Road Trip – Vancouver to Whitehorse in 46 Hours: Day 2

Quesnel to Whitehorse, via the Stewart-Cassiar Highway

Having reached Quesnel at a reasonable hour Friday evening, I had a good night’s sleep and was away from the Gold Pan Motel by 4:30 am. For under 60 bucks including BC’s high taxes, the motel offers excellent value, and I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again under similar conditions. I planned on a very long day of driving, with Dease Lake the hoped-for destination.
Gold Pan Motel,  Quesnel, BC
It was inky black and raining when I left Quesnel, but at least traffic was very light. I was thinking for a while about how oncoming headlights completely blind you, and the only way to stay on the road is by keeping your eyes on the right-hand painted line. Around 5:30 am, I found out the hard way just how true that is. For about 1 second, I saw a deer that had just walked across the road and had reached the right-hand side. I never did really see the one that tore the left-hand mirror off the carย – just a split-second of something tan-coloured. By the time I got stopped, there was no deer on the road, but it certainly could have been badly injured. In all my years driving these roads commercially, that was the first large animal I’d ever hit – very distressing.
Damage caused to my car by hitting a deer
Heading west on Highway 16, the Yellowhead. In a good year, the Fall colours along this highway are stunning, but I’d heard that this wasn’t a very good year – more browns than golds.
Along BC Highway 16
I stopped in at the Smithers airport to get some photos of a hangar that was built in 1942 and that I expect won’t be standing for too many more years.
Aircraft hangar at Smithers, BC
The view of Hudson Bay Mountain from the airport. In the large valley to the right in the photo is the Twin Falls Recreation Site, and I decided to go for another look – the last time I was there was in 1985 during a trip to the Yukon and beyond with my little Cessna.
Hudson Bay Mountain at Smithers, BC
The beautiful forest along the steep and narrow road up to the Twin Falls Recreation Site.
Twin Falls Recreation Site, Smithers
A map of the Twin Falls Recreation Site, with an easy trail to the base of the eastern waterfall, and a much tougher one to the glacial cirque that feeds them both.
Twin Falls Recreation Site
The long, tough trail is to the left, the easy one that I took is to the right.
Twin Falls Recreation Site, Smithers
The eastern waterfall, with a memorial to Eric Paul Buss, who was killed here in an avalanche on November 27, 1991.
Twin Falls Recreation Site, Smithers
The western waterfall.
Twin Falls Recreation Site, Smithers
The broad view of both falls. Have a look at Google Maps to get a better idea of what’s above that view.
Twin Falls Recreation Site, Smithers
Along Highway 16, I saw a few signs opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project, but none more striking than this one at Moricetown Canyon. This is a very controversial proposal to construct twin pipelines 1,170 km in length, from Bruderheim, Alberta, to Kitimat, BC.
Sign opposing the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines Project
Moricetown Canyon on the Bulkley River, seen from the bridge on the Telkwa High Road.
Moricetown Canyon, on the Bulkley River
The highway between Smithers and Hazelton in particular offers many photo ops, most of which I didn’t stop for.
Along Highway 16 in BC
Along Highway 16 in BC
I stopped for lunch and a top-up of fuel at the junction of Highway 16 and the Stewart-Cassiar, and by 2:50 pm had reached Cranberry Junction. The Nisga’a Lava Bed Park off to the southwest is extremely interesting, worth a day itself.
Cranberry Junction on BC Hwy 37
Over the past few years I’d seen some information about the Northwest Transmission Line, but didn’t know that construction is well underway. This is an approximately 344-kilometre, 287 kilovolt transmission line between Skeena Substation near Terrace and a new substation being built near Bob Quinn Lake at Km 197 on the Stewart-Cassiar, with a connecting line to Iskut at Km 406. The cost of the line without the Iskut extension is almost $750 million!
Northwest Transmission Line, Stewart-Cassiar Highway
Meziadin Junction, at Km 97.5. To the left (south) 61 km is the town of Stewart, to the right 569 km is the Alaska Highway.
Meziadin Junction, Stewart-Cassiar Highway
There used to be a lodge at Meziadin Junction, but it closed quite a few years ago. The owner of the property is probably doing well now, with a powerline construction camp on the site.
Powerline construction camp at Meziadin Junction
Heading north from Meziadin Junction at 3:50 pm.
Heading north from Meziadin Junction, BC
The smoke is coming from clearing along the new powerline high on the slopes above the highway.
Powerline above the Stewart-Cassiar Highway
Along the Stewart-Cassiar, it’s a good idea to fuel up at almost every opportunity. The Bell II Lodge presents just such an opportunity, and the price wasn’t bad at $1.45 per liter.
Bell II Lodge
The second crossing of the Bell-Irving River is a few hundred yards north of the lodge (so Bell II). The yellow sign warns motorcyclists that this is an open-grate metal deck bridge (awful things on a bike!).
Second crossing of the Bell-Irving River
The unspoiled wilderness that made the Stewart-Cassiar unique is certainly history ๐Ÿ™
Powerline along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway
Powerline along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway
Approximately 1,000 towers called “guyed Y lattice” towers are being installed along the right-of-way for the new line. Each tower weighs about 9.5 tonnes and is about 27 metres high. Helicopter installation is necessary in areas where the terrain is challenging. There were a few signs warning of possible lengthy delays due to the powerline construction, but I didn’t hit any.

Sunset was at 6:58 pm, when I was at Gnat Pass, south of Dease Lake. I had packed my Arctic sleeping bag in case I decided to sleep in the car, and that’s what I did on Saturday night. I actually had 3 sleeps of varying lengths between Dease Lake and Nugget City on the Alaska Highway – 3 hours, 2 hours and an hour and a half. I hit a lot of fog and some rain during the night, so driving was exhausting at times.

This shot of the Nisutlin Bay Bridge at Teslin was taken 35 minutes before the 8:10 am sunrise on Sunday morning.
Teslin at dawn
Sunrise along Teslin Lake at 7:45 am.
Sunrise along Teslin Lake
Further down Teslin Lake 11 minutes later.
Early Fall morning along Teslin Lake, Yukon
This spot west of Johnson’s Crossing is a good location to see caribou. Although I didn’t see any this time, I did make a U-turn to get some fog photos.

And that was it – I got home, fairly well rested, just after 9:30. Cathy hadn’t expected me back so soon and had a plan for the day, to do a road trip to Braeburn for lunch with my niece. Of course, I invited myself to join them!


Road Trip – Vancouver to Whitehorse in 46 Hours: Day 2 — 6 Comments

  1. Part 2, just as wonderful as part 1. Thanks for the photo journey in my car and for driving it up!

    • I always enjoy having you along, Rejeana ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks, Richard. I got very lucky – the mirror was the only damage other than a little chip of plastic around the windshield. I’m still hoping that the deer was as lucky. And I guess lucky that I didn’t get snow, too – I was at least mentally prepared for some in the passes.

  2. Nice photos. The latest I’ve ever made the trip has been mid-August and ran into a little bit of snow. Nice to see familiar places, bridges and scenery. Any other damage besides the mirror?

    Thank you for the post. I’m an irregular visitor to your blog…

  3. I love catching up w the great stories and photos on your blog. When it starts to get cold here in CT is when I check in the most, have enjoyed reading current and older postings. We enjoyed a (what we kind of thought) was a early fall trip to Denali NP in Alaska this year, the colors were stunning and the constant snow showers surprising…