Thursday, August 4, 2011

Northwest Territories

We did indeed head up to Northwest Territories this morning.  I’ll say right up front that we were underwhelmed.  This is how it went.

From our campground in Fort Nelson, we drove back along the Alaska Highway about 15 miles to the intersection with Liard Highway.  This is sometimes called the Liard Trail and that’s what is on the road sign at the junction.  It is possible to make this a longer adventure to Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories, and some Alaska travelers do that.  From Grande Prairie, Dawson Creek, or somewhere in that vicinity, the traveler can get on Alberta Highway 35 which leads to Northwest Territories Highway 1 and then Highway 3 to Yellowknife.  Travelers can then reconnect with the Alaska Highway by following a gravel road around to Fort Liard and then down to Fort Nelson.  Although Yellowknife would be a fine destination, we don’t have that anywhere on our list of places to go or things to see.  I might just mention that when we were in Whitehorse the other day, we saw a caravan which had just come from Yellowknife.  Those were some of the dirtiest rigs I have ever seen.  They may never be clean again.

We just wanted to step our foot into Northwest Territories so we could say we’ve been.  Our plan for today was to see what we thought about the road after we got to the border then decide if we wanted to continue on to Fort Liard.

Deasum Creek
Liard Highway is newly paved, at least most of the 86 miles to the border.  What wasn’t paved in the past 2 years was still a fine paved road.  In fact, this may have been the best stretch of road we’ve driven on all summer.  We zipped along at 60 mph except for the 20 minute wait to cross the Fort Nelson River.

Liard Highway
Fort Nelson River is spanned by a one-lane bridge, which is being repaired.  Everybody gets a turn on the bridge--southbound traffic, northbound traffic, and the construction crew. The bridge has a wooden surface and the rotting lumber was being replaced.

We were disappointed in the scenery.  The mowed area along the side of the roadway is much more narrow than what we’ve been seeing along the Alaska Highway.  We felt almost like we were in a tunnel and we couldn’t see out.  The terrain is rolling hills, but the road didn’t cut through any of the hills or follow along side, but rather up, over, and down the other side.  We couldn’t see anything hardly of the expanse of land.

Fort Nelson Bridge
We were disappointed by the traffic.  Oil, gas, and lumber companies use this land.  There are numerous dirt roads which intersect Liard Highway and consequently, a lot of heavy trucks traveling the highway.  We saw a few private vehicles and one travel trailer.  I don’t want to leave the impression that there was a lot of traffic.  Certainly not.  We drove for miles without seeing anyone.  We stopped for lunch and only one truck passed.  Of course, it was lunch time for everyone, I suppose.  Still, this is a road which goes from nowhere to nowhere through howling wilderness.  We didn’t expect to see any traffic.

We were really disappointed in the wildlife.  Being howling wilderness, we did expect to see something.  The only thing we saw were ravens.

Being disappointed in the scenery and the wildlife, it was easy to turn around as soon as we got to the Welcome sign for Northwest Territories instead of continuing on 25 more miles to Fort Liard.  That was also where we ran out of pavement which made the decision all the more easy.  But we’ve been to Northwest Territories and we have the picture to prove it.

Petitot River

So that was our adventure today.  Not so adventuresome, but exciting nevertheless to actually be in the Northwest Territories, even just a little bit.

That’s all folks.  We’ll be boondocking for the next few days so we don’t expect to have internet again until we get to Edmonton on Saturday or Sunday.

Thanks for tagging along.

No comments:

Post a Comment