August 31, 2022
The forecast we’d seen for where we were camping had called for a low of 44 degrees. We both woke shivering because it was 28. Forecasts up here are notoriously inaccurate because they’re very general and cover huge swaths of earth—there’s not a meteorologist at every small town pouring over charts. I also woke up with sniffles, and the chill definitely didn’t help.
We cranked up the truck’s heat and our seat heaters and left our serene but cold gravel pit campsite. Back on the Alcan, we crossed the misty Teslin River and continued down the Alcan. Three or four hours later, we turned off the Alcan for the final time onto the smaller Cassiar Highway, which almost immediately crossed the border out of the Yukon Territory and into British Colombia.
The 450-mile long Cassiar is an alternate, slightly shorter, and at least as scenic route toward the US versus the Alcan, but takes a little longer. Though we were happy to be on “paved” roads in general now, paving on the both the Cassiar and the Alcan highways is more wishful thinking than reality—the Cassiar had a rough surface, no striping and a good share of potholes.
The scenery through the mountains along the Cassiar was said to be spectacular and very well may have been if we’d have been able to see it. The day began with a promising blue sky and low fog, but soon rain began and it continued almost the entire day, lifting occasionally to show us snippets of what we were missing. But what we did see were brown raging rivers due to the rain, fir and spruce forests so dense that nothing could be seen 10 feet into them and new white snow at the top of the occasional peak that the clouds revealed.
Midday, we stopped at Jade City, which is not so much a city as a store. The area is rich in jade deposits and a single jade-mining family has mined the jade there for decades while also running a small store and museum, a campground and a highway maintenance camp.
We stopped and browsed the beautiful and very expensive hand-carved jade items, purchasing a small jade inuksuk as a souvenir. An inukshuk is a type of stone landmark or cairn trail marker used primarily by the Inuyik First Nation people.
After leaving Jade City, we considered slowing down and waiting out the bad weather for a day or two. But we were in such a remote place, without hotels, stores, or much of anything else that it seemed more logical to just keep driving.
So we continued on our way for mile after rainy mile. Traffic is usually even lighter on the Cassiar than the Alcan, but today apparently there was a washed out section of the Alcan and the local detour didn’t allow trucks. Unfortunately, the trucks instead joined us on the Cassiar. It was a long, messy slog on a rough, wet and narrow road, with truck traffic and nominal views.
At last, around 6:00 pm, the clouds broke and revealed a pretty blue sky just as we were approaching an area filled with small lakes near the highway.
It had been a long, hard day of driving with few stops and now I had a cough along with my sniffles, so we decided to stop early and enjoy the sun. We set up for the night at a boondocking spot by Mehan Lake near a rest area where we hoped to hear loons calling.
The mosquitoes were trying to rally this late in the season but seemed tired and we avoided them easily. It was a good thing, because we had forgotten to remove one of the magnetic bug screens from a window before we left this morning and it had likely flown off sometime during the day.
Night was falling much earlier now that we were so much farther south. The sunny skies at sunset gave way to clouds and we fell asleep to light rain on the roof, but sadly, no loons calling.