My favourite places in the Yukon are obscure … they are not found in guidebooks, websites, during tours or by pestering a long-time local long enough to spill the beans.

They are found by chance and not while actively seeking them out.

For example, during a recent commute between distant Yukon communities, I was forced to pull over to release my gut-rot gas-station coffee. Being relatively new to the Yukon, I would usually look for a scenic rest stop or attraction.

But not this time. An old gravel pit, lacking any vista or interesting feature, will do; after all, I’m not touring, I’m commuting. Upon getting out of the truck, I notice an inconspicuous trail leading out of the pit and down a small hill.

Where could this totally random trail go?

There are no “take picture here” signs, and my local bush-informants haven’t spoken of this spot. I follow the trail, down through some uninspiring alders, and emerge at a truly obscure, pristine and beautiful scene.

A small river, the Frances River, is before me. The sun is lower in the sky and gives the pine and lush moss a splash of light. Grayling are rhythmically rising in a short glide, picking off unseen insects on the water. A sleepy side channel is to my left and, low and behold, a cow and calf moose stand staring at me, seeming to give the look of “he found our spot”.

Circular depressions in the moss trail, along the river’s edge, appear as inverted stepping stones. I have seen this sign before and know it to be the trail of a grizzly.

This is truly an inspiring and peaceful view. What makes it my favourite spot, or other obscure spots found in a similar, random fashion, is that this spot then becomes place, which I discovered (never mind that I followed a trail here …).

Nonetheless, in the frontier nature of the Yukon, I am a discoverer of another Yukon site, and it becomes “mine”. This will continue to be place; no motor homes will pull over here; no guide book describes the site, and only those whom I choose to inform will know of its existence.

The Yukon is full of these wonderful places … and finding them on your own makes them even better.