The Donjek Region
Backpacking in Kluane National Park
©Outdoor Adventure Canada
in the southwest corner of the Yukon, Kluane National Park boasts the
highest peak in Canada, Mount Logan. Kluane National Park is a UNESCO
World Heritage site consisting of alpine tundra and hosting over two
hundred varieties of Alpine Flora.
This region is north of the 60th parallel which means
that the summer days can be as long as 19 hours and the winter days
as short as four hours. The temperature can reach lows of -50°C
in the winter season and summer days can be as warm as 33°C. Wildlife
of the region includes grizzly and black bears, wolves, foxes, wolverines,
muskrat, mink, marmot and lynx. Birdlife includes the golden and bald
The Donjek area is a favorite destination for hikers.
There is no actual trail and you will need to be an expert at orienteering
and an experienced backpacker. Be sure to have a good topographical
map of the region. There are also tremendous elevation changes throughout
the trek. An average trip takes about 10 days.
Along the way you may visit the Burwash Uplands and reach
a saddle on the Amphitheatre Mountain. You will see sub-alpine meadows
and find a patrol cabin at the base of an outcrop.
As you head into the area of the Hoge pass you will notice
many gullies and travel along scree slopes. Eventually you will hike
through some stands of poplar and spruce. This is prime bear area so
be sure to make lots of noise as you travel through the woods. You will
come along a meadow and see an incredible view of the Donjek Glacier.
Canyons, waterfalls, old mining roads and other scenic treats await
you on the Donjek Route. The view from the top of the Atlas Pass is
breathtakingly beautiful. Kluane Lake is also very pretty.
Bears are numerous throughout the Donjek so precautions
must be taken. Bear resistant canisters are recommended. Giardia has
also been reported in Kluane, therefore you should treat water with
chemicals, by boiling or filtering. You will need a compass and a good
survival kit. It is not impossible to see snow on the passes even in
the summertime. For safety reasons it is necessary to register your
trip at the Haines Junction Visitors Centre or at Sheep Mountain.
This is definitely not a trip for a hiker who lacks
advanced skills. Weather changes, water levels and the natural inhabitants
can cause a hiker to have to adapt their route accordingly. This pristine
wilderness region is awesome with high passes, deep canyons and sights
such as caribou. Kluane National Park is a place to be treasured and
Written by Bryan March