It is the spandex. Far too much spandex.
It is the Yukon cologne … eau de DEET.
It is the Gore-Tex pants, jackets, vests, gloves, shorts and even underwear suddenly becoming the height of fashion.
It is the pasty skin now on display, my own included. (Sure we’re pale, but we’re here to embrace.)
It is the same RVers from Texas posing for photos next to mama grizzly and her cubs.
It is the “white lies” sometimes told at the Yukon/Alaska border about the liquor you didn’t buy while down in Skagway for the day (not me, of course).
It is the milk crates. Not used for milk bottles, but for transporting goods on one-speed bikes.
It is the festivals—be it beer, music or sheep and crane.
And of course, it is the immense amount of “Danke Schön!” that can be heard throughout the territory—at the airport, the visitor information centres, the canoe rental shops and atop mountains.
Yes, summer in the Yukon is a magical time, and the warm-weather months truly make this one of the best places in the world to be. But before you break out your socks and sandals (yes, you, Darrell), take this checklist with you and, if the checkmarks outnumber the ‘Xs’, you’re good to go.