Document 124: Guidebook Excerpts

Klondyke and Yukon Guide: Alaska and Northwest Territory Gold Fields (Seattle: Alaska Illustrators, 1898), pp. 4, 12, 14, 22, 25-26. Original: Library of Congress; Microfiche, Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions, M2501, Pre-1900 Canadiana, #15371.

Return to Document Concordance


Another very laborious feature in going to the Yukon is in getting one's provisions from Dyea or Skaguay to the lakes, a distance of twenty-six miles. Indian packers may be hired to carry your outfit, their charge being twenty-five cents per pound. Those who prefer to do their own packing on the Chilcoot pass sled their goods up the trail as far as Sheep camp, which point is made a general rendezvous by everyone, it being the last place where fuel for camp stoves can be procured. From here to the foot of the summit the outfits are taken in 100-pound loads, the cache being marked by sticking a long pole in the snow in the event of a heavy storm which would cover everything up and destroy all vestiges of the camp. After the entire outfit has reached the foot of the summit a favorable day is waited for upon which to make the crossing. On the mountain storms and blizzards are of frequent occurrence and are often of such severity that no human being could live through them. Once across the summit the hardest part of the journey is at an end.


One year's supply [of groceries] for one man:

400 lbs. Flour

20 lbs. Corn Meal

40 lbs. Rolled Oats

25 lbs. Rice

100 lbs. Beans

40 lbs. Candles

25 lbs. Dry Salt Pork

5 lbs. Sugar, granulated

8 lbs. Baking Powder

150 lbs. Bacon

25 lbs. Dried Beef

2 lbs. Soda

6 packages of Yeast Cakes

50 lbs. Salt

1 lb. Pepper

0.5 lb. Mustard

0.25 lb. Ginger

20 lbs. Apples, evaporated

20 lbs. Peaches, evaporated

20 lbs. Apricots, evaporated

10 lbs. Pitted Plums

5 lbs. Raisins

5 lbs. Onions, evaporated

25 lbs. Potatoes, evaporated

25 lbs. Coffee

10 lbs. Tea

2 dozen Condensed Milk

3 bars Tar Soap

5 bars Laundry Soap

1 Can Matches, 60 pkgs.

3 lbs. Soup Vegetables

1 bottle Jamaica Ginger



6 pots Extract of beef (4 oz.)

1 qt. evaporated Vinegar


But we hope you will not need it. Must be non-freezable, and specially prepared for the Arctic climate.

Mrs. Clarence Berry, the lady who picked up $10,000 in nuggets from the dump of her husband's claim, just for pastime, says:

"I took a good medicine case with me. I would advise every one to take the best case to be found."


A perennial charm of Yukon society is the fresh and youthful vigor of the men found there. Probably the average is less than thirty-five. "An old miner" does not need to be an old man. A pioneer in the region may have had but ten years' experience and be but little past thirty. The few women in the mines average even younger. The unfortunate there are, but not the aged, and poverty takes its ills philosophically, having seen too many of the ups and downs of life to despair of a turn in the luck.

The air is full of hope. There is zoone [sic] in it. There is always the strike next week to allay the disappointments of to-day. And sometimes, as we all know now, the strike of to-day to salve yesterday's sorrows.

NEW ROUTES (p. 22)

A small detachment of mounted police will proceed from Edmonton, Alberta, and endeavor to reach the Klondyke from the eastern slope of the Rocky mountains. Edmonton is the most northerly railroad point in the Canadian Northwest territory, being 190 miles north of Calgary. The route to be followed is by the way of Nelson and Laird rivers to the Deafe, and up this river to the Pelly. They will follow the Pelly river to its junction with the Lees and the Lees to the Klondykes, a total of 1370 miles. This is not the Mackenzie river route. As the police are taking horses with them it is obvious that authorities consider this route practicable, or at any rate is worth examining.


On the road to the gold diggings don't waste a single ounce of anything, even if you don't like it. Put it away and it will come in handy when you will like it.

If it is ever necessary to cache a load of provisions, put all articles next to the ground which will be most affected by heat, providing at the same time that dampness will not affect their food properties to any great extent. After piling your stuff, load it over carefully with heavy rocks. Take your compass bearings, and also note in your pocket some landmarks near by, and also the direction in which they lie from your cache — i.e., make your cache, if possible, come exactly north and south of two given prominent marks. In this way, even though covered by snow, you can locate your "existence." Don't forget that it is so.

Shoot a dog, if you have to, behind the base of the skull, a horse between the ears, ranging downward. Press the trigger of your riffle; don't pull it. Don't catch hold of the barrel when 30 degrees below zero is registered. Watch out for getting snow in your barrel. If you do, don't shoot it out.

A little dry grass or hay in the inside of your mitts, next your hands, will promote great heat, especially when it gets damp from the moisture of your hands. After the mitts are removed from the hands, remove the hay from the mitts and dry it. Failing that, throw it away.

If by any chance you are travelling across a plain (no trail) and a fog comes up, or a blinding snowstorm, either of which will prevent you taking your bearings, camp, and don't move for anyone until it is clear again.

Keep all your drawstrings on clothing in good repair. Don't forget to use your goggles when the sun is bright on snow. A fellow is often tempted to leave them off. Don't you do it.

If you build a sledge for extreme cold, don't use steel runners. Use wooden and freeze water on same before starting out. Repeat the process if it begins to drag and screech.

If you cannot finish your rations for one day, don't put back any part but put into your personal canvas outfit bag, you will need it later on, no doubt.

Take plenty of tow for packing possible cracks in your boat, also two pounds of good putty, some canvas and, if possible, a small can of tar or white lead.

Establish camp rules, especially regarding the food. Allot rations, those while idle to be less than when at work, and also pro rata during the heat and cold.

Keep your furs in good repair. One little slit may cause you untold agony during a march in a heavy storm. You cannot tell when such will be the case.

Travel as much on clear ice towards your goal as possible in the spring. Don't try to pull sledges over snow, especially if soft or crusty.

Be sure during the winter, to watch your foot gear carefully. Change wet stockings before they freeze, or you may lose a toe or foot.

In building a sledge use lashing entirely. Bolts and screws rack a sledge to pieces in rough going, while lashing will "give."

Keep the hood of your kootelah back from your head, if not too cold, and allow the moisture from your body to escape that way.

When your nose is bitterly cold, stuff with fur, cotton, wool or anything both nostrils. The cold will cease.

Don't try to carry more than forty pounds of stuff over that pass, the first day, anyway.

If your furs get wet, dry them in a medium temperature. Don't hold them near a fire.

No man can continuously drag more than his own weight. Remember this is a fact.

In cases of extreme cold at toes and heel, wrap a piece of fur over each extremity.

Keep your sleeping bag clean. If it becomes inhabited, freeze the inhabitants out.

Remember success follows economy and persistency on an expedition like yours.

White snow over a crevasse, if hard, is safe. Yellow or dirty color, never.

Don't eat snow or ice. Go thirsty until you can melt it.

Shoot a deer behind the left shoulder or in the head.

Choose your bunk as far from the tent door as possible.

Keep a fire hole open near your camp.

Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest