After leaving White Mountain and its fresh inch of soppy-snow, we headed toward Watson Lake, a little town known for its ‘sign post forest’. We cruised between the two places, eager to leave behind cool temps and dark snowy-skies that loomed above. Due to the unfavorable weather and dull scenery, we trekked through – putting in a full day of driving that was well over a few hundred miles. Just as soon as we entered Watson Lake, we were anxious to leave. It was only 5:00pm, but this little town that rests on the Yukon/BC border, shuts down after the workday ends. I think the only shop open was the conveniently located FasGas, with the promise of the lowest fuel prices, craft beer, and tasty treats. We topped Trixie up and ventured inside to check out the ‘craft beer’ selection and were quickly bummed when the closest to a craft beer-beverage on the menu was Yukon Gold – which is nothing spectacular. Only slightly discouraged, we went on our way, hoping to hit a break in the clouds and setup camp before the rain and snow.
We found a nice creek side campsite off the road just outside of Watson Lake. We settled in and found some tasty ingredients for dinner – a mish-mash of veggies and cheeses stuffed into neatly folded tortillas. It was delicious and with our bellies full, we cozied up in our mummy bags and drifted away. Our sweet slumber was gently disturbed by nature’s finest alarm – songbirds singing away! It was a pleasant morning that was quickly filled with breakfast, repacking Trixie, and tingling excitement for Liard River Hotsprings.
Robyn cooking dinner along the Yukon-BC border.
While traveling to Liard, we spotted some of the most spectacular sightings of wildlife I have ever seen. Our first encounters of the day were massive, beautiful buffalo. They were everywhere and they are big! These stoic creatures are captivating- really neat animals and also really intimidating. We were warmly welcomed in to British Colombia by other fascinating wildlife, too: stone sheep on the road eating salty gravel, white-tailed deer, funny caribou alongside ditches and road cuts, beautiful elk, moose crossing the icy river, and one of my favorites – a vibrant Mountain Blue Bird dancing from grassy patch to grassy patch.
One of several herds of buffs we saw along the road. This one had a calf in tow.
Stone Sheep along the road.
Moose crossing a river in the Northern Rockies
With the spectacular showing of wildlife along our route, our trip to Liard was beautiful and fast. We arrived to Liard Hotsprings around 12pm, just as the wind was picking up and tiny snow flurries came floating across the sky; impeccable timing to sit in a steamy hot thermal bath, eh?
We soaked our car-sore bodies for a few hours and had pleasant conversation with an older gentleman who used to be a sports writer for the Whistler Newspaper – he covered awesome topics like the World Cup Ski Series; which for him, was an all-expense paid trip to travel across the globe, reporting on the hottest news out there. Sounds incredible! We also met two ‘Rados’, or people from Colorado. Ben helped us catch up on our derogatory Colorado slang. Thanks Ben! They were on their way to Anchorage and like us, they needed a warm pit stop to refresh and soak.
Liard Hotsprings. Gotta even out that Valdez neck tan...
Returning to the car, we stuffed and packed our wet belongings back in to Trixie and despite the ever-growing snow clouds, we trekked on. A few hours in to our drive, the Weather Gods opened their snowy gates and poured wet-slushy snow out. Not knowing the forecast or how long it would snow, we decided to keep our eye out for a good roadside campsite. After passing up a few options because of super muddy approaches that would be challenging for Trixie or too much trash from Alaska Highway travelers, we found a nice side road that led us to a clean snowy patch free of debris and seemingly less mud. Hurriedly, we pitched our tent and settled in, hiding from the wet snow. We did a bit of reading and nursed a new IPA – Devil’s Bay, and eventually fell asleep, dreaming of sunny weather and rock climbing. We woke early to more cold temps and almost an inch of new snow. Our tent was icy and wet, everything was muddy, and our spirits were low. We needed a good cup of coffee and sunshine. We piled our wet selves and soggy gear back in to small-Trixie-quarters and continued our journey south, mile after mile.
Rock formations here are wild. Waves of rock seem to crash into each other.
Planning the evenings drive.
Ready for spring...
Our morning drive was uneventful and pretty awful. The scenery was dull and dark, and we were cold and wet. It was still raining and all we wanted was that perfect cup of coffee to warm our bodies and help lift our spirits. We eventually made it to Fort St. Johns – keeping our fingers crossed for brighter skies and a tasty warm beverage. We stopped at a Safeway to snag some miscellaneous groceries and grab a fresh cup of joe from the Safeway Starbucks. I stood in line for coffee while E went to fuel up Trixie. I got to the counter and was greeted by discouraging news: Starbucks was currently not accepting debit or credit, and we didn’t have cash. I slumped and walked slowly back to the car with no coffee, and still cold and wet. Getting back in to the car, we continued our journey south. Next stop: Dawson City.
Mile 0 of the Alcan in Dawson City.
Dawson City had the promise of good coffee and no rain. We went for it! We traveled through some pretty flat terrain, spotted more wildlife, and hit some better weather – still dark and cloudy, but the rain had stopped and the air felt fresh. We arrived in Dawson City by early afternoon and immediately hit the Visitor’s Center. No more wandering around to find WIFI and good coffee – we asked the nice woman at the counter where we could find tasty treats and internet. She directed us to ‘Hug-A-Mug, which was a fun little coffee shop with rather expensive coffee. Nonetheless, it was delicious and just want we needed! I can’t say the same for their WIFI connection. It kept going in and out on us, so we eventually hit the Dawson City Public Library, which had a horrible WIFI connection, but had computers for visitors to use when available. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long. We were surfing the web and tying up loose ends within minutes. We were also able to finish a post, catch up on emails, and for E – do a little ISSW website work. Earlier in the day, we made the decision to drive to Jasper, go climbing on superb rock, and travel through the park before turning west to Revelstoke, BC. With that, we scoped out weather forecasts, climbing areas, and more weather around Jasper while in Dawson City. Our rainy streak was about to end! Good weather was headed our way and we couldn’t wait for it! We were ready to get back on the sharp end.