A Travellerspoint blog

Canada

Aug 14 - The Amazing Drive to Telegraph Creek

Wow!!

semi-overcast 20 °C

We awoke at Water's Edge Campground to a lovely morning. Our goal for the day is to drive the 112 kilometer Telegraph Creek Road. This gravel road is reported to be one of the most interesting drives in the country. It follows the Stikine River into the wilderness along a route that an intrepid businessman had tried to string a telegraph line through to Siberia, and hence on to Europe. When the first trans-Atlantic cable was completed in the 1860's this route was abandoned. Later the Hudson Bay Company put in a trading post, and ultimately, a telegraph line to the Yukon was punched through from here in 1900, after the Yukon gold rush was underway.

It lived up to its reputation completely.

The first 80 kilometers were so-so, a gravel road in prime summer condition. Smooth, like concrete almost. We made good time, covering this stretch in less than an hour. I love the challenge of driving, so this road was an enjoyable drive for me, and I kept us close to 90 kph most of the way, through curves and light hills. The Honda Pilot is much more nimble on this type of road than I would have thought.

From 80 kilometers in, the road changes, dramatically. Here is a shot of our GPS, showing the twists and turns ahead.

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At the bottom of this switchback was a one lane bridge over the Tula River.

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10 kilometers farther on the road crosses a lava promontory, about 100 feet wide and 400+ feet above the river valleys below. Two separate rivers meet at the end of this promontory, down a very steep, 1 1/2 lane road along the edge of a cliff. Not for the faint of heart!

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You would think the excitement was over at this point, but there is still 25 kilometers to go to the end of the road, this time up an 8 kilometer long piece of road perched on the edge of a cliff. In some spots they carved off a ledge from the rock outcroppings to fit the road around. Amazing...up to 700 foot almost vertical drop to the valley below. Driving this was one of the highlights of my retired life.

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This second half of the road, only about 30 kilometers took an hour to drive. The steepness of some of the stretches was amazing, in some places it was a 30% grade, where highway grades rarely exceed 10%

There are several outfitters along the road that take hunters and campers on horseback into the wilderness. Much of the year their horse are allowed to run free and it is not unusual to see them along the road. At this time of year, the horses are all rounded up and being used for their primary purpose.

At the end of the road is Telegraph Creek, now mainly a first nations town. The old townsite, which once was home to several hundred people is slowing melting into the landscape.

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The trip back out was almost as exciting. Seeing it all from the opposite direction brought home the beauty of this place. If you are in the Cassiar, and you want to see something unique, this is the road. If it is wet and rainy, it would be extremely difficult, but dry, like it was for us, it was simply amazing.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 11:20 Archived in Canada Tagged telegraph_creek_road Comments (0)

Aug 13 - Rancheria Falls, Jade City

Jade, Waterfalls, Leaving_Yukon

semi-overcast 19 °C

This entry is part of my catch-up, after 8 days of no internet. I don't like being so far behind on the blog, especially when there is such interesting stuff to cover.

We woke early, at Teslin Lake Campground ($12 night, limited services) and hit the road, with plans to get to Dease Lake, about 480 kilometers. The road was good, we reached the Cassiar Highway junction before Noon. We took a stop at Rancheria Falls Recreation site, where we walked a 500 meter boardwalk to the falls.

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We stopped for lunch at Jade City, where an intrepid local family has been mining jade from the surrounding mountains for decades. "City" is bit of misnomer, as there are just 20 people living here year round.

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Jade boulders are difficult to detect, and it is only when they are cut with these giant saws that the quality of the jade inside can be determined. A really good jade boulder could be worth as much as $1 million.

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The jade shows its colours best when wet. Here are two rock slices with various levels of relatively poor jade.

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There is a reality TV show, called Jade Fever, now in its 4th season, which follows their adventures out in the boondocks, mining jade. It is a bit of a hoot to see what they have to go through to get jade to the market. Most jade is exported to China, where it is highly treasured for jewellery.

We finished the day at the Water's Edge Campground, just north of Dease Lake. Next to us was Bod and Diane, from Florida in their 2015 R-pod 178. We had a great chat about the good and bad things of owning an R-pod, and made a new contact for when we travel south. It is great to meet other R-pod owners on the road.

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Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 11:08 Archived in Canada Tagged jade_city r-pod_trailers cassiar_highway Comments (0)

The Catch-up Edition

Six days on the road with no internet.

semi-overcast 18 °C

This blog entry is to get us caught up, for the most part. For the past week we have been dry camping our way out of Alaska and down the Cassiar Highway, with a plan to get to Prince Rupert on August 18. We have had no internet or cell service through virtually all of this time. There is no cell service at all on the Cassiar Highway, and very limited internet.

