We left Whitehorse Monday morning under clear skies and bright sunshine, hopefully, we’re in for a stretch of good weather. The last couple of days have been great, sunshine and pleasant temperatures, but fall is approaching the north, the seasons seem to be a month ahead of southern BC.
The plan was to drop Henry’s boat at Allyson’s relatives just north of Whitehorse rather than drag it to Alaska and back. We weren’t planning on fishing until our return to BC. As most fishermen know fishing outside your home province or state is expensive, besides, the sooner we see what we have come to see and start the trek south the better.
We’d been warned snowfall is a good possibility in September and there is definitely a feeling of fall in the air, rain is bad enough but snow is definitely not welcome.
Refueling at a no-name gas bar on the outskirts of Whitehorse was the cheapest according to Henry’s “Gas Buddy” app. $1.12 per liter. Multiply by 4 to figure the cost per US gal, of course, there is the complication of the exchange rate. At the time of our trip, the greenback was worth about $0.25 cents more than the loonie. Good luck figuring how much per US gal. it’s about $3.36 US per gal……., I think?
We drove north from Whitehorse about 5 kms. then right to the Klondike Highway towards Dawson. I took over the lead while Henry and Allyson dropped off their boat. We headed north until we found a spot to stop and wait for them. Our group always sticks together on the road, our walkie-talkies have a range of about a kilometer and sometimes not even that depending on the terrain.
Henry leads most of the time, I’m second and of course Ralph last. The thought was I would keep an eye on Henry’s boat trailer and Ralph would watch my utility trailer. …………..Hmm………..I just realized, while writing this, Ralph has the most expensive trailer (5th wheel) and no one is watching it, go figure, the older we get the smarter we become……….right.
Our original plan was to spend the night at Tatchun Creek Campground near 5 Finger Rapids Historic Site, but we arrived at noon and decided it was too early to stop. The map showed another government campground, Moose Creek a couple of hours further north, we made it our new destination for the day.
The Klondike Highway is a decent road, except for sections of potholes and patches of gravel several kilometers long. Some of the potholes are deep enough to raise havoc with a vehicle’s suspension if hit at full speed. Strange to see so many potholes on a paved highway?
The drive north took us through low aspen covered low mountains ablaze with fall colors. Bright mustard yellows and rusty reds contrasted by emerald green groves of fir trees. If not for the spectacular colors this section of the drive would be quite ordinary.
Since entering the Yukon forest fire devastation is very apparent. Signs posted along the highways displaying dates of forest fires as well as barren hills and stark gray stands of burnt trees. It seems forest in the Yukon are allowed to burn, unlike most other areas in North America.I’m not sure the reason, maybe financial. With the population of the Yukon less than 40 thousand people maybe there isn’t the money to fight forest fires?
Five fingers viewpoint was one of two scenic stops that day, a historic Yukon river hazard. Paddle wheelers, on their way to the Dawson gold fields, were required to navigate this treacherous section of the Yukon River. Five huge rocks projecting from the river bottom narrowing the river channel and increasing the current speed. The plaques at the viewpoint stated the eroding river caused this phenomenon.
The current was too strong for the paddle wheeler’s to push through unassisted. A 1” cable 1500 ft’ long was attached to the shore, the paddle wheeler’s crew used the cable to winch their vessel through the narrow channel.
Unfortunately, the vantage point of this historic river hazard is not the greatest, although a closer look is possible by climbing down several hundred steps and trekking along a 1 km trail. Our group was not up to the task but the parking lot was a good place to stop for a break and lunch.
High clouds drifted over as we continued our journey to Moose Creek campground.
During the afternoon drive, Lynda read articles about the Yukon from brochures she had picked up in Whitehorse. Lynda is constantly on the lookout for literature describing points of interests and the history of an area. Among the information was the name of the fir trees that dominate the countryside, ‘sub-alpine fir’, Yukon’s official tree. She also read Yukon’s official bird is the Raven and the official flower is fireweed.
We have not noticed Ravens yet and apparently the fireweed is more noticeable when blooming, in the spring I’m thinking.
Moose Creek Yukon Government Campground.
We arrived mid afternoon to a large campground tucked in a deciduous forest with campsites resembling those in BC, large raised gravel parking areas and plenty of space between sites. A good spot to stop for the night, far enough from the highway to allow for a good nights sleep, as well a bonus, free firewood, and hiking trails.
The women registered us at the self-serve registration booth while us men readied our units for the night, lit a campfire and set camp chairs around the fire. As soon as we arrived it was obvious we had not escaped the Yukon hordes of pests. The giant no-see-ums we had encountered in Whitehorse must have followed us???
Lynda brought out lavender oil, it’s supposed to repel bugs. She applied the oil to her exposed skin, it seemed to help somewhat. We took turns applying the pleasant smelling stuff. Hopefully, the pests will retreat at dark as they did in Whitehorse.
This was our first stay at a Yukon Government campground, the $12 per night fee and free firewood made this a perfect stop for Rvers. While packing firewood from the centralized covered shelter we noticed a sign stating not to take firewood out of the park, it was tagged and could be traced.
We thought this funny the Yukon Government would go to such lengths to guard its firewood. Needless to say, we made sure not to accidentally take any left-over wood with us, although we had the largest fire of our trip and we definitely got our $12. worth.
Traveling through BC and the Yukon one should never need to buy firewood if you are somewhat handy, have an axe, chainsaw or handsaw and a spot in your rig to store it, save your money and get some exercise. The northwest forests are full of dead wood, of course, this is the preference. Green wood doesn’t burn well and in most areas cutting live trees is against the law.
Once camp was set there was still time to hit the trail to the river. Henry, Ralph and I headed out making enough noise as to not startle any bears that may be in the area. The weather was perfect, the sun shone warming the air making for a pleasant hike through the forest.
I was immediately impressed by the many varieties of wild mushrooms on the forest floor, more shapes, sizes, and colors than I can recall seeing. We followed the 1 km. circle route to the Stewart River and back to camp along Moose Creek.
The three of were itching to drop a line in this crystal clear creek and probably if we stayed for more than overnight it would have happened.
After our walk, it was time for the campfire and happy hour. Someone produced a box of wine, on this trip the group decided each couple would take a turn supplying the evening wine. The theory was we could sample different wines, but it seems we all have the same refined pallet, cheap boxed wine (affectionately referred to as cardboardnet).
The group settled in for a recap of the day’s travel. Talk often begins about some inconsiderate driver holding us up or passing dangerously. A visit from a Whiskey Jack (grey jay) made this happy hour special. These birds are very tame and seem to know that where there are humans there is food. Whiskey Jacks can be found throughout BC and the Yukon.
The group had a great time feeding the bird as it landed on our hands to grab a couple of shelled peanuts, a great evening’s entertainment. We were also fortunate to have a visit from a large rabbit that was showing signs of the winter snow. It’s ears and feet had turned white, a weird contrast to it’s dark grey-brown body. Too bad we couldn’t get a picture.
Occasional overnight showers falling on the roof of the camper makes one feel cozy. We woke to a pleasant 9 C (50f) the men cooked a community breakfast of bacon, eggs, fried potatoes and beans. The pork & beans was an interesting addition. The only problem was the creation of gas later in the cab of our truck and its chill with the window down.
A quick clean up and off to Dawson. My next article Dawson City, the heart of the Klondike gold rush.