Pachal Dahl = Sheep Mountain (in the Southern Tuchone language)
Dall sheep have the largest horns of all wild sheep in North America. That fact, along with their white coat and the ability to endure some of the harshest climates in Canada make them the star attraction of this part of Kluane National Park in the Yukon Territory.
My route was nothing special and hardly comparable to the other routes that approach
the summit of this huge mountain so I will not describe it here. I will however try to impress upon you as the reader the chalky, wind blown desolation of this part of the St. Elias Mountains.
Driving north form Haines Junction the road snakes through the valley before emerging on a crest above Kluane Lake. The forests of short trees gave way to the aid expanse of water, dust and mountains. Crossing the Slims River at the foot of Tachal Dahl I stopped at the Visitor centre to look at the sheep with lambs on the mountain (binoculars provided).
Something that blows my mind is the interesting field of ice patch archaeology. The sites in Kluane are a look back in time as entire artifacts are found melting out of ancient ice patches in the mountains. Rarely are archaeological artifacts preserved in a way that prevents the natural materials decomposing (antler, wood, sinew, etc) so the artifacts from Kluane are a world treasure. Not only are original artifacts found but a human being has been found with genetic relationships to living people in Alaska! This person was frozen in the ice patch over 400 years ago. Check out this Nature of Things documentary – Secrets in the Ice – about Ice Patch Archaeology in Kluane.
Shortly afterwards I pulled out at the base of Tachal Dahl on a cliff overlooking the lake and began walking. Sage brush and flickers, heavy rocks, lichen and wind. Huge gusts blowing down the Slims valley, a glacial outwash plain, and carrying the sediment from the Kaskawulsh and the other countless glaciers that lie deeper into the heart of Kluane. Just silence, the wind and endless wilderness of the Yukon.
A silence one can get lost in.