Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Alaska Trip Index. April 26—September 6, 2016

This is a chronological index to our 2016 Alaska Trip from Oregon through Canada and Alaska and back to Oregon from April 26 to September 6, 2016.

April 26-May 2, 2016.  Hillsboro Oregon to Dawson Creek, BC.   Also boondocking near Merritt, and Chetwynd.  Chainsaw sculpture in Chetwynd.   Bad weather info about flooding at Chetwynd and Dawson Creek and RV’ers stuck in snow storm near Fort Nelson.  All this after we passed through the area.  We sure are glad we didn’t follow conventional wisdom and wait to travel in mid to late May or later. 

May 1-6, 2016. Dawson Creek to Laird Hot Springs, BC.  Kiskatinaw River bridge, the curved wooden bridge, Boondock at KM213 of the Alaska Hwy, camping at Summit Lake, Muncho Lake and Laird Hot Springs.  Stone Sheep at Muncho Lake

May 7-12, 2016, Laird Hot Springs to Skagway, AK.  Bison, black bear & moose north of Laird Hot Springs.  Signpost Forest at Watson Lake.  Side trip to Atlin, BC.  Views on way to Skagway and our stay in Skagway, AK. 

May 13-19, 2016 Skagway to Fairbanks, AK via Whitehorse, YT.  Beautiful boondocking spot ~23 miles from Skagway, mountain goats, Emerald Lake, Whitehorse and travel to Fairbanks.

May 19-June 6, 2016  Fairbanks and the Steeze Hwy.  The first half of this entry is about our trip up the Steeze Hwy towards Circle, AK and the second half is about our stay in Fairbanks.  

May 29-June 1, 2016  Driving the Dalton Highway.  Our trip in the RV to MM 223 of the Dalton Hwy (The Haul Road) to Prudhoe Bay. The Dalton Hwy is ~450 miles of gravel road built to support the building of the Alaska Pipeline.

June 6-13, 2016  Denali National Park, Part 1.    This is an overview of Denali NP and about our 1st week visiting the front country part of Denali. Included is a ranger lead hike on the tundra and my hike on the Savage Alpine Trail, the best hike in the front country!

June 31-17, 2016  Denali National Park, Part 2.   This is about our stay at Teklanika CG and trips on the shuttle buses to see Mt Denali and the wildlife. We had clear weather on all three days of our stay. 

June 17-21, 2016  Denali National Park to Homer, AK.  The drive from Denali NP to Homer, AK.  Overnight at Walmart in Wasilla; getting supplies in Anchorage; overnight on the Turnagain Arm and seeing the bore tide; the drive to Homer and our campground at Homer.

June 22, 2016  At Homer, Part 1, Boat Tour to Seldovia.  Our 1st full day in Homer and our great boat tour to Seldovia.

June 22-July 4, 2016  At Homer Part 2. In and around the Homer area.      Two weeks in Homer visiting the area.  Our stay at Mariner Park Campground. 

July 6-11, 2016  Seward, AK  Part 1.  Campground in Seward, Sealife Aquarium, Exit Glacier, Hike on Harding Icefield Trail. 

July 6-11, 2016  Seward, AK Par2.  Whale & Glacier Boat Tour.   We took a full day boat tour to see whales, sea lions and glaciers caving. 

July 12-22, 2016  Seward to Valdez. Stops at Hope, Portage Glacier Rd, Whitter, Anchorage, Wasilla (we could see Russia from the Walmart parking lot), Glennallen.  

July 22-27, 2016  Valdez.  Lots of rain & clouds.


July 27-29, 2016  McCarthy, Kennecott Mine Ruins & Walking on Root Glacier. 

July 30-August 2, 2016  Chitina to Tok. Stops at Glennallen, Nabesna Road.

August 3-8, 2016  Tok to Dawson City, YT via Top Of The World Hwy (TOTW).  Stops at Chicken and Eagle, AK and along the Top Of The World Hwy.

August 11-14, 2016  Tombstone Territorial Park, YT.   3 full days in a very scenic mountain and tundra area which rivals Denali NP in some respects.  43 miles of good, but bumpy in spots, road. 

August 16-19, 2016  Five Fingers Rapids, Whitehorse, YT and our 47th wedding anniversary.    Five Fingers Rapids on the Yukon River and a not very exciting anniversary in Whitehorse. 

