Ed and Marilyn, summer trip 2005 travel blog

Canadian River

To British Columbia, Canada Aug. 4

Are we impressed with British Columbia? Yes, we certainly are! It is truly beautiful. The Rocky Mountains are more rugged than any we have seen so far. Driving today from Dawson Creek, Alberta, Canada into British Columbia is like going from one country to another. The roads are better, so the traveling was more enjoyable. We had planned on driving between 500 and 600 miles today, in order to reach Alaska, but only drove 473 miles.

Trappers' Den was a stop we made as it looked as if it would be a shop that we would enjoy. And sure enough! It is owned by a trapping family, the building being made of logs. It was filled with items made from deer and elk hide, Indian beading jewelry, wooden boxes, etc. There were some antiques, one of which was purchased by Butch. It is an old pack saddle that was used on the pack horses years ago. Myrna bought soft, hide slippers. Books of all kinds about hunting, trapping, bears, elk, etc. were interesting.

We had our main meal at noon, in a pub, enjoying our buffalo burgers. We traveled along with the book "The Milepost", which was published in Alaska. It begins at Milepost 0 in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. The first 613 miles of the Alaska Highway are in British Columbia. The highway travels in a northwesterly direction to the Yukon Territory border. From there it continues as Yukon Highway 1, crossing 577 miles of Yukon Territory to Port Alcan on the Alaska border. Following the guide book, we were able to learn the names of all the rivers, tiny villages, waterfalls, and mountains.

The trip along the Alaska Highway, in Canada, winds and rolls across the wilderness. Drivers must be on guard at all times, as the trip could be dangerous. Gas, food and lodging, including primitive campgrounds, are found on the average of 20-50 miles, with the longest being 10 miles.

The Milepost gives a good account on the history of the building of the Alaska Highway, once known as the Alcan Highway. The overland link between Alaska and the Lower 48 had been studied as early as 1930, under President Herbert Hoover, but with the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Dec., 1941, it was deemed a military necessity. President Roosevelt authorized construction of the Alaska Highway in Feb, 1942. An agreement was made between the 2 countries, stating that the US would pay for construction and turn over the Canadian portion of the highway to the Canadian government after the war ended. Canada would furnish the right-of-way, waived import duties, sales tax, income tax and immigration regulations, and they provided construction materials along the route. A great achievement it was! It is difficult imaging how they planned the route, through the Rocky Mountain pass, around lakes, through thick brush, and following rivers. All without the equipment that is used today. There are many old photographs of the men and equipment working on the highway, along with writings from their journals.

The Alaskan Highway was open for civilian traffic in 1948. There have been changes in the route since, to improve the driving time and ease of travel.

As you can imagine, the wildlife is abundant in this vast land. We watched caribou, deer, and a black bear. A new sheep to us, the Stone Sheep are quite numerous in the area, but were illusive to us. It would have been nice to add him to our mammal list. There are also numerous moose, elk and buffalo here, the latter surprising us.

Our photographs will never be able to show the beauty of the area. First, the roads are narrow and curvy, so you can't pull over on the side of the road, unless there is a special place to do so. Plus, the camera just cannot capture the magnificent shadows, beautiful colors, and depth of the mountains and valleys.

A down side to today was the fact that a small pick up truck traveling at an excessive speed around a curve towards us, pelted us with stones, one cracking the truck windshield in the corner of the drivers side. Well, that Alaska Highway driving hazard we had heard so much about is now behind us!! There are repair sections of the paved road where gravel is temporarily used. Unfortunately, we were in the middle of one.

We are camped tonight at Liard Hot Springs Campgrounds (named for the mighty Liard River). A short walk on a boardwalk brings you to the pools of hot springs, where people can sit in the very warm water. Tomorrow we will continue on our journey into the Yukon Territory, and finally into Alaska, hopefully on Saturday.

Goodnight to all. No cell phones, no internet -my, we are isolated!

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