Leg 5: Kinaskan Lake, B.C. to Lake Watson, Yukon
7 July 2022
This was the worst day of the trip so far...
At Kinaskan Lake, we woke up, pumped some water, and packed up the rest of the camp while battling the mosquitoes. All the while Corbin felt even worse.
On the road, we stopped for gas at the very small town of Dease Lake. There, we bought fitted mosquito nets to wear so that we would be better prepared for a second night of camping. Don't worry---we will be showing pictures later.
Since we had a bit of time to spare, we decided to do a loop through the town of Dease Lake (not much to see) and to get back on the highway Corbin saw a shortcut on Google Maps. So, he took us on a side path through the woods that ended up being a dirt "road" full of puddles and potholes that gave us our daily dose of off-roading adventure. The truck handled it brilliantly.
Along the drive, we stopped for lunch at the Rabid Grizzly rest area. Luckily, we did not see any rabid grizzlies, but poor Corbin was feeling too sick at this point to do much of anything so I made myself some hummus and cucumber and Corbin snacked on trail mix.
Our next stop along the Cassiar Highway was Jade City (a spot on the road home to 26 permanent residents---not quite a city). British Columbia is home to the largest deposit of nephrite jade in the world. At the Cassiar Mountain Jade Store, we saw some beautiful jade sculptures (apparently, jade is one of the hardest materials to carve) and learned that the store had seven seasons of a Discovery Channel show made about the industry and family who mines the jade: Jade Fever. The store must still be doing well because they had free coffee and indoor bathrooms! (a luxury among the plethora of pit toilets.) The mining of jade does have some controversy to it though. When researching, I discovered that the show was possibly cancelled after the Tahaltan First Nation people said that the family had mined in Tahaltan territory without their consent.
In British Columbia this is a particularly interesting issue as the Canadian government recognizes that all of B.C. is unceded territory---territory that upon the formation of Canada the government never formally acquired from the First Nation groups through any agreements. This is different from many other parts within Canada and the U.S. where the governments says that the land occupied from indigenous groups was signed away through treaties. Of course, the indigenous groups were often tricked into signing away their land through unjust treaties or forced removal.
After yet another few hours of driving, we crossed the British Columbia border into Yukon and finally arrived at the junction of the Cassiar Highway and Alaska Highway. Hooray! We turned right and headed to the small town of Watson Lake where we saw the infamous (to some) Watson Lake Sign Post Forest.
This attraction originated in 1942 when a homesick soldier who was working on the Alaska Highway put a sign from his hometown of Danville, Il on a mileage post. Today there are thousands and thousands of signs nailed to posts in the center of town. It was truly a sight to behold. There were signs from all the country and world: Switzerland, the Netherlands, Texas, Wisconsin, ect...why are all of these folks in Yukon, Canada? I could tell from the high quality signs with a family's name, hometown, and trip year that this stop was one that many Alaska Highway travelers prepared for ahead of time. Others, who were less prepared, left their mark by scribbling that information on Birkenstocks, dinner plates, and ballet shoes. We didn't leave anything.
Watson Lake Sign Post Forest
Finally in a town after two days with no cell service, we made a few phone calls and then headed to our campground for the night. At camp, Corbin was feeling very fatigued and was extremely hot to the touch. He took his temperature and had a 101.7 degree fever. Next was a Covid test and alas, he was positive. Womp. Womp. Guess he didn’t dodge it after all.
C'est très chic!
The mosquitoes here were somehow worse than the last campsite and even with our mosquito nets on they still find found a way to bite us. Around 5:30 PM, we took cover in the tent to avoid the mosquitoes and accidentally napped for two hours (Corbin clearly needed it; I napped in solidarity). We woke up briefly, struggled our way through dinner, and crawled back into the tent around hours before sunset. As we fell asleep, we could hear the gentle lullaby of teenagers shouting and the Frozen soundtrack playing from a nearby campsite.