Day 321: Mice and Bears

This morning, we had indeed caught mouse #2 in a trap.  We disposed of his body and continued North on the Cassiar Highway.

After a bit, we reached Jade City.  Most of Canada’s sizeable jade exports are mined within 50 miles of here.  We stopped in to see the wide selection of Canada-mined, Chinese-crafted jade pieces for sale here.  There was a sign saying that a reality TV series called “Jade City” is being filmed here.  The things people will watch…

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We stopped at Boya Lake Provincial Park to fill up our water tank.  We wanted to do a bit of hiking and fishing, but it was raining so we kept driving.  As we continued North, the Cassiar became more difficult to drive due to frost heaving.  We have seen five bears so far today!

At last we passed the “Welcome to Yukon Territory” sign and shortly thereafter we reached the end of the Cassiar Highway.  We turned left onto the AlCan, heading West.

After a bit we had to stop for road construction.  A new layer of chipseal was being laid down:

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We followed the pilot car and saw the oil being sprayed to accept to the chipseal gravel:

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We stopped in Teslin and filled up on comparatively cheap $1.51 per liter diesel, had lunch, and were able to use our cell phone for the first time since we turned on to the Cassiar Highway.  The drive to Whitehorse was plenty scenic:

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At last we arrived in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.  The Walmart parking lot had over 100 RVs parked in it, so we drove a couple blocks to “The Real Canadian Superstore”, which looks to be a green version of Walmart.  We are the only RV in the lot, and the WiFi from the nearby A&W is quite good.

We’re above 60 degrees North latitude, and when we went to sleep at 1AM, it was still light enough to read outside.  It never gets dark enough to see the stars here this time of year.

Again, just before bed, B spotted a THIRD mouse in the RV, so we will again set out traps.  Grr!

See the trip map for driving details and our current location.

Day 320: Don’t Pass Gas

On Saturday, we met Nigel and Sandra of Doin’NotDreamin’, who camped next to us at Clements Lake.  Last night, Sunday, we returned to Clements Lake, and found that they had returned here as well.  They had attempted to get up to the Salmon Glacier with their Class C motorhome but had to turn back when the road became to narrow.  This morning they headed out a bit before us, and we figured we would both stay at the same camping area at the North end of Dease Lake.

Another cloudy morning on Clements Lake:

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I headed back into town to buy diesel and mouse traps.  I also visited the visitor center and picked up brochures for the next leg of our trip.  Maybe it’s because of the permafrost that gas station fuel tanks are all above ground in this part of Canada?

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We drove back out towards the Cassiar Highway, once again passing amazing views.  A hanging glacier is just visible in the saddle at the skyline:

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I couldn’t help stopping again at Bear Glacier:

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Heading North of the Cassiar Highway, we lived by the rule of “don’t pass gas” and stopped at every available gas station.  They were 100 to 200 miles apart, and prices got up to $1.67 per liter, which is $6.35 a gallon. I tried not to think about it too much.

After the first 100 miles, the Cassiar becomes a narrow chipseal road with no center line.  At one point, we passed by a herd of horses next to and on the road:

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Around 8pm, we reached Sawmill Point Recreation Site on the North end of Dease Lake, another free Forestry Service campground.  The temperatures are pleasant, but the mosquitoes are getting worse and worse as we head North.  Nigel and Sandra must have stopped somewhere else:

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There are some interesting folks in this lonely corner of the world.  One RV overnighting here had a wood stove installed in it, complete with chimney coming out the side of the RV.

As we went to bed, we spotted a mouse in the RV.  So much for the hope that the mouse we saw last night had run out before this morning.  We set out the traps we bought in Stewart and hoped for the best (from our perspective).

See the trip map for today’s drive.

Day 319: From BC to Alaska and Back

Shabbos was interesting at this latitude.  Shabbos started at 10:30pm on Friday, but because of the shallow angle of the Sun relative to the horizon at sunset, Shabbos didn’t end until 12:16am on Sunday.

Friday night we heard something moving around in the basement, and we were pretty sure we had a mouse in the RV.  In an RV with slides, there are gaps where the hydraulic pistons that actuate the slides enter the undercarriage of the RV.  There’s nothing that can be done about this, as the gap is needed to allow the piston to move freely.  In cold, wet places, I guess mice smell the food and get up into the RV to find food and somewhere warm and dry to hang out.

Saturday afternoon, around 9pm, we heard the mouse under the kitchen island.  Shortly thereafter, he went running across the floor.  By blocking off various doors and openings, we were able to get him to jump out of an open door.  After Shabbos was over, we set traps in case he came back.  This morning, we had caught him in one of our traps.  I guess he couldn’t resist coming back in again.

This morning, before we left Clements Lake, I built a cowling for the WiFi Antenna.  I had purchased the tub a week ago, but it took this long to find the time to get it installed.  This will protect the cell antenna and the WiFi antenna’s center column from being damaged by low hanging branches:

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I also finished adding the gas plumbing that allows our catalytic heater to be used in the new RV:

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I added a quick release inline with the gas supply under the stove top:

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When the catalytic heater’s hose is attached, the hose runs out from under the stove top:

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Heading West, we arrived after 10 miles at the town of Stewart, BC.  There’s no cell phone coverage anywhere in this area, but we did find WiFi at the local general store:

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Continuing West, we crossed out of BC and into Alaska’s Southern panhandle at the three-block town of Hyder, Alaska.  We’ve made it to Alaska!