We start on the morning of August 9, in Soldatna, Alaska. At 8:00am we were first in line at the GoodWrench Oil Change, to get our Honda Pilot some fresh oil. We'd refilled our propane tank the day before and shopped at Fred Meyer to restock our pantry for our plan to spend 3 mights dry camping on our way back into Canada. By 9:00am TaJ was hooked onto the Pilot and off we went.

We ended that day 530 kilometers down the road, at the Alaska State Park campground at the Matansuka Glacier. We'll eventually post pictures from this stop when we have unlimited internet time. The campground was virtually empty, 10 sites and only 3 filled by morning.

August 10 ThIs was our roughest day on the road yet, and, by that, we mean the state of the road itself. The Tok Cutoff was under repair or very slow due to frost heaves. The road is built on permafrost and regularly falls apart. Slow going much of the time. We took a break for lunch in Tok, gassed up and headed on, with the plan to spend the night at Deadman Lake State Recreation site, just 50 kilometers short of the Canadian Border. As luck would have it, there was major road construction going on and Deadman Lake was inaccessible as a road work crew was blocking the entrance., We pushed on through the border and spent that night in Beaver Creek. Another 565 k under our belt, making our total 1095 k in 2 days.

August 11 Well, if yesterday was bad, today was worse. From Beaver Creek the road was a mess, with broken pavement, frost heaves and construction. We meandered along averaging 50 kilometers an hour, with the bad road and construction delays. We came upon a 25 kilometer stretch that was being re-gravelled, and were stopped for a 25 minute delay. We trailed behind a "follow-me" pilot truck through the zone, at 25 kilometers an hour. Right in front of the pilot truck was a tanker truck watering down the dusty gravel. By the time we got through to the good road again, TaJ was covered in mud. We ended the day early, at Congdon Creek Territorial Campground. This is a lovely spot that we camped at in 2005 and we were just glad to be off the road. We met fellow R-podders Jim and Chris, from Arizona. They have a 177 model and we compared notes on our trailer experience. We travelled 265 kilometers, bringing our 3 day total to 1360 k

August 12 A much better day on the road. We made good time right from the get-go and by noon we were in Whitehorse, where we re-supplied for our upcoming run down the Cassiar Highway. We spent $12 in a car wash getting the mud off both vehicles before getting back on the road. We ended the day at Teslin Lake Campground, right on the Alaska Highway, next to a rest area. By 7:00pm the entire 38 sites in the campground was full. At 9:00pm a semi pulled into the rest area and left his engine idling. At 10:30pm I walked up, knocked on his door and asked him politely to shut his engine off, so people could sleep. He apologized, and soon it was blessedly quiet. This day we travelled 480 kilometers, bringing our 4 day total to 1840 k.

August 13 We finished our Yukon experience at Noon, when we turned south onto the Cassiar Highway, the 750 kilometer long highway that connects to Highway 16 near Terrace. Our first stop was Jade City, the home of an intrepid family that mines jade in the local mountains. They have their own reality show, Jade Fever, now in its 4th season. Highly entertaining for a show in the reality genre. We bought some jade gifts for family members before heading south, We arrived mid afternoon at the Water's Edge Campground, a limited service campground just outside of Dease Lake. We booked in for 2 nights, as it is our plan to spend a day heading our Telegraph Creek Road, rated to be one of the great drives in Canada. We got to use our indoor and outdoor showers here, as this campground did not have showers, and boy, we needed one. I used the outdoor shower, and Jenny the indoor, Lovely to get clean again. We travelled 490 kilometers, bringing our 5 day total to 2330 k.

August 14 - The road to Telegraph Creek. This will be a blog entry of its own, when we have time to add photos to do justice to this magnificent drive. We;ll add our photos of Jade City on that one as well.

August 15 - We left Dease Lake at 8:30am, and ended the afternoon at Stewart BC. This was a good driving day. The Cassiar Highway is narrow and winding, with virtually no shoulder and steep drops into 5 to 10 foot deep ditches on either side. We made good time and arrived in Stewart by 3:00pm, where the first things on our agendas were showers, and laundry. We booked in here for three nights, as we need some time off the road. Our last day of this jaunt was 470 kilometers, making our 6 day total 2900 k. A really nice stretch of time without services.

