The sunset over Muncho Lake was beautiful last night and gave us the impression that the worst weather was over. We were dead wrong. The morning dawned with dark clouds and rain spritzed now and again as we finished the last section of the Canadian Rockies on what was supposed to be one of the most scenic stretches of the AlCan. It’s the weather. What can you do?
The weather had a less detrimental effect on our next stop at Liard Hot Springs. It also helped that it stopped raining. This unique spot is open year round and the spacious multiple parking lots give a hint about how popular this oasis of warmth must be at times. We changed into our bathing suits; I can’t remember ever wearing my bathing suit under my winter coat, but the coat felt good as we walked the board walk past the changing facilities to the hot springs. As we walked the plant life changed drastically. We had driven through stunted pine forests challenged by the adverse conditions here, but around the hot springs more than 250 tropical plants including orchids flourish. We peeled off the winter wear and jumped into the steaming pools reeking of sulphur. The water temperature varied from 108º to 126º depending on how close we floated to the water source beneath us. The hot springs made us feel so warm and relaxed that our level of frustration was reduced - for a while at least.
The rest of the drive to Watson Lake followed the Liard River and became more level and less twisting as we left the mountains behind. Every so often we saw remnants of the old AlCan Highway. When it was first built in haste in 1942, the most efficient route route was not clear. Over the years over thirty miles of road have been removed from the highway making our drive that much shorter. We crossed the border between British Columbia and Yukon Territory six times before we finally were in the Yukon for good. We are camped at Watson Lake, a town of 500 made famous by the sign post forest. More on that tomorrow after we go see it. We went to the Northern Lights center to see a presentation on the aurora borealis, a phenomenon we’d love to see, but is best viewed in the bitter depths of winter when we’ll be long gone.
We’re camped in a muddy parking lot behind a gas station, selected because it is within walking distance of everything we want to do here and has internet - kind of. Quite a change from the picturesque spot we spent last night.