The last time Justine was up this way, she had some success with wildlife viewing south of Kathleen Lake. I too had read that there were some excellent wildlife viewing opportunities that way, and given the lack of people, it seemed like a good opportunity. We hadn't done any really early drives so far, so this seemed like the time to do it.
After an early night, we decide to get up early and go for a drive to spot wildlife. We were up at 6:00, but it was still too dark. We went back to sleep for another half an hour, then headed out in the predawn light.
While the wildlife viewing was spectacularly unsuccessful - another shut out - the scenery was unreal. Around every bend another huge mountain range came into view. There was snow on every peak and the colours on the mountain side was breathtaking.
We drove for about an hour, until we reached Million Dollar Falls, were we made a short stop to check out the waterfall. The falls were pretty spectacular, rushing through a narrow gap in the canyon.
They had built a very extensive walkway system around the falls, to give you a number of different viewpoints. Incredibly complex, for how remote this location is. I guess there were some accidents around the falls - there's no way you'd survive going through that chute.
We walked up and around, and checked out the views from a bunch of different angles. Other than one or two campers (who were still asleep), there was no one else in the campground, so we had the place pretty much to ourselves.
We drove back, as the sun was trying to break free of the clouds. The rain had stopped but it was still pretty cloudy. We headed back to the campsite and made pancakes for breakfast. Then we packed up and hit the road.
We stopped in Haines Junction for gas, then started north towards the boarder. After an hour or so we reached the south end of Kluane Lake, land the magnificent views of the lake and surrounding mountains. There were a number of spots where the lake would suddenly come into view, and once in a while the sun would shine through, and the views were just amazing.
We stopped at the Tachäl Dhäl (Sheep Mountain) Visitor Centre and were greeted with an amazing site - the whole side of the mountain was covered with Dall Sheep! They were pretty far up, but you could easily see the white dots all over the mountain. There were at least a couple hundred of them, and I was able to get some pics from my camera, zoomed out to max.
The Visitor Centre itself was pretty good, with viewing scopes and lots of info on the sheep. We stopped for a while then continued on up the lake.
The scenery continued to astound - around every corner there was another set of mountains cloaked in yellow and gold, with snow capped peaks, lakes and forests.
We made a half-hearted stop at Burwash Landing, thinking about stopping in to look at the museum but decided to continue on. There was a big gold pan though, so that was worth a photo at least.
We stopped at Kluane River lookout for lunch, and were gifted with an up close sighting of a golden eagle that landed in one of the trees right near us. Needless to say, I took a few picture before he flew off. Lost in the excitement of the eagle was the fact that the viewpoint offered up one of the most spectacular views of the whole trip. It looked down over the valley with the river flowing through it. The mountains were covered in trees that were all changing colour, and there was a dusting of snow on everything. It was pretty magical.
From there, the trip was pretty uneventful. We had our first major piece of road work with a pilot car, and crossed into permafrost. The roads were a bit of a mess, and we slowed significantly as a result.
A few hours later we were in Beaver Creek, about 30 km from the Alaska boarder. BC is an odd place - 100 people living a 5 hour drive from anything. The "town" has a couple of RV parks and gas stations, a community centre, a pool and a post office/bank. It's an odd place.
Beaver Creek is an odd little place. About 100 permanent residents, all of whom have to make a five hour drive to Whitehorse for groceries! I just can't imagine. There are however, a surprising amount of facilities - a pool, an outdoor, covered rink, a community center, post office and bank. Well the bank and post office are the same - Monday, Wednesday and Friday it's a post office; Tuesday and Thursday it's a bank.
We got setup for the night and had a relaxing evening.