about the Anahim Lake and Nimpo Lake region of the West Chilcotin,
this summer Wilderness Adventures will include the Alaska Journel
for 2006 since that's where I'll be!
Don't forget to roll over the pictures on the right for more
Wilderness Adventures - July, Week 4/2006
You can search this site for a subject of interest to you
at the bottom of this page. Check out the
of the Day.
went farther east of the pretty little town of Faro Sunday
to fish in the Lapie River. It's about a 40 mile drive
with some of it on gravel but it was in excellent shape.
In fact, most of the main gravel roads here are
as smooth as butter and in much, much better shape
than a lot of the pavement we rode north of Haines Junction
in the Yukon and in Alaska.
The road to Lapie Canyon is called the Campbell Highway.
It actually splits around Ross River and you can choose
to follow the Canol Road to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories
or down to Watson Lake toward British Columbia. Nothing
really stands out on the road until you get to Lapie Canyon.
That, is absolutely stunning! Your first
glimpse of it is as a rushing torrent squeezed between
two sheer rock walls from the bridge and the color of
the river is an awesome pale glass green and as clear
as any river I have ever seen. We made our way into the
provincial campground close to the river then walked downstream
looking for large pools where grayling might hide. Andy
caught one grayling and I panned some of the rocks along
shore. I can't imagine a nicer way to spend a sunny Sunday.
Eventually we went on to Ross River since it was less
than ten miles from where we were at Lapie. I must say
that Ross River was a disappointment dedicated mostly
to trappers, prospectors and particularly to the Native
Reserve there. It's a dingy little place located on the
banks of the Pelly River and the most interesting
aspect by far was the rickety suspension bridge built
for foot traffic in 1942.
We split back to Faro, which seemed such a strong contrast
with its neatly clipped lawns, flowers and obvious civic
pride and got to camp in time to have the best shower
I've had since we left home. John Connelly RV park right
across from the visitor center. If you're going
to Faro you have to remember that name because
the place is a breath of fresh air after all the other
parks we've been to in both countries. We made sure to
return to the visitor center and thank the lovely and
helpful lady there for providing such a nice place for
campers and just to pass on how impressed we were with
the town's kept up appearance.
We returned to Carmacks this morning and headed for Whitehorse
with few stops. We enjoyed the country and when you start
getting closer to Whitehorse you see prettier and prettier
spots. Fox Lake is quite pretty and Lake Laberge, from
what we could see of it through the misty rain over the
mountains looked to be a beautiful lake. The Yukon River
widens to form this 40 mile long lake and if you're a
fan of Robert Service at all, you'll remember these lines
from his ballad, "The Cremation of Sam McGee".
"The Northern Lights have seen queer sights.
But the queerest they ever did see, was that night on
the marge of Lake Lebarge I cremated Sam McGee".
Do you know, I've often empathized with Sam McGee ...
especially in the middle of a long Chilcotin winter working
night shift at the mill.
We passed the lake framed by the pretty Miner's Range
with one peak topping out nearly 7,000 feet and rounded
the corner to see it had squeezed back into its river
form. There was the fantastic Yukon again
and the country really started changing quickly on the
way into Whitehorse. We even saw farming country!
I didn't realize how tired I was of seeing swamp until
we saw our first blue green field of oats.
We got into Whitehorse in time to go back to the RV park
we had stayed at before, (I know, but better the
devil you know than the devil you don't) and pick
out a little more private spot where we had some woods
at our back and we're not crammed in quite so tightly
as we were last time we were here. Since we also knew
the park offered Wi-Fi and free and clean showers, (not
always an option) this is where we'll stay for the night.
I need to get online because it could easily be a while
before I have access to the internet and good showers
will be nice because we may be dry camping for the next
We went into Whitehorse for groceries and to stop again
at the visitor center there. We hadn't been there since
we went through over a month ago but we wanted to pick
up a book while there. Just to let everyone know, the
little blonde lady there is just super and we thank her
for her help in acquiring the book!
We're not sure what's ahead of us or even where
we'll go. We know we want to head down to Carcross
tomorrow but from there we have to decide whether we're
going to deke back into Alaska toward Skagway or Hyder
or head to Atlin. We may go for Atlin just because the
last two border crossings have shown us that my passport
isn't necessarily good enough to get me back into Canada.
