Monday, May 27, 2013

Stewart-Cassiar Hwy North of Bell II to Rancheria Lodge on the Alaska Hwy

A bridge crossing just north of Bell II.
Bear Scat: It was hard not to step in it
there were so many piles
On July 9th I woke early again, packed up camp and stop to use the shower before hitting the road.  It was misting rain on and off during the morning.  The clouds were hanging in the trees and beautifully framed the mountain peaks I made many stops along the road to admire the view.  During my stops I found many signs of bear in the area, the gravel turnoffs were scattered with dried bear scat at least I hope it was.  You need to watch where you were stepping there were so many piles.
A black bear eating dandelions north of Gnat Pass Summit.  This is my favorite picture from the whole trip.  I spent
40 to 60 minutes sitting in the car taking pictures hoping for a shot like this.
From my readings about the Stewart-Cassiar Hwy, this is the place to see bears.  On the first day up the road I saw 4 black bears; one of the bears was dead along the road side and the rest did not stick around to be photographed.  Luckly that changed on the second day I had the pleasure to see several more bears and one bear was nice enough sit to along the road side eating dandelion seeds.  Earlier in the morning I saw a lynx casually trotting across the road looking for breakfast.  It was a treat to view it since they are shy creatures.  I did not even try to reach for my camera since he was on a mission and in no mood for pictures.  It was a real privilege just to see a lynx since they are rarely seen.
Burrage River
This remote wilderness highway will soon be lost to civilization.  Between Bell II and the Devil River a transmission company is logging along the east side of the road and putting up transmission wires.  Electricity means that more people can now can live much more easier in the back country and meaning less space for the wildlife.  Bears will be nothing more than a nuisance and the lynx will disappear.  If you want to look across the land without seeing human civilization intruding on it you should drive this road sooner than later.  It will be gone very soon.

Loons on Kinaskan Lake
About 8:30 AM I pulled into Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park and inspected campgrounds before stopping at the boat launch.  There were loons swimming near the docks, so I patiently sat on the dock hoping the loons would swim closer to me.  I took many pictures and some very nice.  It was about an hour before someone drove up with a boat to launch.  It was a nice peaceful hour enjoying the loon and the misted filled lake before I decided to move on.  Just north of the park is where I saw the lynx crossing the road.
Rest Area to the west of Eddontenajon Lake
Eddontenajon Lake

Between Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park and Dease Lake is Gnat Pass, this is the highest point on the highway at 1,241 meters (4,072 feet) above sea level.  Soon after reaching the summit I stopped to view the black bear eating dandelion seeds.  Dease Lake is where I stopped for lunch.  I ate at Mama Z Restaurant the food was delicious and service was good.

Some more of Eddontenajon Lake
Pullout between Eddontenajon Lake & Upper Gnat Lake
Upper Gnat Lake
Gnat Pass Summit: The highest point on
Stewart-Cassiar Highway (Hwy 37).

Dease Lake

I hit the road again soon after lunch and stop a Cottonwood River Rest Area and watched a group of woman fishing.  Not far north of the river is Jade City, where you can buy carved jade jewelry and other items from the family who owns the near by mine.  I enjoyed wandering through the store but passed on buying anything.   Again it was time to get in the car and keep driving north to the Alaska Highway.  I made several rest stop and one of them was at Lake Boya Provincial Park.  The lake has a lovely aqua blue color which is from the light reflecting off the marl bottom. 
Cottonwood River: Northbound Rest Area
Canadian Burnet at Cottonwood River Rest Area

Aeroplane Lake north of the village of Good Hope Lake.
American Vetch found at Aeroplane Lake.

Aeroplane Lake: Showy Locoweed or Showy Crazyweed
Scientific Name: Oxytripis splendens
Boya Lake
Boya Lake: I wished I had time to take a swim.  It just looks wonderful.
Blue Lakes was my last stop on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.  You are looking at past damage from a forest fire.
I finally reach the Yukon Territory at 5:19 PM and Alaska Highway was just another 5 minutes away further north.  Once I reached the highway I turned northwest and started to look for a place to eat and sleep for the night.  I stopped at the historical Rancheria Lodge for the night.  The food was terrible and the campsites were OK but the outhouse looked like it had not been cleaned in weeks. 
The people running the place lost their electricity in the June 2012 flash flood.  They were running on a generator but the bath and shower room was closed but that is no reason for not having someone cleanup the outhouse daily and I did not expect gourmet food but it should taste good.

Lake behind Rancheria Lodge

Rancheria Historical Marker

Acetic Lupine at the lodge

Pickly Rose

Drawf Dogwood Bunchberry

I woke to rain around 3:30 and quickly pull and packed the tent.  I was on the road by 5:00 AM on July 10th.  The 10th was my longest day, I traveled from Rancheria Lodge to Tok, AK that day and this will be my next post.

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