After our stint in Stewart, we will be back in the world of internet access and will cover the high points of our last 7 days in the north./

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 09:55 Archived in Canada Tagged update no_internet jade_city. Comments (2)

July 29, 30 - Dawson

Dredge_#4, Cemeteries, City_walk, Convoys

sunny 22 °C

July 29

We were up early and ready to leave Whitehorse behind. We wanted an early start to the day because the r/v park only has two dump stations and the day before there was getting to be a pretty good line up to use them. After getting the glamorous part of camping out of the way (very full grey and black water tanks) we stopped at Starbucks for a road coffee.

Today is the 525 kilometer drive to Dawson City. We've driven this road before and it is pretty tedious, with just a few good stops for scenery along the way. We played a cd of Robert Service's "The Cremation of Sam McGee" as we approached Lake Labarge and we quote from the Klondike bard: "and there, on the marge, of Lake Labarge, I cremated Sam McGee".

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We switched back and forth driving on the first half of the trip, where the road is fairly decent and reasonably good time can be made. We gassed up in Carmacks ($1.19 a litre) and headed on. We stopped at the Fox Lake fire memorial and took a walk in the woods to the lookout.
Huge fire that burned for a whole year and finally had to be dug out of the ground in the spring to get it completely out. Lots of mushrooms growing here:

We also stopped at the Montague Road House Historic Site. This was an inn on the road to Dawson:

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We stopped at Five Finger Rapids and had lunch at the lookout. Later we stopped for a break at Moose Lodge, and Jenny posed, using her scared face, with this giant mosquito:

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After the halfway point the road is at best described as rough, with gravel patches, potholes, and, worst of all, dips. The dips bounce the trailer against the hitch pretty violently, so we were slowed to 35 kph in a few places. Not much traffic on the road this year so we felt fine taking our time. This photo gives an idea of the amount of dust in the rough sections:

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We arrived in Dawson almost 9 hours after leaving Whitehorse. We'd booked an R/V park at the south of town and settled in for the night. A thunder shower washed down the trailer for us and the temperature dropped to 8 C overnight, just chilly enough for us to put our heater on in the morning.

We have now seen 18 r-pods on our journey. Across from us is a 2012 173 model, from Quebec...a nice young couple hiking their way around the north.

July 30:

Our day started with a French Toast and bacon breakfast. There are a lot of convoys of Motor homes that come through here in the summer, and monopolize the small ferry across the Yukon River. Today was no exception, and when we got to down town Dawson there were 13 Class A Motorhomes lined up for the ferry. Each ferry run can take only one motor home and 5 or 6 cars, so the ferry line up was at least 3 hours for the very short crossing of the river. The Top of the World Highway is the draw as it allows a loop tour of the Yukon and Alaska without having to backtrack to Whitehorse.

They are on an escorted tour, with guides at the front and and a tail rider at the back of the group to keep stragglers in check. Oh my, we could not travel like that. In their defence, most of the couples on these tours were very much senior, way beyond our years. This 24 unit convoy had formed in Idaho and were on a 60 day round trip that would end when they reached Edmonton in another month. Their motor homes were in the $500,000 and up price range, and most towed a vehicle behind.

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There was also a motorized barge, being loaded with equipment and supplies for one of the many operating placer mines in the area:

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We learned later in the day there is another 24 unit convoy in Dawson. When we lived in Dawson Creek back in 2005 these massive motor homes piloted by very old people were called "coffin dodgers". It is a bit like a seniors care home on wheels.

We walked up to the Robert Service house on Eighth Street. The poet lived here from 1899 to 1912 and wrote his best work while working for the Bank of Commerce, Here I am sitting on the front porch

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Here is the bank where he worked...it still stands today:

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On the way we saw this this fixer upper and thought we should buy it and move here...a bit of work involved:

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There is a whole complex of buildings, build on permafrost, that have been left to nature, just to show the effects of trying to build houses on unstable ground:

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We also wanted to see the local cemeteries, and, after a bit of a search we found them. Some very interesting graves here. The NWMP cemetery is the best kept:

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We drove to the top of the dome for a bird's eye view of the area. The dome is the site of an annual party to celebrate the almost continual sunlight on June 21 each year.

In the afternoon we went to see Dredge #4, the biggest dredge to ever work the Klondike area. It is 12 kilometers out of town along Bonanza Creek. From 1940 until it was sunk in a dam burst in 1959 the dredge worked it's way 12 kilometers along Bonanza Creek, by creating it's own moving lake. The dredge dug in front about 10 feet at a time, extracted the gold from the ground it dredged and then dumped the tailings behind it, always moving forward along the creek bed. Fascinating.

