Day 24 – Muncho Lake to Fort Nelson BC
Another traveling day after a great couple of days fishing, exploring and relaxing at Muncho Lake. Not much to pack up this morning, the evening before happy hour we packed and stowed most our gear to facilitate an easy departure. All that remained was a few items, camping chairs, left over wood, ax, etc.
Morning showers fell as we prepared to leave. The weather is deteriorating, a good time to leave Muncho Lake. No regrets, the weather cooperated during our stay. We pulled onto the Alaska highway by 9 am hoping to arrive in Fort Nelson around noon.
The highway hugged the shores of Muncho lake traversing large dry washes flowing from narrow mountain valleys. The washes are no doubt torrents during spring run off.
A scenic morning drive through the northern Rockies, fall colors ablaze as we wound through narrow valleys high mountain passes and along shallow alpine rivers beginning their long trek to the ocean.
The colorful scenery was interrupted by a dead bloated moose on the side of the road. Probably road kill, hopefully, no one was injured. A collision with an animal that size could be deadly.
The northern Rockies gave way to rolling foothills and a straighter highway descending into the flat lands of the Peace River country. A drastic elevation change 1300 meters (4600 ft.) to 400 meters (1200 ft.) a drop of more than 900 meters (4000 ft.) in about 100 kilometers or 60 miles.
Intermittent showers ended mid-morning. Our timing was perfect, we arrive in Fort Nelson by noon. As we entered the town our odometer rolled over 5000 kilometers marking two-thirds our trip behind us. Originally the estimated total distance was 6000 kilometers, we will no doubt pass that estimate.
Fort Nelson is a decent size northern town with a population of 4000. It’s a center for gas exploration and production in northern BC. An interesting aspect of northern towns, despite their small size they enjoy more facilities than towns of similar size situated close to major centers.
I’m not sure the reason, possibly these towns benefit from greater corporate and government financial support providing the necessary capital to build community facilities with the goal of attracting workers and their families?
During happy hour the evening before we decided Fort Nelson would be a good place restock our supplies, refuel, dump our tanks and replenish our fresh water. The town grocery store was our first stop. The women shopped, while the men checked the GPS for a liquor store and RV dump.
No luck finding an RV dump, but we located a liquor store on the east side of town conveniently on our route. After the women returned with our supplies we had a quick lunch in the parking lot and then headed to the liquor store. We hoped to see an RV dump on the way.
The liquor store clerk overheard one of us mention an RV dump and kindly directed us to the free community RV dump, she also recommended a fuel facility in an industrial area .10 cents a liter cheaper ($1.19) than stations on the highway. You gotta love small town hospitality.
Unfortunately, it was necessary to retrace our route, we had passed the RV dump on the way into town. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the sign for the RV dump, how did six people miss such an obvious road sign, maybe our advanced years?
We dumped the holding tanks, refilled our fresh water and headed to the fuel station located on a side street opposite the community center. Unfortunately, I missed the turn to the gas station and needed to turn around. I decided to make a u-turn, the road wasn’t wide enough soI had to backup while doing so I forgot I was towing a trailer AGAIN.
The trailer jack-knifed hitting my camper crunching the hollow aluminum bumper again. It’s the third time
Lynda has done this????……this has happened.
The last time was 23 days ago at the beginning of the trip. I did it twice in one day, duuuu. I guess the reason I forget I cannot see the trailer though my mirrors, it’s narrower than my truck. Outa sight outa mind, I guess. I’m sure I will get the hang of this trailer thing sometime soon before I destroy something else
We filled our fuel tanks, headed back through town and south towards Fort St. John. The weather improved to high cloud and filtered sunshine with temperatures in the low twenties Celsius.
After leaving Fort Nelson highway traffic increased. Large trucks hauling what looked to be natural gas equipment thundered toward us. Up to this point on our trip, we’ve enjoyed light traffic.
Despite the heavier traffic, and a couple of brief construction delays it was a pleasant afternoon’s drive.
We arrived at our destination, Bucking Horse River Provincial Park around 4 pm. Allowing plenty of time to set up camp, register at the self-serve camp kiosk and build a campfire. Bucking Horse is another BC provincial park so again we pay half price, $10 per night, age has it’s perks.
The campground sits in a small valley on the banks of the Bucking Horse river in a grove of fall colored trees. The camping spots are small, not long enough for our rigs, even my camper and small trailer measuring less than 30 ft. long will not fit.
We took a chance and parked on the access road to avoid uncoupling our trailers. If a camp host happens by we may need to adjust our parking arrangement.
We settled in just in time for happy hour, our only daily appointment. The evening before a traveling day, a check of the road maps and the next day’s route is routine. The check of the maps this evening was a bit more crucial, we need to make a decision as to which route to take once we reach the junction at Fort St. John.
There are two routes, Hwy 29, which heads west to Chetwynd by-passing Dawson Creek and the other, Hwy. 97 the Alaska Hwy continues south to Dawson Creek and then into Alberta or west to Chetwynd.
Traveling through Dawson Creek is over an hour longer than heading directly to Chetwynd. However, Dawson Creek is the iconic beginning of the Alaska Hwy.
Is it necessary to travel the extra distance for a picture of the sign signifying the beginning of the highway, or not?
Lynda and I’ve traveled through Dawson Creek on a motorcycle trip, several years previous. So it wasn’t important to us to see Dawson Creek again, but we will succumb to the majority.
A quick vote the majority rules, we are headed to Dawson Creek for a picture. Happy hour continued.
I’m sure you can relate when I say sometimes the wine tastes better and goes down easier and faster than other times. This evening everyone seems to be on the same page in this respect and a party happens.
The wine flowed as oldies music drifted over our camp. Everyone was having the best time, enjoying each others company, laughing, and singing as darkness fell around the campfire.
Up till this evening on the trip, our dog Buddy has been himself, easy going and quiet. Not much excites him save his Mommy coming home after months of absence, or a quick trip to the store.
He goes bonkers, jumping, yelping, running everywhere to find a toy to present to the person who has been absent for an hour. What a funny dog.
This night, passive Buddy must have taken exception to the group’s rendition of “Hey Jude” or some other well-known hit, I can’t remember which.
We were all belting out the song with perfect harmony when buddy, the quiet dog began howling at the top of his lungs.
Everyone stopped singing and roared with laughter. Buddy continued howling until eventually, we found the error of our ways and stopped singing. Soon Buddy stopped singing as well.
I guess it was time for the satellite radio, pretty poor singing when the dog is howling like a fire truck just went past.
I’m sure everyone climbed into bed that evening with a smile on their face. What a funny dog.