It's been a long time since I last shared a blog post. Too long. So to catch you up one what's been going on in my life I'm currently down in Skagway, Alaska, taking a Wilderness First Responder course. It's been SOO much fun! And Skagway is such a beautiful place…
But what I wanted to share about in this blog post was my trip to Dyea. About 8 miles out of Skagway is the place where Dyea used to stand during the gold rush days. It was the last jumping off town before the miners would cross the White Pass via the Chilkoot Trail and hit the headwaters of the mighty Yukon river. Back in its day it had thousands of people with stores and houses and warehouses set up almost over night. It was booming, full of life, full of vigor, and full of hope for a fortunate strike up north. The golden dream was so real it was the essence behind all that was done or seen inside Dyea.
But then something happened - the gold rush ended. People began filtering south again, some with rich possessions and some with worn out dreams. People disassembled their buildings and hauled the lumber away. Very shortly Dyea all but disappeared. Only three major things remain to be seen today: a false front which is surprisingly still intact, the ruins (more like a mashed up foundation) of a large warehouse building, and the pilings for the dock which reaches out into the bay. Now a luscious forest has grown where Dyea used to lie and if you didn't know what you were looking for, you could completely pass Dyea like it was nothing more than a forest mirage. And yet, if you look closely, you'll find more. While walking among the forest that now stands where the town once stood, I came across several shards of old rusted metal, boards that looked like remains of an old board walk, several pilings in the ground that look like they could have supported buildings at one time, even a pile of rocks that looked ominously like a chimney fingerprint. Little things, now covered with a thick layer of moss, stuck in a mighty forest. What stories do they tell?
There were probably several 18 year-old young men, just like me, who walked in the same places I walked. They were there for adventure, most likely helping their dad or older brother and secretly hoping to strike a fortune in the Yukon. Some met their demise in the avalanche of 1898. Others on the infamous Chilkoot Trail. Still others by the myriads of misfortunes that lay before them in the great, uncharted Yukon. Life back then was as fragile and transient as Dyea itself. Here today, and gone tomorrow. And yet the spirit of Dyea lives on. Sitting on an abandoned stream bed next to the ruins of a once thriving trading town, I could almost hear the excitement and determination in the miner's voices, the thud-thud of the horses' hooves traversing up and down main street with packs of food and supplies on their backs, the shrill whistle of the steam ship anchored off the harbor unloading food and equipment, the shouts and cries of townsfolk as they busied themselves with day-to-day life in a frontier town. And then it all fades away as the quiet stream trickles on. The same stream which was running during the goldrush days. It's the present, carried over from the past. A little tie which weaves itself from the past, gone forever, into the viable present.
And really, what has changed? Sure the buildings are gone, the people are gone, but their spirit will never disappear. They have left their indelible mark. Today I can stand where they stood, think of their goals and aspirations, and then think of my own. Am I creating towns which will eventually disappear? Am I chasing after a golden dream somewhere in the future, one that I will most likely never obtain? Am I putting my very life on the line to reach my goal? And what about you? Where are you headed?
For me, I have a Golden City I'm aiming for. I don't care what it takes. If I must needs join others in building a supply town along the way, if I need to summit a mountain top, if I need to slog through a valley, I will do it! No price is too high because the benefits will far outweigh the difficulties. Heaven is cheap enough! I have a Savior Who has left His mark on this earth. Yes, the towns and villages where He preached and healed are gone. Yes, the people He lived with are gone. Only a few remains are left from His earthly travels on the trail of redemption, but His Spirit lives on! And throughout the ceaseless ages we will raise our voices in praise of Him who blazed the trail ahead of us, even dying in the process, to secure for us a Golden future - one that will never end!