Yukon Sights by Sue Thomas

Frenchman Lake to Ross River YT on the Campbell Hwy

02 July 2008

We woke to sunny clear skies and calm water!

Frenchman Lake, Yukon
Frenchman Lake early in the morning

We decided to hike on a trail along the hills overlooking the lake.  The trail eventually led to the road so we had an easy hike back.

 Frenchman Lake, Yukon
Jake, the dog, welcomed the campground sign

It was tempting to spend the sunny day in one spot.  However, it was also a good day to get some more miles on the road so we loaded up and continued eastward toward the Campbell Highway.

Campbell Highway, southbound to Ross River

Campbell Highway, Yukon
Campbell Highway east/south bound

Blue skies and calm water greeted us at the Little Salmon Lake Yukon Gov't campground.  This was a perfect place for lunch and a dog walk along the shore.

Little Salmon Lake, Campbell Highway, Yukon
Little Salmon Lake viewed from the Yukon Gov't campground

A red fox treated us to some nice poses.  I think he was curious about the frenzied barking of our dog, Jake, so the fox sat a while listening intently.

Red Fox on the Campbell Highway, Yukon
Red fox alongside the Campbell Highway

Little Salmon Lake, Campbell Highway, Yukon
Little Salmon Lake, looking south east from the Campbell Highway

On previous trips we had not driven the 10 km side road to the town of Faro.

Town of Faro sign, Yukon

Faro was a mining town in its past life.  The mine began operations in 1969 and was one of the largest open-pit lead and zinc mines of its day. It was later mined underground. Mining continued, with interruptions, until 1998 when the operator, Anvil Range Mining Corporation, declared bankruptcy.  About 400 residents remain in Faro. 

We were pleasantly surprised by how well-maintained the town was, despite many of the houses being vacant.  There is also a very nice RV park in town, along with a great golf course. 

After driving around the small town, we drove the 22 km gravel road up to the old Anvil Range Mine.

The closed mine consists of waste rock dumps, ore processing facilities, water treatment plants, tailings disposal facilities, and offices, shops and miscellaneous buildings.

The mining site will be undergoing reclamation for many more decades.

Anvil mine tailings near Faro, Yukon
Tailing piles on the way up to the mine

Anvil Mine, Yukon near Faro
The sludge left over from the mining, now the subject of much debate

Anvil mine road near Faro
Leaving the mine site, the road provides spectacular views

The bright red truck at the entrance to Faro is a 1968 65-ton ore haul truck, which had a top speed of 10 mph.  After six years of operation these trucks were replaced by 120-ton trucks and later by 170-ton haul trucks.

Sicard Dart 65-ton ore haul truck by our fifth wheel
1968 Sicard Dart model of a 65-ton ore haul truck alongside a F-250 powerstroke diesel

We should have stayed the night at Faro at the RV park.  However, our itch to see what was around the next corner and over the next hill caused us to carry on to Ross River, where we hoped to turn north at Ross River to drive the North Canol Road. The gas station in Ross River was closed when we arrived at about 5:30 p.m.  Knowing we had to wait for morning to get some diesel, we decided to look for a spot to leave the fifth wheel while we drove the North Canol Road the next day. 

There is a good open area near the Pelly River ferry, although we were uncertain of how secure it was.  We thought the hotel parking lot might also be a good spot, so we stopped in and talked with some locals having supper in the hotel's restaurant.

We were told, "There's 24 hours of daylight here now, and the hooligans are out all night.  There's no safe place to leave anything."  One fellow then asked us whether we had a Yukon licence plate on the trailer ... when we told him no, he said there was no way we should leave our trailer unattended, not even at the Lapie Canyon Yukon gov't campground, which was 15 km from town.

This was disappointing to us, as we knew we could not tow the fifth wheel up the North Canol.  We also knew there was a bridge out on the South Canol, near Quiet Lake, so we would not be able to get through to the Alaska Highway. 

We backtracked the 10 km to the Campbell Highway and the few kms west to the Lapie Canyon Yukon gov't campground.  There we debated options.  It seemed we were destined to continue heading south to Watson Lake on the Campbell Highway.

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