Through the Rockies: Fort Nelson to Liard Hot Springs

Fort Nelson To Liard Hot Springs Lonely RoadIt was during my drive from Fort Nelson to Liard Hot Springs that I first had the frightening sensation of being alone in a vast wilderness.

I’ve been in the forests of Upper Michigan, in natural places far from any city, but I’ve never had such a sense of being alone in a place that seemed so beautiful, but so remote.

At least in Upper Michigan, you know that hunters traverse the forests from time to time, but parts of this extended landscape are so far from civilization that it feels as if no person has ever trekked through them.

There is a vastness that feels like it could swallow me up without anyone noticing.

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Fort Nelson to Liard Hot Springs getting closer and more animals in roadwayMuch of the road was in pretty good condition, but when it would degrade to a gravelly mess, I’d have the irrational fear that I had gotten off on the wrong path and was driving deeper and deeper into the Yukon, where I would run out of fuel and never find my way out.

In those moments, I grew desperate for any sign of human life, even a scrap of garbage indicating that some other person had passed this way.

The rare vehicle that would come upon me was always driving faster than my motorhome, so would quickly pass and be out of sight.

Driving 40-45 mph, I happened upon two RVs traveling from 35-40 mph. A slightly disabled caravan, one was intermittently blowing blue-black exhaust, probably had an oil leak, and was driving with his two side steps still extended.

But, weary of feeling so alone on the road, I decided to slow down and stay with the hobbling duo. When they finally pulled into a service station, I continued on my own.

Dude you left ur steps down

Overall, it was a beautiful, if sometimes precarious, drive. Through the Rockies, the scariest parts were 9% grades of pure gravel.

Going around a steep, blind, and gravel descent, I came upon a cluster of sheep along the roadway. For some reason, they like the steep, blind curves because it happened again about 50 miles down the road.

Warning Warning Warning

As the road started to straighten out and I knew I was getting closer to Liard Hot Springs, the scenic sights began to soothe me.

It only got prettier and prettier. Blue skies were a backdrop for ever changing mountain ranges, rushing rivers, and then perfectly still lakes.

A caravan of bison crossing the road made me laugh out loud at the novelty and beauty of experiencing a moment like this alone in the wildnerness.

Fort Nelson to Liard Hot Springs watch for bison on road

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I’ve only driven (a very slow) 190 miles, but am completely exhausted when I finally arrive at Liard Hot Springs.

I’ve pulled into the empty RV park late, so am grateful to see that one other motorhome is already camped here. (I hate sleeping in campgrounds all by myself!)

Opting for a site right in the corner, I am elated to have a spot bordered by flowers and forest.

Butterflies are flying around the purple and yellow flowers, dandelions are blowing in the air, and with the extended daylight, I decide to spend the evening outside.

I am pulling out my chair when I see a junky old RV drive into the campground. Watching the jalopy out of the corner of my eye, I see he has passed all of the RV sites and is making a bee line for me.

Please don’t be coming over here.

He parks right behind my motorhome.  I reluctantly glance up to meet the enthusiastic stare of the scraggly guy yelling at me, “Hey! Come on! Let’s go get in the hot tub!”

Ugh. This is not happening.

Trying to figure out an unoffensive way to reject his pleas for evening companionship, I reply, “Uh, I’m really tired. That was a really stressful drive.”

“It wasn’t that bad! Well then a hot tub is just what you need! Come on!” He gestures for me to climb into his motorhome for the ride over.

At a loss for a more effective rejection method, I try my same refusal, “I’m sorry. I can’t. I’m really tired.”

Disappointed, he finally relents. I am relieved, but unnerved that I’ve not seen the last of him.

My campsite here at Liard Hot Springs is actually one of the prettiest I’ve had, so if I can remain unmolested by friendly neighbors, will plan to stay here to read and rest for a couple of days.

Next stop will be Watson Lake (about 135 miles), then onto Whitehorse (270 miles, but there isn’t any place to stop before then).

With a population of 25,000, Whitehorse is the biggest city in the Yukon and will be a good place to rest and restock before heading up toward the Dempster Highway…

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Here are few more shots from today’s drive. The lack of any other cars does make for pretty pictures!

Fort Nelson to Liard Hot Springs getting closer and getting pretty

Fort Nelson to Liard Hot Springs pretty river and mountain

Fort Nelson to Liard Hot Springs straight and pretty

Fort Nelson to Liard Hot Springs Muncho Lake pretty

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