We had figured on taking about three weeks to cross Canada from the Sweetwater/Coutts border crossing to the US border at Poker Creek. We’d be taking the “plains” route through Calgary and Edmonton, rather than the “Icefields Highway” that we took last time (in 2011).
As we crossed the border from Sweetgrass, Montana to Coutts, Alberta our young Canadian border officer raised his eyebrows when we said we would be three weeks crossing Canada.
“Three weeks?” he queried. “The truckers can do it in 3 days!”
“We’re old” we said. “We move slow, we only travel 180 miles a day.”
“Ah, OK then, I guess that works out about right if you visit some Provincial Parks.”
Turns out the young man was right. Three weeks was a bit on the long side, especially since we didn’t stay at any Provincial Parks. It only took us a week to get to Dawson City, where we lingered a few days to goldpan in the Klondike. In fact, we stayed at no campgrounds at all across Canada, boondocking the entire way (right about 2,000 miles).
We didn’t spend a single loonie on camping.
We didn’t miss out on the sights, however, at least not the ones that are important to us. Like this GIANT beaver in Beaverlodge
and plenty of roadside wildlife through the Canadian Rockies…
The WalMart boondock RV camp in Whitehorse was the most extreme we had ever seen. Three-quarters of the lot was filled with overnighting RVs. Lots of RV-er dinero being spent inside from what we could see (including us!). Bless you WalMart!
A special treat was the Yukon river trail, right across the road from where we parked our RV at the edge of the WalMart lot. The islands on the river host the largest nesting colony of Mew Gulls in the Yukon. We had a nice break walking the trail after a day of driving.
From Dawson City we took the ferry across the Yukon to the “Top of the World Highway.” We only had to wait about fifteen minutes for the ferry to come back across the river,and then we were on our way…
We crossed the border at Poker Creek, on June 9th, well ahead of schedule.
From there we made it to the Taylor Highway and started to scout around for a suitable campsite, somewhere in the Jack Wade Creek area. The BLM allows public gold panning for a considerable distance along the Taylor Highway in this region. As luck would have it, we found an idyllic “back-in-off-the-road” site, right along the creek. It was more level than a lot of campsites that we have paid good money for, and we were ready to stay in place for a few days for R and R. We did a little panning, and found several wheeler trails nearby for hiking, as well as a maintained trail (rare in Alaska) to the Lost Chicken Creek Dredge.
We also put the canoe in the water on the South Fork of the Forty-mile for a short paddle, and saw this rather incredible sculpture in the boat launch parking area. It is made up of debris and wreckage taken from the river…
We stayed five days at the site, during which time we were blessed with blue skies and warm temperatures. It has been a warm and dry spring here and it is beginning to show in the water levels in the creeks, and in the forest fires burning across the state. The streams are surely looking bony. The trout, who liked to spend time in a nice deep pool nearby have started to move down stream. Probably an instinctual move to get to deeper and colder water. Lin spent a few pleasant afternoons panning for gold in the creek.
We decided to move downstream as well – onward to Tok where we can get a phone signal and touch base with friends and family, before moving on to the Denali Highway in the Alaska Interior.
But we couldn’t go to Tok without stopping in Chicken to see THE Chicken…