Sunday, August 5, 2012

Aug 4 – To Haines, Alaska

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The Haines Highway goes south in the Yukon, cuts across the north west corner of British Columbia and then back into the Alaskan panhandle. It is designated a Nation Scenic Byway so we wanted to drive it in good weather. It is 250 km to Haines and is supposed to take 4 hours.

When we got up this morning it was very foggy. I could see lighter skies off in the distance so I took the CRV and drove towards Haines Junction to see if the fog was local due to the lake near the campground. It was a bit brighter with some open sky but still not great.

We thought about staying another night but decided to head off and if didn’t get better soon we would just stay at a turnoff or campground south of Haines Junction and wait it out. It finally did clear enough that all we had were some high hazy clouds that didn’t obstruct the mountain views.

Most of the picture are taken through the windshield and it was a very buggy day. I cleaned the windshield at lunch but it was pointless. We lost a lot of pictures as the cameras focused on the marks on the windshield rather than past it. I tried to photoshop out as many splats as I could but there were so many.

The drive starts going along the lakes and mountains of Kluane National Park.


This is some of the smoothest pavement we have seen. Just outside of Haines Junction they are repaving a huge section and farther that it was still obviously very new. Since this road only goes to Haines we wondered why Yukon would spend so much money on improving it when there are so many other roads in need. Later we read that the road was initially built with US money so we wondered if they were paying for the upkeep as well.

On one hill, some cross country skiers were taking advantage of the smooth pavement to do some summer training.


Eventually we had to pay for the smooth ride with 16 km of gravel. No potholes but rough enough that I had to drive very slowly to not shake the RV apart. It was kind of tedious.


As we have been slowly climbing all morning, the mountains have been getting snowier and snowier and more interesting.




Biking this must have been no fun.


We stopped at most of the pullouts marks as scenic.


Finally, pavement in sight



We eventually climbed above the tree line to a huge alpine valley.




Then we started climbing even higher out of the valley.





We stopped at this pullout for lunch.



We were at somewhere around 3000 feet of elevation. For here it was a steady and sometime steep decent down through the US border to sea level at Haines. It will be a long slow climb in the RV on the way back.


The border crossing was again easy. The only new question was whether we had an citrus fruits. A no to that and a few other questions and “Enjoy your visit”. We are now back on a Alaska time again with the 4 hour time difference.

Still going down, the road was a bit of a tunnel for a while.


Once we were down the final run into Haines was along side this glacier fed river.


We got setup at our campground and hit the visitor’s center. We found a few possible hikes but the weather is kind of iffy for the next few days so we will see what happens.


There is a state recreation area just north east of town around a salmon spawning area. It is known to be a good area for spotting grizzly bears. They usually come out around dusk so after dinner we headed up at about 7:30.

Perfect timing. Just as we got there someone said a bear had run across the parking lot just where we were parked and was now just below us in the water.




We saw it catch one salmon but it dragged it up on shore beneath us out of our sight in the brush before I could get a picture. After he wandered upstream we left and headed back.


Haines is almost at the tip of a very long fiord called Chilkoot Inlet. The city/town of Skagway is at the very tip just a short distance away. Skagway is where all the cruise ships stop for a day. I looked up the schedule online and there are usually 4 large ships in port every weekday and at least 2 every weekend day.  One of the ones for today was scheduled to leave Skagway at 9 pm. On the way back to the RV we stopped for a while at about 9:30 at a beach to see if we could catch it going by.

Jennie did a bit more rock collecting while we waited. It was a bit cold by now but there were some teenagers fishing in T shorts. Brrrr.


We waited until just before 10 and nothing came. We were cold so we headed home.


A beautiful drive and some great scenery around Haines. Tomorrow we will try a hike if the weather co-operates


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