Yukon Sights by Sue Thomas

Whitehorse to Watson Lake, Yukon

6 September 2009 - Sunday

Stayed up late last night visiting, so slept in a bit late this morning. It was late morning before we hit the road after a good dog hike and a bit more visiting.

The day was overcast again, but not raining as we got underway. However, the forecast was for LOTS of rain in the area later in the day and during the next few days.

Alaska Highway, Whitehorse to Watson Lake
Near Jakes Corner, a view from the Alaska Highway of the range that includes Mount White

Nearing Johnsons Crossing over the Teslin River I again had to tell Steve a story from my youth. Mom was driving our 1967 Ford Cougar (the first in the Yukon), heading Outside with her kids. The day was snowy ...

Johnsons Cross over the Teslin River, Alaska Highway
Approaching Johnsons Crossing over the Teslin River

The car approached the bridge and started to cross the long span.

Johnsons Cross over the Teslin River, Alaska Highway
Accessing Johnsons Crossing bridge over the Teslin River

Half way across the bridge, the car spun out of control! Mom later said she was sure we were going over the edge ... but a hard thump and we rebounded back on the roadway. A couple more thumps and the car was under control again!

Johnsons Cross over the Teslin River, Alaska Highway
Mid span on the Johnsons Crossing bridge over the Teslin River, Yukon

There is no doubt the curb and rail saved our lives! Mom stopped in Teslin and through her open window told a highway maintenance guy about the icy conditions, telling him to look at her seriously damaged car. He had an odd look on his face and it wasn't until we got out to look that we realized why ... there wasn't a scratch on the car! After arriving in Calgary, mom had the car checked. Turns out there was much damage to the front end and the mechanic was surprised that mom had driven that distance safely.

Every time we cross that bridge, I tell that story to Steve. I vividly remember being thrown against the interior side of the car when it hit the curb, and I certainly remember my mom's amazing ability to compose herself and carry on. Some things stay with you all your life!

Teslin River at Johnsons Crossing, Alaska Highway
Looking southward on the Teslin River from the Johnsons Crossing bridge

In 2007, we turned northward at the junction of Highway 6 on the east side of the bridge to explore the South Canol Road.  This year we debated making the turn again!

Alaska Highway, Johnsons Crossing at Teslin River
East end of the Johnsons Crossing bridge, approaching the South Canol Road (Hwy 6)

But we carried on, anxious to visit Liard Hot Springs for a few days. If we drove the South Canol we'd have to shorten our time soaking.

Stopped in at the Teslin Lake Yukon Gov't campground. Thought we might stay the night the sites were small. The campground was also busy with locals for the Labour Day long weekend. There were spots available, but we decided to have some lunch and carry on southward.

The Alaska Highway 'dips' into British Columbia at Morley River. The Morley River Lodge has been closed for several years.

Cassiar Mountains viewed from the Alaska Highway
Cassiar Mountains viewed southbound on the Alaska Highway (in BC) south of Morley River

As the Alaska Highway nears the BC/Yukon border again, travellers get notice that the Swift River lodge is just ahead. 

Swift River lodge sign on the Alaska Highway
Sign indicating it is 2 km to Swift River, which is on the Yukon side of the border

There were numerous news reports that Swift River Lodge was closing for good at the end of the season. Apparently the Lodge needs numerous expensive upgrades to water and sewer systems to continue operating as a commercial facility. On this day, it was busy.

Swift River Lodge on the Alaska Highway in Yukon
Swift River Lodge, on the Alaska Highway in the Yukon

Swift River looks similar to many other highway lodges: dirt yard, assortment of distracting signs, old gas pumps, and natural landscaping.

Swift River Lodge on Alaska Highway in Yukon
Diesel $1.06 -- good price compared to others along the highway in this area

After Swift River, it started to RAIN. We stopped at the Big Creek Yukon Gov't campground (km 1042) at about 5 p.m. with the intentions of staying the night. But it was raining HARD.

Watson Lake was just another hour down the road and we were enticed by having full-hookup for the night. So carried on to Campground Services on the south end of town.

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