Since it is an American passport and I do not have my
proof of Landed Immigrant Status with me, Canadian customs
has been quick to point out that they don't have to let
me back into the country even though all of my I.D. and
proof of residency is Canadian and has been since June
15, 1966. I guess customs now requires a special card
proving residency status so I will have to check into
applying for it when I get home. In any case, we don't
know if Skagway is worth chancing the hassle at the border.
I guess we'll decide tomorrow.
Just a word of apology. I realize that this page is probably
going to load brutally slow because of all the images.
Believe it or not, I've really been restraining myself
with the pictures because I've taken hundreds and its
so hard to decide what people might like or find interesting
but I didn't want to miss out on posting the pictures
I have. I've just erased one so that I could put in an
image of the spectacular Lapie River but if I do many
more articles before now and the end of the week, there
really is going to be five weeks in July!
Just to let you know, the article below was written several
days ago but is only now being uploaded with this
one because I haven't had access to the internet,
so if you would like to follow along from Dawson City
to Whitehorse, look below!
The Road To Faro
won't be uploaded for a few days because I have no Internet
connection but I thought I would catch up on the
articles now rather than in Whitehorse.
We left Dawson City and headed south taking our own sweet
time enjoying the country and especially the Klondike
River for as long as we followed it anyway. We stayed
the first night in a Government Campground with lots of
trees and firewood, which pleased me no end. We walked
through the woods to the Stewart River, which is a big,
slow moving river much like the Yukon and then back along
Moose Creek which was thick with undergrowth. It was a
good, long walk and we decided we were too tired
or too lazy to bother even trying to go fishing.
We kept hearing helicopters and it just didn't make any
since considering our location so we walked down to where
they were landing. We found a fuel cache and never did
know whether it was forestry or perhaps mineral survey,
but we did see a place nearby called Moose Lake Lodge.
Let me tell you, that is one unique place!
We went back to camp and looked it up in the MilePost.
The description was intriguing enough that we decided
to go back in the morning for breakfast and have a look
around the place. The visit was worth it!
Next, we deked off into Mayo and back out again
just because we wanted to see it. Binet House
in Mayo is an excellent museum/interpretive center and
actually gave us a very clear understanding of the geology
of the region and of permafrost. After a while all museums
start to seem the same with the same information. After
all, how many different ways can you describe the same
history? But this museum was just excellent and we spent
hours there reading and studying the displays.
There was also a stuffed grizzly bear accompanied
by a news article called B&E At The B&B
that made for some pretty fascinating reading. This grizzly,
old and small but in good health with good teeth had entered
a B&B while the owners were gone. When the owner came
home and realized his house had been vandalized he went
for help and both men went back to the house with the
one fellow packing a shotgun. They were on the glassed
in veranda studying the huge freezer that had been knocked
over and completely emptied of several hundred pounds
of food when suddenly they heard this huge thumping
and shattering of glass and scattering of furniture.
The guy with the gun just had time enough to raise it
to his shoulders and sight on the front door when this
grizzly came charging out of the house. He squeezed off
two shots before the bear was past him, and he shot it
once more as it ran down the driveway. He walked up to
it and dispatched it completely before returning to the
Every room in the house was a complete shambles.
They had pictures of the inside of the place up on the
wall and I've never seen anything like it. Every piece
of furniture, rugs and carpets were shredded. Everything
was overturned. There was food and food wrappers scattered
everywhere. The mess was absolutely stupendous! It turned
out that the reason the bear had not heard the men in
the porch where they had been for up to eight minutes
was it had been sound asleep in the master bedroom at
the back of the house...on the bed! Later investigation
showed that the bear had dragged a lot of the food off
into the woods behind the house several hundred feet away
but most of his time had been spent in the house. It
was estimated that he had been holed up there for four
to five days and since it was late October, had
the owner not returned to disturb the bear, it was thought
he very likely would have denned up in the house for the
Had I not seen the pictures that went with the article,
the story would have been a hard one to believe but you
could tell that the fellow that killed the bear was not
happy about having to do it. However, as he pointed out,
once a bear starts breaking into houses and becomes familiar
with human smell, it doesn't stop and go back to the wild.
It just becomes more and more dangerous.
Unfortunately, this bear was like all the bears we saw
in Alaska. Stuffed!
