Our First Brush with Fire – August 2018

The morning after our train ride, we packed up and started our drive out of Skagway. From the road, we had views of the White Pass and Yukon railroad that we had ridden the day before. Our timing was bad and we didn’t get any shots of trains, but it was still interesting to see the route we had taken the day before from a different perspective.

The weather was still heavy overcast with fog at higher elevations, and parts of the landscape looked otherworldly in the fog. We had heard that the scenery entering and leaving Skagway was spectacular, and it was, even in the fog. The terrain is basically tundra (although different looking than the tundra in Denali) with small trees, lots of lakes, and moss-covered rocks. It’s gorgeous. That said, we’d love to see it when it is not so foggy as I am sure it is probably even more spectacular.

The train passengers also had to clear immigration and customs.

We eventually reached the Canadian border crossing, entering Canada for the third time on this trip. We had quite a long wait. They were busy with lots of tourist buses filled with cruise ship passengers (bad timing on our part), a long train plus some RV’s. We’re in the middle of nowhere and have the busiest border crossing on our trip. As we finally approached the front of the line after about 45 minutes, we saw an RV that was at our campground parked along the side of the road with all slides opened up. They were clearly being thoroughly searched. While we wouldn’t have anything to worry about from a legal standpoint, the hassle of having everything rummaged through and turned upside down while you sit and wait does keep us a little nervous every time we cross a border.

We finally made it up to the border patrol agent. He asked us the usual questions. Where are you coming from, any alcohol, firearms, drugs, produce? We answered all of his questions satisfactorily, and were quickly on our way, passing the poor RV still being searched.

Our first view of the Windy Arm fire. You can see the smoke on both sides of the mountain.

As we got closer to Carcross, we saw our first fire of the trip. Fortunately, the fire was on the other side of the river from the road, so it wasn’t a problem for our drive. The Windy Arm fire had apparently been burning for a couple of weeks. It was to be our first (but definitely not last) fire experience on the trip. (According to reports on the internet, the fire was largely burned out a few days later.)

The Tagish Centre in Carcross

Thirty miles past Carcross, we reconnected with the Alaska Highway and retraced our steps toward Watson Lake. Along the way, we topped off our fuel and found out that the Alaska Highway was closed further south around the Yukon/British Columbia border due to a different fire. The good news is that we planned to take a different route home (the Cassier Highway), and we would be turning off the Alaska Highway before we reached the closure. But it did convince us to spend the night well north of Watson Lake, as we figured everyone who was trying to head south would be camped there waiting for the road to reopen.

Although we’d never seen one before, there are apparently thousands of these Rotel buses worldwide. They hold 24 passengers with one toilet, no showers and triple-decker 6′ x 3′ x 3′ sleeping compartments. Fortunately they did not join us at our campground.

Big Creek Government Campground was another nice Yukon Campground and was located about forty miles from Watson Lake. We got a site and ran into the couple with the Airstream that we had seen in Denali and met in Skagway. They invited us to their campfire and we socialized with them a bit and learned that they were heading down the Cassier also. They are a very nice couple who you can’t miss on the road due to the custom nose art on their trailer. Neither of us had firm plans on how far we were going the next day, so we weren’t sure if we’d run into them again or not.

Day 93

Miles: 282
Driving time: 6:15
Overnight: Big Creek Government Campground, Watson Lake, YT
Weather: Mostly cloudy (56/61)
Total miles since crossing Canadian border: 5,892
Total miles: 7,460

2 thoughts on “Our First Brush with Fire – August 2018”

  1. Really enjoy the photos! You had quite the trip. I am also trying to get caught up with blogs from the summer’s journey — before we leave again!

    1. Thanks carol. I really don’t know`why the end is so hard to finish. Maybe because we’re so busy in the mew element. or is it partly that we don’t really want the trip tp end?

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