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Backcountry camping in Auston Pass
Going hiking and camping for several days was one of my goals during my stay in Yukon. During my first visit to Tombstone Park interpretive center, as most of the trails were still closed because of the snow, or the presence of bears, park rangers have recommended me to go to Auston Pass, and they drew down on a piece of paper the map to find the beginning of the “trail”. The weather was not good so I decided to postpone it after my return from Inuvik.
For hiking in the park it is mandatory to have a bear-proof food container. Either rent it at the interpretation center, or show that you have one. And when I say “food”, one should be actually secure in this container everything that a strong scent (soap, toothpaste, deodorant, sunscreen …). The other key point is to leave no trace, no waste, i.e. you must bring back with you even the toilet paper that was used .
There are good guides from the government, in several languages, with all the recommendations for hiking in the Yukon:
Since I hike alone, to avoid being face to face with a bear, I was recommended to stay away from the river, to make noise regularly (continuously if possible), especially when I crossed bushes that could hide a bear to me (and vice versa), and also not to camp near trails.
After spending a week in Inuvik, I therefore started this little adventure. I arrived in the area in the late afternoon. Parking is about 20 km north of the interpretation center. I ate, watched a movie and slept on parking. I woke up quite late and as the weather was still not beautiful, I spent the rest of the afternoon to finish a book ; that was that less to carry 😉
I started walking around 8 pm. The hike was not difficult, there is almost no elevation, and it was good because my backpack was quite heavy with food for 4 days and all camping and photo equipment.
First, there is a tussock plain to cross, aiming towards a passage between two mountains. There is no path to follow in the plain. After crossing the pass, we arrive in the valley, in the hollow of which flows a river. At this point we begin to see a path that we can follow up to Auston Pass. I do not know if the path was created by human beings, but it is probably more frequented by moose and caribou. There are some parts where the trail is difficult to follow, especially when crossing small water streams, but it never stops. On the way to Auston Pass, I thought it stopped and I continued straight through the bushes and shrubs. But on the way back, I have have been able to follow the route almost all along.
When the sun began to set, I started looking for a place to pitch my tent. I thought I had reached Auston Pass, and contrary to what I expected, there was no really open space (without shrubs) and flat. After searching for a while, I finally found the correct location. I just had the time to install my tent and eat before the sun disappears and the temperature decreases.
Walking to the actual Auston Pass the next day, I noticed that there is no shrub or clumps of tussock but it does not make it easier to install a tent. It seems there are good places on the other side of the river where I was.
At the end I spent 4 nights, slightly more than 3 days there. I was able to hike one of the peaks (unnamed) that surrounded my base camp and explore the surroundings. It’s a perfect place to be alone, completely in nature without any trace of civilization: no noise, no light, no human construction.
- Track length: 9.5 km
- Duration: 4h30
- Vertical ascent: 250 m
- Departure altitude: 1150 m
- Max Altitude: 1330 m
- Maximum slope: 2.9°
- GPS Data (GPX track log) to download:
- 2015-07-04_Auston-Pass_To-Camp.gpx – From parking to base camp (Blue Turquoise on the map)
- 2015-07-05_Auston-Pass_NoName-Peak.gpx – Hike to the no-name peak (Yellow on the map)
- 2015-07-07_Auston-Pass_To-Pass.gpx – From base camp to Auston Pass (Fuschia on the map)
- 2015-07-07_Auston-Pass_Return-To-Camp.gpx – From Auston Pass to base camp (Green on the map)
- 2015-07-08_Auston-Pass_Return.gpx – From base camp to parking (Blue/Purple on the map)