August 19-25, 2016  Cassiar Hwy, Stewart, BC/Hyder, AK and bear viewing. 
A beautiful drive down a quiet, remote and very scenic highway.  Too late in the season for good grizzly bear viewing in Hyder, AK.  


August 25th to September 5, 2016 Final leg of our trip. Stewart, BC to Osoyoos, BC and the US border.    A pretty fast bit of travel for 5 days.  A quick few hour tour of waterfalls at Wells Gray Provincial Park along the way,  a one week stay at pretty campsite on the shore of Okanagan Lake and then back in the USA.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Final leg of our trip. Stewart, BC to Osoyoos, BC and the US border August 25th to September 5, 2016

Final leg of our trip.  Stewart, BC to Osoyoos, BC and the US border August 25th to September 5, 2016



There is not a lot to tell about for this section of our trip.  A pretty fast bit of travel for 5 days.  A quick few hour tour of waterfalls at Wells Gray Provincial Park along the way,  a weeks stay at pretty campsite on the shore of Okanagan Lake and then back in the USA.  We crossed the border at Osoyoos, BC—Oroville, WA.

I chose this route, 1) because I didn’t want to get back into the US until after Labor Day weekend, 2) because I didn’t want to drive back down I-5, 3) because Okanagan Lake looks like a pretty place to stay.

Map of the route:



We left Stewart/Hyder area and for us a bit of fast travel.  Five days of travel, 240, 260, 200, 50, and 160 miles.   No two night stops.   Our overnight stops were at highway rest stops, a mall parking lot and one night at a motel/RV park on the edge of the North Thompson River.

From Stewart we finished the last 100 miles of the Cassiar Hwy and picked up PH-16 east for about 470 miles.  Then south on Yellowhead Hwy, PH-5 and finally PH-97 to Lake Okanagan.

Along the way we stopped for about 4 hours at Wells Gray Provincial Park near Clearwater, BC.  We left the motorhome at the Visitor Center in Clearwater and drove the truck into the park to see the pretty waterfalls.  It was a cloudy misty day but the falls were nice.  If the weather had been sunny we may have stopped for a couple of days.

Helmcken Falls







Helmcken Falls in winter




Spahats Falls






Dawson Falls





From up above the falls.  This is NOT the view you want to see if you are in a canoe!




Evely CG on Okanagan Lake

We spent a quiet 7 nights  at Evely CG, a BC Recreation CG in a fairly remote area on the west side of Okanagan Lake across from Vernon, BC.  Price was very nice at $6/night.  This was the senior rate.  Not sure non-BC residents were supposed to get this rate, but that is what the Camp Host collecting the fees told us to pay.

We were parked almost on the edge of the lake with a nice view. 





A view of Okanagan Lake from an overlook up a gravel road above the CG




If you ever have plans on camping in British Columbia be sure to check out all the free or very low cost and very scenic CG’s available through the British Columbia Recreation Sites and Trails.  Many of the CG’s have campsites right on the water, with fantastic views. These sites are much different from the Provincial Parks. 

Once on the website, click on “Locations” and drill down through the pages to get to the area you will be visiting.    Be aware that the exact location of a CG is not easy to find on a map or Google Earth.  Also many of the CG’s are a number of miles down gravel roads.  Sometimes it is best to park your RV somewhere and drive your toad or tow vehicle to check out the road and CG.  If you have the time and desire these CG’s can be fantastic.

On Labor Day we crossed the border into the US and spent the night at a CG in Oroville, WA.

It took us another week of slow travel to get back to Hillsboro, OR. 

One of our stops was just below John Day Dam, on the Columbia River, with a nice view of the barges and boats going though the locks at the dam. 




Columbia River & Mt Hood from our boondocking spot.



Barge going by our motorhome


Morning view of river and Mt Hood in distance. 




We spent the remainder of September visiting and camping with with our Son, DIL & two grandsons before heading back to Texas. 

Great trip to Alaska and back. 

Link back to the Alaska blog index page.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Cassiar Hwy, Stewart, BC/Hyder, AK and bear viewing. August 19-25, 2016

After a quiet night in Watson Lake we headed 13 miles back toward Whitehorse to the start of the Cassiar Hwy. 






The Cassiar Hwy is a 450mile—724km two lane paved highway winding through some quiet remote country with very nice views of mountains, lakes & hills. Fuel is available every 100-150 miles, but may be pretty expensive. 
 

