Monthly Archives: August 2012

Oh, Canada: Part Two

The long, light-filled days of early August found us heading south toward the Lower 48 from Alaska.  Our southward journey would take us through the Yukon, British Columbia and Alberta.

Canadian Border heading south from Alaska

Our plan this time was to follow the Alaskan Highway through Whitehorse, take the Cassiar Highway (in lieu of the entire Alaskan Highway) stopping at a Provincial Park to kayak on our way to Stewart/Hyder and then head east stopping in Smithers continuing on to Alberta to visit Jasper and Banff National Parks.  As we had not completed the Canadian portion of our return trip, we posted earlier about Stewart/Hyder as that is a category all by itself!

The Yukon- with its pristine wilderness and nameless mountains.

Prior to arriving at Whitehorse, the Alaskan Highway took us through Haines Junction, an important stop for travelers for its many services (read fuel!). Haines Junction was established as a mountain village in 1942 as an Army barracks for the U. S. Corps of Engineers while building the Alaskan Highway.  Our Lady of the Way Catholic Mission is a local landmark as it has the distinction of being the most photographed church in the Yukon.  Built in 1943 by Father E. Morriset, the first Catholic priest in the area, Father Morriset converted an old quanset hut remaining from the Army’s construction of the highway, into a uniquely beautiful place of worship.

Our Lady of the Way Catholic Mission

One hundred miles south of Haines Junction found us in Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon with its vibrant culture filled history and traditional First Nation Cultural Centre.

Whitehorse Monument overlooking the city

First Nation Cultural Center, Whitehorse, YK

Artist in Residence creating a Totem Pole

John on the banks of the “Great River”, the Yukon

Whitehorse has the distinction of being our first “boondocking” at a Walmart!  There must have been at least 50 rv’s of every size and type the two days we were there. Here is the one that stood out to us as not only being the most unique but having traveled the furthest- it was shipped from Columbia, South America to Houston,TX by its owner and then driven to Whitehorse on their way to explore Canada and Alaska! Previously to this trip, the owner had explored Africa in her RV.

Fellow RV’er with her RV from Columbia, SA

Joy showing how BIG our neighbor’s RV was

Our next stop was Boya Provincial Park on the Cassiar Highway.  Joy got to celebrate her birthday with John kayaking on the stunning, blue lake.

Our View of Boya Lake

Boya Lake Provincial Park at Sunset

Joy enjoying Lake Boya

What a cool way to spend a birthday!

After several fun-filled days at Boya Provincial Park, we wandered to Stewart/Hyder for 3 days about which we have previously blogged. From “Bearville” we stopped over in the charming ski village of Smithers and then traveled on to Jasper and Banff National Parks. Jasper and Banff National Parks are spectacular for their scenery and animals.  Our brief visit only touched the surface.  These Parks are on our “must return” list.  Words cannot describe how exciting it was to be within feet of such wonderful wildlife.

John making friends with an Elk

A Magnificent Elk

Big Horn Sheep surveying his domain

Mountain Goat

Showdown at Jasper National Park: this round goes to the Big Horn Sheep

Big Horn Sheep

“Lake Louise, Banff National Park”

“Lake Louise, Banff National Park”

Celebrating a special Canadian Holiday!

 

 

Categories: Airstream, Alaska, bear viewing, British Columbia, National Park, wildlife, Yukon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bearville aka Stewart-Hyder

If you ever watched “Northern Exposure” on the television, you will have a good idea what Stewart, BC (poputation: 699) and Hyder, AK (population: 100) are like. Located at the head of the Portland Canal on the Alaska-British Columbia border, this twin town offers views of Bear Glacier, Salmon Glacier and the best bear viewing ever at the Fish Creek Wildlife viewing area operated by the U.S. Forest Service . We were able to get a fantastic view of Bear Glacier along Highway 37A; however, due to the dense cloud cover we were not able to see Salmon Glacier from its summit- which, along with the warm welcome by the residents of both towns, gives us added incentive to return!Camp Run-A Muck RV Park was the Silver Manatee’s base camp while staying in Stewart-Hyder and was located only 3 miles from the Wildlife Viewing Area.  Each morning we would get up at 5 a.m. so we would be there for the 6 a.m. opening of the viewing platform.  Along with about 20 other inveterate animal lovers, we stood single file on the platform patiently waiting for the bears.  We were not disappointed.  There in the early morning mist, the Grizzly bears would take their turns feasting on the salmon. One morning we were even treated to viewing two wolves taking their turn fishing.  And, as if to say farewell, a wonderful black bear was on the side of Highway 37-A as we were leaving Stewart-Hyder for Jasper & Banff.

Categories: Airstream, Alaska, British Columbia, travel in the Northwest, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Great View of “The Great One”- Denali: Talkeetna, AK

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The historic town of Talkeetna is nestled at the base of North America’s tallest peak, Mt. McKinley- also known as Denali, meaning “The Great One”. Talkeetna also has an outstanding panoramic view of the Alaska Range that can be enjoyed and photographed from several places as you wander through the town. This fortunate location with its breathtaking views of Denali and the Alaskan Range combined with the colorful, quaint town and the mystique of the mountain climbing community explains its enormous popularity.

Talkeetna is the jumping off point for the majority of climbing expeditions to Denali.  The Denali National Park Rangers present an outstanding program on preparing and climbing Denali.  We were fascinated by the presentation and left in awe of such an undertaking. The ranger related that most expeditions fly to the Kahiltna Glacier at about 7200 ft. to begin their climb to the summit of the South Peak at 20,320 ft.  The climb itself takes approximately 3 weeks and only 2 or 3 days to descend! Each year, 9-12 climbers on average lose their lives on this majestic mountain.  The day of our talk, the rangers aboard a helicopter were rescuing 3 Danish climbers who had become injured from an avalanche.

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Talkeetna has the last flag-stop train in Alaska, called the Hurricane Turn.  This train runs between the Talkeetna depot and Hurricane.  People who live in the Bush, as well as hunters, hikers, fishermen and tourists use this 115 mile train which runs parallel to the Susitna River. Our ride on the Hurricane Turn afforded us the opportunity to meet and to talk with true locals that use this train for their everyday life.  One woman uses the train on week-ends to go to her cabin that has been in her family for many years and after she “jumped” off of the train she was going to hike 4 or 5 miles and then inflate her kayak and go down the river the remaining 5 miles to her cabin!  Helping her with her gear was a man that was her “neighbor”- meaning they would hike the first 5 miles together and then he would split off and hike to his cabin while she kayaked to hers! The train also gave us our best view of Denali as we were blessed with a clear, sunny day. The conductor stopped the train for everyone to get their photos and we were told this was the first day this season that all of Denali was visible and that it only happens about every 3 weeks in the summer; as all of the locals were also taking photos it must have been true.   This was a truly interesting train trip and was a great way to end our stay in Talkeetna.

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Categories: Airstream, Alaska, hiking, National Park | 2 Comments

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