Monday, October 26, 2009

AlCan: Day 5 -- Fort Nelson, BC to Watson Lake, YT

It was still dark when I left Fort Nelson, BC, this morning, partly because I got an earlier than normal start but mostly because I'm sufficiently far north that latitude is significantly shortening the days.

This stretch of the AlCan is where the road crosses the Rockies, and while the passes aren't high by continental standards (only about 3,000 feet) the season, temperature and weather make them not insignificant.

Over morning coffee I'd gotten a range of reports about road conditions heading north, everything form "clear and easy" to "slick and miserable." So, I will admit I had a slightly heightened sense of anticipation about what my drive would be like.

After an initial "crunchy" patch, the road was quite clear and drivable at moderate speed. After several long, fairly steep climbs, I was "up top" and treated to some lovely sights.

Not long after, I had my first wildlife encounter -- which I filmed and narrated quite extensively in the video -- and was warmly welcomed into Yukon Territory (YT).

My lunch stop was quite entertaining. I pulled into the Rocky Mountain Lodge which -- despite there being no cars in the lot -- had a sign declaring it open. I envisioned a bowl of soup and a nice sit by the fireplace, only to find that during the winter the menu consists of a ham sandwich on dark bread to go. Thus, my "lunch stop" took all of five minutes and I was back on the road!

The weather cleared considerably in the early afternoon and I had a beautiful drive for a few hours.

Later, a very low overcast set it and a combination of light snow and drizzle made the roads a bit more challenging. Dropping my speed a little solved the problem, and I was quite comfy and happy, warm and dry, listening to my book on tape for the next few hours until reaching Watson Lake, YT.

Overall, it was a long and tiring day on the road, but so full of interesting views, experiences and encounters that I'd say it was the best day so far on the road trip.

Here is the documentary video for Day 5:

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