Sunday, May 15, 2016

Laird Hot Springs to Skagway May 7th to 12th, 2016

Laird Hot Springs to Skagway May 7th to 12th, 2016
Also a side trip to Atlin, BC on the way to Skagway. 


The Alaska Hwy continues to be in good shape. Lots of hills and curves. Some frost heaves to look out for.  Almost all frost heaves are well marked. Since many of the hills are a 5% to 6% grade and some at 8% it makes for slow driving and poor gas mileage. I find the motorhome shifting from 5th gear to 3rd gear sometimes to make it up the hills. Also the tow/haul mode will downshift us to 3rd gear to keep our speed low while going down. With plenty of warning on the downhill portions I slow down quite a bit before heading down the hills. Many times as slow as 40-45mph. If it is really steep I may start the down grade at 35mph. Generally I use the brakes very little, depending on engine braking to keep my speed down. If it is a 9% or 10% grade I'll manually downshift to 3rd gear and if need be downshift to 2nd gear to keep my speed down.

Wildlife from Liard Hot Springs to Watson Lake

We saw a number of wood bison (buffalo), a moose and three bears on our drive from Liard Hot Springs, BC to Watson Lake, YT. 




This guy (gal?) was zeroing in on another dandelion:

One more dandelion gone:

A very young moose:

Aren't I pretty?

Time to move on

Watson Lake

In Watson Lake there is a very nice visitor center. We watched a very informative 18 minute video about the Yukon, Watson Lake and the Alaska Hwy. There is also and nice series of displays in the small museum in the visitor center.

Also this is the home of the Sign Post Forest. There are about 80,000 signs posted next to the visitor center left by visitors from around the world. The sign posts were started by the men building the Alaska Highway, generally pointing to where they were from and the mileage to home.

We spent 2 nights in Watson Lake since Sunday was Mothers Day.  We decided that would be a nice day to sit back and relax. We found a couple of very nice rib eye steaks in the local grocery store and had those for Mothers Day dinner. It was a little cold for grilling so we pan broiled them in the RV.  Also had baked potatoes and sauteed mushrooms.   

The first night in Watson Lake we dry camped at the Tempo gas station RV park for $20. The 2nd night we dry camped at a defunct motel right next to the sign post forest.

Overnight parking spot:

1am Monday. We lost all 12V house power!

About 1am Monday we lost all 12V house power in the RV. (the chassis battery was still good, so we could have started the engine and driven if we needed to) We are dry camping so there is no back up power available. Also since there is no 12V available, I couldn't start the generator.  No water pump to flush the toilet either.  No major problem. Sharon's CPAP is not working w/o the 12v.  It does make it hard for her to sleep w/o the CPAP. I'll start trouble shooting the problem in the morning. I had prepped coffee before we went to bed, so at least we had coffee when we got up.

A little back ground. I installed a Lithium Battery system in the RV in February, along with Solar Panels. 400 amp hours of battery & 650 watts of solar. To protect your rather expensive investment in the lithium batteries, it is best to include a battery monitor system (BMS). This protects the batteries from being over charged or over discharged to the point that the batteries will be ruined.

Being a retired computer technician from the late 1960's to the late 1990's I have some knowledge of electronics. While I purchased the lithium battery components from Starlight Solar in Yuma, AZ, I assembled the system from the parts, so I knew how the system operated.

I got out my tools and multi meter and started trouble shooting. When I gathered as much info as I could, I called Larry at Starlight Solar. Larry was very helpful and said it looked like there was a problem either with the BMS computer or with the sense cable which goes to the battery cells. I removed the sense cable and metered out the wires in the cable. Sure enough one of the wires was open (no continuity from end to end). I found a bad connection on one end and was able to fix it and we are back in operation. Took about 2.5 hours of work to fix the problem. We were able to get on the road by about 9am.

The views are getting even better as we head west from Watson Lake.

