Leaving the Yukon & Northern British Columbia, Canada (9-3-16 & 9-4-16)

Days 36 & 37 of Lupe’s Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska

Day 36, 9-3-16, 6:40 AM, 32°F – Time for Lupe’s last walk down to the shore to say farewell to Kluane Lake.  As soon as the G6 defogged, Lupe would be leaving.  Another 450 miles to go today.  By the end of the day, she would leave the Yukon and reach extreme northern British Columbia.

The huge lake was calm, the smoothest Lupe had ever seen it.  More exciting adventures remain for Lupe in Kluane National Park in this wild, remote corner of Yukon Territory, but not on this Dingo Vacation.  Who knew when, or if, Lupe would ever return to do them and see fabulous Kluane Lake again?  No matter.  It was time to go.

Last moments near fabulous Kluane Lake. Photo looks SW.

The sun wasn’t even above the horizon yet, as Lupe and SPHP started S in the G6, but would be illuminating the Kluane front range peaks of the Saint Elias mountains before long.

Yesterday evening, SPHP had seen Mount Decoeli (7,650 ft.) from afar.  Lupe climbed Mount Decoeli earlier on this Dingo Vacation.  What a tremendous adventure that had been!  Now Decoeli was sporting a cap of new snow.  The Alaska Highway would soon take Lupe only a few miles E of the mountain.  She wasn’t too many miles from Kluane Lake, before there it was, looking majestic, clean and white!

Lupe wasn’t too many miles away from Kluane Lake, when Mount Decoeli(L) came into view, now sporting a clean, white snowcap. Photo looks SE.
Mount Decoeli is the sharper peak on the L. Photo looks SE with a little help from the telephoto lens.

The Kluane front range mountains all looked even more impressive with snow on them, than when Lupe had been here in early August.  SPHP stopped frequently for photos.  These were the biggest, most gorgeous mountains Lupe would see all day!

Lupe enjoyed all the stops.  She didn’t mind posing for pictures.  Each stop was another chance, however brief, to explore fields and forests near the Alaska Highway.

Early light on the Kluane front range. The high point on the L is possibly Mount Cairnes (9,186 ft.). Photo looks SW.
Daybreak on Lupe’s last day in the Yukon.
Getting closer to Mount Decoeli (L). Photo looks SE.
Much closer now. Looking SW at Mount Decoeli.
Loop and Decoeli. She’d stood on top of the mountain earlier on this Dingo Vacation.
Mount Decoeli on the R. The white peak on the L in the distance is either Mount Archibald (8,491 ft.) or a peak very near it. Photo looks SW.
View along the Alaska Highway from E of Decoeli. Photo looks S in the general direction of Mount Martha Black (8,241 ft.) possibly one of the peaks seen here.
Come on! Let’s go! Lupe was ready to climb Decoeli(R) again! Sadly, there was no longer time for a repeat performance. Photo looks WSW.
Again looking S in the general direction of Mount Martha Black, likely pictured somewhere among these high peaks. The morning light on the tundra was amazing!
Mount Decoeli from the E.
Lupe in Yukon Territory still E of Mount Decoeli. Everything was ablaze with color in the early morning light! Photo looks SSW.
The Yukon was so beautiful, it was enough to make an American Dingo think about becoming a Yukon Dingo!

On the way to Haines Junction, SPHP decided Lupe ought to take the 14 mile (one way) detour S to have a look at King’s Throne (6,529 ft.) and Kathleen Lake.  King’s Throne was the first mountain Lupe had climbed in Kluane National Park, and another super adventure!  Maybe Lupe could get a great photo of King’s Throne covered with new snow and shining brightly in the morning light?

Lupe only got 10 miles S of Haines Junction, though, before it was apparent there wasn’t much point in going farther.  Clouds already screened King’s Throne from the sunlight, and more clouds were moving in fast.  From what could be seen, King’s Throne hadn’t received any of the recent new snow either, perhaps because it is lower than Decoeli.

