Gotta say that in general I’m not a huge fan of the Yukon. The scenery is pretty repetitive, the roads are
pretty really bad, and everything is crazy expensive. Still, you can’t get to or from Alaska without going through there, so we are trying to make the best of it. This trip is going much better than the way up though. Partially because the road is getting better the farther south we go, partly because we have an itinerary that is realistic to the driving conditions, and partly just because we did it before. We are also getting the chance to see the things we missed on the way up. I made some notes in the Milepost book and we are getting to stop at these places. The first stop was the Teslin Tlinglit Heritage Centre. The totems outside were really cool, but they wanted $5 per person to see the small museum and for some reason I wasn’t that into it. Still, I liked the totems, but be careful if you pull a big rig in here because it’s not that big of a parking lot.
Rancheria Falls, our next stop, was much better though. I saw this on the way up and the Milepost said it was a short 10 minute walk to the falls. Again, be careful of the parking lot with big rigs if it’s packed, but we got in fine because no one was there. I grabbed my bear horn and we walked on that path, and not that far in saw a pile of poop. It was pretty fresh, and we were both very aware that we were in the middle of the Yukon. We then had a conversation about the fact we should have bought bear spray at some point (probably not the best time to talk about that) and then I sang a little Bear Necessities from the Jungle Book. I felt better as soon as I stepped on the boardwalk, but Lee did have a valid point that it probably would not have stopped the bear. Still the falls were pretty (there are two) and it was nice to stretch our legs a bit.
That was the high point of the day though, because when we reached the Baby Nugget RV park we discovered that the gift shop was closed and the 50 amp, “wifi at site” section was closed as well. I was pretty ticked off as that is the reason I chose that park. The sites in the older section were nice though, it’s just a shame we had to come at the end of their season. I wasn’t a fan of their agressive signage though…tons and tons of rules, and the fact that they won’t accept trash unless you separate it is just ridiculous. It turned out OK though, because staying here did lead to the the start of the most prolific animal sighting day we have ever had. We saw 7 different types of mammals all in one day, and it started with Lee’s morning encounter with a fox. He woke up early and walked up towards the wifi hot spot. It was still really dark, but he saw a flicker of movement and something white out of the corner of his eye, and when he turned on his phone flashlight he saw a fox, within a foot or so, just walking along with him. Now this fox was very curious about Lee, and followed him back to our camper, staying just a few feet behind. When Lee got inside, the fox actually laid in front of our steps and let Lee shine a flashlight on him and take this picture!! He was there just hanging out with Lee for about 15 minutes before he finally wandered off. Do you think someone has been feeding him this summer?
I didn’t get to see him, but that was OK, since the first animal we saw that day was another fox down the road a bit! We stopped and Lee got this excellent picture of the second one while it ran alongside the truck.
Next we stopped at Watson Lake and saw the sign forest. This doesn’t look that great from the road, but I wanted to see it, and we were both pleasantly surprised. It’s huge, and growing, for one thing, but the signs are also really cool. We carry three license plates from New Hampshire in the rig and talked about leaving one, but just couldn’t give them up. Next time though we will definitely come prepared.
After Watson Lake we started to see bison on the road. We saw several singles and some groups and one big herd that was actually in the road. They are pretty easy to see from far away, but I can definitely understand how this could be a major hazard at night. These are wild, so sighting number 2!
After that we switched drivers because I was bound and determined to conquer these roads. On the way in I didn’t drive for 2 days because I was too scared, but this time I was ready. Almost immediately there was a 9% grade, but I pulled over before going down, thought about it, and did it. It went really well, because it was pretty straight, but I still felt good. We took turns throughout the day though, and between stopping for animals, slowing down for curvy roads, and a couple of pilot car situations, it was a very long driving day. The very worst I drove was a really scary section with steep grades, two rollover warnings, and tons of twists and turns. Luckily that entire section was under construction and I did it following a pilot car. Never been so glad to see a pilot car in my life!! The area from Muncho Lake to Sheep Mountain is really beautiful, but does require some careful driving. Going over Steamboat Mountain was really tough and I am very glad Lee had those two 8% curvy grades. They were crazy. Totally worth it though, because here’s what we saw.
Finally we made it to Testa River Lodge and I was super excited about staying here. They have an awesome bakery and we passed through one morning on our way north and it was in a beautiful spot. Unfortunately I missed somehow that they only had 15 amp and since our furnace is still broken and it gets below freezing at night there we just couldn’t make that work. So we headed off down the road another 35 miles into Fort Nelson to stay at Triple G Hideaway which does have 30 amp and decent wifi, hence the post. Plus Lee had to drive over Steamboat Mountain, but he said we was OK so we kept on going. The views (which we missed last time due to snow and fog) were pretty from the top and it’s a good policy to do a brake check there anyways.
Still I was a little bummed, but the universe smiled. I saw a brown spot on the side of the road, and it was……..a grizzly bear!! A really big one and pretty close, but the angle wasn’t great, still I did the best I could to get a decent shot. There was no mention on my part of getting out this time. Animal #6!!!
The Lee got a HUGE black bear on his side, and that made #7! Fox, Sheep, Bison, Wolf, Caribou, Grizzly, and Black Bear. What a special day and I am sure it will be awhile before we beat this record, but stay tuned and we will see what happens next.
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