Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Yukon Trip 2009 - Day 11 Part 2 - Kondike Highway

It was one o'clock in the afternoon when we finally reached the junction of highway 2 (the Klondike) and the Alaska highway, and headed towards the north once more. The out skirts of Whitehorse along this route consisted of farms and ranches and even a rodeo grounds. Just 32 km up the road we came to the turn off to Lake Laberge Campground. Anyone who has read Robert Service's 'Cremation of Sam McGee' has heard of Lake Laberge - so we, of course, had to go and take a look. This is Lake Laberge, looking northwards. The campsite itself was quite small, hot, dusty, and very busy. I think there was a school class there or something. All in all, not an inviting place, especially this early in the afternoon. It didn't help that there were 'cottages' all along the road into the campground and around the campground itself. We prefer a bit more in the way of 'wilderness'....
This view was looking south, back towards the city of Whitehorse. I don't know what those little yellow flowers were....it was so hot and also buggy that I didn't take the time to investigate. Back into the air conditioned truck and on the road.

Another 10 or 12 kilometers and we came to Fox Lake.....there is actually a Fox Creek, a Fox Lake and a Little Fox Lake. By now we were back into wilderness. We checked out the campground on Fox Lake, which in all honesty I can't even remember....and decided to continue on. Fox Lake was the scene of a huge forest fire a few years back, and on our return trip we spent more time, so will report on that later on.

Next stop of interest was at the 100 km mark, Conglomerate Mountain, where there were signs explaining about how a leading edge of volcanic mud, approx. 185 million years ago, formed this 'pudding stone' that stretches right down into Atlin B.C.

I guess I have to include this picture that Ernie took.....accept it as proof I was actually on the trip.

I call this 'Graffiti Yukon style'.....this was the only graffiti we encountered....if you can call this work of art 'graffiti'

Ever since turning onto this highway we had been enchanted by the wildflowers that lined the road on both sides. Closer to the southern end had been those blue Jacob's Ladders that I've posted pictures of a number of times already, often, the bright yellow of dandelions offset the blue. At the above rest area, I saw these pink Cut-leaf anemones........

but most spectacular of all was where this plant lined the roadways. I think it's proper name is 'Northern Hedysaarum' but it is also called 'Liquorice-root' or 'Bear Root'. Not only is it spectacular to look at but it smells heavenly with a scent very similar to a Sweet Pea.

another view of this roadside plant - showing the highway too so you can see it is just a nice normal two lane road.

This was another spot of typical, spectacular scenery. 115 km from the junction we came to Twin Lakes campground. So named, of course, because there were 'twin' lakes, one on either side of the highway, and we pulled in here to spend the night.

This was the view from our campsite. Those seed heads would be what remains of the purple Pasque flowers, their blooming long since finished.
Now this is for all of you who thought we were crazy going where we were going and that we were going to freeze to death. Twin Lakes is situated about 1/3 of the way between Whitehorse and Dawson City....at 7 pm when I was writing in my journal it was still 30 degrees. Ernie had taken Shantz down to the lake to cool off and April and I had the blinds pulled and were hiding under the 'fantastic' fan. The only thing that was happy was our solar panel which was sucking in more power than we'd ever seen!

another view of one of the 'Twin Lakes' I had planned to walk down to the road to get a picture of the other lake but it was too darn hot.

This Red Squirrel was about the only creature out and about.

When Ernie came back to the camper he told me to get my camera because there were shorebirds down there....so grabbed the camera and ventured out, by this time it had dropped a degree or two. I had to walk along the shoreline, which was pretty narrow, and was taking pictures directly into the lowering sun....it is still a kind of neat shot. There were Spotted Sandpiper (of course!), Greater Yellow legs and Solitary Sandpiper. I should mention that we also saw Black-billed Magpie at this campsite, which shocked me at first until I checked my book, and yes, they are expected to be there.

the only reason I've posted the above is to show all the bugs that I had to work my way through to see the shorebirds. They weren't mosquitoes. I don't know what they were, but there were lots! They were only along the shoreline thank goodness.

The above picture was taken at 1 am. It was 21 degrees. At about 11:30 pm Loons started calling from all over the place and this continued until about 1, for a brief period, just before 1 am Swainson's Thrush (and probably some other types as well) started calling and calling....the ONLY time we heard them there......then all was quiet for a couple of hours until 3 am when birds started singing all over the place as the sun started coming back up. You've probably gathered that we didn't get a whole lot of sleep that night!
I want to toss this in here because I found it interesting then and it sort of sets the stage for the next while. A rental motorhome came in to the site beside us and Ernie, of course, was talking to them. They were German, which most of the tourists up there were, once you get off of the Alaska Hwy, where the majority were Americans. Ernie said we were heading up the Dempster....now when we told people this back home, we got a lot of blank looks - seems many Canadians have never heard of the Dempster highway. These people from Germany knew all about it, in fact said that back home, in Germany, they had two lots of friends that had driven the Dempster....one lot said it was the most boring drive they had ever done in their life and the other loved it so much that they have driven it 6 times!!! Now think about that - people from Europe have come over here, at least 6 times, to drive a highway that very few of us that live here have driven or even knows exists!
Campground fee: $12.00 Total distance traveled to date: 2,726 km.


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