Near Quill Creek, Lupe and SPHP turned around to head back N.  The mountains here were still in brilliant sunshine.  However, large clouds were moving in from the SE.  Lupe’s best bet was to enjoy these gorgeous mountains while they were still in view.  All the way back to Haines Junction, Lupe and SPHP stopped frequently to gaze upon the beautifully sunlit Kluane front range.

Lupe at Quill Creek, S of Haines Junction. Photo looks SW.
Looking up Quill Creek using the telephoto lens.
Although only a few miles N of King’s Throne, this distinctive pyramid-shaped mountain near Quill Creek was still in brilliant sunshine. King’s Throne was already cloaked in the gloom of a cloud bank. Photo looks SW using the telephoto lens.
Lupe S of Haines Junction, but N of Quill Creek. The Kluane front range is in dazzling sunshine to the SW.
Crisp, clean peaks on the way back N to Haines Junction. Photo looks SW.
Another fantastic peak of the Kluane front range.
Snow certainly adds a great deal of grandeur to almost any peak. Gorgeous!

At Haines Junction, Lupe headed E on the Alaska Highway.  The dazzling splendor of the Kluane front range of the Saint Elias mountains receded in the rear view mirror.  Within a few minutes, the mountains disappeared entirely as Lupe entered a dense fog bank.

For miles SPHP drove slowly in the fog.  Lupe finally emerged from the fog bank, but the mood of the morning was different here.  The sky was overcast.  The dull, gray clouds weren’t dark or threatening, but the cheerful sunshine was gone.  Lupe snoozed as the miles rolled by.  E of Whitehorse, Lupe crossed the Yukon River again.  By now it was 11:15 AM, and even SPHP was drowsy.

Lupe and SPHP stopped at a rest area on the E bank of the Yukon River.  Even though it was practically the middle of the day, and the Alaska Highway was busy, SPHP took a nap.  An hour later, feeling better, it was time to press on.  Before leaving, Lupe was ready for a short stroll down to the river.

Lupe checks out the Yukon River one more time before continuing E. Lupe had crossed the Yukon River much farther N, too, back when she was on the Dalton Highway before crossing the Arctic Circle. Photo looks W.

The clouds were lighter and starting to break up as Lupe continued E on the Alaska Highway.  After a slow start in the morning, Lupe was behind schedule on reaching her mileage quota for the day.  She needed to keep rolling.  She was allowed fairly frequent short stops at rest areas, but other than that, Lupe had little to do but continue dozing or watch the scenery go by.

Forests were everywhere.  Lupe saw many lakes and streams.  Although Lupe saw lots of mountains, too, they weren’t nearly as large or rugged as the ones back at Kluane National Park.  Hours went by.  Finally, a cluster of higher, more impressive mountains appeared in the distance ahead.  They had a good dusting of snow and were quite beautiful.

After hours heading E on the Alaska Highway, a small range of more impressive snowy peaks came into view. Photo looks E.
SPHP has no idea what mountains these are, but driving the speed limit they were about 3 hours E of the Yukon River on the S side of the Alaska Highway. They looked like something Lupe could climb easily enough some day. The views from the top must be amazing. These mountains were the highest around for a long, long way!

On the way to the Yukon near the start of her Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation, Lupe had traveled up the Cassiar Highway (Hwy 37).  This time, when she reached the junction, Lupe stayed on the Alaska Highway going E instead of turning S.  This was an alternate route home.  Lupe was going to see a lot of new territory!

The new territory featured forests.  Trees stretched from horizon to horizon.  Mile after mile.  Not that there hadn’t been plenty of vast forests before.  Here, though, there were hills, ridges, and deep river valleys, but no real mountains, not like Lupe was used to seeing up to this point.  Everything was forested.  Nothing was above treeline.

