Thursday, April 10, 2008

Day Eight: Haines Junction, Yukon

The leg from Watson Lake to Haines Junction was on a clear, cold day.

A good reason to avoid driving after dark. These caribou are licking the salty treatment from the road. I stopped and they continued to ignore me.
I started to move slowly and eventually they moved off but I got a couple of "evil eyes" from them.

This is more like it. Clear skies, dry road and mountain views.

A quick picture through the windshield. There is very little traffic this time of year.

Mountains are almost always in view.

This RV park in Haines Junction was partially plowed and had a live electrical outlet. There was a sign directing you to pick a site and pay in the morning. The office was still closed in the morning so I put the payment in an envelope and dropped it in the mail slot. Only a few hundred miles to the border with Alaska!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Day Seven: Watson Lake, Yukon Territory, Part Two

Once I started down I was committed since I knew I couldn't get back up. But I did start to see breaks in the clouds.

The distant mountains don't show well here but the views were spectacular.

During a flat stretch in the descent I snapped a quick picture of some terrain in the distance.

The weather and road kept improving.

By Muncho Lake the skies were clear. There were many lakes and rivers but with few exceptions they were covered by ice and snow. This is looking north with the now narrow highway to the right.

At the same spot looking south.

A buffalo near Liard Hot Springs.

More buffalo from one of the many herds. The ground is actually showing in the sunny areas.

The rest of the drive to Watson Lake was pleasant and uneventful. All the RV parks were closed but I managed to track down the owner of one that had an area clear within reach of an electrical outlet. Although he was not really interested, cash talked and I parked behind his convenience store for the night. I appreciated his flexibility. The night was clear and very cold but pleasant.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Day Seven: Watson Lake, Yukon Territory, Part One

I woke early and was on the road by 0600 although it was still snowing. I didn't know it but leaving early would cost me time. There were few other vehicles on the road and despite the steady snow I didn't see any plows.

I made slow but steady progress. Flat road like this wasn't a problem but I knew that there was at least one steep climb before Summit Pass. If the road wasn't plowed and sanded I wouldn't make it up without chains. Shortly after this I decided to turn around and return to Fort Nelson. This involved unhitching the pickup, turning both vehicles on the highway and re-hitching. Yes, alone I temporarily blocked the Alaska Highway.

Returning, I finally got the lessened snowfall and the plowing I had been hoping to see for the last two hours. I found a place to turn around and decided to try again.

The climb had been plowed and was well sanded. There are no pictures because it required full attention and stopping was out of the question. This picture is at the top in a brake check area. I'm now begining to relax but a bit prematurely as it turned out.

As you can see the road is in good condition. I was impressed with the plowing and sanding. If I had left a couple of hours later I wouldn't have turned around.

Thinking the worst is over, I check that everything is secure before starting the descent.

The first of many mountain views. I soon realized that only the approach had been plowed and sanded. For the steep descent, I was on my own. With no other traffic and descending in second gear I was able to keep fair control. I had to squeeze by a tractor trailer that had slid sideways and was "chaining up" in the middle of the road.
Tomorrow: Part Two.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Day Six: Fort Nelson, British Columbia

Today was the longest driving day at, if I recall correctly, about 540 miles.

One of the obligatory pictures. The weather is good so I press ahead to make the best of it.

The marker at "Zero Mile".

A fueling stop near Buckinghorse River. It's actually a camp for an oil exploration operation but they sell retail... at a price, of course. But they have it and I need it.

The Provincial Parks, while numerous, were either closed for the season or inaccessible because of deep snow. All the commercial RV parks in Fort Nelson, save this one, were also closed. I never saw the proprietor but there was a sign directing you to deposit the fee in a box outside the office. It was now snowing but a plow had been run through the spot and the electricity was on. I was in for the night.