We saw our first 2 caribou today! We also saw 3 black bears and 1 deer along this long stretch of nothing but highway. It is a good travelling road – wide, 2 lane, trees cleared back so you can see wildlife coming before they are right in front of you. Now we are seeing the hordes of RV’ers heading to Alaska! Right after we checked in to the Westend RV Park in Fort Nelson, they closed the highway to northbound traffic due to a wildfire about 200 miles up the road. I think this park is full. I think every spot in town will be taken tonight! We’ll see what happens to that fire overnight. We wanted to get to Muncho Lake tomorrow (which is this side of the fire by about 50 miles) so we could spend a couple nights there.
We had a fun evening fishing on Charlie Lake at Beatton Campground last night. 3 pike and 1 walleye were caught. By the way, sunset was at 10:30 MDT. That’s not too bad – but sunrise is still way too early!
We decided to stay at Beatton Provincial Park one more night. We put the awning up and we’re researching some insect repellant techniques – ha! Don did some fishing. The people in boats are catching “pickerels” – not sure if that is a local name for perch or walleye? We had fun watching a young woman with a friend or sister and her 4 year old son fish off the boat ramp. We made up what they were saying and thinking as we watched them. Mom was doing all the work at first. But the boy was casting pretty good by the end of the hour. Never did see them catch anything. But he had a couple big ones hit his bait – at least he was convinced! We remember those times! Tomorrow we plan to hit Ft Nelson – that’s the end of the Rocky Mountains!
Too long in BC without a fishing license! So we went 10 miles back to the Walmart in Nelson. Then we headed back up the road. We wanted to experience a gravel road :-} Okay, we’ve done that now – we probably don’t need to do that again. The worst part of the road climbed pretty high above the lake – looked like about a 1,000 ft drop! The kind that makes your stomach turn when you look over the edge – it was on Don’s side. One map said there would be a Provincial Park at our planned destination at the end of that gravel road. The other map had nothing there. There did turn out to be a little, city run, campground on Trout Lake but we decided not to stay there.
We saw 2 bears today; both on the gravel road portion of the trip. The first one was standing up, on his hind legs, so he could see what the noise was when we came around the corner. He was about 300 yards ahead of us in the road. We couldn’t tell what it was at first, until he moved. I couldn’t get the camera ready in time to take a picture – I really figured he was too far away. Once he saw that we were bigger than he was and still moving towards him, he got back down on all fours and ran into the woods. He did leave his poop on the road though, just so we knew he had been there. He was brown and very large. We were too far away to tell if he had a hump. The second one was definitely a black bear – not nearly as large as the first. I talked to him to get him to turn and look at us. We saw some pretty big piles of scat on that gravel road!
We took the Galena Bay Ferry over to Shelter Bay on Hwy 23. We are staying at Arrow Lakes Provincial Park tonight. This park only has 17 sites, strung out right along the lake; two outhouses, a boat launch, a pay station and water. It looks like some improvements were made for people who made a long trip down a gravel road that took them longer than they thought it would and were tired of driving so they pulled over to camp.
We had found a penny in Washington and put it on our back bumper to see how long it would stay there. Suffice it to say, it is somewhere on that gravel road. I am still the “navigator”. But my duties have changed. Now, instead of Don asking me which direction he needs to turn, he asks me “what’s the altitude?” (which I can find from the Garmin GPS) or “what do you see on the map up ahead?” (I tell him something like: a picnic table if you turn west, 2 picnic tables if you keep south, two Provincial Parks on the southern route within about 50 kms. Then he’ll decide which way and I get to tell him from there. One time, I almost made a decision about a route to take, but he stopped to think about where I was taking him and he went a different direction. Hahaha – we are still laughing at, but not strangling each other – 24/7 in a camper!
What a way to start the day! We drove the Deschutes River Rd from Maupin to 216. On the Deschutes we found a few netting platforms that the Native Americans use for netting salmon. Someone was there fishing but we didn’t see him catch anything. The platforms are situated right over where the river narrows to about a third it’s width and drops about 10 feet. It thought it looked to fast to be able to catch anything – shows how much I know! White River Falls State Park is just a little picnic area overlooking the falls. It’s hard to tell from, the map, what is is worth seeing but this was worth the detour…after all, that’s what this trip is all about.
We looked for more scenic routes today. We crossed the Columbia River Gorge into Washington to start our Washington “phase” of our adventure. After a little “misunderstanding” in Toppenish, WA, we got back off the interstate and followed the Yakima River to Ellensburg. We got back into the mountains and continued on 97 to 2 and on into Wenatchee Confluence State Park. This is a pretty park right on Columbia where the Yakima joins it. I am still suffering from shell-shock over the price of camping. I’ve only got an Atlas and a GPS in the cab with me when looking for campgrounds. I need the computer in the cab – although, there might be even more “misunderstandings” if I did that?
Tonight we are in the Maupin City RV Park on the Deschutes River…nice little place but I didn’t get a great pic of it. It is kept very clean by the nice hosts. It is a popular haulout for rafts and fishing boats. ..very pleasant.
I could only pick one picture to go with the blog so I picked something scenic. We stopped at the bridge because we were looking for a place to take pix of all the snow-capped mountains in the Cascades to the West of us. We could see Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood and some others from here. I wanted to see a sign that identified them but it either didn’t exist or I just missed it. Most of the signs just warned people to not let your pets or children dive off the 300 ft cliff. Up the road a little further, before Maupin, there was a Mountain Identification sign! We could see Mt. Adams (Washington), 3 Sisters and 3 Fingered Jack (to the south) as well as Jefferson and Hood. We have had incredible weather – both for packing and for travelling.
Because we had to back track today we decided to do some quick cipherin’ to see, if we kept up this slow pace, would we make it to Alaska in time to enjoy it. We broke out the Garmin to check out some mileage. We decided that we might be taking a month getting there, spend a month there and take a month to get back. We can handle that!
Nice wildlife here – we watched jays, woodpeckers, geese, mallard ducks and osprey. There are lots of osprey here! We saw one catch a fish. They are beautiful birds! There are 3 fishing docks within walking distance of the campground. One goes out into the lake from the boat launch area. The other 2 are on the nature trail. The frogs serenaded us to sleep last night. It must have been a crowded weekend because the dumpsters were overflowing. It is good to see the sanitation department here to get it cleaned up this morning.
Campground Managers are here! The lake is a good level. The campground is looking good. Ponderosa and Cool Springs Campgrounds, on Butt Lake, along with Rocky Point Campground, are opening on Friday, May 9th. Butt Lake also has a good level of water in it. Fisherman are enjoying both lakes already. We’re supposed to have great weather for the weekend!