Along the British Columbia border the Alaska Highway travels through the northern extent of the Rocky Mountains, and the scenery and wildlife are spectacular. I camped last night along the Liard River with torrents of water pouring through the canyon next to me. Once the rain stopped a campfire made for a relaxing evening. This morning the sun appeared for the first time in over a week, and the sunrise turned the entire sky pink. I followed the highway for about forty miles to the Liard River Hotsprings Provincial Park, and after hiking for a half-mile along a frozen boardwalk I enjoyed an hour in the hundred-plus degree water — sitting in a hotspring is not a bad way to start the day. When I got out of the water and back into the thirty-plus degree air I very nearly blacked out, but after a short rest everything was back to normal.
One of the folks I met in the hotspring was a guy who had been working in Denali for the past eight years, and we chatted about how awkward it’s going to be returning to the city after being out in the woods. He’s off to Memphis, but he also thinks he’ll be back in the wild places of the world before long. Upon leaving the park a herd of about thirty bison greeted me, and a short time later several woodland caribou appeared on the road, to be followed immediately by a small group of stone sheep. All of these animals were extraordinarily tolerant of people, and allowed me to watch them from as close as about forty feet.
Since the initial sighting I’ve encountered several more caribou, and the road has led through rugged canyons, past huge emerald lakes, and to the current camping spot along a wide gravel river surrounded by snow-capped mountains and giant spruce forests. All in all a great twenty-four hours.