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Following Fish Creek, we pulled off into an observation area for watching bears feeding on migrating salmon.  Unfortunately, the salmon won’t start running for another few weeks, which might explain why we seem to have beat the crowds here.  We didn’t see any bears, but we did see plenty of great views of the river and surrounding terrain:

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We continued North onto Granduc Road, following the Salmon Glacier self guided auto tour.  The road was gravel and precipitous, but we could see the Salmon River far below as well as a glacial kettle, the blue-water pool seen here:

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After 15 miles of driving North, we crossed back into Canada.  5 miles of further driving up to about 3,700 feet above sea level, we reached the Salmon Glacier, Canada’s 5th largest glacier:

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On the way back down, we stopped to look at the part of the glacier that is lower down and not covered by snow.  The blue ice of the glacier is more evident here:

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By now the truck has taken on its Alaska two-tone paint job:

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Here’s the terminal end of the glacier:

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Returning to Hyder, we crossed back into Canada.  The border guard gave us quite an interrogation, which was amusing since the only way into and out of Hyder is via this crossing, so obviously we’ve already been vetted the first time we came into Canada.

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Hitching back up in Stewart, BC, we had dinner:

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We tried to fill up at the one gas station in town, but it was closed for the night.  We have enough gas to get to the next gas station on the Cassiar, about 100 miles away, but not enough to get to the next one if that station is out of action, so we will return to Stewart tomorrow to fill up before heading back to the Cassiar highway. Since Stewart itself is posted as having no overnight parking, we left Stewart.  Driving out of town, we didn’t see any pullouts where we could park overnight until we reached Clements Lake, where we were last night.

As I was writing this post, I saw a mouse go running by.  I’m not sure if we just picked this one up since we’ve been parked here, or maybe he’s been with us since Shabbos.  I put out the traps again, and hopefully we will catch him overnight.

See the trip map for today’s drive and out current location.

Day 317: Narrow Roads and Wide Glaciers

This morning, the power was back on at the Safeway, so the kids did a bit of homeschool while I got the blog up to date:

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We headed into downtown Smithers to purchase a gas plumbing part for our catalytic heater.  Unfortunately, the main street had a median which had concrete planters in it at every intersection.  Turning right onto a side street, the rear left corner of the trailer grazed the planter.  With a couple screws, judicious application of the rubber mallet, and silicone sealant, we were back in business after about 15 minutes:

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We had to break her in at some point, I guess.

Smithers is in the foothills of the Canadian Coast Range:

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Driving West out of Smithers, we reached Kitwanga after about 70 miles, the Southern end of the Cassiar Highway:

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The Cassiar Highway is 450 miles of virtually unpopulated country.  The rule on the Cassiar is “never pass up a gas station”, since gas stations are over 100 miles apart and frequently close due to running out of gas or equipment failure. 

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We drove North on the Cassiar for 97 miles, turning off towards Stewart, BC at Meziadin Junction.  About 15 miles after the turnoff, we passed Bear Glacier, one of the only glaciers accessible by paved road in Canada.  The glacial ice, which can be hundreds of feet thick, is a bright blue:

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Continuing on, we passed through a narrow gorge area.  In places, we could see hanging glaciers hundreds of feet above.  The nearly vertical faces were covered in lush greenery, interrupted only by waterfalls cascading down from the glaciers above.  Signs said “Avalanche area, no stopping”, so we didn’t photograph this spectacular area.

We stopped at Clements Lake, which is about a mile off the highway.  There’s just a small turnaround, but here in BC the rule is you can camp anywhere so long as it’s not posted otherwise.  It was amazing to have this lake and the snow covered mountains behind it all to ourselves:

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Days are over 17.5 hours long here at 56 degrees North.  With the overcast skies, the day seems to just go on forever, an effect I find disconcerting.

Good Shabbos from Clements Lake, near Stewart, BC!  See the trip map for today’s drive and our current location.

Day 316: Plank trails and bears

This morning we caught B drawing on her wall:

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Last night, we ran into one of the park staff who mentioned that there is a plank trail called Water Lew in the park!  I’ve always wanted to ride one, so we rode 3 miles and 800 feet of vertical from the campsite up an access road to reach the trailhead.  It was steep getting up there, so Trish and the kids did a good bit of walking the bikes up.  The plank trail was fantastic:

 

After riding the plank trail a couple times, we walked our bikes down a connecting path to another trail which had lots of great jumps and berms.  There are beautiful birch groves here:

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About a half mile from the campground, Trish and B took the beginner route and M and I took the intermediate route.  M and I reached the campground in minutes, and rode back up the beginner route to meet B and Trish.  When we got back to the junction where we started, I realized Trish and B had not taken the trail, but rather had rode off down a service road.  I was pretty worried, as they had a considerable head start, and if they turned of the road, finding them would be impossible and they would be lost in the woods.  I asked M to ride back to the RV and wait there, and then I rode down the service road looking for them.  Every time I came to a turn-off, I had to look for a muddy spot, checking for their tracks to figure out which way they went.  After riding for several miles, I found them.

Worried about having left M back at the RV, I told Trish and B to make their way back on the service road, and I would ride back, get M and the truck, and drive back to meet them.  What happened next involved a bear, I’ll let Trish tell the story here.

It’s safe to say that by the time we got back, the truck was thoroughly broken in:

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In the end, we rode or walked about 10 miles.  The first mile in the route below is a bike computer glitch, but the rest is correct:

Leaving the bike park at 6:30pm, we dumped tanks in Houston, BC, and drove on to overnight at the Safeway of Smithers, BC.  WiFi was great until a storm knocked out power to the Safeway and the surrounding buildings.  See the trip map for today’s drive.