While the highway is wide enough for two vehicles to pass, the upper 2/3rds does not have center stripes. Be sure to slow down and pull to the side for on coming vehicles. There is very little traffic on the Cassiar. We would frequently drive for 10 minutes or longer w/o seeing an on coming vehicle. 
 

Most of the time your speed will be in the 45-50mph range, slowing down to 30-35mph for the many curves.



Yesterday, we could have just turned south on the Cassiar Hwy instead of spending the night in Watson Lake.  However the price of fuel along the Cassiar is very expensive and we had just driven 275 miles w/o getting gas.  Also not being sure where we were going to stop for the night, along the Cassiar, it was much move comfortable stopping in Watson Lake and having a fresh start in the morning.

We filled up with gas at the far east end of Watson Lake at GPS:  60.050144 -128.655358 .  They are about 5-10 cents a liter (20-40 cents/gallon) cheaper than in the down town area.  Also they give a 3% discount for travelers.  We paid $1.03/liter. 

Along the upper 200 miles of the Cassiar we were able to receive the Dish Network TV local channels from Juneau, AK.  At Stewart, BC/Hyder, AK we were parked in the trees, but should have been able to pick up Juneau local channels if we would have had a clear view of the southern sky.  

All of the Cassiar is now paved, and has been for several years.  As with most highway up here, you will find several sections under construction, and those will be gravel for several miles. 

The first 40-50 miles of the Cassiar are nice asphalt with the middle section about 200 miles of seal coat.  The last 200 miles or so of the Cassiar is very good and wide 2 lane asphalt with center stripes. 
Seal coat is basically a good dirt/gravel base, which is leveled and packed.  Then they spray a thick coating of tar and spread a thick layer of gravel down.  It is then packed down with steam rollers.  Makes a good surface. 

The upper section of the Cassiar



The middle section is this seal coat:



Our first nights stop was at Boya Lake Provincial Park at KM 638.7.  Not a long drive today, only 66 miles. 

About a third of the campsites are right on the lake with great views.  About 5 or 6 sites are large enough for 35’-40’ rigs. 

Views from our campsite:




 

In the afternoon I had a nice 2 mile round trip walk to an impressive beaver dam:

View of Boya Lake from the trail



The upper side of the beaver dam



Lower side



Closer view of the beaver dam



Beaver lodge across the pond



Also impressive is the size of the trees the beavers cut down for food. This one is 8 to 10 inches in diameter.
 

Teeth marks where the beaver stripped the bark from the tree



Leaving Boya Lake, we stopped just a few miles south at Jade City.  Jake City is a private business which mines jade and sells a variety of jade jewelry and lots of jade nicknacks. We spent about $115 CD on some pretty stuff.  We thought their prices were pretty high though. They advertise that they have free WiFi, but it didn’t work.  I asked about using it and they said sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  Guess now was when it didn’t work.   They also offer free overnight parking.  No hookups. 

Another fairly short drive today.  Only 78 miles.  Pretty country we drove through.

A couple of view from todays drive







We stopped for the night at a pullout at KM512 with a nice view of Dease Lake.  GPS: N58.64232 W130.02045





Our third day on the Cassiar. 

Plans were to stop in the little town of Dease Lake, unhook the truck and drive the 140 mile round trip to Telegraph on a good dirt road.  We did stop at Dease Lake and parked the motorhome at the free parking area behind the gas station/convenience store. 

The road to Telegraph is reported to be a scenic drive, and from some of the pictures I have seen, it is scenic near the end of the road.  However, after driving for about 30 minutes, only going about 17 miles, down a road bordered by nothing but small trees with no view what so ever, we turned around.  Driving for another hour seeing nothing but tree trunks was not something we needed to do. 

Back at the motorhome we hooked up the truck, stopped at the local community college and used their free WiFi for a little bit and continued on down the Cassair.

About 147 miles of pretty country today.   We really like the scenic unhurried travel of the Cassiar.  Not to mention the lack of traffic. 

We stopped at a level pullout at about KM270, at GPS:  56.857595  -129.987857.   This pullout is at the base of an avalanche so I am not sure I can recommend this as a place to stop.  We had a man stop by and tell us we probably shouldn’t stay here because several years ago there was a mud slide here.  Well the weather was dry and has been dry for quite a while so we decided to go ahead and stay.   If there had been rain we would have moved on. 



