Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Getting to Dawson City

The worn Hawker prop plane flies Whitehorse to Dawson, with me, a couple of white Samoyed dogs, two teachers, and a slew of people heading to Inuvik. It’s cold on board so I wrap my absurd sheepskin coat around my legs. I choose a seat on the wing, it’s that wonderful old silver-coloured propeller wing where you can clearly see every bolt holding the different rectangles of panel together. For some reason this reassures me (after all, these prop engines were built by Rolls Royce, that should mean something). The sky is blue; everything in fact is blue, it’s that twilight moment before dawn, but as we are flying north, the whole hour and forty-five minutes of flying time stay in that pre-dawn moment. Blue sky, blue clouds, blue ridges of hills, cliffs, mountains, blue frozen rivers, blue trees. The silver of the wing is blue. Then a streak of orange for the sun’s arrival appears and all the blues mute suddenly to grey. The pilot comes on the PA and says, “Dawson is not a night airport, so we have to wait until ten to, for landing, though as you can see it’s plenty light out. We can see for miles and miles, so we’re just going to fly down the valley for a little bit…”
Waiting for the Dawson City airport to open, we follow the river down and back until it’s ten minutes before nine, and officially “morning”, and the Hawker is given permission to land. [The photo of Dawson at this time of year was taken by Kevin Hastings...because I left my camera in Toronto. It should catch up with me sometime next week.]

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