15 -19 July 2015 Canada - Yukon

Wednesday 15th July

Left Chicken and got back on the now unpaved Taylor Highway through the forest towards the Canadian border. Crossed the South Fork Fortymile River Bridge. The road climbed, spectacular views and big drops along the narrow winding road. Crossed the Walker Fork Bridge. Stopped at the side of Jack Wade Creek for breakfast. The sun was shining and we had just the sound of the creek. Sandy had a great time running in and out of the water.

Continued on a very bumpy stretch and came to a large gold mining operation on the river, dredging out the earth with a digger. A little further along the creek we came across someone in the creek working a claim. The Highway climbed Jack Wade Hill. Just past the turn off for Eagle we got back onto paved road heading for the border. The previous stretch was through some beautiful unspoilt country with spectacular views but I would not like to have travelled that dirt road in heavy rain. Just before we reached the border a small group of caribou crossed the road in front of us.

We came to the Canadian border control at Little Gold Creek and went through without incident. They asked if we had any firearms, if we owned the RV, where we bought it, where we had travelled, where we intended to travel, and how long we intended staying Canada.

We were at over 4,000 feet and the terrain became moorland with very few trees. Just past the border control point we came across a large herd of caribou feeding on the top of a hill.

We were now on Canada Highway 9, otherwise known as Top of the World Highway, the views are superb and stretched for hundreds of miles, well worth the journey.

The road was unpaved to Dawson City and pretty bumpy in parts with potholes but the views again stunning. We could see the weather heading our way, valleys to the south were full of rain clouds but we drove out of it. To the north we had a distant view of snow-capped mountains and blue skies with fluffy clouds. Twelve kilometers out of Dawson City we came onto paved road. There was a black and grey fox trotting down the road with his catch in his mouth, a red squirrel. He didn’t seem at all bothered about us slowing down at the side of him, he just trotted on confidently.

Got to the Yukon River and took the ferry across to Dawson City.

Here the Yukon and Klondike Rivers converge and we are in the heart of Klondike gold rush country. We booked into the Gold Rush Campground

in York Street which is in the town and within walking distance of everywhere. Went to Visitor Centre on front street for information about the town and then on to Bombay Peggy’s hotel which has a smart bar and outside patio. Had dinner at a Greek restaurant, spoke to one of the owners originally from Naxos. Took Sandy for a walk at 10pm still warm bright sunshine – amazing !

Thursday 16th July

There is lots going on in town and Parks Canada run a full programme for visitors. We went on a town walking tour with a guide and found out all about the gold rush which stared when gold was discovered nearby in 1896. We visited several historic buildings and heard the stories behind them and the characters that lived and worked in them.

In the afternoon there was a show on at the Palace Grand Theatre about some of the characters here during the town’s gold rush days.

I then walked to the back of town to have a look at the Jack London museum. He spent some time here as a young man in the late 1890”s.

The town is a designated National Historic Site and its appearance remains mostly unchanged from its short lived boom years in the 1890’s and early 1900’s. It still has the look and atmosphere of a gold rush town, some of the buildings have been superbly restored and the streets are still unpaved with wooden board walks. It feels like a cross between a living museum and a theatre set. Dawson is 165 miles from the Arctic Circle and I decided to stay up to watch the sunset and to see if the sun actually does go down, it started over an hour again and is still going on down. The sky is bright pink and indigo blue, beautiful but I am giving in now it is 0045.

Friday 17th July

We set off from Dawson along the Klondike Highway (Yukon Highway 2) south towards the Alaska Highway and Whitehorse, 333 miles away. The highway followed the Klondike River. We came across roadworks which threw up a lot of dust, could hardly see in front of us at times.

Turned right over the Stewart River Bridge, the Silver Trail (Yukon Highway 11) carried on north to Mayo, Elsa and Keno City. This area has been one of the richest silver mining areas of Canada. Crossed the Pelling River bridge and went through areas where forest fire had occurred in 1965 and 1995. There was still evidence of the destruction with branchless trees and mainly shrub growth. After a stop for lunch we came to a viewpoint overlooking the Yukon River. The interpretive sign here reads that reads that Beringa is the land mass from Eastern Siberia through Alaska to the Yukon. Standing here 15,000 years ago near the end of the last glaciation. The view would be of dusty, treeless steppe at the edge of the ice sheet. At northern Tutchone Trading Post we crossed Yukon River bridge. Came to the Fox Lake another area devastated by fire in 1999. Arrived in Whitehorse and booked in at the Hi Country RV Park on the Alaska Highway that gives us easy access to the town.

Saturday 18th July – mileage 9794

Across the road from the RV park is a large rv and car wash facility. After the last few weeks of travel and the unpaved roads both vehicles are very dirty. Vincento at the car wash was very helpful and and we set about scrubbing of the dust and dirt. It took a while to remove the dead insects. In the engine grill there were all species of insect, it looked like a nature table. Went into Whitehorse to get the motorhome’s 10000 mile service at Jiffy Lube. All seemed to be well with the RV after its long journey over some rough roads. Again the staff were really helpful and very efficient. Then to the Ford garage for a new oil filler cap, it must have been shaken off during the journey. Member of staff came out and made sure the cap fitted. Bought a new catch for the rv screen door. Anything we needed was found in Whitehorse, wherever we went the people couldn’t do enough, they went out of their way to help.

Sunday 19th July – my birthday

On the road today travelling east on the Alaska Highway. A calm, sunny, warm morning we past Marsh Lake just outside Whitehouse looking very still like a sheet of glass and then over the Yukon River Bridge. Past Jakes Corner and over the Teslin River Bridge near Johnsons Crossing, following the 86 mile long Teslin Lake and passing through Teslin, 111 miles south east of Whitehorse. Back in 1903 Teslin was a trading post and has one of the largest Native populations in the Yukon. Across the Nisutlin Bay Bridge past Morley Lake and on along the Swift and the Rancheria Rivers to Watson Lake. Had a good view of a juvenile bald eagle that flew low over the road in front of us. Stopped for fuel at Watson Lake. Just outside the town we pulled over for lunch and on a sand bank just opposite lay three bison. Our presence didn’t seem to bother them, they continued to lie there.

Crossed over into British Columbia and we soon picked up the lovely Liard River with it turquoise colour, sandy beaches and rapids – named by French-Canadian travelers for the poplar (liard) that grows along parts of the river. Superb afternoons travelling into BC, hardly any traffic, we saw no one for miles just forest wilderness and rivers. And then - just past Fireside we came across a black bear feeding on the grass verge

and on the opposite side of the road a herd of bison – we counted 41.

Further along the road we came to another mixed herd of bison at the side of the road, some very large bulls. We came into the Canadian Rocky Mountains and pulled in for the night at Northern Rockies Lodge on the shores of beautiful Muncho Lake. The large wooden lodge building stands four stories high and has hotel rooms and a dining room. Went into the hotel for my birthday dinner, had lovely cards from Tony - and Sandy - and Chris and Dave, plus text and emails messages. The hotel has several wooden carvings in the dining room including a large 20 foot hand carved map of the region, very impressive. Outside are wooden chalets