Well, not really tigers, or lions really (although we did see a cougar track) but plenty of bears! They are standing along the road like city folk lining up along the streets for a 4th of July parade. Mama bears, papa bear even baby bears are along our parade route eating grass in the road side ditches. Over the past couple of days I bet we have seen 2 dozen bears in the ditches. We slow down to take a look at them and many of them just continue munch away giving us the occasional glance. One even made us completely stop while he strolled across the road within feet of our truck. Another one made a false charge at our truck when I rolled down the window and huffed at it!
|This one was not happy with me!|
In addition to bear, in the past few days we have seen a couple of moose, lots of buffalo and stone sheep. They too have been in the roadside ditches but much more infrequently and camera shy when you slow down to get a better look. So much to see along the Alcan!
As we were approaching Fort Nelson, Barb read that the Visitors Center had a free dump station, fresh water and Wi-Fi. We had been conserving our water the past few days but now that we knew we could fill up in a couple hours….showers for everyone! So before pulling back onto the highway after we fished the last dugout before Fort Nelson we both took nice long showers. It’s not like we hadn’t taken showers in a while but knowing we were going to fill up, we had to take advantage of it.
Barb and I learned another valuable lesson on our trip between Fort St. John and Fort Nelson. Just because your Diesel Exhaust Fluid display says “OK” does not mean it will stay “OK” for the full 280 mile trip. We were about an hour into the trip when the display says “Diesel Exhaust Fluid 418 miles”. Now for those of you with a DEF system in your truck may have found these mileage displays are just about as accurate as the indicator on your black tank. Meaning if it says you have 418 miles to empty you have somewhere between 200 and 400 miles. As we drove I watched the DEF display count down the miles. Sometimes it would count down mile for mile while other times it would count down 3 or 4 miles for a mile driven. Needless to say, the pucker factor was in full force. I am happy to report that we made it to Fort Nelson with 198 miles to spare but rest assured we will never make that mistake again!
After arriving in town the first place we went was to Bumper to Bumper I bought 19 liters of DEF. Then to the Visitors Center where we dumped the tanks, filled up with fresh water and downloaded our emails. This was the first Visitors Center that we have stopped at that had water and a dump station. Next up drop Barb off at the laundromat while I went to fuel up the truck ($1.16/ltr) and top of the propane tanks. Mission accomplished I returned to see how Barb was doing. The clothes we almost ready to go into the dryer so Barb left me there to tend to the clothes while she ran to the grocery store.
There I was in the laundromat with a guy who turned out to be the owner. He says we were his first customers of the day (it was 3:30 when we arrived). So what do I talk to him about? “Any good fishing in the area?” He proceeds to give me the lowdown on several fishing hotspots along our route right down to his favorite grayling stream and his hot spot on Muncho Lake as well as which campsite has the best fishing from shore. Not on that, he tells me exactly what lure and fly to use at each spot! I should hang out at laundromats more often!Barb about fainted when she walked in and saw me folding clothes! Since it was already 5:30pm we decided to just drive an hour or so before we found a beautiful rest area at the summit of Steamboat Mountain. Barb put the laundry away (she probably refolded them) while I loosened the tie downs on the camper and readjusted it as it shifted back about 5” on these rough roads. After chores were done Barb made tacos and we watched the sunset over the mountains. It was that night and the following morning that we really started to notice how long the days were getting. Although it is only May 15th, it does not get dark until about 11:00 and the sun is lighting the horizon about 3:30 am, at 4:30 it is almost daylight! This will only continue to change as it gets closer to summer and we continue north.
|View from Steamboat Summit|
|Our spot for the night....|
|A little road construction along the way|
Continuing on Barb read about “The best cinnamon buns in the world” which was just a few miles up the road. We stopped at Testa River Outfitters and got one to split. While we were there I asked the woman behind the counter about fishing in the area. “Probably the best fishing in BC is right here, but you won’t catch any now, they don’t come to this part of the river until late June” I immediately think about that girl at the Visitors Center in Chetwynd….maybe she was right!So after leaving we decided to skip any more river fishing and head to Muncho Lake a day early. We stopped at a few scenic areas and had lunch along the Racing River along the way.
|Lunch with a view!|
|Summit Lake along 97|
|We propped the rods against the log and had a cocktail|
|This ones for you Pam!|
They had been there a little over a week and had caught a few but said it has been really slow the past few days. I set up our poles, we grabbed our chairs and books and waited for the fish to bite. The water here is so clear that you can see the bottom well over 20 feet. We could see fish swimming by but they were just not feeding….. Regardless, this is an absolutely beautiful campground and worth the stop even if you are not fishing.The following morning we woke up to a glass like surface on the lake with not a ripple of wind. We got out our Sea Eagle and went for a paddle around the lake.
|The water was like a mirror|
We could see fish cruising the shoreline and finally got one to bite! Soon the clouds moved in and raindrops started to hit the water. We pulled up our fishing lines and hit shore at our campsite right as we wind and rain really picked up. Time for a relaxing afternoon or reading and blog writing in the camper!
|Finally, a Lake Trout!|
Our next fishing adventure took us a couple miles up the road to Smith River Falls. This hotspot was given to us by a fisherman that Barb talked to at Inga Lake. He did not lead us astray as the falls were absolutely beautiful and the fishing was great! However, this adventure is not for everyone as there are challenging hills where you had to use rope to go down and climb back up from the fishing area. We had a great time and both caught a number of Artic Grayling a species neither of us had before.
|Smith River Falls|
|Barb's first ever Artic Grayling!|
|Headed back to the truck....|
Of course no trip to this area is complete without stopping by the Liard Hot Springs where we enjoyed an hour long dip in the pools that can be over 100 degrees depending on where you choose to soak. We tested the waters in the hotter sections and then relaxed a little further down the pool where it was cooler.
|A long boardwalk leads to the springs|
|Barb relaxing in the hot end of the pool|
The area between Fort Nelson and Watson Lake is filled with sightseeing and fishing adventures. Next we explore the Watson Lake area to see what fun that area has to offer!