Just driving along and there they were, two Stone Sheep standing alongside the road shortly after we left the Muncho Lake area. They are a different spieces than the Big Horn Sheep that we have seen in the past, and are found in northwest British Columbia and southwest Yukon.
Had a question via email about just how far away are we from the bears we see. The answer is, it varies. Along the Alaska Highway, there are many stretches were the trees and underbrush is cut away from the road by 20 yards on each side. All of our bear sighting along the highway look like this to the left. Marcia caught herself on camera along with the bear.
Between the zoom on the camera, and enlarging using Photoshop, the bears can look very close. Above is the same bear as the previous one…we are both sitting in the motorhome still, safe and sound (as we have with all bear pictures, unless we are safe and sound in the car of course).
This is one that Marcia took later in the day. This bear walked along the tree line for about a tenth of a mile before it cut into the woods. The zoom makes it look like we are right near it. The third bear I saw too late. One thing about towing a car with all four wheels down is that you cannot backup…not even a few feet because it can bind and break the tow bar. Now we are not going very fast…what cars we do come upon are from our behind, and they race on by as soon as they can find a place to pass, which is not very long considering that many just pass even if they have solid double lines. I think we passed one small van yesterday, otherwise everyone has passed us by. We are enjoying this long drive the most we can. Anyway, going about 48 mph in a 62 mph zone (62 mph = 90 kph) and I look off the left of the road and see the head of a bear in the culvert just off the roadway. This would have been the closest we had been to a bear while on the Alaska Highway…but by the time I stopped we would be too far away, or if I stopped too fast then everything we own would be sitting in the front seat with…so I just kept going.
Today we were driving along and saw that a car going the other way had stopped…so I slowed way down and sure enough, this black bear was on my side of the road over by the trees. I must have taken a half dozen shots or more, and put the camera away and just started to give it gas…looked in my mirror and glanced over at the bear again AND…
It was not alone!!! A brown bear was there too…and by the time I got the camera again and focused in and shot, the black bear was shooing the smaller brown bear away…you can see him showing the brown bear his teeth. A swat with his left front leg and the brown bear disappeared before I could get another shot of it. We stuck around for another 30 seconds and the black bear was headed for the cover of the trees too…so we drove on.
Saw Buffalo a few times, never in large numbers as you do in Yellowstone.
This one is hard, I know…but we had just gone over a bridge and around a corner in a snow/rain fall, and there she was, our first Moose. Marcia had the camera in her hands having just taken pictures of the river the best she could, but she could not get the camera to focus on anything other than the drops on the windshield. I have had this happen to me before, and sometimes you just have to turn it off and back on. But Moose are shy. Even though I kept my distance, she looked at us, and ran off into the trees.
It did not take long before we hit some snow yesterday, and the wildlife that travels with us needed to take care of business. Normally we take care of business before we leave…but the trees put sap on the ground, which got into their paw pads, and then everything starts sticking to this gooey mess. Besides, a little snow is good for us…but never fun to drive in. Nothing stuck to the roadway, thank goodness.
Eventually the surrounding mountains started to show. This was around the Stone Mountain / Toad River area.
We then enter Muncho Lake Provincial Park, and I so much wanted a break in the clouds…
…but the cloud cover is ruthless…enough to let us know we are in a pretty spectacular place, but not enough to let us fully enjoy it in its entirety.
Even so, Muncho Lake is a beautiful place…that turquoise colored water with the cloud draped mountains surrounding her. For those who can put up without having anything…no Internet, no electricity, just solitude and beauty, there are some amazing RV sites where you can put your nose right up to the water and just enjoy. Not for us today, we push on…it is still early, just hitting 10 am when we arrive. But we stick around for awhile to enjoy, and to rest up for the rest of the days journey.
One last look back at Muncho Lake, from the pullout on the north side of the lake.
Although the lake is behind us, the Muncho Lake Provincial Park continues on. The lake is in the middle of the nearly 60 miles that the Alaska Highway goes through the park.
Now the Trout River hugs the side of the roadway, replacing the Toad River which hugging the road as we entered the park.
The Trout River empties into the mighty Liard River, which will flow for hundreds and hundreds of miles before it reached Fort Simpson and empties into the Mackenzie River, which is the largest river in Canada, and exceeded only by the Mississippi in North America, and finally empties into the Arctic Ocean far to the north. Above we are crossing the Liard River, which will now run on my side of the road.
Except for when we run across an old Forest Fire, everything is a luscious green. It did not take long after we passed this mountain on the right before we had one of our bear sightings yesterday.
For some 50 miles we cross back and forth, finally crossing for good for the day and we head for Watson Lake…just to awake today, start driving and re-enter B.C. again on last time before entering back into the Yukon. It is that entrance before Watson Lake that we see an official sing welcoming up to the Yukon. Unlike Alberta and British Columbia, the Yukon is not a Province, it is a Federal Territory. The major difference between a Canadian province and a territory is that provinces receive their power and authority from the Constitution Act, 1867, whereas territorial governments have powers delegated to them by the federal government. That’s your history lesson for the day.
