BY ALISSA SAMPSON

I moved to the Yukon this year. The only other time I had been to the territory was during a summer vacation when I was three. For my parents, the vacation was the trip they dreamed about, travelling the Alaska Highway and experiencing the Great White North, the trip of a lifetime.

Now, I am living their dream.

At first I thought to myself, What am I doing? Trading in traffic jams, pollution and non-stop noise, for what?

The silence, wide-open skies, wild animals and the abundance of recreational opportunities … I think I made the right decision. Nothing can top the characteristics that make the Yukon a home for me and so many other people that come from all across Canada, even the world.

I live in Watson Lake with my partner, two dogs and three cats. For those people that are not familiar with Watson Lake, it is the first welcoming community when crossing the British Columbia border in the southeast of the territory.

The town is cradled in the middle of the junction of the Alaska Highway and the Robert Campbell Highway (convenient for weekend getaways). We are also the home of the Signpost Forest, a must-see for anybody passing through.

The community has all of the required essentials two people and five animals could ask for.

All summer we’ve had visitors travelling up from the south to experience the Yukon; every weekend is a different friend and a new adventure to plan. This particular weekend was an amazing one; it will be etched in my mind forever.

We started our journey at the base of the mountain, winding through the thick black spruce and spindly aspen. Stumbling upon a series of lakes joined together by creeks, we took the opportunity to enjoy the hot summer sun and throw a few casts into the water.

I could see the grayling dashing through the clear glacier water. Without any luck we continued on to the top of the mountain. As we made our way higher and higher, the trees became shorter and fewer until they finally dissipated to leave only rugged alpine terrain.

We climbed the steep slope with our heads down, noticing that at our feet were fresh caribou tracks. The excitement that we were on the trail of a caribou, possibly a herd of caribou, helped us push our muscles and our lungs to the limit.

At last, we crested the mountain!

As I walked around the summit, I felt a sense of empowerment to be at the same height as the surrounding Rancheria Mountains. To be able to look as far as the eye can see, with no blemish of human influence on the pristine wilderness, is surreal.

The wave of trees going toward the horizon leaves the mind wondering how long it would take to reach the farthest peak. I thought to myself, If I can conquer this summit, I can do anything.

(This exact moment is why I love the Yukon … the possibilities are endless.)

This story will be entered into a draw for a chance at a free Logan Super Tour on Sifton Air or Moonlight Mushing with Sky High Wilderness or a boat tour of Kathleen Lake with Kruda Che. Send us your 500-word story describing your favourite Yukon place to editor@whatsupyukon.com. This contest is sponsored by Yukon Tourism and What’s Up Yukon.