Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Northern Rockies


We were in no hurry to motor on as we enjoyed the beautiful scenery and I made the most of the not so limited Wi-Fi. It was time for a major window cleaning after all the dust from the construction the previous day. It was a sunny and cool 6º when we first got up but was beginning to get cloudy when we left the RV park around 10:00.

We had a spectacular drive along the shoreline of Muncho Lake and stopped at Stones Sheep Trail when we  actually spotted three stone sheep on the trail.

Stone sheep are indigenous to the mountains of northern B.C. and southern Yukon. They are darker and slighter than the bighorn sheep found in the Rocky Mountains and are often mistaken for mountain goats.

The highway crossed the Toad River before crossing Summit Pass and  Summit Lake at 4,250 ft., the highest point on the Alaska Highway. There was still snow beside the highway at the higher elevations.

  It became more overcast as we continued southeast and started to rain while we were stopped for lunch at a pull-off.

By the time we reached Steamboat Mountain Summit at 3,500 ft., it was a driving rain with very poor visibility in fog. We stopped at a rest area there "with views of the Muskwa River Valley and Rocky Mountains weather permitting." Not this day!  A few truckers  also waited for conditions to improve which they did within  1/2 hour.
The rain continued as we descended out of the Northern Rockies.

We saw more stone sheep beside the highway, another black bear. The highway changed to asphalt the last 30 km ( ah.h.h) through  lush  rolling countryside into Fort Nelson (population 6,100), considered to be "the Gateway to the Northern Rockies."

We stopped at 3:30 at Triple G Hideaway RV Park after a slow going  but spectacular 238 km through the mountains.  We have full hookups and excellent, unlimited Wi-Fi. The RV park is very busy, almost full with an Alaska bound caravan. The showers ended in the evening; it reached only 12º. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Travellin' The Alcan Highway

We made the turn for home, some 4800 km away, and headed east and south on hwy 1, the Yukon Highway, a.k.a. the Alaska Highway but not before buying milk and bread  and gas which we were pleased to have to pay only $1.13.9 / litre. It was partly cloudy and very windy. Most of the traffic was heading northwest to Alaska.  The highway crossed back and forth between the Yukon and B.C. several times in the first 50 km but there was just one Welcome to B.C. sign.

We drove through the Liard River Valley where the river parallels the highway. Beautiful scenery as we approached the Northern Rockies. Again there were numerous wildlife warning signs, this time for bison and caribou. The wood bison (buffalo) are a threatened species, some 15 killed annually in collisions with vehicles. They like to forage beside the highway where they can spot predators more easily. It wasn’t long before we spotted three grazing.

We stopped at Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park to have lunch and walked the .7 km boardwalk trail across wetlands to the springs. The Liard River Hot Springs are the second largest known thermal spring complex in Canada with at least 6 springs feeding into different pools and streams that drain into the marsh. The farther from the source, the cooler the water. The water felt great @ 104º It was such an idyllic and unique experience, a hot spring in a natural, i.e. river setting. We didn’t want to leave.

The winds died down as we continued on and  crossed the Lower Liard River Bridge. Constructed in 1942 and 1,143 feet long, it is the only remaining suspension bridge on the Alaska Highway. We had our first major construction delay of the trip, a 10 minute stop for an 8 km stretch where they were laying new gravel and tarring. We were warned about the dust: headlights on!

With our two hour stop at the hot springs, we only motored 255 km and stopped at 3:30 at  the Northern Rockies  Lodge and RV Park on Muncho Lake. We have a beautiful view of the lake in front of us. A nice ending to a relaxing day. It remained mostly sunny and reached a pleasant 24º.

At 2,680 ft in elevation, Muncho Lake is 12 km long and 1.6 km wide and is known for its beautiful  deep green and blue waters. It is one of the largest natural lakes in the Canadian Rockies.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Day in Watson Lake: "Gateway to The Yukon"

It was a restless night for all of us as it never got really dark. Our first experience in the land of the midnight sun. It was a warm 18º when we finally got up at 6:00. I walked Shadow on the trail by Wye Lake before  we walked to the world famous Sign Post Forest. The forest was started in 1942 by a homesick U.S. Army G.I. working on the Alaska Highway. He erected a sign pointing the way and stating the mileage to his hometown. Others followed suit and are still doing so to this day. The town of Watson Lake maintains the site, erecting more posts as they are needed. There are more than 80,000 signs. The sign post forest was designated an official Yukon Historic Site in 2013.