In all our travels in Alaska we never did see any bear
that wasn't behind a fence or stuffed. We did feel better
when on our first night back in Canada we saw a
black bear meandering up the road towards us as
we came down off the dome above Dawson City. It's sure
surprising to me that we aren't seeing more wildlife than
Shortly after we left Mayo and came back to the main highway
we came on a creek called Crooked Creek and listed in
the MilePost as being excellent Grayling fishing. We skittered
into a pull out and let the dogs go for a short run. Since
we couldn't get the little fold down spin casting reel
to work we pulled out our big fly rods. A little
bit of overkill considering we didn't have enough
room in the brush by the creek to cast out a fly so we
just dabbled them over the water as we stood on the bank
above. Andy hadn't had his line in one full minute
before he had a grayling on the line! It was pretty
cool. We fished for a few more minutes without luck so
we hit the road again. We landed in another Government
Campground for the night at Tatchun River where the grayling
fishing was also said to be excellent. There weren't many
calm pools on the river and a lady with fisheries had
just released 15,000 salmon fingerlings into the river
as Andy looked on so I don't know if that hindered the
grayling fishing or not but we didn't get anything. As
it turned out, our one fish was lots for supper for the
both of us and it was excellent! Neither of us have eaten
grayling before but had heard lots about it. It has white
flesh and a very delicate taste. In fact, it's hard
to believe it is fish because it really doesn't taste
like it so you would have to be very careful with
the spices while cooking it or you would drown out the
The campground ended up being pretty full with people
headed to Dawson City for the musical festival but still
nothing like the 'gravel pit' sardine can RV parks we've
had to become used to in most of the towns. The trees,
the bush, the quiet and the fire were all great and when
we took the dogs for a long walk we ended up on the shore
of the Yukon River which was bonus.
We headed for Carmacks in the morning and shortly past
our camp is a pullout above the Yukon River called Five
Fingers. Even though the Yukon is wide and slow, in this
spot it has five huge rock bluffs dividing the river into
five narrow channels or 'fingers', hence the name.
Everything we read and the video clips we saw in Whitehorse
indicated that this was considered the most dangerous
spot on the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson
because the big steamboat paddlewheelers had to negotiate
their way through one of the channels. The pilot would
hug a rock on one side to keep from being sucked into
the rapids against another rock, while men on the deck
with poles would push against the rock to keep the ship
off of it.
Just north of Carmacks you turn off toward Faro and for
a little while you follow the Yukon River, which
I have decided is my all time favorite river in the whole,
wide world. On the one side the Yukon makes its
stately way along the valley while on the other side of
the rode you look up at great, grassy bluffs. The country
was very similiar to that along the Fraser River in the
Cariboo Chilcotin on the way to Nimpo Lake and we
saw our first pine trees in over a month!
We stopped at one high viewpoint over the river because
several canoes were making their way down river. The lead
paddlers waved to us as I took pictures and it almost
made me want to be in their place.
passed a spot called Eagle Rock on the Yukon in 1906 where
a steamboat blew up and burned. Six men were killed when
one of the fellows on board was showing another his pistol
and it was discharged into a large cargo of gunpowder
Faro is a really interesting town mostly created to support
one of the largest lead/zinc open pit mines in the world
that operated off and on for nearly 30 years. It shut
down in 1998 and it's a real shame. The very pretty
town, named for a card game, sits high on a bench
overlooking the Pelly River and surrounding hills and
mountains. A lot of the apartments, townhouses and homes
built for workers in the mine are empty and many of the
stores and businesses are closed but the town is neat
and tidy, sports a beautiful golf course and you can tell
that there's a lot of civic pride taken in the presentation
of the town with municipal lawns neatly mowed and flowers
everywhere. There is also a visitor center museum with
lots of good information about the area. The visitor center
runs the town RV park and it is just awesome! Beautiful,
treed spots with full hookups, free
showers, laundromat and walking trails for .... guess...guess...$10!
It is unbelievable that these gravel pit parks
get away with charging 30 bucks for a tight spot stuck
between behemoth motorhomes wondering if you'll ever see
the light of day again, charging a buck for a
two and a half minute shower and overcharging on laundry,
and yet the town of Faro can provide the facilities they
do for the price they do. As a result, we'll stay for
two days because we can leave the trailer here and head
for Lapie Canyon toward Ross River. My mother swears it's
awesome grayling fishing and a store owner told us today
that you'll find gold if you pan for it on the Lapie River.
I tried panning the Pelly River while Andy dropped a fishing
line at the mouth of a little creek feeding into the Pelly.
