|This old DC-3 found a new life as a wind sock.|
Wolf Creek CG
The campground is max'd out this weekend. Discovered the reason why: it's a three day weekend here in the Yukon called Discovery Day. Has to do with remembering the day they found gold on Bonanza Creek, a tributary of the Klondike near Dawson City. So, like folks anywhere, they're taking advantage of a summer three day weekend... one of the last, if not the last, of the warm season this far north.
We ran into town for a much needed internet fix and a laundromat. Managed to get a bunch of photos uploaded as well as my post for last week. Another reason we're lingering here another day was to exchange some money at a bank. Our Canadian funds are getting low. However, with Monday being a Holiday, that's going to have to wait until Tuesday.
Back at camp Dar prepared a sausage and vegetable hobo dinner that I cooked on the campfire. After an hour it was cooked to perfection. A great team effort.
Monday, August 17 - Whitehorse Local (day 72)
Discovery Day Holiday in the Yukon
Wolf Creek CG
|Campsite at Wolf Creek CG near Whitehorse.|
I've written in the past about food prices here in Canada (they're high), but I've also had trouble finding some specific items at any price. No-stir peanut butter made without hydrogenated oil is one. Haven't been able to find it outside of the US. Wonder why it's not sold in Canada.
Just like yesterday, the day started out sunny but quickly changed to all clouds. This afternoon, on our way back to camp, a light rain began. Kinda puts a damper on my outdoor cooking plans. Been thinking we need to begin tarping our campsite when staying for more than a day or two. Would expand our living space to include a little of the outdoors as well as some dry space for outdoor cooking.
Tuesday, August 18 - Whitehorse to near Teslin (day 73)
Wolf Creek CG
Dar wanted to run down to Carcross, a short side trip off the Alcan. She'd read about some first nation woodcarvers and really wanted to stop by to see what was being worked on these days. So we went to Carcross.
Originally known as Caribou Crossing, the name was changed... contraction-ated... to Carcross because the Canadian Postal Service often confused it with other communities with similar names. On the way into town we stopped at a sandy area known as the worlds smallest desert. It's not really a desert, just an ancient lake bottom that local weather conditions seem to keep around, but when you're mining for tourist dollars you'll try anything to keep 'em coming.
For you railroad enthusiasts out there, the YPYR track gauge is 914mm… or just a hair or two shy of 3 feet. Compare that to the standard gauge all other regular railroads us in North America of 1435mm or 4 feet 8-½ inches.
Besides the railroad station, there's the oldest general store in Alaska, a mini-mall of gift and craft shops, a restaurant, and the skeletal remains of a stern-wheeler riverboat that used to ply the waters of the area lakes. The old girl was set afire by vandals some years ago and the State of Alaska kicked in a million bucks to turn what was left into a museum of sorts.
We stopped in the restaurant, The Bistro, to have lunch, being famished from the 40 mile drive down here from Whitehorse. And, as often do in joints like this, we had a great time chatting with the staff and some of the few customers they had that day. It's late August and business has already dropped way off from the peak. I think they're kinda punch-drunk from a busy tourist season.
|Keith Wolfe Smarch, famed Tlingit Carver|
About that time the train made an appearance. That's right... the narrow gauge White Pass and Yukon tourist train from Skagway. It kept me entertained as I watched it perform a turn around maneuver on the Y track maintained for that purpose. They like to keep the locomotive at the front of the train regardless which way it's going. Gives the passengers a more authentic experience and the engineer a better view of the track ahead. Would hate to bump into a bear or moose (or squirrel).
When we left, the wind was picking up briskly. It blew us all the way down the shortcut to Jakes Corners... back on the Alcan. From there we droned to Teslin Lake, and to a very nice government campground of the same name where we called it a day.
|Campsite at Teslin Lake CG|
Wednesday, August 19 - Teslin (on Alcan) to Cassiar Jct. near Watson Lake (day 74)
Teslin Lake CG
A real mixed bag today weather-wise. Rain and a heavy low cloud deck kept mountain views limited. At higher elevations the temp dipped into the upper 40s and we even thought we could see hardened precipitation mixed in with raindrops… in another word, ice. Not sure about this as the evidence quickly dissipated.
|Sign near start of Cassiar... yes, you can drive south|
to Alaska from the Cassiar Hwy.
