Sunrise 5:37 a.m.; Sunset 9:01 p.m.
My husband and I were both ready to roll this a.m. and had the earliest start of our entire traveling experience: 8:00 a.m. We were both also ready to be on the Alcan and going toward our destination in familiar territory.
Because this is our second year to do the Alaska Highway, we are taking more time to stop and see those things we passed by last year. It’s not that we didn’t want to stop, we just wanted to make the best time to Alaska. This year, we have some time to spare and are taking our time.
The Peace River Bridge is the longest span of bridge on the Alcan.
Last year we stayed in Fort Nelson at the Triple ‘G’ RV park. Though is was a nice place (had no water though), we arrived there so early in the day that we decided to travel further to the Toad River Lodge. We needed to fuel up so we stopped at a Husky station. The price of diesel per liter was $1.49 = 4.50 per gallon. A little over the top and we were told it went down a couple of cents in the past few days.
Leaving Fort Nelson is like leaving civilization. From Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson, there are small towns and some larger like Fort St. John that boast huge supermarkets, coffee shops, and numerous other commercial businesses. Mostly though everything involves either logging or pipeline. To enter Fort Nelson, we crossed the Muskwa Bridge which is the lowest point on the Alaska Highway at an elevation of 1,000 feet. Muskwa is an Athabaska term meaning ‘bear.’
As we left Fort Nelson, the traffic was much less on the road. The beauty of the Canadian Rockies and bridges over frozen, but slowly thawing rivers became much of the scenery. We began climbing Steamboat Mountain Pass with its magnificent views. Last year it was snowing on this pass, a semi-truck had broken down and we couldn’t seen 25 yards in front of us. This year the trek wasn’t frightening as the sun shone on the snow-topped mountains and puffy clouds dotted the blue sky.
From Steamboat we settled into a small valley until we began the continuous climb up Summit Mountain Pass. Again, last year it was snowing and thought it appeared to be a pretty place, we couldn’t see clearly. On our return trip, there were quite a few tourists and we missed the pullover and didn’t get any photo ops.
Today, Summit Lake was frozen solid, the campground had feet of snow covering every site and there were no tourists except us. We found the pullover and enjoyed the view of evergreen trees stick out of the feet of snow on the hillsides. Summit Lake is the highest point on the Alaska Highway at 4,250 feet.
This mountain area is called Stone Mountain and there are usually Stone Sheep hanging out. Both directions last year we saw sheep, but today they must have all been snoozing in the sunshine or romping in the waterfalls created by the snow melt. We did however see a caribou standing next to a sign reading “Caribou”.
We crossed the Tetsa River a few times and I love the metal bridges. Most of them are blue like the Peace River Bridge, but a few are just silver metal with metal grating. My husband hates when I try to take photos of the water below the grates which is why I try to do it.
After a 9-hour drive (our goal is 6) we arrived at Toad River, an unincorporated stop. The population is probably no more than 25. There is a road maintenance camp, a post office, a Greyhound bus stop and an airstrip in Toad River. Yet, in the wilderness of nowhere land in British Columbia, there is always scenery. Our campsite had no snow, no mud and sat by the side of Reflection Lake and Folding Mountain. The temperature was a balmy 60 when we arrived and gave us the perfect conditions for a walk around the campground and lake.
The Toad River Lodge is known for its hats. They have over 11,000 baseball-type hats hanging everywhere.
Tomorrow is Friday and we want to rest on the Shabbat. We haven’t decided whether or not to stay here at Toad River or go another 70 miles and stay two nights at the Liard Hot Springs where we can truly relax and refresh during the Sabbath.
New word for the day: riparian zones are areas of beaver lodges
My daughter wanted to know if we saw any toads. Yes, there was a plague of toads:
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