Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Moving On :: The Cassiar Highway

Monday, August 30th - - Cold temperatures with blue skies and sunshine greeted me as I left Watson Lake. It was 33 degrees when I woke up at 6:30 this morning. It had been a clear, dark sky last night and it was the first time I had seen the stars since leaving Montana over a month ago!

I had to backtrack about ten miles to get onto the Cassiar Highway (Route 37) and it wasn't long before I got into a combination of smoke and fog. The smoke was due to the forest fires that started a month or so ago and were still smoldering. The road had been closed to traffic for a couple of weeks.

Early morning sun streaming through the forest. Most of the trees near the road were not affected by the fire but there was a smoky haze and acrid smell that filled the air.

This section was particularly bad because the smoke was “enhanced” by fog from a nearby lake.

Less than an hour later, I was through the burned-out area and back in sunshine.

There isn't much in the way of “civilization” along the Cassiar Highway. It travels through 450 miles of wilderness, making its way through valleys and over mountains. Not much different than many of the other highways I've traveled thus far here in Canada and Alaska. But this seemed more remote. Perhaps it was my frame of mind or the fact that there were few other vehicles on the highway. Or maybe it was because of the wildlife I saw along the way. A multicolored fox with fur of brown and red and black and with a bushy tail as long as its body. And bears. Eight of them were seen, briefly, individually, in a 100-mile stretch of the highway.

About 350 miles into the drive I was looking for a place to spend the night. There was a road that branched off of Highway 37 and it looked intriguing. It was paved, only 40 miles long, and it went to two towns next to each other – Stewart in British Columbia and Hyder in Alaska. I made the turn at the junction and headed west...

The route from Skagway – north, then east, and finally south.

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