The Alaska Highway

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June 23rd 2007
Published: August 8th 2007
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The Alaska Highway

The Alaska Highway (aka Alcan) was built in 1942. It stretches from Dawson Creek, BC to Fairbanks, AK. It took 9 months and to complete! It was important to complete it quickly during WWII. The current length is 1,390 miles long and it is paved, but the original road was a dirt road. There are several areas that have been rerouted over the years to reduce the number of curves or treacherous hills, such as suicide hill. Originally it was a military road and was opened to the public in 1948. As we drive along it and see the terrain that it crosses, I become even more impressed at the engineering feat and organization that it took to construct this road..

Milepost Zero: Dawson Creek (pop. 11,800)

Great place to stock up on supplies, groceries and parts. It’s got a variety of stores and services. We were able to locate a vent cover for the gray water stack (lost if somewhere along the way) and installed it. Toured the historic downtown area and took pictures by Milepost Zero.

Milepost 283: Fort Nelson (pop. 5,500)

We didn’t plan to drive this far, but it was rainy and not a good day for being outside. We drove to Fort Nelson which was the staging area for the Alaska Highway. We went to a quirky museum with lots of interesting collections. The pictures were fascinating from the era of building the highway. We also went to the Visitor’s Center and got more info for the next leg of our trip. They had a computer available to check email. That was great because at our campground WiFi is available in the laundry. We camped at The Westend Campground. We opted for no hookups. This campground doesn’t allow generators to run at all, so it meant using the stove to warm everything up in the morning. We were parked right by the woods and had a terrible time with the mosquitoes! There has to be some way that they are getting inside, other than when we open the door. George even sprayed some mosquito repellent around the door. Poor Lizzie doesn’t like our unpredictable behavior of a sudden loud clap or slapping the wall to kill a mosquito. Our eye hand coordination is getting better and George is getting better at stealth mosquito killing. We have 2 TV channels. It’s
Muncho Lake, BCMuncho Lake, BCMuncho Lake, BC

View from our campsite.
interesting to see what kind of programs are on. This week the most interesting program was “A Little Mosque on the Prairie.”

Summer Solstice. The sky light never did get completely dark last night. I looked out the window at 2AM and the sky in the east was light. I woke up later and thought it had to be time to get up as it was so bright, but it was only 3:15AM! Today we drove further north on the Alaska Highway. Long stretches of trees and wonderful vistas. This is certainly not an area to run out of gas or comparison shop for gas. There are rare places to stop and at them are usually a restaurant, gift shop, gas/diesel station, campground, motel, bus depot and post office all in one building. Today there was an airstrip across the road with a plane sitting by it. It was gravel and narrow.

Milepost 436: Muncho Lake (pop. 29)

We stayed a little further up the road at Strawberry Flats Provincial Park right on the lake. It’s nice and small with only 15 campsites and no hook ups. Our campsite is right on the lake and we have a
Hoodoos at Muncho Lake, BCHoodoos at Muncho Lake, BCHoodoos at Muncho Lake, BC

Rock formations from erosion.
wonderful view out the front window of the lake and mountains. The lake gets it’s color from copper oxide and it’s a great shade of blue. Today’s drive was back in the mountains, so it was slower going with the inclines and curves. Greatest grade today was 10%. I believe I saw a bear today in a clearing by a river. Also on the road we saw Stone Sheep and 3 young something, perhaps deer or elk. I’m writing this with my computer on my lap and sitting in the copilot’s seat of the RV. I’m enjoying the changing view out the front window as the lake changes hues or goes from smooth to choppy. Clouds are playing with the top of the mountain and the sunshine is slowly edging up as more and more of the base fall into darkness. Lizzie did go wading in the lake a couple of times and only seemed to react to the coldness of the water when her stomach got wet.

