It’s the middle of September and this year’s salmon have all entered the river. Crooked Creek is full of red salmon fighting for a place to lay their eggs. The salmon eggs will hatch before the creek freezes and the young will head back down to the deep holes in the Kasilof River to spend the winter. They will stay in the river for a year then head out into Cook Inlet and the Pacific Ocean. In a few years, they will be back again to spawn in the same place they were born, their life cycle complete.
We began to close down the Kasilof RV Park for the winter. The kitchen screens are covered, time to take down the flags, put away the picnic tables and the flower pots for another year. We will turn off the water and blow out the lines. Fill them with RV antifreeze and lock up the buildings until the 2009 summer season. We are taking our 5th Wheel back down to the lower 48 states this year so we can use it during the winter. The birch trees are turning gold and are beautiful against the dark green of the spruce. We will take you on a tour of our trip back from Alaska.
Here is a good example of the colors and we can begin to see the terminal dust (new snow line) lowering from the top of the mountains. These small lakes (Tern Lakes) are at the crossroads of the Sterling Highway (1) which takes you down the Kenai Peninsula and the Seward Highway (3) which leads to the city and port of Seward. The lakes are nesting grounds for ducks and terns during the summer months. We turn onto Highway 3 and take the beautiful drive over the Kenai Mountains to Anchorage.
From Anchorage, we drive to the town of Palmer and then over the Chugash Mountains to Glen Allen and Tok. The Tazalina Glacier is a beautiful sight surrounded by the fall colors. Here again we see the terminal dust making it’s way down from the peaks of the Chugash mountains and soon this area will be covered with snow.
After Glen Allen, we travel just above the famous Copper River Basin to Tok and the Alaska/Canadian Highway (Alcan). It has become cloudy and we are getting a few drops of rain. The low clouds have almost covered Mt. Sandford off in the distance. This road which we snowbirds call the ‘Tok Cutoff’ is a shortcut to the Alcan Highway eliminating the long drive up the Parks Highway to Fairbanks to reach the Alcan.
As we head south of Tok on the Alcan, the sky off in the distance near the Canadian border begins to clear and promises a beautiful day for our trip through the Yukon. We pass by the US border without stopping and several miles on to the Canadian border entrance. The guard is friendly and has a few questions where we are going and if we are carrying guns, animals, liquor and cigarettes. Satisfied with our answers, we are on our way into the Yukon.
Further on we were rewarded with a beautiful view of Swan Lake nestled below the St. Elias Mountains. The Trumpeter Swans fly north to Alaska in the summer to their nesting grounds. In the fall, they again fly south with their young stopping along the way at their favorite lakes. There are several swans on the far side of the lake and can just be seen as tiny white specks.
On toward Watson Lake near the top of British Columbia (BC) where we will leave the Alcan Highway and travel the Cassiar Highway down the western side of BC to the Yellowhead Highway east of Prince Rupert. We had not traveled that route for some time as it was very poor in the past although the fall colors have always been spectacular. We were very pleasantly surprised as the road was in good shape this year and the fall colors were spectacular.
We stopped at Jade City 75 miles south of the Alcan Highway to see all the beautiful jewelry and sculptures made from the local Jade mines. We made arrangements with the owners to carry a few of the Jade items in our store at the Kasilof RV Park. Beyond Jade City, we reach the first stretch of gravel road. In the past, these 20 mile stretches have be almost impassable due to the constant travel by lumber trucks. This year the road had been recently graded and was excellent. We came over a hill and below us was Deese Lake and the town by the same name.
Below Deese Lake, the road continues to wind through the coastal mountains with the gold and green colors. The Cassiar Highway continues to live up to it’s spectacular fall scenery. The road is narrow and the traffic is light. Although not a fast route through BC, it certainly is one worthy of the time taken to drive it.
Further south lies Natadesleen Lake, a long narrow lake beside the Cassiar Highway. Below Iskut, a series of rivers run along side the highway almost all the way to Kitwanga where the Cassiar ends at Highway 16, known as the Yellowhead Highway.
We had decided to visit the beautiful National Parks of Canada, Jasper and Banff on our way back down to the lower 48 states. We traveled the Yellowhead highway across BC through Prince George into the Providence of Alberta and the town of Jasper. The beautiful scene greeted us at the entrance of Jasper National Park.
After a stop over at the beautiful ski village of Jasper, we traveled south on Highway 93, called the Icefield Parkway. The scenery was again spectacular with beautiful mountains, fall colors, a winding river along side and views of glaciers flowing out of the mountain ice-fields.
The parkway travels 135 miles of fabulous scenery between Jasper and Lake Louise. There are many glaciers flowing out of the Columbia Icefield.
We stopped at city of Lake Louise and pulled the 5th Wheel up the winding mountain road to the lake (large RV’s were not recommended although buses were traveling it). We were greeted by the huge Fairmont Resort Hotel at the edge of the lake.
The view from the hotel is the reason that Lake Louise is so popular. The glacier nestled in the V of the mountains feeds this beautiful lake. The lake is a dusty green caused by the suspended glacier flour (the finely ground rocks and minerals from the glacier). From Lake Louise, Highway 16 continues to Calgary, Alberta. There we picked up the Interstate 2 which will take us down to the Montana border of Interstate 15.
It was a beautiful and spectacular trip from Alaska to the lower 48 and we highly recommend it for a future trip for you.