Our first stop after leaving Fort Nelson was at Muncho Lake, BC, a beautiful, turquoise gem in the Northern Rockies. The drive was mostly smooth, though there were areas of road work and a section of very rough gravel that had us down to about 10 mph for a few miles. We spotted some deer and Big Horn sheep at various points along the highway.
Our primary reason for the stop at Muncho Lake was to visit the Liard Hot Springs, a short distance to the north. The springs are a favorite stop for those that frequent this route, and after soaking in the Sulphur infused waters for a couple of hours, I can agree with the sentiment. The temperature varies in the soaking pool from scalding-hot near the geothermal vents, to a tepid bath temperature at the far end. The Sulphur fumes had a bonus in that they kept the mosquitos away while we were lounging in the waters.
After our day of relaxation at the springs, we continued to the northwest toward the border with the Yukon Territory (YT), and on to the small town of Watson Lake YT. This was a one-night stop to visit the Sign Post Forest, a much photographed part of the Alaskan Highway. Several months ago, I had tried to get myself motivated to make a sign to post, but never got around to it. We also viewed a couple Black Bears and a single Grizzly Bear on the side of the road (sorry, no pictures). The only large creature we haven’t seen yet is a Caribou, though I’m pretty sure we will see them when we get to Denali National Park in a couple weeks.
The drive from Watson Lake to Whitehorse was a long day, with several sections of dirt/gravel that slowed us down and gave us yet another layer of dust. Ruby also had her first mishap when a rock kicked up by a passing car put a ding in the middle of the windshield. Ouch. I’ll probably ignore it until we get back down to the lower 48 since we will probably get another ding (or more) before this trip is over.
Whitehorse is the Capitol of the Yukon (a Canadian territory, not a province), and is the home to over 70% of everybody that lives in the Yukon, which tells you how empty the Yukon is. With a population of less than 41,000 people, the Yukon has less than half the population size of St Mary’s County Maryland (for those readers from that area), yet the land area is greater than the state of California. A whole lot of emptiness going on up here in the north.
We will hang out here in Whitehorse for another day before making the last two legs of this trek to the Alaskan border.