Cross Canada Plains to Alaska 2015

Ric is Ready to Drive the Alaska Highway

Ric is Ready to Drive the Alaska Highway

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

Giant Beaver in the Town of Beaverlodge

Giant Beaver in the Town of Beaverlodge

and plenty of roadside wildlife through the Canadian Rockies…

Stone Sheep along the Alaska Highway

Stone Sheep along the Alaska Highway

Mom Moose and Baby Crossing the Alaska Highway in Canadian Rockies

Mom Moose and Baby Crossing the Alaska Highway in 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!

Whitehorse WalMart RV Overload

Whitehorse WalMart RV Overload

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.

Mew Gull Sign in Whitehorse

Mew Gull Sign in Whitehorse. The Gulls Have Added a Few Artistic Touches.

Mew Gull - Nesting and Preening

Mew Gull – Nesting and Preening on an Island in the Yukon River, Whitehorse.

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.

Inukshuk Management Near the AK Border

Inukshuk Management Near the AK Border

Poker Creek Border Crossing Station

Poker Creek Border Crossing Station. The Most Northerly Land Border Post in the USA.

Poker Creek Border Crossing

Poker Creek Border Crossing Stamp. A Nice Touch!

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.

One of the Last Groomed Trails We Will See in Alaska!

One of the Last Groomed Trails We Will See in Alaska!

Ric Hiking Near the Taylor Hwy

Ric Hiking Near the Taylor Hwy

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…

River Debris Sculpture. Flotsam from South Fork Forty-Mile River.

River Debris Sculpture. Flotsam from South Fork Forty-Mile 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.

Lin Panning for Gold along Jack Wade Creek

Lin Panning for Gold along Jack Wade 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…

Muddy Rv at Chicken, AK

Muddy Rv at Chicken, AK

9 Comments

Filed under Alaska Journal, Birding, Hike, Uncategorized

9 responses to “Cross Canada Plains to Alaska 2015

  1. So excited to hear from you two again! The fires in Alaska made the news down here so I have been wondering if and how they may have been impacting your journeys. That crossing looked like fun! (Love the stamp!)

    Love and hugs to you both!
    ~Amy

  2. Anonymous

    Sounds great…We at ere in Dswsom &Chicken when we did the Gold Rush tour.

    • If you boondock, there is a great site near the Richardson Monument on the Richardson Highway. Just after you pass the monument, at foot of hill is a small pond and a gravel road to left. Leads into the outwash plain for Gulkana Glacier. Primitive camping spots all around. Amazing view. Happy trails!

  3. Liz Landry

    Love the photos and the news. You both look fit and fabulous! Linda I enjoyed the note you mailed me. Ric and you know how to enjoy retirement!

  4. KSue Bent

    Sooo good to hear from you. Sounds like you are thriving! Missing you both esp this time of year ENJOY the beauty. Be safe & be well. LOVE Keese

  5. Lyric

    I LOL at the pooped on gull sign. You guys are my heroes. I love the videos you make!!

  6. cdnrm

    Looks like you had a great time! Do you plan on going through Canada again at any point?

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