Traveling in a camper compels one to feel closer to nature and the elements, maybe too close. A grunt in the night, the howls of a distant coyote pack or the screech of a mountain lion can bolt a person out of a peaceful slumber.
Even the sound of rain falling on the roof can disrupt a peaceful sleep like my night at Snag Junction. Rain pounding on the camper roof woke me often. During my semi-conscious state in my cozy bed I dreamed of the Klondike gold rush and the hardships the gold seekers endured.
Living in tents, even through the winter. Sleeping on the ground or cot, cooking who knows what over an open fire. Cold, wet, frostbite and sickness was the plight of the gold seekers.
The fast growing heavily populated Dawson City could not keep up with infrastructure causing overloaded systems, sewage backups and shortages of unpolluted drinking water.
The Canadian government established regulations to help unprepared miners stave off starvation. Each minor was required to pack enough food for a year. Together with mining equipment each one needed to packed more than 2000 lbs of supplies making several trips over mountain passes usually on foot.
As I lay in my cozy bed the thought of what those poor souls would give for the luxury of my simple accommodation. My camper, simple accommodations to us but pure luxury back in the gold rush days.
With morning came more rain, it persisted during our departure preparations. Fortunately, not much to pack up after one night’s stay. Just stowing our camp chairs, raising the camper stabilizing jacks and packing up the remaining firewood.
A quick breakfast of toast pulling out of camp by 9 am, our usual departure time. Today our destination was Whitehorse via the Alaska highway. Returning to Whitehorse after a week’s travel through the north.
As we drove out of Snag Junction campground Lynda and I were surprised to see the campground had filled up during the night. I guess traveling season is not quite finished yet, we were not the only RVer who decided to travel the north during the early fall.
Intermittent rain during the morning made for muddy conditions through the several road construction sections. The drive from Snag Junction to White horse took all day even though the distance was just over 300 kilometers. The road construction slowed our progress.
We descended from high country tundra back to rolling hills of stunted sub-alpine fir trees. Rain subsided during the afternoon, clouds and sun made for a pleasant drive past pristine lakes and rivers.
By the time we hit the outskirts of Whitehorse it was time to refuel, diesel $1.07 per liter. Henry’s gas buddy app worked well, most of the time pointing out the best fuel prices. After our experience in Dawson we knew to check local fuel prices as they vary considerably in the north.
The farther you venture from a major center the higher the price of everything, not just fuel.
Back in Whitehorse we arrived at High Country RV Park around 3:30 pm in the rain. The same park we stayed at on our way north. A good place to stay, close to town, reasonable rates ($21 dry camping) and the necessary amenities, I think the free showers were the main attraction.
Henry and Allyson arrived an hour after the rest of us, they detoured a few kilometers up the Klondike highway to pick up their boat.
After Henry and Allyson arrived, off to town for groceries and re-stock the wine cabinet. Ralph uncoupled his truck for the trip to town. We dropped the women at the grocery store and headed to the liquor store, the most important stop.
It was Friday and the liquor store was packed, lucky we didn’t arrive later or maybe no wine for us, the wine shelves were emptying fast. Another peculiarity of the north, running out of the necessities. I was wondering at the time if food shortage is a problem?
The shopping trip was short, less than an hour by the time we arrived back at camp. The rain subsided for the evening allowing for a pleasant happy hour and dinner. The cold damp weather brought us close to the campfire, thank goodness for the warmth.
After dinner, Allyson checked our route weather, thankfully improvement was on the way. We have endured our share of rain this trip. At times I think it wasn’t the greatest idea traveling to Alaska in the fall.
That evening some of the group took advantage of the free showers. Our next chance for shower would be Laird Hot Springs, a two day’s drive south east.
Rain returned during the night, pounding the camper roof and waking me several times.
Day 19 – Big Creek Government Campground
Allyson’s forecast was right, the morning brought brighter skies, 7 C, and go figure, no rain. Before leaving Whitehorse, some chores needed attention, dump our holding tanks, replenish our fresh water.