In the afternoon we visited the Northern Lights Centre, the only planetarium in North America that features the science of the northern lights. There are a few displays about Canada’s astronauts and space programme. In the Electric Sky Theatre, we watched two films, Dynamic Earth and Yukon’s Northern Lights on a 360º  dome screen. I was disappointed and would not call it a “must see” attraction. And Jean, well, you can guess what she did….z.z.z.z.z.

It was a hot 27º and very windy with winds gusting to 45 k.p.h. Good that we were not motoring. We spent the rest of the day relaxing in the comfort of our air conditioned motor home, working on our pictures, my blog and planning the next leg of our trip.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Yukon: We're Here!

We were up later at 6:40, thanks to the children. It was a cool 6º.  Shadow and I, hoping to see the moose from the previous day, walked down to the lake. No such luck.

Stikine bridge & river
We left the RV park at 8:20 under mostly cloudy skies and continued north past several picturesque lakes
(Tatogga, Kinaskan). We crossed the Stikine River and stopped for pictures. The bridge was built in 1973. Previously a small ferry was used for crossings. We stopped for some gas at Dease Lake, a community of 303, a former Hudson Bay trading post established in1838. We bought $100 @ $1.27.9. Ouch! The farther north we drove, the sunnier it became.

We stopped for pictures at  Lower Gnat Lake, appropriately named as they were really buzzing around us. We then crossed the Cassiar Mts. through the Gnat Pass, el. 4,071 ft. It is the highest point of the Stewart-Cassiar highway.

It was a very good day for wildlife sightings: black bears, a moose, a mountain goat. Day 22 of our trip and we finally put the baby gate behind our seats to keep Shadow from coming up front. She wanted to be on the lookout after our first bear sighting.  She couldn’t quite get over Jean’s seat via the dinette bench but not for lack of trying!

We left the Cassiar Mts. behind us and entered the Yukon Plateau which is quite desolate by comparison. We entered the Yukon at the 60th parallel around 3:00 and continued on to Watson Lake to the Downtown RV Park, a generous name for a large parking area with 89 full hookups including cable. Yahoo! News!! It felt like we were in another country with no t.v. reception, cellphone service. It has been years since we’ve seen so many payphones, in communities, campgrounds, rest areas. We each got one hour per day of Wi-Fi available in the area of the office.
It is an ideal location as we are within walking distance to grocery shopping and the town’s two biggest attractions. The campground is across from Wye Lake. Shadow and I have already walked the trail halfway around the lake and NO bugs. It was 25 deg., our hottest day since southern Alberta and at the most northerly point of our trip, 5,624 km from Dunromin.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Iskut Lakes Region

Our day began with most luxurious showers as if we were staying at the lodge. They even provided towel shower mats, another RVing first for us. Jean thought it was the nicest shower ever; certainly in the top 5. With no t.v. reception or internet, we were back on the road at 8:20.

The paved highway ended and became a rough tarred surface, “gravel” according to Rhonda, but it wasn’t. The highway was more winding and narrower,  stretches with no shoulders and steep drop-offs. It passed through the Iskut burn where fire destroyed 78,000 hectares in 1958. It is one of B.C.’s largest huckleberry patches today.

 It was overcast and drizzly when we started out but as we motored north, it cleared and the sun came out. The timing could not have been better as we entered the Iskut Lakes and River Valley region, known as “one of North America’s last wild frontiers.”   It is a chain of over 50 km of lakes along the highway with several provincial parks. We stopped at every rest area and pull-off for pictures. The mountains and lakes were beautiful. We spotted one fox beside the highway.

