In the April 8 edition of the Klondike Sun I put a little note inside the Sun graphic, in the banner. We always do this, sometimes to comment on events or the weather, and sometimes to flag a coming event.
This time I wrote, “How’s the Ice Bridge Holding Up?” because, really, it seemed to be just fine.
Earlier that Easter Sunday (because layout is a biweekly weekend affair) I had watched some racers spinning around the mazelike ice track they had created for their pleasure on the river, beside the ice bridge. I think you have to have some skill as a mechanic to really get into this sport, so it’s not something I’d ever do, but it looked like they were having a lot of fun.
More importantly, perhaps, the ice on the track looked pretty good and the ice bridge, which I had driven across the evening before, seemed to be in good shape. Four days later, you couldn’t have made that assessment.
There was a lot of snow for about half of the day on April 8, and then it all turned to slush and made a mess of everything. For me, this was ironic, because I had just fi led a column about spring street cleaning and how well it was going.
Then the sun came out and everything in sight began to melt very quickly, helped along by a bit of a breeze. By the week’s end there were puddles three or four car lengths wide, and who knew how deep, on both lanes of the ice bridge.
At some point during that day the crew shooting scenes for Lulu Keating and Max Fraser’s mini television series, Her Next Plan (see the April 9 version of Klondike Korner) had what Max tells me was a little added drama when one of their vehicles got stuck for a while.
That said, the Yukon River probably will not have broken up by the time you read this, on or around April 23. The earliest recorded date for break-up is April 28, but the average on the chart takes it into early May. What you can bet on is that the ice bridge will have been formally closed long before that.
The final stage of ice bridge use tends to involve people paddling across the west bank gap to reach the still solid center ice, pulling their boat across the ice with them, and paddling to the east shore. There will probably still be some walking trails at that point, but most folks from West Dawson and Sunnydale will either have hunkered down to wait for the George Black Ferry (which starts a week to 10 days after actual break-up), or, if they have to report to work, they will have found a place on the town side of the river to bunk for a week or two.
One thing that can clearly be said about this spring in the Klondike is that it’s coming quickly.