Monday, May 9, 2016

Dawson Creek to Liard Hot Springs. May 1st to 6th, 2016.

Dawson Creek to Liard Hot Springs. May 1st to 6th, 2016.


May 1, 2016, Sunday
After a quiet night at Walmart in Dawson Creek we started our trek up the Alaska Highway. But first we stopped at the Alaska House right at “Mile Post 0” for an excellent video of the building of the AK Hwy and a nice museum display of the highway.

Our first highway stop was at Mile Post (MP) 17.3 to see the Historic Kiskatinaw River Bridge. This is the last remaining original wooden bridge which is still in operation on the AK Hwy.

Diorama of the wooden bridge from the Alaska House in Dawson City:

Picture of the bridge

The highway north of Dawson Creek to our first stop at KM213 is a good 2 lane road. Lots of turns and many ups and downs. Some at 8% and one at 10% for about 300 yards. None of the hills were very long. I guess the longest was about 3 miles. Not very fast driving. It took us 3 hours to go the 213km. We did have three or four, five to 10 minute stops along the way.

Our first night on the AK Hwy was this gravel pit about 213km (132 miles) from Dawson Creek.

We had a very quiet night in the gravel pit. The day started of nice about 50* but as the weather forecast predicted, it turned rainy and progressively cooler. Off and on rain for our drive to Fort Nelson. Nothing exciting along the way. Many hills with 4-6% grades, a couple a little steeper.

We made a quick stop in Fort Nelson to use their free dump station. A really nice, newly built, or reconstructed facility. The dump station looks like it was rebuilt this year or last.

The skies were clearing to the west so we moved on to Stone Mountain PP and Summit Lake CG.

The scenery improved as we moved west of Fort Nelson.

Summit Lake CG.  Stone Mountain Provincial Park. 

Our campsite at Lake Summit CG was right on the shore of the lake with a fantastic view of the ice covered lake and snow capped mountains beyond. We had bright sun and blue skies with some clouds when we arrived. About 4 pm we had some snow flurries, but the temp was about 46* so nothing was sticking to the ground. The 10-15 mph winds made it feel cooler. The sun was back out by 6pm and the wind laid down to about 5mph by 9pm as the sun was starting to set.

Late afternoon sun view out the window of our RV.

Earlier in the afternoon we had snow blowing by our front window. The white horizontal streaks you see against the dark trees is the snow

Sunsets are really different up at this high latitude. The sun sets very, very slowly. Instead of going more or less straight down below the horizon, it get pretty low in west about 5pm and then slowly moves to the NW over the next 5 or so hours, getting closer and closer to the horizon until it finally goes down. Not sure when the sun actually sets. We go to sleep a little after 9pm, so have not stayed up for a complete sunset yet. Next month sunset is going to be later, after midnight or close to 1am, and we will be even farther north.

Morning views out our window

It was chilly, but not really all that cold in spite of the how cold the lake looks with the ice on it. The early morning temp was only about 29 degrees.

This morning I took a nice hike on the trail which follows the shoreline of Summit land and then switchbacks up the hill side. The trail was slow going and was taking longer than I anticipated so I didn't make up beyond the tree line as I had hoped.

Here is the main reason the trail was slow going. The first ¾ mile along the shore line was very rough.

The following two pictures give the impression the trail is going up hill. It is not. This is level ground, but you are stepping on tree roots and clumps of grass to keep out of one or two foot deep holes.

I had some nice views from the trail:

Looking back at the RV:

Nice view of lake & mountain.

In a couple of places along the trail there were what appeared to be frozen water puddles. Upon closer examination, these were not frozen puddles, but thin sheets of ice over what used to be puddles. There was nothing but air under a 1/32 or 1/16 inch thick sheet of ice. The water evidently  soaked into the ground leaving the ice suspended in the air. 

Sheet of ice with tiny hole poked in center

If you look close you can see there is nothing but air below the ice sheet.

Now for a little potty talk.

Summit Lake CG has the only vault toilets I have see which are all above ground. Usually the vault is below ground level.

The toilets were very cool and airy. While there is a roof over the toilet they are not fully enclosed. The upper sides are completely open, allowing lots of cool (cold?) fresh air in. I'm glad we are in a self contained RV and don't need to use these toilets.

A last view of our campsite at Summit Lake before leaving for Muncho Lake about 65 miles from Summit lake. A nice short drive today. 

A view from the highway on the way to Muncho lake.

Muncho Lake has two BLM campgrounds on the lake shore. Both with campsites where you can park your RV right on the water with great views. We stayed at Strawberry Flats CG where we had this great view:

MacDonald CG has similar views. We drove through the CG but I forgot to take photos.

Link to Muncho Lake Provincial Park website.

In the morning before heading to Liard Hot Springs we drove to the Trout River Mineral Lick (many times it is referenced as a Salt Lick) viewing area. Many animals come to the salt lick to lick the minerals from the ground they need to stay healthy and help grow their antlers or horns.

I was able to view three nice Stone Sheep Rams at the salt lick:

Along the highway we saw a number of Stone Sheep ewe's

This ewe refused to look our way. She just ignored us.

A couple of views of Muncho Lake. The lighting was very poor for taking photos. Sorry.

There is a green cast to the lake, not evident from my pictures because of the lack of sunshine. Here is what causes the lake to look green:

On to Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park for the night. A bit pricey at $26 for just a parking space. Nice fairly private campsites well separated from your neighbors though. 

Only 38 miles from Muncho Lake to Liard Hot Springs.  We are really burning up the highway rushing to Alaska.   

We visited the hot springs where I went in for a short soak. It was a little to warm (hot) for me, so I didn't stay long. Sharon opted to not go in. It would be too difficult for her to climb up and down the stairs into the water. There is a 600 meter boardwalk to get to the spring. There are nice changing rooms and restrooms available at the springs.

Sharon driving her scooter along the board walk

A view of the hot springs. The water at the lower right corner of the photo was very hot, I'm guessing about 110 degrees. It got cooler the farther down you went. There is a lower level pool which is much cooler than the upper level.

Sharon snapped a picture of me in the pool.

Next up is Liard Hot Springs to Fairbanks, AK

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