It felt so good to have sunny weather again that we stopped early, at 12:30 after only 153 km. The Mountain Shadow RV Park and Campground is just north of the community of Iskut, population 283. The rv park is in a valley with a spectacular view of the mountains and a lake. We enjoyed a quiet relaxing afternoon with Wi-Fi for emailing only (200 MB and one hour) and 30 amp service. Jean continued to work at editing her pictures. I have resorted to writing my posts on Word when I don’t have internet.access. Shadow and Hunter enjoyed the rest from motoring too, especially Shadow who was off her food and eating grass at every opportunity. An upset tummy from the tougher  drive.                                                                                                                               

Monday, June 5, 2017

The B. C. Interior

We were the only RVing overnighters at the motel; we slept well, at least as well as Hunter would allow us. He was getting somewhat better at leaving us alone at night.
We pulled out at 9:20 under the same conditions as the previous day …  10º  overcast and a light drizzle falling. At least the clouds were not low and we could see the mountain tops as we continued back east on hwy 16. We were less than an hour from hwy 37 north, known as the Cassiar highway,  named after the mountains to the north.
The highway was completed in 1972 . It connects the Yellowhead highway with the Alaska hwy in the Yukon. The   highway is part of the Great Northern Circle Tour.
We turned north and stopped at the Gitwangak Battle Hill National Historic Site. A First Nations fort had been  located on the hill to defend their village in the valley. The warriors would roll logs down the hill to stop attackers.
We also stopped in the small native village of Gitanyow (population less than 500) which did have one of the largest number of original totem poles of any coastal First Nations village. Many were over 100 years old. There are now less than 20.  Some were sent to the Provincial Museum in Victoria in about 1960. Replicas were made and re-erected in 1970. The remaining poles were restored in 1968. Emily Carr visited in 1928 and painted many of the village’s poles. It felt strange to see these majestic totems  
in such a downtrodden location.

We continued north through intermittent showers. The highway was in good condition as it passed through lush forests and followed the Nass River. No surprise that we were in bear country. There were numerous warning signs posted. We saw one mother bear with three cubs beside the highway. Unfortunately so did Shadow. Bark, bark, BARK!! She went ballistic and scared them off  before Jean could got a single picture. Note to self: next sighting, slow down, don’t stop and try to cover Shadow’s eyes. We did see two other adult bears crossing the highway.

The drive became more scenic the farther north we got with the Skeena Mountains to the east and the Coast Mountains to the west. We made two more stops at rest areas, one for lunch and one at the Bell River crossing for pictures.
We motored 323 km and stopped at 2:30 at the Bell 2 Lodge with an RV park. Our first campground with 10% seniors discount. We have full hook up but only 15 amp electrical. (It has been years since we have had to power down with an adapter.)  It is a beautiful lodge literally in the middle of nowhere. The closest towns are 94 km to the south and 155 km to the north. The lodge also has gas pumps and sells limited groceries. Initially we had the park all to ourselves but were eventually joined by a few other rigs. Also our first campground with mosquitos and black flies which didn’t stop me from bbqing chicken for dinner or walking Shadow. No more bear sightings.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A National Historic Site

North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site, the oldest intact salmon cannery along North America's west coast.

In the morning we took a VERY interesting 90 minute tour of the North Pacific Cannery. Our guide was excellent.
Our drive back to Terrace was better weather-wise as only a few showers,  clouds higher, no fog. We could see the mountain tops.

In Terrace, we got ready for our next leg of trip, into the more remote northern interior of B.C.. We topped up the  gas and propane tank, stocked up on groceries. The fridge and freezer now full.
 We stopped for the day at the Copper River Motel with 3  rv sites  just east of Terrace. The only cg in Port Edward wasn’t  very nice.

We spotted this motel/rv park on the way in Friday . It wasn’t in any cg directories or tourist lit. Much nicer than the Duck Motel. Our site overlooks the Skeena River with view of mts. out front windshield.
our view
Just a few showers yesterday. I've decided p.o.p. does not mean possibility of precipitation here. It stands for percentage of day with precipitation. Yesterday was 80%, down from 90%. But hey, still no bugs!