Towards Whitehorse, the Yukon Day 15

Mileage 6008.5

When I was originally planning our journey to visit my Uncle in Chilliwack, British Columbia, both my husband and I, having never been to the Rockies decided we would drive through them first. Of course this was the opposite direction, and since we were driving quite a ways north, I felt we might as well go all the way to the Yukon.

We were all packed up and ready to hit the road by 8:51 a.m., but first we had something very important to do – make a phone call to our daughter who was turning 29. Luckily cell reception was quite good in Watson Lake, and we were able to phone Genevieve and sing Happy Birthday to her!

Still reeking of rotten eggs from Liard Hot Springs, (hot showers were not available for us at the hot springs, and Watson Lake did not offer such facilities), we started back on the road again. There were two different highways to Whitehorse, we could either stay on the Alaskan Highway, or at Jakes Corner take Tagish Road (highway 8), then go North on Highway 2 at Carcross, which would take us back to the Alaskan Highway into Whitehorse. We chose to take the Carcross route as recommended to us by one of the tourist information officers we spoke with when we first arrived in the Yukon.

Yukon Visitor Information Centre
Yukon Visitor Information Centre
Another highway, another moose
Another highway, another moose.

One of the things I couldn’t get over was the amount of sand in the Yukon. The drive takes you through the Carcoss Desert, and according to Wikipedia, β€œit is often considered the smallest desert in the world.” On the drive you will also see damage caused from forest fires, but also fireweed, the first flower to grow and bloom after a fire.

Fireweed
Fireweed.

The first thing we did when we arrived in Whitehorse, was to look for a hotel to spend the night in, what we didn’t realize though, is most of them were booked solid with tourists. Luckily we were able to find in room at the Westmark Hotel, where we quickly took showers! No longer reeking of rotten eggs, we went out to explore the city, and find a place to have dinner.

For dinner we decided to go to the World Famous Klondike Rib and Salmon. For my menu choice, I selected the Wild Elk Stroganoff – wild elk, potatoes, pearl onions, mushrooms, and gravy served in a cast iron pan. It was the most delicious meal! Matt had the George Chuvalo spread, comprising of fettuccine, chorizo sausage, and vegetables.

Both exhausted from another long day of travel, off to bed we went, first closing the blackout curtains. I woke at 2 a.m, noticing the sunlight creeping in beside the edges of the curtains. The sun had yet to go down, and it still looked like the middle of the afternoon. I don’t think I could get used to the number of hours of sunlight for half the year, and the lack of sunlight for the other half. Being from southern Ontario, it was truly weird to experience the hours of daylight in the north.

Matt with replica of a lifesize moose
Matt being cheeky.
Totem Pole in Whitehorse
Totem Pole in Whitehorse
Yukon River
Yukon River.
Boardwalk along the Yukon river in Whitehorse
Boardwalk along the Yukon river in Whitehorse. It was a very cloudy day, and as you can tell by my hair quite windy.
Mother Bear and her cub
As we were leaving Whitehorse, we were graced with a sighting of a mother bear and her cub.

Day 13 Stone Mountain Provincial Park, Summit Lake Campground

Starting mileage 4847 kilometres. It was a long drive today, roughly seven and a half hours but as usual the scenery was beautiful. As we crossed over back into British Columbia we gained an hour. The past few days, going from Alberta to British Columbia back to Alberta, changing time zones, we gave up keeping track of time. On this trek we saw an extremely large beaver in Beaverlodge, Alberta, and had some fun. We also came upon a very large Inukshuk.

Matt kissing the beaver
Matt kissing the beaver, Beaverlodge, Alberta
Looking up at the Beaver
Matt looking up at the Beaver, where you can get an idea of the height of the structure.
Catherine and the Beaver
My turn to have my picture taken with the giant beaver.
Matt and the Inukshuk
Matt and the Inukshuk

Back on the road, the highway came closer to the mountainside, it was an area known for landslides, thankfully we did not see one actually occur.

Mountain beside the highway
Mountain beside the highway, in an area known for landslides.

