By the end of July 1897, prospectors started to flood in to Dyea and Skagway in a steady stream. Hal Hoffman, in the Official Guide to the Klondike Country, observed: “the rush still keeps up and the end is not in sight... The end is in New York, and Chicago, and San Francisco.”
Anyone heading into the Yukon had to have the required “ton of goods” — a year’s supply of food (about 1000 pounds, at three lbs. per day) plus another 1000 lbs. of equipment. They had to relay this outfit in stages, caching each load and returning for another.
At Dyea, goods and passengers were off-loaded at low tide; many supplies were spoiled or carried away by the rising tide before their owners could claim them. Healy and Wilson’s pack train ran every day from Dyea to Sheep Camp, each horse carrying 90 kilos, and First Nations packers and non-native packers also worked steadily, but no one could keep up with the demand.
In Skagway, the White Pass trail turned into a quagmire in late August from heavy traffic and 11 days of rain, and had to be closed for repairs for four days. And still the people poured in.
After the backbreaking work of carrying their goods over the passes, stampeders faced a 1000-km trip downriver to Dawson. At Lindeman or Bennett they had to fell trees, whipsaw lumber and construct a boat that would withstand the rigours of the Yukon River. All of this was done at a frenzied pace, each person in a panic to get to the gold fields.
On the river route, stampeders had to navigate the winds of the headwater lakes, the rapids at Miles Canyon and the Thirtymile River, dubbed by the Klondike Nugget “a regular graveyard for boats,” as well as Five Finger Rapids — according to Marvin Sanford Marsh’s diary, a “one-minute ride I will never forget and I never want to take again.” Their long journey finally ended at Dawson, where by June 1897 the few log cabins of the previous year had developed into a chaotic boomtown of 4,000 people.