Monday, August 1, 2016

Cassiar Highway is Breathtaking – and a Moose with a Calf

Moose and calf in river along Cassiar Highway

July 28th

I have read many blogs of people here in Alaska, Yukon, or upper British Columbia, and many have seen lots of Moose.  As for us, we have seen three, now five.  Marcia got the picture above (along with a few other shots), while I got the picture below (and a series of them as they crossed the river).

Moose and calf in river along Cassiar Highway

What got me was how the mom was protecting the baby until she knew “we” were of no danger to them…and then they crossed the river very direct, very forceful, and then they were gone.

Moose and calf in river along Cassiar Highway

This picture above was Marcia’s first shot.  We “get the shot”, then start zooming in.  You can see the white arrow that I added, and that is how far away the moose and the baby were from us. 

Moose and calf in river along Cassiar Highway

The poor calf had to swim…doesn’t have the long legs that mama has.  But they both made it across…and Marcia and just looked at each other and could not believe what we saw.  Here I was stopped on a bridge in the upper British Columbia area just to get a picture of the lake to the left, and the river to the right. 

North end Cassiar Highway

But our day started out much earlier than when we saw the moose.  After emptying our tanks, and then filling up with gas, we turned south on Highway 37, the Cassiar Highway.  As you can see by the sign, we have 669 km to get to Hyder, which is 415 miles.  Well, we won’t be doing that in one day, that’s for sure.

 North end Cassiar Highway

Off we go…with mountains to our south beckoning our way, along a highway which is less used than the Alaskan Highway, and much narrower, but in fairly good condition for most of today’s ride…except for the construction area due to a recent road washout.  More on that later.

North end Cassiar Highway

North end Cassiar Highway      North end Cassiar Highway

We quickly drive by numerous small lakes, and over rivers.  The sky is cloudy, with the sun shining at times, but like yesterday it strikes us how clean the air smells.  It is 10:30, around 65 degrees, and it is just wonderful!

Cassiar Mountains, Cassiar Highway

The mountains get closer…not too fast since we are traveling around 45 mph.  The only harsh thing are old forest fire scars…which we know in years to come will produce an even stronger forest…but few of us will be around to see that day.

Cassiar Mountains, Cassiar Highway

A few cars pass us, and this guy here is also traveling around 45 mph…later he drops to under 40 and I do pass him.  It is just one of those highways in which one could be “not in a hurry” if they wish.

Cassiar Mountains, Cassiar Highway

As we get closer to the mountains, the skies do turn gray.  We have some rain, but nothing that lasts very long, nothing which will wash the dust off which has caked on the past few days since we left Haines.

Lake and Cassiar Mountains, Cassiar Highway

The lakes have hues to them…this one has a green hue…some are opal, some are turquoise. 

Lake and Cassiar Mountains, Cassiar Highway

Cassiar Mountains, Cassiar Highway     Lake and Cassiar Mountains, Cassiar Highway

Our travel for the day is not half over…we have not seen the moose yet…we have only traveled for 80 miles.   They call it the Cassiar Highway…the mountains above (and others shown already) are part of the Cassiar Mountain Range.   Most of the Jade mined in the world is mined in these mountains.  Some how I was able to sneak by “Jade City” without Marcia yelling “STOP”.  My dad taught me that sometimes it is best to keep ones mouth shut…this was one of the times.  Winking smile  There “was” a town called Cassiar…it is now a ghost town.  They mined asbestos there…which is now rarely used due to the dangers involved with asbestos.

Looking north back to the Cassiar Mountains, Cassiar Highway

This is the only shot where I stopped just to take a picture of that which is behind us.  Another motorhome was traveling behind us…I waved it on but they nearly stopped anyway thinking we were having problems…until I showed them my camera and they zoomed onward. 

Joe Irwin Lake, Cassiar Highway

There was a pullout where I once again got out and took this panoramic of Joe Irwin Lake (above).  Just a bit down the road the Dease River, which links Anvil Lake to Joe Irwin Lake (and many other lakes we went by today), crosses under a bridge…this is the river where we saw the moose.  The Dease River flows for 165 miles ti the  northeast, and finally into the Liard River, which we crossed over while on the Alaska Highway. 

Dease River, Cassiar Highway     Dease River, Cassiar Highway

Here are two more shots of the Dease River as it winds through more lakes.  There are so many lakes, and very few markers saying what they are, that I couldn’t even  guess what lakes they are.  Frankly, I am surprised we only saw two moose today.

Dease Lake, Cassiar Highway

And we finally make it to Dease Lake.  This picture is of the northern portion of the lake.  The lake once had much activity around it as the area was highly mined for gold. 

Construction along Dease Lake, Cassiar Highway

Then the road came to a halt…for about 25 minutes.  Back in June a heavy rain storm came through the area and there was a massive road collapse which shut highway 37 down for a few days.  They quickly got to work on it and restored traffic one lane at a time. 

Construction along Dease Lake, Cassiar Highway
Construction along Dease Lake, Cassiar Highway     Construction along Dease Lake, Cassiar Highway

The pilot truck arrive, and escorted us along for a few miles…and they were very actively working on the roadway.  I never could tell exactly where the major collapse was, but from my memory I am certain it was in this area.   Soon we were at the community of Dease Lake where many vehicles needed to fill up with gas since it was many miles before the next gas station. We were near 1/2 full, and I did not want to get much below 1/2 along this highway since you never are sure when the next gas station is located, and how much they will charge.  The price was only slightly higher than what we paid earlier in the day.

Cassiar Highway    Cassiar Highway
Stikine River, Cassiar Highway

I commented to Marcia that we had been driving 150 miles, and my mind was so overwhelmed with the things I had seen that I did not know if I could take any more. I felt the same way when we pulled into Skagway, into Haines, into Seward…but this had now become a six hour drive with at least another hour to go to cover the next 50+ miles.   I guess I convinced her … she quickly went to sleep.  Now I have a picture of that…but if I published it, I doubt I would live to publish anything else.

Stikine River, Cassiar Highway     Stikine River, Cassiar Highway

Anyway, Marcia did wake up as we crossed over the Stikine River.  That large bridge in the previous group of pictures is the bridge shown in the above pictures of the Stikine River.  The Stikine River is nearly 400 miles long, and it contains what the call the “Grand Canyon of the Stikine”, a 45 mile stretch which has been compared to the Grand Canyon in Arizona…this canyon has walls nearly 1,000 feet deep.  The Canyon is located just upstream along the river in the picture above left…and is known for its white water rapids.  Not sure how to get to it…there are no roads.

Mountain Shadow RV Park

We settled in at the Mountain Shadow RV Park for the night.  A 200 mile trip which felt like we had traveled 500 miles through absolutely gorgeous scenery.  Out here in the wilderness…and it is a wilderness…we have no TV stations, no cable TV, slow Internet where they allow you 200 megs per day, and the cleanest air, most wonderful background, with about 20 other fellow travelers.  The grass, for Bubba and Skruffy, was plush, green, and there were another dozen dogs in the park.  By morning, when we pulled out at 9:30, only two other travelers were in the park, one who got to the dump station just before us, and the other was right behind us (that would be the guy cleaning his window in the picture next to us in the picture above).  As for the RV Park, it is nice…and for sale…no idea what they are asking, but one has to remember, you have just a couple of months of potential campers driving by each year.  But what a view!

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