Checking wheel lugs, tire condition and pressure have become a regular routine for the drivers after a couple of mishaps last trip. I lost a wheel and experienced a blowout.
I learned the hard way, tires are important, it isn’t wise to push for one extra trip on worn tires, especially when carrying a load. Wheel lugs are just as important and require a periodic check. Rust build up can cause a rim to work loose, traveling on gravel roads can increase the problem.
On the way out of town we stopped for propane and air to top up our tires. Then off to Big Creek government campground, a 4-hour drive southeast on the Alaska highway.
Yesterday’s rain left a fresh blanket of white on the mountain tops. A beautiful sight against flawless deep blue skies, not the grey blue pollution we are accustomed to in the southern cities.
Glad we are heading south! With any luck we will finish the trip without encountering snow.
Although the weather deteriorated a bit, it was much improved from the previous day, periods of sun, clouds and the occasional shower.
Traffic was light, through the rolling forest covered hills of the south Yukon, in fact since we hit the Alaska highway a couple of days ago I’ve been surprised at the lack of traffic.
We arrived at Big Creek campground about 2:30 pm under sunny skies. No other campers were present as seems to be the trend when we stop early afternoon. A large spot next to big creek was our choice, all three rigs could fit.
A beautiful camp spot high above the swift running Big Creek surrounded by tall evergreens, one of the nicest of our trip and another Yukon government campground so guess what, free firewood. This campground, however, had plenty of payment envelops so needless to say skipping payment was not an option for the women, like Snag Junction.
Yukon government campground’s water source is normally a drilled well topped with a hand operated water pump, the kind from the wild west movies. The unusual aspect of this was not the pumps but each of them in each campground had a boil water sign attached.
I thought this strange as usually ground water is the safest water, and usually does not require chlorination. It must be a precautionary procedure; maybe regular water testing is not available or testing is finished for the season.
The central firewood storage spot was pretty much empty. End of the season, I guess. The group fanned out across the campground to gather remnants carrying what firewood we could find back to camp.
I grabbed the axe from my trailer and began splitting firewood, the exercise felt good after the day’s drive.
At home near Princeton, BC one of my chores is restocking our firewood reserves for the winter. Our house is heated entirely with wood, we do have electric heat, but never use it, firewood is almost free.
I split firewood the old fashion way, with a splitting maul and brute strength, LOL . A great full body workout.
We built our usual evening fire in the fire ring situated too close to the 30ft bank dropping to the cold waters of Big Creek. The fire ring was so close to the bank a person could have as issue carrying their wine glass between the ring and the bank if the campfire was hot or not. Sometimes you got to wonder about the thought process or lack of that goes into building government campgrounds.
The Campfire sing-a-long.
Almost a year ago during our group’s last trip campfire sing-a-longs became a regular occurrence, although no one could remember the words to a complete song. Funny at times but also frustrating.
This trip I brought a solution, a satellite radio receiver attached to a speaker system. Sing-a-longs were more fun creating another dimension to our evenings.
Once the idea came to me there was a complication, how to power the system. Batteries were the first option, but 8 ‘D’ cell batteries are pricey especially when a couple of evenings was their limit. The cost of batteries for a five week trip would be too costly.
A power inverter (inverter changes 12 volt DC to 110 AC) connected to the camper battery with alligator clamps was the perfect solution. It powered the satellite system via an extension cord. This set up worked flawlessly for the entire trip and the fact the camper battery recharged while driving, made for a perfect solution.
Every night the group enjoyed music around the campfire, singing and sometimes dancing to the golden oldies. The fifties was Allyson’s favorite although she is the baby of the group, just 50.
On special evenings, the group enjoyed a special treat, different mixtures of liquors, “shooter time”, Lois loves to proclaim.
I’m still in a fog as to what makes the evenings special, is it because the sun went down? The campfire is burning or is it because it’s raining or not?
The afternoon and evening at big creek were perfect, clear skies and a slight chill in the air made for a pleasant evening around the roaring campfire. The campfire light was all that pierced the darkness.