E of Watson Lake, the Alaska Highway left the Yukon for good.  Lupe was now back in far northern British Columbia.  The highway wound around near the Liard River valley.  In many places, the forest was clear cut for 50 to 100 feet and mowed on both sides of the highway.  The resulting miles long skinny clearings proved attractive to wildlife.

Lupe sprang to life when she realized there were animals out there!  She’d been mostly resting in the G6 for two whole days.  The American Dingo was bursting with energy and enthusiasm.  Time for the barkfest to end all barkfests!  Many buffalo, 3 bears, and 1 fox were all cause for ear-splitting excitement.

Lupe near the Liard River. E of Watson Lake, Lupe left the Yukon for good when the Alaska Highway entered far northern British Columbia. The highway wound SE in or close to the Liard River valley for many miles.
Oh, yeah! Buffalo roamed the narrow clear cut strips of land along the Alaska Highway E of Watson Lake. Lupe was beside herself with joy! She barked like a Dingo-possessed, watching eagerly for the next buffalo to appear as she cruised by in the G6. She was seldom disappointed for long. SPHP wondered where else these buffalo would ever find any open ground? Except along the highway, trees extended horizon to horizon.
Bears! Lupe saw three small black bears in addition to the buffalo. They were every bit as exciting as the buffalo! In all her time in the Yukon and Alaska, Lupe never saw a single bear. She did see a few black bears in British Columbia both on the way N and going home.

A little after 8 PM, with light fading fast, Lupe arrived at Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park(Note:  The 6.5 minute video on the front page of this link is worth watching.  Be sure to expand it!)  SPHP drove in at the entrance finding no one at the entry booth.  It was Saturday night and lots of people were around.  SPHP parked the G6, and Lupe was happy to get out.

The main attractions at Liard Hot Springs are a couple of hot water bathing pools along a flowing stream.  A wide boardwalk led off toward the hot springs.  Lots of people were coming and going on the boardwalk, so Lupe and SPHP took it, too.

The boardwalk went through a forested swamp.  It was far longer than SPHP expected – 700 meters!  Lupe did get to see the hot springs, although, sadly, it was already too dark for pictures.  A couple of wooden changing rooms were next to a deck overlooking the hot springs, which had significant flow.  A warm fog rose from the waters where bathers were enjoying soaking in two natural pools.

SPHP asked around how this all worked?  As it turned out, there is normally a seasonal day use fee ($5.00 adult, $3.00 child, $10.00 family) charged for park admission at the entry booth at the front gate.  A camping spot costs $26.00.  However, the entry booth closes at 8 PM, and no day use admission is collected after that.  Somewhat oddly, the gates close at 10 PM, after which no entry or exit is permitted.

Of course, Lupe couldn’t go in the hot springs, but there was still time for SPHP to enjoy them.  Back to the G6, where Lupe was sad and worried about being abandoned.  SPHP tried to cheer her up, promising to return before too long.

The changing rooms at the hot springs were rustic, with only benches and hooks.  No lockers, showers, restrooms or anything like that.  Not even electricity or any lights.  The upstream pool was too hot for SPHP, but the downstream pool was great.  Despite the excellent flow, the water cooled off quickly going downstream, so it was easy to choose the temperature zone that felt best.

Liard Hot Springs was totally awesome!  Where else can you relax in soothing warm (hot, if you like!) waters outdoors in the middle of a boreal spruce forest in a giant swamp?  SPHP soaked and chatted with people, who were mostly from Fort Nelson.

At 9:15 PM, someone came to announce the time, and that the park’s gates closed in 45 minutes at 10:00 PM.  SPHP soaked for 10 more minutes, then got out into the chilly night air to get changed and return to Lupe.  After a joyous reunion, Lupe and SPHP left the park at 9:48 PM with 12 minutes to spare.  Onward!  But only for a little way.  Lupe had already made 500 miles today.

