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Alaska Trip: Days 5 & 6

(pictures later)

Day 5 – July 13th
On the western stretch of the Mackenzie highway, heading to Checkpoint, then on to the
Liard Highway. Trying to make it to the Liard Hot Springs tonight.

The road is gravel, but it’s in generally good shape. We’ve been at about 60 mph with no problems. We’ve been driving for maybe 3 hours, and we’ve seen maybe 6 oncoming vehicles. It’s just us and the forest. The forest is quite monotonous after the first 30 minutes. All the trees are the same, and there’s no topographic texture to make it more interesting. Most of the forest is a mixture of birch, poplar, lodgepole pine, and tamarack pine. We’ve been surprised at how little wildlife we’ve seen; yesterday we saw 2 bears and many bison, but today, nothing.

1:45 PM – Just passed Checkpoint, where we turn south onto the Liard Highway. Checkpoint used to be a gas station/restaurant, but at the moment it appears closed (there’s a big “PRIVATE” sign chained in the middle of the driveway). So we head on south. We’ll stop in Fort Liard for gas. The Liard highway is also gravel, and much rougher than the Mackenzie. It’s comparable to a country road in Iowa.

Sam: I’m going to go pee.
Rachel: Me too.
Tyler: Oh cool!

3:15 – Drove through Blackstone Provincial Park on the banks of the Nahanni River.

5:15 – Stopped in the town of Fort Liard to get gas. An interesting little town. Back on the road heading south to the Alaska Highway.

Finished the Liard Highway, but still about 2 hrs. from the hot springs. Camped in a gravel pit.

Day 6 – July 14th
7:45 AM – Back on the road. It rained off and on all night and it’s still grey and drizzly this morning. no wind at all, though. We’re now in British Columbia, and the flat forests have given way to the northern Rocky Mountains. We’re twisting and turning along the Alaska Highway. There’s a lot more traffic here (for obvious reasons). I’d forgotten how beautiful mountains are.

9:00 – Stopped for breakfast at Tetsa River Campground. Fresh pastries, yay!

10:10 – Saw 2 caribou standing around in the road.

10:15 – Saw a moose lying in the ditch next to the road, looking around. A closer look revealed that she’d broken her right hind leg. Whether she fell down the cliff (she was at the bottom) or was hit by the car, we don’t know. We felt bad that there’s nothing we could do.

10:20 – Saw 2 bighorn sheep

10:40 – mountains are pretty.

11:00 – Muncho Lake is freakin’ beautiful. The water is a brilliant green due to copper salts leaching from the surrounding mountains. The water is clear and cold and absolutely gorgeous.

11:05 – Saw a herd of mountain goats on the shores of Muncho Lake.

12:30 – Made it to Liard Hot Springs. $10 per vehicle to get in; a bargain. There are two pools; we started at the cool end of the lower pool where it was about 100 degrees. The water’s clear and slightly blue, but it smells like sulfur. We waded a ways toward the hot end, but we couldn’t make it all the way. We then went to the upper pool, which was much deeper and not quite so warm. Then back to the lower pool for another soak. It felt lovely. On the way back along the 5-minute walk to the parking lot, we saw a moose in the marshy runoff from the hot spring.

6:30 – Eating dinner in Watson Lake, Yukon.

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