He did better than me by catching and quickly releasing
three grayling ranging from four to six inches long while
my gold pan came up empty. That's okay, the sun was warm
on the rocks and it was a nice way to spend a few extra
minutes of the day.
decided to stay an additional day in Dawson City because
there is just no way you can see all of the town's buildings
in one day. And trust me, they're well worth seeing!
Aside from the fantastic restored buildings, there
are also some pretty interesting ones on their last legs.
Perma-frost appears to have been the number one enemy
of many of the old buildings. However, many built by the
government of Canada or Yukon with the underlying motive
of impressing the soberness and stability of these buildings
upon the general population have never looked better.
One building erected in 1901, the Commissioner's Residence,
came to symbolize the Government's stabilizing presence
and looks alarmingly like a Southern Estate house
you might find in Georgia.
The Anglican Church on the right was predated by a log
building in 1897. In 1902, $12,000 was collected from
miners on the creeks to erect the existing church at a
cost of $15,000. Many of the nicer, long lasting buildings
in Dawson seem to have been built right around 1901-1902
indicating the city had really begun to boom and the Canadian
Government, churches and others had decided to make their
In any case, regardless of who put up all the buildings
in Dawson City or their purpose, they're fabulous to see
and I highly recommend this as a must do travel stop.
Something else that I find completely fascinating
is the way the Yukon and Klondike Rivers mix after the
two meet. Both huge rivers, they look entirely
different. The Yukon is laden with silt and is muddy a
color as you will ever see while the Klondike is a deep,
rich green and clean as could be. It takes a long time
before the Yukon finally dominates with its color but
watching the silt boil up through the rougher and faster
Klondike is really hard to describe. I did get a picture
though and you'll see the Klondike pushing a point
of clear, clean water like a knife into the dirty Yukon
over on your upper right.
We went up to Claim #6 today located along Bonanza Creek
to do some gold panning, however, even though the sign
says otherwise I suspect that ground too has been worked
and reworked by big machinary in the past hundred years.
It's been another great day and the weather has really
been holding for us. We've got our Yukon fishing licenses
now and I look forward to spending the next few
days making our way south slowly, investigating the country
and fishing along the way. We're expecting to
stay in Provincial campgrounds only so we won't be anywhere
that I can upload articles. Stay cool 'cause we hear there's
a heat wave in BC and you'll hear from me in a few days!
Woo Hoo! Dawson City!
truly is a city to bring out the spirit of adventure that
settled much of British Columbia and the Yukon, Alaska,
and Canada for that matter. Right from those crazy
buggers that braved the Chilkoot Pass to the ones
that forged the Klondike Trail, that spirit lives in each
and every one of us every time we take a step away from
the norm. I don't know about you, but those steps away
from the norm were probably set off by the very books
of my childhood that thrilled you to the core when you
read "Call of the Wild" and the "Cremation
of Sam McGee" along with all those other stories
that set up that yearning to get up and go.
And it all started here....
We spent a truly fascinating day touring Dawson City (not
all of it) and got to meet a very neat man. His
name is Dick North and he's spent a good part
of his life keeping Jack London's name alive and well.
We thought we had arrived right on time for the once a
day Jack London Interpretive Talk and promptly ran into
a sign. We slipped under the rope and snuck quietly onto
some benches trying not to interrupt the gentleman at
the front of the room as he spoke. Unfortunately, we must
have performed a great faux pas because he berated us
for coming in under the rope. I checked my watch, it was
still before three! But you know, you can't always be
right, and that's a good thing. What the heck, we
run on Chilcotin Time in the Chilcotin, and apparently
Dawson City runs a few minutes off from British Columbia.
We listened to Dick North recount some great stories and
I studied the photos on the wall but it wasn't until the
'thing' was over and the mini crowd had left that we struck
gold. We had made our explanations and apologies
and then Andy began speaking with Dick as I read reference
after reference to that very same man up on the wall in
relation to all the Jack London memorabilia. Andy's a
good one for drawing people out and when Dick asked
where we were from and found out it was Nimpo Lake...you
should have seen his eyes light up! "Grass
Beyond the Mountain, Nothing Too Good for a Cowboy, Rancher
Takes a Wife, yeah, I've read everything I could get my
hands on about that country! What about Edwards and his
place?" he asked. "You know, after the Lonesome
Lake fire. That was really sad. What happened there?"
