Posted by: cherylyoung | February 21, 2012

Day 22 DROVE B.C’S ALASKA HIGHWAY

 

Drive B.C’s Alaska Highway-

Those classic “I Survived the Alaska Highway” bumper stickers aren’t quite as meaningful since the roughest tracts were pave, but the romance and adventure of driving British Columbia’s most famous wilderness highway endures.

I have driven the highway four times once by motorcycle.  Along the route, I met a trapper who had been charged with stealing a dead horse.  I drank whiskey with a pilot who had survived 16 emergency landings. And I camped ou with the last members of the Kaska Dena bank still living a bush existence in the Northern Rockers.  For me, the only disappointment of the Alaska Highway are motorists in such a hurry to reach Alaska, they miss the fascinating details of Northern B.C.

In 1942, the U.S army led construction of the Alaska Highway –a.k.a Alcan Highway- anticipating the need for a northern transportation corridor after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941.

What started as a rough trail through the muskeg is now a more than 2,200 kilometre long paved highway that starts at Mile 0 in Dawson Creek, In B.C’s Peace River region.  It continues north to the oil-patch communities of Fort St. John and Fort nelson, then takes a dogleg west through the Northern Rockies, then heads northwest through southern Yukon to its official terminus at Delta Junction, Alaska.

The B.C portion along Highway 97 stretches almost 1,000 kilometres from Dawson Creek- home of the new Alaska Highway House museum- to the Yukon border near Watson Lake.  There, drivers have the option of continuing northwest to Alaska or heading south on Highway 37 through B.C’s Cassiar Mountains to the Gitxsan community of Kitwanga, then southeast on Highway 16 through the Bulkley Valley to Prince George.

Motorists are drawn to the Alaska Highway for wildlife and scenery, and nowhere are the rewards grater than in B.C’s Muskwa-kechika wilderness.  This 64,000 wquare-kilometrearea has such and astounding diversity of large mammals, it is sometimes call the Serengeti of the North.

The wildlife action heats up west of Fort Nelson as you enter the Northern Rockies at StoneMountain Provincial Park ..Look for caribou at the gravel mineral licks just past Summit Lake, and Stone sheep on the road and highway shoulders as you start to wind downhill beside a rock cliff.  The best place to see moose is a spot the locals call Reflection Lake, behind the gas station at Toad River Lodge.  Use binoculars to check for elk on the verdant south-facing slopes across the highway.

Farther north up the highway, don’t miss the Liard River Hot Springs. The pools are a soothing diversion, and this is a good area to observe wood bison.  Bear, too.  While the big bruins may be sighted anywhere along the Alaska Highway , campers are warned that bears are prevalent at  the Liard camping ground during berry season.

Some of the best hiking opportunities off the Alaska Highway are found within the provincial parks: from a short romp to Flower Springs Lake in Stone Mountain Park to a multi-day tripto the hoodoo studded Wokkpash Gorge in Northern Rocky Mountains Provincial Park  ..Take a week or stay a lifetime.  That is the magic and the allure of the Alaska Highway.

By larry Pynn

Info (www.milepost.com  www.northernbctravel.com   www.tourismnorthernrockies.ca  www.muskwa-kechika.com

Cheryl C Young,REALTOR

 

SAANICH PENINSULA REALTY

SIDNEY BC

www.cherylyoung.ca  www.facebook.com/cherylcyoung

www.twitter.com/CherylCYoung   cbythesea@shaw.ca

 
 
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