Friday, September 02, 2011

Day 12: Alaska Highway from Charlie Lake, BC to Toad River, BC

It was pretty foggy when we woke up on the morning of August 19, 2007, our 12th day of travel; so we weren't in a big hurry to leave our campground at Charlie Lake.

100_0163-Alaska Hwy at DC 176
Not much (read "any") traffic on the Alaska Highway

The Alaska Highway was constructed during World War II for the purpose of connecting the contiguous United States (the Lower 48) to Alaska through Canada. The main purpose of building the Alaska Highway was the defense and resupply of the “Alaska Skyway,” a string of World War II airfields that dotted the Alaskan coast. A high priority was to build the road in as short as one season, to avoid winter conditions. Canada agreed to allow construction of the highway, as long as the United States bore the full cost and the road and other facilities in Canada be turned over to Canadian authority after the war ended.

The official start of construction took place on March 8, 1942, near Mile 0 at Dawson Creek, BC. As the winter weather faded away, crews were able to work from both the northern and southern ends. They were spurred on by reports of Japanese invasions of the Aleutian islands of Kiska and Attu in June. On September 24, 1942, crews from both directions met at Mile 588 at what became known as Contact Creek, at the border between British Columbia and Yukon. The entire route of 1,390 miles (2,237 km) was completed on October 28, 1942, less than eight months after it was begun.

Much of our drive on this, our first full day of travel on the Alaska Highway, was through forest. We didn't get into mountains again until after Fort Nelson. We had thought about staying the night there, but I had found a listing for what looked like a good campground in the Tetsa River area, about 75 miles further along. We figured we could make it there by about 5:00 p.m., so we pushed on. The scenery on that leg of the journey was breathtaking.

Just outside of Fort Nelson, we saw a black bear with two cubs. Later, near Stone Mountain, we saw a stone sheep. That's not a sheep made of stone, but a living, breathing animal called a stone sheep. Unfortunately, the only picture I was able to catch was of the south end of the northbound sheep, so I'll refrain from posting that one.

100_0165-Mama Bear and 2 Cubs West of Ft Nelson
Bear and cubs along Alaska Highway

Sorry about the quality of the picture. My driver doesn't believe in lengthy stops along the highway. All that traffic, you know.

Other sightings included a glimpse of what we think was a coyote, several hawks, a few deer, and a dead moose, apparently killed in a collision with a vehicle. There are no winners in a collision like that.

By the time we reached the Tetsa River Campground, Doug was feeling pretty weary. But we learned that their sites had only 15 amp power. We thought we should have 30 amps to run the heater, Doug's breathing machine, and microwave, so we headed down the road for the next campground, 50 miles away at Toad River. The drive was beautiful, although rain was falling for most of the way.

Toad River Campground was just what Doug needed after his long and longer day of driving. It was very remote and very peaceful, surrounded by mountains and beside a small lake. From our campsite, we could watch ducks and a beaver swimming in the lake, as well as a very large moose wading and foraging in the water.

100_0178-Toad River Lodge & RV Park

100_0177-Toad River Lodge & RV Park

We just hooked up electric that night, no water or sewer. Doug even managed to park Harvey so we didn't need to use the leveling blocks. Our neighbors were a couple from Quebec, traveling in a little Toyota motorhome, similar to the one we had tried to purchase before we met Harvey. We four stood and watched the moose together for awhile, chatting about our campers and our travels.

100_0185-Moose at -Toad River Lodge & RV Park


  1. Awesome! I remember watching a documentary once on the Alaska Highway and being intrigued.

  2. Love that moose shot.What a fun time.After all the heat the last 2 days I wish I had a Harvey with AC.Not sure what made that print in my post, nothing around it to give a clue.Maybe it was flying and did a touch down.

  3. Wow---what a gorgeous campsite, Linda... You all picked a beautiful place. When you don't hook up water and sewer, does that mean that there were bathrooms and water available nearby??? I'm sure that is what it means..

    Wow---what a fabulous trip you all had.

  4. Elizabeth - It really was a pretty amazing accomplishment to get that road laid and in passable condition in that short of time.

    Thanks, Steve. I wish I'd been able to get a little better shot of the moose, though.

    Betsy - Toad River wasn't our first choice for that night, but we felt so blessed to have wound up there. As for the hookups, you're exactly right. It was a nice reprieve for Doug once in awhile to not to have to do all the hookups.

  5. I envy you! I drove the Alaska Highway last in 2000 and I'm still dwelling on the memories. Thanks for keeping this blog and sharing your beautiful pictures.

  6. Arie - Traveling the Alaska Highway is a unique experience, isn't it? Thanks for the visit and for your encouraging comment.

  7. It's been a tough week for me, so I am just now catching up with all your Alaskan Adventures. Really enjoying it, and I'm taking special note of all your actual camping experiences, too! I don't know if we'd really ever do it, but we chat about it often these days. Maybe.....

  8. Deb - I'm just glad you're enjoying reading about our trip. I think you would enjoy doing something like this, especially if your husband is on board with it. My husband worried the whole time about mechanical breakdowns and being stranded in the wilderness. His worries made him miss out on a lot of the fun of the adventure.

  9. That highway seems to be endless and the scene around it is so tranquil.

  10. Lisa - It's quite a trip to drive the Alaska Highway. It IS tranquil. That sounds so much better than "desolate." :)


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