Alaska - Western Canada Journey

Day 20 (In Progress)

Watson Lake To Fort St. John


After delaying the drive in hope of road reopening - it was still closed due to wildfire, we grudgingly started our drive tracking back the route we came up for close to 900 miles. The smoke from the fire filled the air for a large area, haunting us past Muncho Lake. The unexpected highlight was our encounter of wildlife during the drive, likely also due to the fire.

Day Journal

If there was a day of disappointment during our trip, this one would rank among the top. Not only did we waste half a day to camp and hoped for a change in road status, we now missed the chance to see parts of British Columbia that we wanted to see, including Prince Rupert. And lastly, we would have to drive again over some of the least interesting segment of the trip. To make something worthwhile out of this unfortunate turn of event, we agreed to extend the trip further east to visit some of Canadian best known national parks, namely Jasper and Banff National Parks. We would still need to retrace some 600 miles, but at least had something to look forward to beyond Dawson Creek.

Our drive started as we had expected - boring and smoke filled. What we had not expected was how long the smoke stayed with us. Then suddenly, when my mind was on cruise control just like the car, we saw a black animal darting across the highway. Only by quick action that we could stop the car in time to catch the black bear running into the woods. I suspected that the fire caused the bear to find safer grounds. Not too long after the encounter with the black bear, we found a herd of bisons resting on the side of the road. As we stopped to take their pictures, one juvenile male decided to give us a show by rolling around in dirt then shook it off before casually walking away. Our final wild animal encounter was with a juvenile caribou as we approached Muncho Lake. This fellow was taking a drink of water right along side the road. He or she was taking its time, giving us enough time for several snapshots. It was not too concerned about our presence, and walked right by the car on its way into the wood. Any hope we had of capturing Muncho Lake in the sun was darted as we reached the overlook area. Only days earlier, we had been at the same spot looking down to the lake in a clear but clouldy day. On this day, we could not even see the mountains clearly.
Just like the rain and the sun, road works can be expected everyday in Alaska and Canada. Here, as we took our turn on the dusty gravel road, one biker took the unorthodox riding position standing up to presumably avoid the gravels or dust. At another road work stop, it took so long that a driver and his dog paid the flag person a visit. She most likely enjoyed that out of the norm moment. So did we. By the afternoon, we got away from the smoke. However, the rain soon took its place. We drove through several heavy storms, with intermittent dry periods. This was one such dry moment late in the day when we made a roadside stop to cook dinner. As my wife assume the master chef position, I caught this image of sunlight peaking through the cloud. The rain and the sun were having tugs of war for much of the evening. With one stretch of the drive, we saw many rainbows or double rainbows. Here, it was a beautiful sight of the wet road lined by wildflowers and the rainbow just beyond the horizon. It was much more magnificent than the small frame of this image.

Despite the stops and the rain, we kept pushing to go as far as we could. By late night, we decided to stop at Fort St. John for a well earned and much needed shut-eye.

Road & Weather

The road condition was overall very good. The condition at road work areas was marginal as could be expected.

The weather was fair, marred by smoke through early afternoon and by rain in the evening.


Not much to add since this road segment was traveled.