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In a previous visit we did the Diamond Tooth Gertie's visit for the can-can dancers and the casino and decided not to re-visit them this time around.

Gas prices here in Dawson City are quite high. We paid $1.35 per litre here, which is about $5.18 per US gallon. We hear gas prices in Alaska are running about $3,20 a gallon. Down in British Columbia gas is about $1.19 per litre, or just over $4.00 per gallon.

July Summary:

We are now 2 full months into this trip. We have travelled 13,750 kilometers in total. We have been in 8 Canadian Provinces, and 2 Territories. Our average gas consumption for the entire trip is 16.2 liters per 100 kilometers, or about 14.5 miles per gallon. The Honda Pilot is performing well as a tow vehicle, and handles the 3,200 pound load of the R-pod quite easily. In the past 30 days we have been in two great national parks, Grasslands and Wood Buffalo. We have dry camped less than originally planned, and have used r/v parks more than government campgrounds. We plan to change that beginning tonight with a dry camp on the Top of the World Highway.

The road ahead:

August is a big month for us. 11 days in Alaska, and then down the Cassiar Highway to Prince Rupert. We will stop in Steward BC and Hyder, AK on the way south. We'll spend three days on Haida Gwaii, and then head south though the British Columbia interior to the Okanagan Valley. We expect the end the month with a one night stop in Osoyoos, British Columbia before pushing on to the second half of this trip...3 months in the United States.

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 08:45 Archived in Canada Tagged dawson gold_mining historical_cemetery dredge_#4 Comments (1)

July 27, 28 - Whitehorse, Yukon

Klondike_Rib_and_Salmon_House, Miles_Canyon,

rain 14 °C

July 27

With my gouty foot on the mend we were able to walk around Whitehorse without me looking like a gimpy old man. Whitehorse is a lovely city of about 28,000, more than half of the entire population of the Yukon. It is a full service town with all the amenities you could imagine.

This building struck our fancy while walking around:

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There are some great historical features to the town, mostly relating to the gold rush history of the area. There is a great paddle wheeler that you can tour...we did that last time we were here, so we took a pass on it this time. There is also Miles Canyon, where the gold stampeders of 1897-99 had to pass a great test by running the canyon and the rapids below. Over 100,000 people passed through this gorge on their way to the gold fields of Dawson City, some 600 kilometers to the north of here.

This Canyon is still dangerous today, as there are no guardrails. The fall is steep and the water is deep and fast moving. Careless people have lost their lives here in recent history, judging by the memorials on the bank by the bridge.

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Jenny needed a haircut and we found an available appointment for Noon, which fit our plans exactly. Once she was done with the haircut, we headed for our favourite eating place in Whitehorse, the Klondike Rib and Salmon House. This iconic restaurant is open for just the summer months each year, but the food is fantastic, and local. Jenny had an elk, cariboo, moose meat burger, and I had halibut and chips. Lunch, including a beer each, and tip, was just over $55.

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Later in the afternoon we took in a local farmer's market, and then took a bit of time off at the R/V park. There is another R-pod just down from us and we had quite the chat with our neighbour, who has had significant troubles with his R-pod, mostly with the electric converter and batteries. He hopes his problems have now been solved, but has had 4 batteries and 4 converters in less than 2 years. Yikes, we hope our trailer does not begin to experience similar issues. So far, ours has been pretty good.

In the evening we visited with Ken Gray, and his partner Amber. Ken is my nephew from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia and now lives and works up here in the north. Every summer from 1980 through 1998 we would visit with Ken's parents and Ken, as a youngster, was a font of knowledge about everything outdoors He was always showing me life in the lake by their house and his knowledge of these things was encyclopedic. He also taught me about cutting and making walking sticks, and I have one on this trip that I cut and stripped back almost 30 years ago. It was great to catch up with Ken and Amber.

On our trip back to our campground we passed the local Walmart. Amazingly, there were 42 recreational vehicles in their parking lot.

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Today is a day of organizing: our laundry, working on the blog, and planning our next phase. We have now decided to head to Dawson City as our next destination. We'll spend 2 full days there before heading on to the Top of the World Highway and heading into the US through Chicken, Alaska. We'll visit Chena Hot Springs, then head south through Fairbanks, passing through Denali National Park, and then the Kenai Peninsula, south of Anchorage. We plan to spend a few nights on the Kenai and then start our run back towards Canada. We should spend 11 days in Alaska

Posted by Rooseboom-Scott 10:37 Archived in Canada Tagged whitehorse Comments (1)

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