Day 37, 9-4-16, 6:19 AM, 35°F – Beneath a bright blue sky with thin little clouds, Lupe was underway early.  She was in far northern British Columbia, only a little S of Liard Hot Springs.  The terrain rapidly became increasingly mountainous as Lupe headed SE on the Alaska Highway.  For a while, a long stretch of road construction slowed progress to a crawl.

The morning sky held promise of a beautiful day ahead.
The terrain grew more mountainous S of Liard Hot Springs. Lupe was approaching Muncho Lake Provincial Park.

The road construction ended, and progress resumed at a normal pace, but not for long.  Lupe soon entered Muncho Lake Provincial Park.

SPHP hadn’t done a bit of research during pre-Dingo Vacation planning on Muncho Lake, and it was a real surprise.  This was an area of unspoiled, remote snow-capped peaks.  The Alaska Highway went right through it all, and hugged the E shore of beautiful Muncho Lake for miles.  Lupe was thrilled to see more buffalo, and even another black bear.

Lupe’s day was off to a thrilling start with lots more buffalo near the Alaska Highway in Muncho Lake Provincial Park. She even saw another black bear.

Such beauty was cause for several stops.  Lupe was only too glad to get out of the G6, if even only for a short time.  Too bad Lupe’s time was so limited now.  Muncho Lake Provincial Park was surely worth exploring!

Lupe in gorgeous Muncho Lake Provincial Park. She was very happy to get out of the G6 to see the sights here, if only for a little while.
Looper at Muncho Lake.
Lupe at Muncho Lake with a splendid peak in the distance. Photo looks SSW.
Muncho Lake Provincial Park in far NE British Columbia.
Wow! Now we’re talking adventure! This float plane was parked near a lodge on the E shore of Muncho Lake. Lupe loves to bark at airplanes, and especially helicopters. Not sure how she might react to flying away in one? Photo looks NNW.
Hmmm. The more SPHP pondered this glorious peak, the more it looked like something Lupe might be able to climb. Maybe some day? Photo looks SSW.
Wonder if there’s a trail? SPHP will have to look into it.

S of Muncho Lake, the Alaska Highway lost elevation and entered the beautiful Toad River valley.  Although it was still early in the day, SPHP was overcome by drowsiness.  Lupe and SPHP wound up taking a nap at a pullout along the highway.  Nearly two hours slipped by before SPHP woke up again, feeling much revived.

However, Lupe hadn’t needed reviving.  By now she was so bored, she was desperate to get out of the G6.  For the next half hour she had a great time sniffing around a young forest near the pullout while SPHP picked up copious amounts of trash.  People!  Trash containers were provided right at the pullout, yet way too many people don’t bother using them.  Totally disgusting!

A little farther on, Lupe left Muncho Lake Provincial Park.  Before long she crossed a bridge over another wonderful stream, the Racing River.  SPHP parked the G6 again at a pullout near the bridge.  Lupe found an old road leading through the forest.  The primitive road paralleled the Racing River downstream for a little way.  Evidently this route is sometimes used for dispersed camping.  Lupe passed several old campfire sites before the road turned and ended at the river.

The Alaska Highway bridge over the Racing River. Photo looks SW.
The Racing River was this incredible icy blue color, and certainly lived up to its name. The river did race right along.
Lupe was in great spirits. She enjoyed her visit to the Racing River! After all, she’d found a squirrel to bark at in the forest nearby!

After 25 minutes near the Racing River, Lupe and SPHP continued on.  The Alaska Highway quickly left the Racing River valley, going around the N side of a mountain into another big valley.  The highway now followed the course of McDonald Creek upstream toward impressive white mountains.  Lupe was nearing Stone Mountain Provincial Park.

Shortly after entering Stone Mountain Provincial Park, Lupe saw something she had never seen before.  A small herd of caribou were trotting across an open field toward a forest!  By the time SPHP could stop and turn around, they had vanished into the trees.  The field the caribou had crossed was at quite an elevation above McDonald Creek, and offered a good lookout point toward the mountains.  Lupe and SPHP got out of the G6 to take a look.