Originally planned to only stay here the one night, but decided this morning to stay another night. I wanted to drink in the beauty of this area for another day. There
View from hike at  Muncho Lake, BCView from hike at  Muncho Lake, BCView from hike at Muncho Lake, BC

The campground is visible below.
is a hiking trail that starts in the park and crosses the road. It continues on the moraine (or is it an alluvial fan?) and then up the lower park of the mountain. There were piles of rocks to occasionally mark the way. The moraine is basically rock debris that the glacier leaves when it recedes. So it at times was a figure ground challenge to spot a pile of rocks on the moraine! We hiked and hiked up the moraine finding interesting things such as hoodoos and streams that come up out of the ground and then disappear back into the ground. We persisted with our hike up the moraine looking for the trail to go up the mountain. Finally we turned around, as it was going to be a long hike back to the campground and the going is slow on the rocks. At times the dogs preferred to walk in the streams. It was probably cool on their feet, but would have been freezing on ours! The lake still had ice on it up until a month ago. As we retraced our steps we decided that there was one rock pile that had been different and it was by a tree with a ribbon on it, so we should recheck that area for the trail. Sure enough as we’re approaching it, we can see the trail going up the mountain . It wasn’t apparent in our original direction, unless we had turned around to look backwards. We hiked up the trail and saw various wild flowers such as Lady Slippers and wonderful views of Lake Muncho and the surrounding mountains. We were a little more talkative as we approached turns in the trail and both of us were known to say “Hey, bear” to announce our presence. Fortunately we didn’t encounter any wildlife just telltale signs that they also use this trail.

Our original plan had been to take the dogs on a hike to tire them out, then leave them at home while we drove up to Liard Hot Springs for a soak in them. We never made it there today as our hike was longer and more strenuous than we had planned. We ate when we got back home and then all took a very much appreciated nap. Neither of us could believe how long and soundly we slept.

It has been fascinating watching the lake and the mountains. Weather is visible across the lake on the mountains. We’ve watched patches of rain with nearby patches of sunshine move in interesting patterns. At one point a strong wind was blowing and the lake actually had small waves coming up onto the shore. Mostly the lake is either as smooth as glass or a little choppy. It was sunny for a lot of today, but we’ve also had 2 periods of rain. The weather does seem to change quickly and we’ll have to remember that for our next unexpected extended hike, as today we were not prepared for wet weather. We made it back before any rain, but that was just by luck.

Milepost 612.9 Watson Lake, Yukon (pop. 1,563)

We’re at a campground called Campground Service and are here for two nights with full hook-ups and WiFi available only at the office. Gas is $1.249/Liter. Diesel fuel 1.179/Liter. 3cents per liter discount for campground users. This is actually slightly less than in northernmost British Columbia. I think that taxes are lower. We had filled up with a few miles earlier at Contact Creek, Yukon for $1.199/Liter including a 2cent discount (probably for volume of purchase) and a free cup of coffee.

We did some grocery shopping here and to continue on with the theme of how much things cost: one dozen eggs $4.09, 4 liters of 1%!m(MISSING)ilk $6.89, skinless/boneless chicken breasts $11.00/kg ($5/lb) and it was the 2 day old pack that they wanted to get sold. The chicken breasts that were packed today were $17.59/kg. We bought asparagus and broccoli from the US. The asparagus was $11.29/kg, so a normal size bunch cost $6.49. Everything has to be shipped in. There are no veggie or chicken farms, just lots and lots of trees, but Kleenex is also expensive. I know how much it has cost us in gas to get here, so can understand why things are so expensive. It’s just hard not to look at the price of something and think “I wouldn’t pay that back home.” I’ll know we’ve been up here long enough when I stop thinking that and start thinking the prices are normal. George had a Yukon Gold beer the other night at a restaurant and it cost $6.25. It was brewed in Whitehorse, Yukon and he said it was an excellent golden ale, but it may have been named more for the price than the color.

This is a campground that caravans stop at for the night. It’s interesting to see them all arriving within a few hours, and all gone come morning. This morning there were only 2 other campers here besides us, after everyone else moved on.

We went to see the famous Signpost Forest which has more than 61,298 signs. It was even larger than I imagined. We walked through it trying to find a sign from someone we knew, but had no luck. It was impressive to see the variety of signs and the ingenuity of the signs. There were a lot of wayward street and town signs that are missing from their hometowns that have found a new home here.


25th June 2007

Muncho Lake
Hey Lynn, Just read your last blog! I think I have an identical picture of our campsite at Muncho Lake (different camper of course). Wasn't that a fun campground to try to maneuver? As I remember the road is right next to the water and you have to manuever your rig carefully so you don't end up in the lake! It was a beautiful place though. Had lots of sea planes coming and going while we were there as well. I've been copying your blogs off and taking them to Joyce in the nursing home and reading them to her. She is truly enjoying hearing of your travels as well and often reminesces about things we did while there. Glad you are having such a great time! Sharron
9th August 2012

Hey, that sounds great! My cousins are talking about going to Alaska next year in the summer. I hope i get to go!

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