Tuesday, June 20, 2017

cabackroads--Liard River Hot Springs to Fort Nelson

cabackroads--Liard River Hot Springs to Fort Nelson.

travel date: August 25, 2016

The weather forecast was for rain and blustery weather. So the objective for the day was to get as far east as possible and hopefully have the mountains wring out the moisture before it dropped on my head.

So the objective was speed. That fell right off the table since as I left Liard River Hot Springs I promptly parked the truck on the Alaska Highway for about an hour waiting for the escort vehicle to get me pass the highway construction.

This day was about making miles, but as I got on the road I did notice that the scenery was pretty special and it was rather interesting country to travel through. Don't make my mistake. Plan on doing this part of the trip not in one day, but plan on spending at least two or three nights minimum. I would definitely return to this part of the world again.

The first clue that this was special country was the out wash plain from the mountains along the road. This was pretty impressive ecologically, It must have have some event when all these rocks came to their current resting place. These are interpretative signs at this location and a very large turnout.

Next stop on the road was Muncho Lake with its beautiful green and blue water. I did stop at the Northern Rockies Lodge to get diesel and encountered a sit a squat person that took 20 minutes to fill up and check his fluids. Thank god, I am retired and have nowhere to go in a short period of time!

It was worth the wait to see this fellow pull into the service station. How knew that Canada has a military?  Of all the NATO countries Canada spends the least on it national defense. It was nice to know that at least they had one military vehicle.

From Muncho Lake the road goes through some very pretty country and there is always the possibility of running into some interesting wildlife.

The first possible spot for a campsite was Summit Lake inside of Stone Mountain Provincial Park. It has twenty-eight campsites for $18 a night, but I kept looking at the clouds blowing in from the west. It was very windy and the forecast was for rain. This is a popular spot with plenty of neighbors. Cell service was spotty even with the amplifier, so the decision was made to head farther east and hopefully find a more sheltered spot with decent cell service.

I kept going looking for a boondocking spot, but the better ones were taken and the others looked a bit wet. Pretty soon we were down to Testa River Campground Regional Park. On the highway there was great cell phone service, but after the turn-off to the campground the "bars" kept disappearing at a rapid clip until the no service notification appeared a couple of miles before the campground.

It is a very pretty spot. Sheltered. I was hopeful that the mountains to the west would capture the clouds and keep the rain mainly in the mountains.

The weather was nice when I pulled into the campground. So I took Bugaboo and headed to the river for some grayling fishing. I did catch three or four small fish before it started getting dark.

It started raining at about mid-night and continued on a pretty steady basis for the next four days.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

cabackroads--Liard Hot Springs

cabackroads--Liard Hot Springs.

trip dates: August 22 through August 24, 2016.

There were only a couple of must visits on this trip. Liard Hot Springs was one of those. The attraction was the hot springs which are pretty special, but also design of the visitor facility which in the past has won awards. It is difficult to find facilities that protect the environment and provide a quality visiting experience for the public. I was pretty excited about seeing the facility first-hand.

I believe the facility was rebuilt in 2014. Here is a link that discusses the rebuilding of the facility: http://www.formline.ca/LIARD-RIVER-HOTSPRINGS

There is a boardwalk that leaves the parking area and it takes about a 10 minute walk to reach the hot springs. Notice that the boardwalk does not have any small rails to keep wheelchairs from rolling off the boardwalk.

After a short 10-15 minute walk you come up to the hot springs changing room and the bathrooms. The Canadians have yet to discover SST toilets.  I am sure this part of the facility did not receive an award!

The hot springs are a very special place as these interpretive signs show. Interesting to have a snail only found in the area of the hot springs. It would be interesting to see the evolutionary history of the snail.

The bottom of the hot springs is lined with small round crushed gravel. Which makes it easy to walk inside the hot springs area. As seen in the photo above...it is hot. The upper end of the hot springs might be approachable if your really tough. In the three days I only saw one person that managed to get to the upper end.

The water temperature drops the farther downstream you go. So it is pretty simple to find the perfect temperature. Out in the middle of the pond there are even a couple of benches that you can sit on and be pretty much totally submerged.

There are plenty of steps to get you into "hot" water. I was sitting on one of the underwater benches and started looking around for handicapped access to the hot springs.

It didn't take but a few glances around the pool to notice that there was NO access for people not blessed with perfect health. I found it hard to believe that a recreation facility built only a couple of years ago in a advanced country like Canada did not provide universal access to one of its most important recreation sites in northern British Columbia.

A Park Ranger came through patrolling the site a couple of minutes later and I asked about access to the hot springs. His reply was the boardwalk was the "accessible" facility on site. That folks with disabilities could use the boardwalk. I pointed out that this was a hot springs and it seemed pointless to provide access up to the hot springs, but not the hot springs itself! He just shrugged.