As Lupe approached Stone Mountain Provincial Park, impressive white mountains were visible ahead.
Lupe at the edge of the big field where she had seen caribou for the first time ever only a few minutes ago. This viewpoint overlooks the McDonald Creek valley. Photo looks SE.
The McDonald Creek valley. Mount Saint George (7,402 ft.) is on the R. Photo looks SE.
Mount Saint George using the telephoto lens. Photo looks SE.
A tower is seen at far R on the N flank of Mount Saint George. A trail leads to the tower from the Summit Lake area. Photo looks SE.
A little farther S on the Alaska highway from where Lupe saw the caribou, she made another quick stop for this grand view of the McDonald Creek valley. Photo looks S.

After getting a little exercise and seeing the grand view of Mount Saint George (7,402 ft.) and the McDonald Creek valley from Caribou Point, Lupe and SPHP drove on.   The Alaska Highway turned NE and in only a few miles reached Summit Lake at the top of a pass.  At the NE end of Summit Lake were a campground and picnic area.  Lunch time!  Lupe and SPHP pulled into the picnic area.

Lupe at Summit Lake in Stone Mountain Provincial Park. Photo looks SW.
Looking SW over Summit Lake using the telephoto lens.

Soup, sardines and crackers were on the menu.  While SPHP was heating the soup up, Lupe found a new friend.  A big dog arrived to sniff and wag tails with her.  A young woman from Fort Nelson came over to retrieve Grommet, which was the big dog’s name.  She stayed chatting with SPHP while Lupe and Grommet did dog stuff – sniffing, playing and growling.

The friendly young woman mentioned a trailhead over on the opposite (N) side of the Alaska Highway.  When lunch was over, Lupe and SPHP went over to check out the trailhead.  A map showed a 2.5 km (one way) trail going to Summit Peak (6,611 ft.) on the N side of the Alaska Highway, and several other trails S of Summit Lake.

Looking up toward a couple of white peaks N of the Alaska Highway from Summit Lake. The high point on the L is likely Summit Peak (6,611 ft.).  Photo looks N.

It all looked very interesting, but Lupe didn’t have time to explore any trails.  In fact, it was 2 PM already.  Lupe hadn’t even gone 100 miles yet today!  Definitely time to get underway again.

E of Summit Lake, the Alaska Highway lost elevation again on the other side of the pass.  Soon Lupe was out of Stone Mountain Provincial Park, leaving the big, snowy peaks of the Muskwa Ranges behind.  At Fort Nelson, the Alaska Highway turned S again.  Off to the W, Lupe could still see high mountains with snow.  The highway got close to them at one point, but then veered away.

After a great morning and early afternoon, with lots of little hikes and scenic stops along the way, the rest of the afternoon and evening proved disappointing for the intrepid American Dingo.  She spent nearly all of her time stuck in the G6, traveling through the endless forest.  The road wound over and around high ridges.  Sometimes the Alaska Highway dropped down into big valleys to cross rivers, but it never took Lupe back to the high mountains.

Lupe spent much of the rest of the day in the G6 traveling S along the Alaska Highway. The road wound along high ridges, and sometimes went down into big valleys to cross rivers. Off to the W were high snowy mountains, but the road never took Lupe up into them again.

Lupe had few chances to get out of the G6 again, but by evening she did make her 450 miles for the day.  Most of northern British Columbia was now behind her.  That feeling Lupe’d had for most of the past month of being in the far N, in Arctic lands, was fast slipping away.

Lupe in NE British Columbia leaving the far N on her way home.

Want more Lupe adventures?  Choose from Lupe’s 2016 Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska Adventure Index, Dingo Vacations Adventure Index or Master Adventure Index.  Or subscribe free to New Lupe Adventures.

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