Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Canadian Rockies

Given the many miles we had to reach Alaska and the bumpy roads, John and I started thinking that perhaps we should have instead flown into Anchorage and toured the state from there by car. There also had been the option of taking the ferry through the inside passage and thus cutting off some of the miles. Those thoughts were completely dispelled Saturday when we drove through the northern Canadian Rockies on the Alaska Highway. Almost every bend in the road presented some kind of spectacular mountain vista. If we were not gazing up at towering snow-covered mountain peaks we were looking down vast verdant river valleys. Adding to those picturesque scenes were many rivers which meander for miles through the wilderness.
The highest summit on the Alaska Highway is Summit Pass, located in this stretch of the Canadian Rockies. It has an elevation of 4,250 feet. Below is a picture of Summit Lake located at the pass.
It was thrilling to be surrounded by so many of the different mountain ranges which make up the Canadian Rockies. One group I am fairly familiar with are the Sawtooth Mountains, just not sure where I saw them before. They could be seen very clearly from the highway. Unfortunately I did not get a picture of them. It is not easy to make any kind of a fast stop with our large rig! On the hillsides of the mountains, as well as even on the highway, we saw a lot of wildlife that day. Our first sighting was what I thought were mountain goat. Out tour book for the highway, MILEPOST, identified them as stone sheep. They are indigenous to the mountains of British Columbia and the southern Yukon Territory. The sheep are interesting looking creatures. They have fine gray strands of hair which hang down the sides of their faces.
Another animal we were surprised to see on the highway was bison (we found out later that the bison here are woods bison, not the plains bison which we are familiar with). In one area there were so many of them that it necessitated  flashing signs along the road warning of their presence.
 The other animal which we saw from the highway that day was black bear, a total of three in different areas. We reached Watson Lake in the Yukon Territory about 7PM and parked there for the night. We had encountered brief rain showers with strong winds toward the end of our journey that day, but fortunately for us those last miles at least has some fairly smooth road!


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