Activity 11: Hauling supplies over the Trail


1. Inform your students you've all decided to leave Skagway and travel to Dyea to take the Chilkoot Trail. To give students a sense of how arduous the trail was, have students perform a reenactment by creating an obstacle course. Ask students to bring approximately 2-10 pounds of supplies to school in a backpack (books, canned goods, etc.). Set-up an obstacle course in a large open area (such as a playground). This is a great time to involve parent volunteers. They can do the entire set-up and act as guides.

2. Begin the activity by having students load their backpacks with heavy objects. Next, weigh each pack. Record the weight of the pack on the student's ID card. The ID card should include a place for the student's name, the weight of the pack, and a way to record the number of obstacle course laps completed.

Remind students that they cannot pass each other on the trail. They must walk in a single-file line just as the original Stampeders did when they went up the pass. It makes it more authentic for the students.

Look at a sample map (PDF) of an obstacle course using playground equipment.

3. Once back in the classroom students get to do some calculations. If you pretend one lap of the obstacle course is the equivalent of one trip up the Chilkoot Pass, how many more trips would each student need to take in order to haul their entire outfit (2,000 pounds of supplies) up the pass? Students can make the calculations in their journals.

4. End the activity by having students describe in their journal their character's experience of moving his/her outfit over the pass. Provide a few guiding questions such as, "Did you carry all loads on your back? Did you use pack animals, hire packers, or use a sled to help? How did your body feel when you were done?" You may want to write key words on the board to help students remember the different stages they experienced in the reenactment (Dyea, Taiya River, Sheep Camp, The Scales, The Ascent, Avalanche Warning, Glacial Crevasse, Switchbacks, Golden Stairs, Provisions, The Summit). They should include many details of the experience in their journal entry.

The following is how one school prepared their obstacle course:

Set-up Procedure:

Use two large tables the first for "provisions" and the other for check-in at Dyea. Tape appropriate signs onto tables, set at locations as indicated on attached diagram.

River Crossing: Using two 2x4s or larger lumber, laid on the ground, simulate the crossing of the "Taiya River". For additional fun lay out a blue tarp (water) and add cut outs of fish and paper icebergs. Tape or stake sign for "Taiya River". You may want a parent volunteer at this station.

Scales: Set up 4 or 5 stations with scales at Sheep Camp location. Each scale needs a parent volunteer with clip board and pen. Put "Sheep Camp" sign at this station. Place scales per diagram on map.

Trail Markers: Use contractors tape to mark the direction of the trail. Begin at the trampolines and follow the diagram through the playground.

You'll want parent volunteers standing throughout the course to help kids through it.

Overhead Bars: Place "The Ascent" sign on bars with tape Red Raised Tunnel: Place tarp down at exit point, place map over tarp

Tractor Tire Innertube: Stake sign "Big Boulder"

Switchbacks: Stake sign or attach with tape on one of the benches

Avalanche Warning: Stake sign at location as indicated on map

Glacial Crevasse: Tape sign to parallel bars as indicated on map

Big Toy: Stake "Golden Stairs" sign near SW corner of structure near the step/stair like area

Hula Hoops: Arrange according to diagram before last tunnel

Tunnel: (Under covered area) Place tarp down, mat on top, then tunnel on top Rope Climb: Tape the "Summit" sign to the wall of the portable. Tie one end of the rope to the support at the base of the last portable. Extend rope down to the covered area so kids can have the "illusion" of pulling themselves up to the summit.

Provisions: At snack table per diagram set out small Dixie cups filled with trail mix, sourdough bread, sourdough mini pancakes and beverages. Pour out enough for each class as they finish the course.

OBJECTIVE: To provide students a hands-on experience to reenact the arduous assent up the Chilkoot Pass.

MATERIALS: (Essential)

  1. At least 2 Scales
  2. One backpack per student
  3. Canned goods/books/ other items to load into backpacks
  4. Class set of I.D. cards (PDF)
  5. Student's journals
  6. Other items to create an obstacle course
  7. Large tractor tire innertube
  8. Pens & Pencils
  9. Trampoline
  10. Car tire innertubes
  11. Tunnel
  12. Masking Tape Ladder
  13. Rope (tug-of-war type)
  14. Paper fish (for river)
  15. 6-8 hula hoops
  16. Station signs on posts labeled: Sheep Camp Scales, The Ascent, Big Boulder, Switchbacks, Avalanche Warning, Glacial Crevasse, Golden Stairs, Summit, Provisions
  17. 2-3 blue tarps
  18. 2-6' tables Snacks (trail mix, sourdough bread or mini-pancakes and cups of water or juice boxes)


1. As many parent volunteers (to oversee each station and activity as students go through course, to set-up and cleanup)

2. Parent volunteers to act as guides through the course (each class is broken up into 2 groups)

TIME: 45 - 60 minutes

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