Baby Nugget RV Park
We're clearly in a rainy spell. Check of the weather last night indicated mostly rain the next few days. Past experience has taught us the weather forecasts up here are notoriously unreliable. But a multi-day trend (like a general propensity for precipitation) is often fairly accurate. I'm sure there'll be sun-breaks, but we'll have to deal with more rain than we'd prefer.
We're staged just a mile or two from the junction with the Cassiar Highway. Since we don't know how far we'll go today, we let the showers come and go this morning while enjoying coffee in our snug little camper. Finally got on the road about 11am during a weather break.
|Just about the nicest campsite we've had all trip.|
Friday, August 21 - Boya Lake to Kinaskan Lake (day 76)
Boya Lake CG
It seems everyone driving by Jade City stops in. We observed a wide range of campers during our visit… from van conversions, to an Earthroamer, to a very interesting little 5th wheel made by Escape Campers. We met the folks with the Escape and they volunteered to show us the interior layout. Hmmm. There’s a lot to like about the little unit, but we’re not in a trailer mode right now. File the info away for future reference.
Through the Cassiar Mountains on a southward bearing, we wandered through Dease Lake, 40 Mile Flats, Iskut, and Tatogga. At some point along the way, the painted centerline appeared again… an indication we’re making progress toward civilization. Decided to make camp for the night at Kinaskan Lake CG.
Saturday, August 22 - Kinaskan Lake to Meziadin Lake CG (both along the Cassiar) (day 77)
Kinaskan Lake CG
We got the show on the road at our usual time... about 10am. Started the wipers when I started the truck and didn't shut them off until later in the day in Stewart. Back on the Cassiar, I'm sure the drive through the middle portion of it is gorgeous... but we couldn't testify to it. At times a bright spot would raise our hopes, only to be dashed on the rocky shoals of low ceilings and renewed rain. Just another sucker hole.
On the slow drive south, we did see a total of 5 black bear today. A couple of them were little more than fleeting glances... too fast for Dar's camera trigger finger. But the best sighting was of a sow and her little cub eating god knows what right at the edge of the road. They were totally unconcerned about us despite our stopped truck, in the lane of traffic, and the two of us snapping pics as fast as we could. They were literally just 15 or 20 feet away.
At the junction with Hwy 37A, we took it toward Stewart and Hyder. Glad we did too. The biggest tourist attraction here is bear watching along Fish Creek just outside Hyder. And being the good little tourists, we headed directly to the creek in the midst of yet another downpour. We found a few visitors, mostly huddled around shelters and peering longingly, hopefully, into the surrounding hills... trying their darnedest to will a bear into the open for that perfect iphone bear wildlife portrait.
We found a forlorn ranger on patrol, complete with umbrella and faint look of sadness on his boyish face, who said they had one bear early that morning, and another late the night before. But other than that, it's been pretty quiet. A local I talked to later said they're hopeful more fish and more bears show up next month.
Hyder bills itself as the friendliest ghost town in Alaska. I can't say much about the friendliest part, but the ghost town part is spot on. What a sad place that time left way back there in the dust. I can't help but think they're just missing some vision, some creativity, and some energetic people to clean things up and turn it around. I hope they do.
When a traveler goes from Stewart, which is in Canada, to Hyder, Alaska, one can do so without going through a border checkpoint. They probably figure that most people who go into Hyder are going to come right back out again, quickly. And since there are no roads that lead anywhere except back to Canada on the exact same road you went in on, there is little functional reason to maintain a staffed border presence. But good old Canada has their border check point right there under the Canadian Maple Leaf Flag, ever ready to snag folks who bought liquor in Hyder... or bought a gun... or picked up a terrorist to smuggle back into Canada. Never mind that there is no place to buy liquor or firearms that I could see in Hyder... they're ready in case one opens. I had to chuckle to myself at how serious this young border guard was taking his job. I'm sure in his mind the good folks of Canada are sleeping better tonight because he's on the job.
Here's a few more pics from our side-trip to Stewart and Hyder.