How much pre-trip research you should do
Woolly mammoths had probably stood on the very rocks as I did. However, I didn’t have the slightest clue about this fact when I visited the Yukon.
All I knew about the place was its association with the Klondike Gold Rush of the late nineteenth century. The gold rush, on which the tourism industry of Dawson City currently thrives, is no doubt a landmark event in the region’s recent history and inspired Charlie Chaplin’s famous movie, The Gold Rush, but equally interesting is the history of the place during the last ice age which ended some 10,000 years ago.
I’m not someone who reads up a lot of history of a place before I go there. I’ll probably glance through it and have a rough idea before I go, but I am certainly not the kind of person who will be able to correct the local guide during a heritage walk.
During my trip to the Yukon in Canada, I had picked up some booklets that I intended to read later. I started reading one of them recently and it took my breath away.
The ice age — which lasted from 2.6 million to 10,000 years ago — was a time when glaciers covered most of Canada and much of the Yukon lay beyond these.
Hundreds of fossils of animals of that time were found by miners when they were digging for gold. The remains included those of the extinct woolly mammoth and Yukon horse and those of the still-surviving species such as bison.
Though the gold-diggers didn’t care much about these fossils, the discoveries excited paleontologists (scientists who study fossils. Ross from F.R.I.E.N.D.S. was a paleontologist) from across the world and many researchers came here to study the specimens.
Now that I know all this, I feel my visit to the Yukon was somewhat incomplete. I would have appreciated the place more had I known these fact before setting foot there.
As a result of this, the thought that surfaced in my mind was — how important is it to read up about a place before going there?
If you ask me, I will continue to do what I do right now, which is have a working idea but not try to become a research scholar on the place.
The only reason for this is because I want to let a new place surprise me. If I had come across a gold-digger carrying a mammoth tusk that he had just unearthed, it would have been amazing. But it didn’t happen. My bad. I accept it.
With information about anything and everything at our fingertips now, you can almost know a place too well without even going there. I don’t like to let that happen to places I intend to visit.
I enjoy that kind of ignorance, even it’s a hit-and-miss.
Here’s to the hits!