There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.
Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee,
where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam
'round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold
seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he'd often say in his homely way
that "he'd sooner live in hell".
On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way
over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka's fold
it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we'd close, then the lashes froze
till sometimes we couldn't see;
It wasn't much fun, but the only one
to whimper was Sam McGee.
And that very night, as we lay packed tight
in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o'erhead
were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and "Cap," says he,
"I'll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I'm asking that you
won't refuse my last request."
Well, he seemed so low that I couldn't say no;
then he says with a sort of moan:
"It's the cursèe cold, and it's got right hold
till I'm chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet 'taint being dead -- it's my awful dread
of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair,
you'll cremate my last remains."
In the Yukon they say "If you don't like the weather, just wait 15 minutes". After we had paddled half way down the lake, the wind came up strongly at our backs. So we hoisted a garbage bag on two spare paddles, and sailed the rest of the way down the lake.
Sometimes the lake can be like a millpond. That means 30 miles of paddling with no help from the wind.
Lake LaBerge is probably the most dangerous part of the 435 mile canoe trip from Whitehorse to Dawson. The water in the Yukon river and in the lake is very cold - there was ice on shore during our June trip. The wind can come up very quickly and create whitecaps in the lake that can swamp your canoe. Even with a life jacket it may be difficult for you to get to shore. Since the lake is 30 miles long it is tempting to try to cut across the lake and not hug the shore. DON'T DO IT. Two people were killed in Lake Laberge just a week before we started our trip.
The Yukon government does not even know how to spell the name of the lake? I think VT is wrong, it is Lake Lebarge and not Lake Laberge.
This was the first of many decaying cabins that we saw on our way down the Yukon. A few more years and all this history may be gone. Many of the indian villages and fish camps are only inhabited during the fishing season in the fall.
Unique Suggestions: Not a bad place to stop if you get to Lake Lebarge just about the time you want to stop to camp or cook a meal. The bugs were not as bad here as they were further down the river.
Fun Alternatives: There are several other camping spots along the lake that are shown on maps. Firewood is plentiful everywhere.