I lived in Canada for a couple of years and I understand that most Canadians really do not want to be like the United States. But there are a few things from the states that could be incorporated into Canadian life. The Americans with Disabilities Act would be a wonderful place to start.

Universal access I first ran into it at a junior college in California that was built in 1968. The entire campus was accessible and the design so good that NOBODY noticed except those that needed the universal access. In fact, I first became aware when I asked an instructor why the campus had some many folks with disabilities attending the college.

That was 1968. Twenty-two years before the American with Disabilities Act passed in 1990. It is ok to do the right thing before it is required by law.

So a professional stop that I was looking forward to seeing, became a major disappointment. The design awards should be rescinded. There is no excuse for building facilities in 2014 that do not provide universal access.

The weather forecaster kept talking about a major change in the weather coming soon. It was late August, and that means in the mountains fall was getting ready to make its debut.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

cabackroads-Liard River Hot Springs Campground and Area

cabackroads-Liard River Hot Springs Campground and Area

travel dates: August 22nd through 24th, 2016.

The plan was to hit Liard River Hot Spring campground during the week. I was hoping to find the campground empty. As it was we arrived just as other campers were leaving and managed to get a campsite fairly quickly. The campground was full that night.

This was the campsite for three nights, campsite 50.

Here is a map of the campground. The units by the highway were noisy. The units on the north side of the campground were fairly close to a wetland and  probably buggy.

If you notice on the information board "You are in bear country". There was one bear hanging around the campground. He tried to move through our campsite, but Bugaboo and Snowpatch started that low growl that meant business. He never did show that time, but later on did wander through the adjacent campsite and several times during our stay we heard the shots of the rangers firing harassing bullets at the bear. At some point, this bear will end up a dead bear.

Driving the highway close to the campground we spotted these three bears eating berries. Campgrounds have a lot more food, for a lot less effort.

As you can see in the top pictures the bison wander the highway foraging on the grasses next to the highway. We did run into this poor calf that ended up on the short end of a collision with a vehicle. It appears the fatality rate for bison is more related to automobile traffic than wolves.

Walt Disney painted a world of nature being peaceful and safe. In reality, it is brutal and uncaring. Death is never pretty and in this case the "recycling" crew namely carrion eaters have not yet made their discovery.

There are some scenic overlooks in the area. There is a narrow road to Smith Falls. I was hoping to fish for grayling at the bottom of the falls, but the trail was in horrible condition. The road was so narrow that when I met a class C coming out I had to park the Ram truck and carefully guide the class C around the Ram. Hey, I had a good six inches to spare.

I did fish a river in the area, but it was not as inviting as the falls above and the grayling's decided to take a pass on my fly.

The other highlight in the area was the original Alaska Highway. Traveling the Alaska Highway in 2016 is very similar to taking US 50 across Nevada, but with much more traffic. Now this road was much more of an adventure! I do hope that there were inter-visible turnouts built in to let oncoming traffic pass easily.

Back at the campground I was ready for a hot soak at the hot springs. The following sign lead to the springs. Notice the handicapped sign on the board. It looks like it was put there as an after thought. That turned out to be totally correct. That story is covered in the next blog posting.

As always double click on the picture to view full size on your screen.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

cabackroads-Watson Lake to Laird Hot Springs

cabackroads-Watson Lake to Laird Hot Springs

travel date: August 22, 2016

It was a fairly short drive from Watson Lake to Laird Hot Springs. The road was good. The traffic light and the scenery kept improving as the miles kept rolling.

The weather cooperated with sunny, warm skies. And being farther south the golden hue that graced the trees was still green this far south. I was hopeful that this meant the trip south would not be spoiled by cold, wet weather.

It was a very pleasant drive and I was hoping to see the famous Woods Bison found in northern Canada. Coming around a corner I noticed that traffic was stopped up ahead for no particular reason. Well, there was a reason and it was found along side of the road.

Somewhere I read that about 10% of the herd is killed each year by vehicle traffic. The Province does mow and remove the vegetation along the road. The keeps the area in grasses which appears to be the preferred food of  the bison. It appeared that the bison were headed east along the highway. A couple of days later while camped in Laird Hot Springs Provincial Park the Bison finally made to the Hot Springs but kept moving east.

The traffic issue is fairly serious. I did find one dead bison calf alongside of the road. Even a small bison calf can wreck serious damage to a car or truck. The Wilki-pedia article indicates that the Woods Bison is the largest land animal found in North America. These bison appeared to be smaller than those in Yellowstone National Park. Maybe the big boys were just hiding out.

They do add a element of surprise and wonder while traveling the Alaska Highway.

This was one of my favorite stretches of the Alaska Highway. The good road conditions coupled with excellent weather and fine scenery makes this stretch worth driving.

Next stop. Laird Hot Springs Provincial Park.