Looking at the map, our goal was Northern Rocky Mountain Provincial Park, and being quite late in the day, we stopped at the first campsite along the side of the road, literally. Summit Lake Campground, located in Northern Rocky Mountain Provincial Park is just off the highway facing an enormous stony mountain. There are a total of twenty-eight campsites, and we were at #7. We arrived in the rain, and there were no tall trees to attach the tarp to, so Matt ended up being pretty darn inventive, attaching the tarp to the car, then to the picnic table, using the shovel to raise it up on the table, giving us some shelter from the rain.

Our tent among the trailers
Our tent covered with a blue tarp. All the sites filled up quickly with trailers. We were the only crazy people with a tent, but again, what a view!
Stone Mountain Provincial Park Summit Campground
Stone Mountain Provincial Park Summit Campground. This was our site where the lone picnic table is, with a view of the highway, and the stone mountain.
Stone Mountain Provincial Park Summit Lake Campground
Stone Mountain Provincial Park Summit Lake Campground

This was another self-registration park. I, of course put the envelope in the incorrect box, thus wrote a note to insert in the correct box, explaining my mistake. The park warden came around later to collect the fees, and sell firewood to those lucky ones already at the park. Those who came later, were out of luck, and you could tell by the many unhappy faces, they were not impressed. The park warden came close to kicking out two males, who had collected wood from the area. He threatened them with eviction if they did not return every piece to where they found it, carefully watching their every move. Of course they didn’t pay either, so eviction was even closer, lucky for them, he took their money and let them stay. The next campground was hundreds of miles away.

As we had a sat around our glowing fire, we cooked a wonderful dinner of turkey medallions wrapped in bacon with some cheese tortellini.

Dinner of turkey medallions wrapped in bacon with tortellini.
Dinner of turkey medallions wrapped in bacon with cheese tortellini.

Going north and back over to Alberta Day 12

We left our campsite at Kerkeslin and headed north, crossing back over into Alberta, mileage 4327 kilometres. Our goal was Miette Hot Springs and Saskatoon Island Provincial Park just outside of Grande Prairie.

First stop was Athabasca Falls, and we were not disappointed.

  • Top of the Athabasca Falls
  • Athabasca Falls
  • View of the roadway crossing the Athabasca Falls
  • Athabasca river churning through the rocks
  • View of walkways over the Athabasca Falls
  • Stairs beside the Athabasca Falls
  • On the stairs Athabasca Falls
  • The Athabasca River before descending the falls
  • The Athabasca River at the bottom of the falls.
  • The rapidly moving Athabasca River below the falls

Back on the highway we saw a coyote, two mountain goats, and a Bighorn sheep that appeared to be entertaining us.

  • Bighorn sheep
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Bighorn sheep

Still on the Icefields Parkway, we stopped along the road with other tourists to take a dip in the Athabasca River, I did not go in very far because oh my was it ever cold!

Matt wading into Athabasca River
Matt wading into Athabasca River, I did tempt to go in a bit, but the water was ice cold!
Icefields Parkway towards Jasper
Icefields Parkway towards Jasper

Next stop was Miette Hot Springs, the water was absolutely wonderful, this I did spend some time in, with a view of the Fiddle River Valley.

Miette Hot Springs
Miette Hot Springs

Before reaching Saskatoon Island Provincial Park, we made a quick stop at the Toyota dealer to buy some radiator fluid, we needed a top up because of all the driving we had been doing. We reached the park before dinnertime, to see snowshoe hares everywhere. Maybe due to the abundance of Saskatoon berries, a quick favourite of mine. I picked a large Tupperware container full, and they lasted a couple of weeks for me, a delicious addition to my morning porridge.

We were at site #93, and after quickly setting up our tent, having a bite to eat, we asked about the beach. We were told not to swim in the water you would get the “itch”. Apparently no one has been able to go in the lake for years due to blue-green algae and an abundance of leeches.

Campsite at Saskatoon Island Provincial park, site 93
Saskatoon Island Provincial park, campsite 93