Alaska RV Camping Travelog – Day 3
The Road To Muncho Lake
We wake to a beautiful, sunny morning, and temperature of 41 degrees. Everyone slept well, with the exception of me, who heard every truck pass on the road. But I’m a light sleeper, and there wasn’t that much truck traffic. We do notice the big rigs have monstrous bumper guards over their grills, we are thinking for the moose that are still very prevalent! With so many birds, moose and sounds in the forest, we know we’re not alone!
The road to Ft. Nelson is a good all weather road, and we do see another 2 deer and a baby caribou-suspect mama crossed the road just before we passed. Rolling hills and gentle curves are part of this road with a couple steep grades sharp turns peppered in. Still very thick forest until Wonowon (very small town) and then the road becomes relatively high with excellent views of the of the Rocky Mountains to the west. We are treated to wonderful views for at least an hour!
We cross the Trutch Mountain summit (2nd highest pass on the Alaska Highway) and stop at The Prophet River provincial park for some breakfast. Another lovely location with picnic tables, toilets, trash, and overnight camping available in either pull-thru’s or back in sites at $15 and tent sites for $10. Not much of a view though as the forest is very heavy. Only 2 RV’s are occupying the camp ground, and we feel fortunate to have gotten an early start on the summer travel season. After our cereal the stepladder comes out to wash off the wet and now buggy windshield. Have to be able to see these views!
Truch Pass – Alaska Highway
We pull into Ft. Nelson around 9:30 to fuel up at the ESSO station. They are quite proud of their diesel here at $1.219 per liter and we needed 188.68 liters! This is a full service station, and we’re sorry we cleaned off our own windshield at this point! The attendant is a very nice young man with a bald head and quite the goatee! At least 6 inches long! Everyone is very friendly in Canada and he’s interested in where we’re from and if we’ve been to California? There’s lots of time to visit with all the fuel we’re getting! He says he’s always been interested in zoos, and would like to get to see the San Diego Zoo someday and also Disneyland. We assure him the traffic will be like nothing he’s ever seen before, and you won’t be able to tell where LA ends and Anaheim begins unless you watch the signs very closely! So far we’re averaging 10.7 per gallon, which isn’t bad! The hard part is converting from liters to gallons to figure it out!
There is an IGA grocery store across the street from the gas station, and we pick up a few items we didn’t have as we crossed the border at Sumas, WA–such as milk and meat–prices are high here in the north. Smallest bone-in rib eye they had is $8.50, ½ & ½ is $2.99 a quart, head of lettuce $1.99, and a 5 pound bag of ice is $2.49.
Back on the road heading westerly and it becomes what they call chip seal–a type of gravel coating that leaves the road surface quite rough, and places where there have been potholes are just barely filled in. You can’t go very fast, and the shoulders slope down sharply 3-4 feet into the muskeg….a swampy type of low land ground. There is no center line or edge markings, to go off the road here would be a big mistake…HUGE!
We are cruising over beautiful rolling hills and from the pressure on the accelerator we can tell we’re climbing. Twisting switchbacks afford gorgeous views of where we’ve been, and suddenly an expanse of open ground and we’re at the highest point on the Alaska Highway. Summit Lake Pass is in the middle of the Stone Mountain provincial park and there is a campground here, but with the elevation 4,250 feet we’ll keep on trucking! There is an over look where we stop to chat with some other travelers, and take a picture or two. The highway department is working on moving more gravel around at the top and they need to! The spring rains and runoff have moved lots of rock and road bed around.
The road down from Summit Pass is very steep and winding! Keep an eye out for Stone Sheep! They will be on the road and most likely where you want to be driving! They look to be a smaller version of the USA Dall sheep and are a darker color.
Shortly after leaving the Stone Mountain provincial park, we begin to wind around the most amazing looking lake we’ve ever seen! The color is fairly indescribable, a rather clear bluish green, and almost transparent! Muncho Lake is the loveliest place that we’re been so far on our trip, and float planes dot the water around the long, narrow lake. The road is right at the water’s edge on the driver’s side and the shear cliffs rise just outside my window to amazing heights! I think about the Stone sheep and hope they aren’t hopping around above us!
We pass the first campground and have tentatively decided to stay in the next one which is a couple more miles. We’re aren’t far from our destination when a strange noise begins to emanate from Gozer. Brian and I look at each other as we’re both hearing it, and thinking what the hey??? At first it seems like it might just be the road as it’s gotten very winding, and may be the original alignment of the Alaska Highway, but as we pull off into the campground it seems more like possible transmission trouble as the gears shift and the whining changes pitch. By the time Brian strong arms Gozer back in to a camp space, it’s seeming more like a power steering problem. Class A motor home without power steering isn’t something you want to experience! Nor is a campground 300 miles from any town without your TOAD vehicle…
We pay for two nights in the MacDonald campground, buy a box of firewood and settle in. First order of business is to get under the motor home and figure out what is wrong, and Brian discovers Automatic Transmission Fluid dripping from the engine area. Closer inspection looks like it’s actually coming from the power steering pump and couple hours later it’s narrowed down to either a hose or a fitting. Lots of things staying behind in Mom’s garage in Bellingham to lighten our load, and our fluids were among them. But doubtful we would have had enough to take care of this problem anyway. Campground host to the rescue! Nice lady offers to pick up some ATF for us as she’s headed to “town”–actually the next wide spot in the road–it’s an Air charter service and they have some emergency items for travelers. She returns a couple hours later with 2 quarts at $10 per quart!!! Beggars can’t be choosers and we’re so thankful for her help! We decide to get cleaned up, and tackle this again tomorrow.
We spend the evening marveling at how the Canadians take such good care of the camp grounds and the countryside we have traveled through. Our camp space is $14 per night and we have toilet, trash, hand water pump and a boat launch. We see our neighbor catch a trout from the shore, and watch the float planes come and go. We’ve gone 345 miles today and sunset is at 10:45 pm!
Road notes – Road from Ft Nelson not nearly as good as previous days. Quite a bit of rather rough road, many more curves, and often no lane painting. Few guard rails along the road, and if you make a mistake and drive off the edge of the road, you won’t be able to forget it as the edge of the road drops off immediately 3 or 4 feet.
Yesterday – Milepost 0 of the Alaska Highway