BY JEFF BRADY 

On a drive up to Whitehorse this week, I was stunned by how early our landscape is transforming this year.

At Log Cabin, where the ski race was held just three weeks ago, there is very little snow left. As I came down the hill, I then noticed Tutshi Lake is open, which is not that unusual for late April.

A lynx darted across the road as I headed over the next ridge, alerting me to my next surprise: Windy Arm also is open except for a small stretch of ice in the narrows where it bends east toward Tagish Lake.

Finally, descending down the next hill- and this was an even greater shock- I could see that Bennett Lake is also open at Carcross. This famed lake where the ice went out in late May of 1898, setting off the stampede of boats to Dawson City, is open in April.

These are welcome signs of spring, especially for a paddler like myself. But I remember not that long ago when all of these lakes still had snow and ice on them until Memorial Day. In a couple weeks, the summit lakes could be open.

And that is a concern. We’ve just witnessed the warmest months on record worldwide, and nowhere is it more visible than for those of us who live in the North. It bothers me immensely when I hear politicians and pundits doubt climate change and its causes and refuse to do anything about it.

Maybe there isn’t much we can do, but we can sure as hell try before our world burns up.

As I drove back in the early evening, animals that I normally would see in late May and into June were already out and about: a young grizzly near Carcross, a deer near Bove Island, two mountain goats grazing above the road by the old Venus mine, a beautiful full-grown black bear near Tutshi Lake, a rabbit whose winter coat was almost gone, and several porcupines between Log Cabin and Fraser.

Only nearing the summit was it still looking like winter.

I worried about the low snow pack and prayed that the upcoming forest fire season would not be a bad one and that all these animals would survive to be seen by others making this drive.

The fog was thick at the summit and it was misty all the way down to Skagway. When I got home, I flipped on the TV to catch up on the news, saw the latest primary results and flipped it off.