Well blow me over with a feather folks, this man knew
our part of the country! He even knew someone that used
to be an airline stewardess and he was pretty sure she
had married someone from Nimpo Lake back in the 60's.
We've got to check that out for him.
I can't begin to tell you what a cool guy this was much
less to find out he knew far more about our area than
we knew about his. When I took a closer look at the counter
I realized that a book that my Mom owns and that I had
heard about was written by Dick. There was another book
authored by Dick North nearby that had just come off the
presses and Andy purchased that with a signature. Sometimes
you meet someone that makes a little twang in your heart.
Maybe it's because he loves his subject so much and can
tell a story that seems real, but even though elderly
and a little hard of hearing, Dick North really
brought Dawson City alive for us and that was
only the beginning of the day!
Andy and I went from there to the Robert Service cabin
and we were disappointed to note, as were others, that
it wasn't open as promised on the visitor center brochure,
but you never know, maybe something came up.
We walked around many of the buildings in Dawson and have
more to do tomorrow. I was so impressed with the
care to attention and detail used to reinstate these old
buildings. Some are in disrepair but most have
been repaired and renovated to make them useful. No major
fire or flood had ruined the fine buildings that make
up this town from late 1896 to the mid 1900's and whoever
decided to save Dawson City in its original form deserves
a big pat on the back. Even the new buildings seem to
be required to follow a certain building design that fits
in pleasingly with the rest of old Dawson. It's flawless
and seamless and very difficult to detect which are the
old original buildings of the Klondike rush and the more
recent. Best thing to do is go around and read the little
signs. It is absolutely fascinating and fun!
The spirit of the original Dawson has been kept up in
many small ways. There are no paved streets.
They're dirt and gravel just as they would have been in
1901 although not quite as nasty as they looked
to be in some of the old photos. The sidewalks
are wooden boardwalks and the roofs and sides of most
of the buildings both old and new, are covered in corrugated
tin as they would have been back then. Most buildings
are faced with clapboard, many have false fronts and here
and there the logs on the side of a building peeked through
its tin covering.
Some of the fancier buildings, such as the bank that Robert
Service worked in for a year as a clerk, is faced
entirely with decorative panels of tin. Though still stately,
the old bank is in a sad state of repair compared to the
similiarily built Masonic Hall. This magnificent building
is in pristine condition and looks as though it was built
Wherever we have gone in this little 'city' the people
have been helpful and pleasant. We drove up onto the 'dome'
above the city, a climb that takes you to nearly 3,000
feet and spoke to some bikers that had pedaled their way
to the top. The lead fellow was a local so Andy got lots
of great info from him and I got some great shots of the
spectacular view. They say that you can see the
midnight sun on the longest day from this dome
and I don't doubt it a bit. The 360 degree view is awe
inspiring. You can see the extensive mining activity of
over a century from the dome and the true magnificence
of the Yukon River and all her valleys.
From there we drove down Bonanza Creek where the gold
strike of the century started the greatest gold rush stampede
of all time in North America. That same creek that
runs behind our camp site was also one of the richest
strikes ever recorded. From the dome and on our
drive you could see even under the tree growth, that miles
and tons of gravel had been worked by dredges, hydraulics
and small equipment in the hunt for gold. One of those
dredges, Dredge #4 is the largest wooden hull bucket-line
dredge in North America. Check out the Picture
of the Day
and you'll see how the old dredge dwarfs our truck.
According to the MilePost those dredge tailings that we
saw have been worked and reworked two and three times
in the search for gold. That avid hunt continues today
as you pass claim after claim being worked by big machinary.
You will probably have noticed that I've switched to another
week yet again. I have a lot of pictures
of Dawson City and area that won't fit on this page with
all of the Valdez pictures without slowing the pageload
too much. So if you would like to see articles uploaded
in the last two days just go to July
At this rate I'm going to end up with five weeks in July!
forget to roll over the pictures on the right for more
The purpose of this web site is to draw attention to a
remote area of west central British Columbia. It is a
beautiful area that relies heavily on tourism. The search
engines don't know much about the West Chilcotin, Anahim
Lake, Nimpo Lake or any of the other small communities
in the region and I hope to change that! Even as large
as this site will eventually be, there just isn't enough
room or time in the day to fully describe this incredible
country but I am going to try scraping away at the tip
of the iceberg, so join me!
the links, and see what the West Chilcotin is really like!