The 21st running of the Trek Over the Top snowmobile run from Tok, Alaska, to Dawson City and back will take place from March 6 to 9. It’s a 200-mile (382 km) trip each way, over the spectacular scenery provided by the Top of the World Highway.
Trekkers will ride out of Tok on Thursday, and head home on Sunday after two days of fun, shopping, and good food in the Klondike.
Unlike previous years, there’s just one Trek run this year, held during what has traditionally been the second weekend.
Paul Robitaille is the marketing and events manager for the Klondike Visitors Association (KVA), which handles the event on this end — booking hotels and B&Bs, and coordinating events with the Dawson Sled Dawgs.
“This is not the last Trek,” he says emphatically, squelching a rumour that has been circulating since the event was cut back to one run.
At its peak, there were three Treks, from the last weekend of February to the second weekend in March and the ride attracted at least 100 riders each weekend, including a lot of American military folk. After 9/11, U.S. commitments overseas damaged Trek registration, and the recent strength of the loonie hasn’t helped.
The KVA is hoping the drop in the Canadian dollar’s value will make the trip more tempting. A 10 per cent discount off the USD$525 fee (for a couple) is also an incentive. Last year’s great weather and glowing reviews should help, too.
As of four days before the cutoff 135 riders that had registered for this year’s event.
Robitaille was hoping for another 15 registrations, which would make this year’s Trek the same size as last year’s two weekends combined.
The ride itself is the big attraction, but the folks at this end work hard to make Dawson a welcome destination for the visitors, some of whom have been to 15 or more of the annual events.
There are a couple of fine dinners at Gerties’, and a Poker Run around Klondike Landmarks, featuring a ride through the Bear Creek Compound, out Bonanza Road to Dredge No. 4.
Indoor events will include a Texas Hold’em poker tournament, a variety of games at the curling club, entertainment from the Snowshoe Shufflers, hypnotist Colin Christopher, and regular gambling at Gerties’.
The Museum will also be open for tours.
The Trek Over the Top provides Dawson with its biggest winter tourism influx, and has a great deal more impact on the local economy than the Yukon Quest Layover, especially in a year like this one, when Quest numbers were way down.
After 32 years teaching in rural Yukon schools, Dan Davidson retired from that profession but continues writing about life in Dawson City.