The Cassiar Highway which connects the Yellowhead Highway in British Columbia with the Alaska Highway in Yukon Territory is a scenic route presenting its own challenges. It is generally narrower than most 2-lane highways with little or no shoulder, many potholes, and no road striping. Trees crowd the edge of the road in many places and logging trucks piled high are prevalent. One does have to be alert! This stretch also proved to be one of the best for spotting bears. At Gnat Pass Summit we spotted one caribou, albeit a small one who looked as if he had had a rough winter.
Jade City earned its name as a commercial outlet for jade mined from the nearby mountains. According to their ads, the Cassiar Mountain range supplies 92% of the world’s jade.
Boya Lake Provincial Park is another of those great BC provincial parks. Once again we visited with fellow travelers and enjoyed the beautiful setting. On a hike on a lakeside trail we managed to spot a ruffed grouse in all his glory.
Entering Watson Lake, Yukon, the odometer turned over 3000 miles which somehow seemed providential as we were at the famous Alaska Highway landmark – the Watson Lake Signpost Forest. In 1942, while building the Alaska Highway, it was common practice for the U.S. Army of Engineers to put up a directional post at their camps. It gave directions and mileage to surrounding communities and various parts of the world. While working on the Alcan Highway near Lower Post, BC, Private Carl K. Lindley from Company D, 341st Army of Engineers was injured and taken to the Army Aid Station in Watson Lake to recuperate. During that time Carl’s commanding officer had him repair and repaint the directional post to the Military Air Base. While doing so, he decided to add his hometown sign of Danville, Illinois. Thus began the tradition and since then, travelers have continued to add their own signs so that now there are over 72,000 signs in the Signpost Forest.
At Lake Teslin, the Yukon Motel and RV Park is also a gas station, convenience store, restaurant, post office and nearly everything in one, including a gift shop with an amazing Wildlife Museum.
Carcross is an interesting little town at the top of the White Pass and Yukon Railway from Skagway. There are numerous tourist shops and the S.S. Tutshi, which was a stern-wheeler that operated on the river there. We found it fascinating that such big ships were used throughout the Yukon. Of course there are great rivers but basically many of these riverboats had to be brought in overland in pieces and reassembled when they got over the mountains to a navigable river. The process of restoration of the S.S Tutshi was nearly complete when a fire broke out and destroyed her beyond salvation.
The mountains continued to be rugged, impressive and beautiful.
Waterfowl on Pine Lake Kluane Range