Northward Bound – Edmonton to Whitehorse
We said goodbye to Edmonton on a sunny spring day, excited for the next phase of our road trip, the Great White North (but hopefully not too white this time of year). We’d had a good week of catching up with friends and Luke had especially loved our outing to the West Edmonton Mall, but we were anxious to get back on the road.
Our first stop was Dawson Creek, just across the border into B.C., and Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway. The road from here to Fairbanks Alaska was built in 1942-43 after Pearl Harbour and the US was suddenly faced with war and an unprotected, inaccessible northern state.
Detouring slightly off the highway we headed south to Tumbler Ridge where we had heard there were some nice waterfalls and hikes. A few minutes into the hike I was glad I had thought to bring the bug spray along. The waterfalls were good, but maybe not totally worth the cost of fuel to get there.
Back on track we started off on the Alaska Highway, stopping to admire an original curved wooden bridge.
We immediately felt the isolation of the north, huge expanses of forest, very few vehicles, and only tiny towns. We did see a lot more wildlife, bears along the road, moose, and stone sheep.
In Fort Nelson we refueled and stocked up on groceries before carrying on to Summit Lake, the highest point on the Alaskan Hwy. Here again we spotted more wildlife, a moose and her calf swam across the still lake while we had lunch (and yes Nicole, a cup of tea!).
Our favorite stop so far was at Liard Hot Springs. We decided to spoil ourselves and stay at the campground next to the springs, so after parking up we grabbed our swimsuits and headed down the boardwalk over marsh land to the hot pools. They have been built up a little, with steps and a few benches, but it has been left pretty natural. It was an amazing place and we spent a few more hours there the next morning.
The next stop on our map was Watson Lake, the first town in the Yukon you reach by road. It’s been made famous by the signpost forest, which we had not thought ahead to prepare for, so did not leave our mark. Nevertheless, it was interesting to walk among all the signs and see the many people who have done this trip before us.
We stopped briefly in the small town of Teslin and went into the George Johnson Museum. He was a trapper and entrepreneur who bought a car and had it shipped to the town before there were any roads. He used it in the winter to hunt wolves on the frozen lake. It was an interesting museum with lots of First Nations artefacts, taxidermy and pelts, and the car itself. Now we have made it to Whitehorse, but I’ll tell you more about that in the next one. Tonight is the summer solstice, and as I write this at 11pm I can still see the sun in the sky. It does not get dark at night, only grey until the sun comes back around 4:30am. It is amazing to look at a map and realize how far north we are, and how much farther we plan to go!