Let me take a break from the scenic and tell you about Sign Post Forest in Watson Lake. It was started by a homesick GI back in 1942 when the Alaska Pioneer Road was being built. The story of how started is this:
In February 1943, Private Carl K. Lindley, of company "D", was sent to the Liard River area to build a sawmill to cut trees for logs needed to repair bridges. Then the squad moved to the border of the Yukon and BC, near Lower Post. One day they were building a loading platform for gravel trucks. There was an accident and Lindley's feet were run over by a truck. He was taken to a regimental aid station at the intersection of the new Alaska Highway and the existing road leading to the Watson Lake airport.
Though not badly hurt, he couldn’t walk very well and was unable to work on heavy construction. So his company commander put him to work painting roadside signs and regimental numbers on various pieces of equipment. One day in February 1943, Carl was ordered to repaint a sign on the road which had been damaged by a bulldozer.
When he finished that little job, he decided to paint the name of his hometown on a board and nail it to the same post. Carl Lindley painted the words "Danville, Illinois, 2835 miles" Thus began the tradition of painting place names along the Alaska Highway which continues to this day as the world- famous Watson Lake signpost forest.
In August of 1943, Carl Lindley, and other members of his company D of the US Corp. of Engineers, was a sent back to the United States for further infantry training. Then they sailed to England in October 1943 and took part in the invasion of Normandy on D-Day in 1944, and the infamous Battle of the Bulge.
Carl Lindley passed away in 2002 at the age of 83. But his role in the history of the Alaska Highway is forever etched in that single board attached to a makeshift pole at Mile 635 of the Alcan Road in February 1943.
Now, license plates are the number one “sign”, followed by road signs and homemade signs. However, there are other type of signs too…and I added a unique little sign of our own. Back in September 2014 we visited the Little A'Le'Inn, in Rachel, Nevada. My brother Roger and his wife Rochelle do sideline work there…Rochelle more than Roger since he has a full time job in Sacramento. While visiting, Roger gave me an official Area 51 Arkansas U.F.O. License. Marcia got a Florida one…but hers slipped into the confines of a dark hole inside the RV and we have not been able to retrieve it.
Now the Area 51 Arkansas U.F.O. License sits as a part of this monument in Watson Lake…I am sure there is nothing like it there.
Sign Post Forest takes up a couple of acres…I couldn’t begin to show the vast amount of signs that are here. Thank you Private Lindley for your service to our country. On this Memorial Day weekend, we must all remember this saying, “All gave some and some gave all…”
I know this post is getting long…so is the drive along the Alaska Highway.
We both went to bed early, and everyone, us and the dogs, had a good nights sleep. But again, with the sun still up when we went to bed, and up when we awoke, we decided to leave shortly after 6 am. The sky was overcast again, as we passed over the Little Rancheria River, which runs into the Rancheria River which we travel next to for many miles.
There are many lakes and the river along the route…wish it also brought blue skies.
Civilization is rarely seen along the highway. Down in the states you have troubles finding stretches of highway that don’t have any services within 50-60 miles away…here it is the norm.
Although we saw snow on the mountains, we did not face any snow today.
And then the clouds started to dissipate…and we saw blue Yukon skies for the first time…or were we back in the B.C.? Who cares, it is blue sky!
Even the sun tries to pop out!
Before long we are coming into Teslin, part of the Nisutlin River Delta.
I was impressed with the information displays they had at this pullout overlooking the area. This is just a small portion of one which shows the journey of the Chinook Salmon from when they enter the Yukon until they reach Teslin.
At the top of Teslin Lake we cross the Teslin River near Johnsons Crossing. Tesline Lake is about 70 miles long, and we only have about 40 miles left to get to today's destination, Tagish. Shortly after passing through Johnsons Crossing, we turn off the Alaska Highway and head to Tagish…which is 90 miles from Skagway. We will meet up with the Alaska Highway again in Whitehorse after we leave Skagway in a few days.
Overall, the Alaska Highway has been a fairly well maintained road. However, there are stretches which are bad. The occasional frost heaves areas are not bad, and well marked…you slow down, avoid or go over them, and that’s it. But when they decide to fix stretches of roads, they take off the layer of Asphalt, then run a grader over it, then you just drive on it. They seem to do miles at a time…and it is hard to drive on, rattles the heck out of you, and you wonder how long it will go. Case in point…yesterday we see a sign, “Construction Zone”, and then a sign, “Work being done by Cobalt Construction”. We drive on, see no workers, and the road looks like this above.
Then we finally see this guy on this scraper, chewing up the road. I tell Marcia, “I think we just found Mr. Cobalt…it looks like it is a one man company.” And the road continues, all torn up, all bumpy and shaky.
Finally we come to an area where the rest of the Cobalt Construction is working, and now they have a pilot car which has to take you along. The escorted drive is a few miles, and it is hard and bumpy…and I am not driving as fast as the leader.
Today we had numerous stretches along Lake Teslin where the road was totally chewed up, down to gravel, and we never saw any work being done, no signs of equipment, just signs warning you to slow down, it is dusty, and you never knew how long it would last. Now that is something we have never experienced before…although stretches of Highway 99 in California have been almost this bumpy.