This trip that we have set out on, is promoted as the Deh Cho Connection – a circle tour encompassing Dawson Creek B.C., Fort Nelson B.C., the N. W. T. and northern Alberta to Grande Prairie…IF you are planning on doing this trip – do your self a favour and begin your trip in Alberta, crossing the 60th parallel in Northern Alberta – don’t do it the other way round like we did – the reason being that all the guidebooks and maps expect you to start in Alberta and are laid out that way, so by doing the trip in reverse you are constantly going backwards to all the information…..it makes for a lot of scrabbling in the guide books…
Come morning, we, and every other RV in the place, hit the Alaska Highway….only two of us would turn off a short distance from this spot…
onto the Liard Highway….a fairly narrow but paved road..
This little lake was the site of a rest area….you can just see the top of one of our units in the first picture.
The first (and actually, only) nail biter part of the trip is this…
one lane, very wavy, with no sides, wooden bridge over the Nelson River. It is, apparently, the longest Acrow (or Baily) bridge in the world. We were already safely on the other side when this unit was coming across….another intrepid northern traveler, actually on their way to Alaska but had decided to run up this relatively short stretch of highway, into the territories, so they could mark that off as another place visited.
this was about as far onto the bridge as I could venture….that is the Nelson River down there, a pretty hefty sized river in it’s own right…and very much in flood.
This sign was at the turn out beside the river….note the bullet holes – we were still in B.C. (sadly)…you don’t see that sort of stuff when you get further north…I don’t know if they replace the signs frequently or people are just better behaved…..
back on the highway again, headed north….it is flat up there….
didn’t take long to spot the first Wood Bison or Buffalo at the side of the road. There were actually several in this particular spot – quite a thrill to see these guys out in the wild….
another bridge….this one a little sturdier looking than the first one…this one is over the Petitot River bridge…the Milepost says this is a good birding area, it certainly had a good population of Cliff Swallows as there were nests lining the bridge from one end to the other.
this view, taken from a bit further back, shows the road and the river itself. This bridge is only a kilometre or so from the 60th parallel that forms the border with B.C. and the N.W.T.
and here we are! That is Ernie forming the border ‘cause there wasn’t much of anything else remarking it….(it’s different at the Alberta entrance as you’ll see when we are on the return trip).
There was, at least, a sign….you’ll note the dogs are a bit different then you’ve been seeing….April the Shih Tzu is the same, but this trip was before Shantz time….that little brown guy was my Brussels' Griffon “Willie” who passed a year and a bit after this trip….my little ‘shadow’ and dearly missed.
the road now changed from a ‘highway’ to a ‘trail’ and the pavement was left behind in B.C., it was now gravel, but very well maintained, smooth gravel…our destination now was Fort Liard and the Hay Lake Campground, only about 30 km from the border.
and here we are….this is a small, informal, but free campground on the shores of Hay Lake. As you can see it was sunny and warm and bug free – well right then anyway….
We took the canoe out on the lake and discovered that we were definitely in the breeding area for Horned Grebes…
and Surf Scoters – I guess I knew these guys, that I associate with the ocean, bred on ‘interior lakes’, but reading something in a book and seeing it in person are two different things..
We were surprised to see Eastern Kingbirds here as well.
Eventually, even though it wasn’t any where nears dark, we headed to bed. It was still very warm so left the windows of the trailer open (they were screened after all)….well at some point woke up and realized the trailer was full of mosquitoes! They were everywhere! Didn’t have one of those handy electronic bats in those days so spent a good while whacking them the old fashioned way until finally giving up, pulling the sheet right over our heads and waiting for morning….that is where we learned that N. W. T. Mosquitoes can squeeze right through window screens…from there on in…the windows were kept closed! The mesh under the vents was finer and they couldn’t get through that, but they spent a lot of time bouncing off it in the attempt!