Our 4th day we moved on to Stewart, BC/Hyder, AK.

The 40 mile drive from the Cassiar Hwy at KM157 to Stewart is beautiful with the mountain peaks, hanging glaciers and the large Bear Glacier. 

 




Bear Glacier






In Stewart, we decided to stay at Rainey Creek Municipal CG.  $23 with water & 15amp elect.  Too many trees for us to get Satellite TV.   Verizon cell signal was good. 

Once we were set up in the CG we drove over to Hyder, AK  to see if there were any bears at the National Forest Fish Creek bear viewing area.    

The bear viewing area is a board walk about 10-15 feet above Fish Creek where grizzle and black bears come to feed on the salmon coming up the creek to spawn. 

These two pictures are from the NF website



We never had any bears come to feed during our three visits to the viewing area.  Come to find out, this late in the season, the bears have their bellies full of fish and the just are no longer coming to feed very often.  In mid to late July when the salmon are first coming up the stream there are lots of bears. 

On our drive into Hyder, we did see this black bear crossing the street



Not all was lost though.  Both days we visited Hyder we had excellent lunches at “The Bus”. 





 
Menu



Information/philosophy of the owner




This was the best Halibut fish & chips we had on the entire trip. 



 
Before we decided to go to Stewart, BC/Hyder, AK I had read that “The Bus” is  “the” place to eat in Stewart/Hyder.     And it truly is “the” place to eat! We stopped by and here is this lady, Diane, around 50+ or -  years old in a dilapidated bus which is the kitchen and a couple of beat up vinyl covered car seats outside for use in nice weather. There is a sort of shelter above the outside seating. There is indoor seating around back if the weather dictates it. Diane is a real sweetheart! A very nice unpretentious lady, pretty much kind of amazed at all the publicity her little restaurant has garnered. At 1pm or so we were her only customers for several minutes, so naturally Sharon got to talking with Diane. I chipped in on the conversation a few times as well. Her husband & son are commercial fishermen and supply the restaurant and a small store right next to the bus where they sell the catch. They probably sell the excess where ever commercial fishermen sell their catch, I guess. More about The Bus go here .

One other thing of note, is a 22 mile drive up a bumpy gravel road (dusty in dry weather and it was dry when we drove it)  to views of Salmon Glacier.  Beautiful glacier, but there is no way to get very close to the glacier.  All the views are from a distance. 







After two days in Stewart/Hyder and no bears, at the times we were at the view area, we moved on down the road. 

Link back to the Alaska blog index page.













Five Fingers Rapids, Whitehorse & 47th wedding anniversary. August 16-19, 2016

Five Fingers Rapids, Whitehorse & 47th wedding anniversary.

As noted in the last blog entry, we made the travel from Tombstone Park to Whitehorse a two day trip.  We spent the night at Five Fingers Rapids at KM380 on the Klondike Hwy en-route to Whitehorse. 

A little about Five Fingers Rapids where we spent the night in the recreation area, which is just a pullout off the Klondike hwy with a trail going down to the rapids. 

Lots of additional info about Five Fingers Rapids here. 

The trail to the rapids consists of a 219 step staircase leading to a 1/3 mile trail to the rapids.  A number of the Klondike Gold Rush people in the 1898 gold rush had there boats wrecked on these rapids.  Additionally these rapids were a major challenge for the steamboats navigating the Yukon river.

Staircase





The rapids








After a quiet night at Five Fingers Rapids pullout, we had an easy 125 mile drive to Whitehorse where we would spend tonight and tomorrow night parking in Walmart’s Parking lot. 

Today is 47th wedding anniversary!  We will celebrate a day late, by spending an extra day in Whitehorse, as today is going to be a travel day. 

We had this beautiful sunrise greet us on our extra day in Whitehorse.  The view of the parking lot was not much to look at the but the sky was beautiful. 



To help celebrate our anniversary we went to lunch at “Klondike Rib & Salmon”.  We had a very good lunch with excellent service, just as we did when we ate here on our way to Alaska in May. 

We spend a third night in Whitehorse keep from traveling in the rain.  Also we had good cell coverage in Whitehorse, which meant good internet access.  

After a two and half quiet days in Whitehorse we moved 275 miles down the Alaska Hwy to Watson Lake for the night.  From there we will pick up the Cassiar Hwy and the remainder of our trip back to the US border. 


Link back to the Alaska blog index page.