Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Bear and a Hot Soak

We took the day off from driving and spent the entire day relaxing around the campground.

Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park is a great stop on the Alaska Highway.  We stopped here for one night in 2004 and regretted not staying for two.  I think from the time we started talking about this trip, we’ve planned a 2-night stay at Liard Hot Springs.

As campgrounds go, we love it.  It’s typical provincial/state park with huge wooded sites without hookups.  All the sites are back-ins.  The interior roads and the sites are gravel.  Most will accommodate large rigs.  There is a central water spigot and pit toilets, but no dump station.  The park is very well maintained.  This morning, as each site was vacated, park staff came with racks and shovels to tidy up the sites.  Even the gravel was racked.  Incredible.

The main attraction, of course, is the hot spring.  There used to be two pools, but the upper pool has been closed.  The lower pool is large; plenty big for the weary travelers.  Large enough, that is, if the weary travelers would spread out, but everybody gathers down at the lower end where the water is a little cooler.  At the upper end, the water is way too hot for most folks.  We crowded down in the lower end with everyone else.

Boardwalk to the Hot Springs

A wooden deck and changing rooms have been built on one side of the pool.

For campground guests, the hot spring pool is included in the $21 nightly fee.  For those not staying in the campground there is a large, double ended parking lot, a picnic area, and access to the hot spring pool for a charge of $5 each.  From the number of rigs we saw parked in the parking lot this afternoon, I’d say there are a lot of folks who stop for a quick soak then continue on their merry way.

Besides relaxing in the hot mineral waters we occupied ourselves for an hour or more this morning watching the local bear.  We were siting at the table having a leisurely breakfast when I saw a black bear walk by the front end of our motor home.

I jumped up and grabbed the camera, but there was really no need to rush.  Mr. Bear was not in a hurry.  He strolled around the car, looked both ways, then walked across the road to the recently vacated campsite where he found himself a box.  Form our vantage point inside the motor home, the box looked like a cereal box.  I sure hope it was empty.  Mr. Bear tired of the box after a few minutes and came back across the road to see what he could find at our neighbor’s site.

We kept a very close eye on the bear while he was visiting next door.  Those guys were still asleep in their tent.  Mr. Bear selected a water bottle from the three items on their picnic table and then went into the woods.

I kept looking for the bear, but Gene convinced me he wouldn’t be back probably until the same time tomorrow morning.  I went about getting my morning chores done.  I happened to look out of the window about thirty minutes later and guess who was back.

The bear hung around our site and the two sites on either side of us most of the morning.  Anytime someone would come down the road, the bear would hightail it up a tree.  He could go up much more gracefully than he could come down.

So, our critter count isn’t very impressive for today--just 1 bear, 1 squirrel, and a couple Canada geese, but it was the best wildlife day we’ve had in a long time.

That’s all for today.  Tomorrow we’ll cross into the Yukon.  Thanks for tagging along.

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