Nice view of snow covered mountains:

Just before Teslin, YT there is interesting bridge. The floor of the bridge is steel mesh which can cause your tires to shimmy a little and there is no center stripe. Fun when you meet an oncoming 18 wheeler.

I did wonder if the 5th wheel in front of us was going to move over for the 18 wheeler.  Both of us managed to meet two 18 wheelers on the bridge.  Fun!

The rest of our drive to our overnight parking spot on Little Atlin Lake was uneventful.

Little Atlin Lake is about 4 miles south of Jake's Corner on PH-7.  Right on the lake there is rest area with this great little parking spot. Great view of the lake and snow covered mountains. Unfortunately it was cloudy with a little rain so the view wasn't as nice as it could have been.

Atlin BC.

We took a 55 mile side trip from Alaska Highway to Atlin. Atlin is very small town which in the 1920 was a very popular tourist town. Now days there isn't a lot here, but a pretty drive and beautiful views of the lake and mountains. There are boating activities as well as mountain biking, hiking and an Arts & Music Festival in July. Lots of winter activities as well. More info at the towns website and Wikipedia.

We spent the night at the Norseman RV Park. This is a bare bones RV park with water and electric, operated by the the town of Atlin. There are great views of the lake and the mountains beyond, which makes it a very worthwhile place to stay. Also since we are so early in the season the park office wasn't open yet, so our one nights stay was free. Also the water and electric wasn't on yet. The town has a dump station about 4 miles out of town.

A late afternoon view from the RV Park

In the center of the photo above is a Rock Glacier (at least I am pretty sure it is a rock glacier):

A rock glacier is a glacier made up of rock rubble mixed with ice and snow. It moves much slower than a snow/ice glacier at inches per year. Where as snow/ice glaciers can move at several inches to several feet per day. Link to Wikipedia about rock glaciers

Morning views from the RV Park:

The boat the M. V. Tarahne in the photo above was a luxury cruise ship touring Lake Atlin and ferrying passengers to Atlin in the 1930's.

A quote from a website:

M.V. Tarahne

A particular point of interest is the M.V. Tarahne, an old propeller ship parked at the edge of downtown on the shores of Atlin Lake. The ship was once a luxury liner that cruised around the lake in the 1920s, when Atlin was a popular tourist destination. The boat was put out of commission during the Great Depression in 1936.

Moving on to Skagway

There is some fantastic scenery from Carcross, YT to Skayway, AK. Especially this early in the season with all the snow on the mountains.

Even if you don't take your RV to Skagway you owe it to yourself to at least make it a day trip from Carcross or Whitehorse.

I'll let the pictures do the talking:

Along Tutshi Lake

Bove Island on Tutshi Lake

The next several pictures are from the 15 miles of highway in the high country to the mountain pass to Skagway:






We spent two nights in Skagway. While the history of the town and Klondike gold rush is very interesting, the town is little more than a huge tourist place catering to the cruise ships. There are about 20 jewelry stores along the main street in town. If you are there on a day there are NO cruise ships in town most of the stores close. The restaurants are open so it makes for a nice day to eat out. However the national park activities are minimal on NO cruise ship days. 

We stayed at the city owned Pullen Creek RV Park. While not particularly large rig friendly, good for 35' and under, it is the nicest park in town. A little grass and some trees. It is also about 2 blocks from the museums and the downtown area. None of the RV parks in town get good reviews on We were quite happy with our site.

These 2 nights at Pullen Creek RV Park turned out to be the only 2 days we had electric hookups.  The rest of the 139 days we dry camped or boondocked.  

The morning of the day we left, we drove to Dyea and the start of the Chilkoot trial. A pretty drive along the shores of Lynn Canal (a fiord in other parts of the world). There is a national forest CG in Dyea. We didn't care for the campground. It is buried deep in the trees. There is room for rigs up to about 35'.

The only pictures I took in Skagway was this photo of two cruise ships in port:

Next up, leaving Skagway, Whitehorse, YT and on to Fairbanks.

Link back to the Alaska blog index page.

No comments: