Day 15 - Teslin Lake to Liard River Hot Springs

Another reason we stopped at Teslin Lake was to have a second chance at the little bird observatory they setup here for the fall migration. They use these very light nets and set them up all over the site, to count and band birds as they migrate. We had stopped here on the way through, but were too late in the day. With our overnight stop, we had a chance to try again.

Beautiful sunrise at Teslin Lake.

One forlorn little bird, caught in the net. They were pretty quick about getting them out.

We got up at sunrise today, and went down to the lake to see them in action. I got distracted taking pictures of the great sunrise. It was a really nice morning, and the colour was beautiful.

As we walked along the beach, we could see that the nets were already up. There were a lot of nets, basically strung up in all the flyways through the shrubs along the lakeshore. There were also lots of little birds in the nets, and we met the team that was doing the counts and the banding.

They were a small team - about half a dozen - and they would go from net-to-net and collect the birds trapped in the nets. They used these soft cloth backs to hold the birds until they could be inspected, counted and have their health checked. Then they would band them and send them on their way. The team was really efficient, and were churning through the birds. It didn't look like the birds were unduly stressed. The whole process was really interesting.

One of the little birds stuck around to see what was going on.

After a short while we left them to it and headed back to the trailer to have breakfast, get packed up and head out. Our first planned stop was at Watson Lake for the the Signpost Forest. The drive from Teslin to Watson Lake was completely uneventful. We had hoped for wildlife, but I guess our time at the lake with the birds pushed us outside optimum viewing time. The drive was nice, but there isn;t much to say about it. Plus we'd already driven it.

One of the interesting signs at the Northern Lights Centre.

Another cool sign - it was a theme for the day

I had wanted to go into the Northern Lights Centre in Watson Lake, but it was still closed. So we spent an hour or so at the Watson Lake Visitor Centre, and the Sign Post Forest. It's an odd but interesting place. Over 78,000 signs of all different types. It's kind of crazy.

We ended up wandering around for over an hour. The sheer number of signs is pretty incredible, and they are literally from all over the world. There were some pretty big signs from Germany and other places in Europe, and it just makes you wonder how they thought to bring the signs with them when they came to Canada. 

There were lots of signs from all over Canada - Ontario was well represented - as was BC, but I don't think I ever did see a Vancouver sign. There were collections of licence plates, as well as some old cars and heavy equipment. It was a pretty neat place and worth the stop.

So...many...signs...

We got gas, then headed out of town a short ways to Lucky Lake, where we made some lunch and said goodbye to the Yukon for this trip. It was a bit bittersweet to leave, but it has been an amazing trip.

After that, we headed into BC, for the last part of our journey. A few miles down the road we had another cool encounter - a herd of bison! There was probably 30-40 of them of all ages and sizes, from some huge old males through this year's calves. They were on the road to start with but moved off to the side as we approached. We ter able to stop and take some pictures.

The herd barely moved even as a huge transport truck went flying by without slowing down. 

There were lots of little ones in the herd.

The road continued southeast from there, and the scenery was pretty nice. We kept on driving, but did make a quick stop at a small recreational site that we had noted in one of the guide books. The pull off was very well hidden, and we almost missed it. But we made the turn, and pulled down to the edge of the river and the rapids. It was a pretty nice little spot.

Close up of the rapids.

A nice view up the river.

We had a couple of encounters with the odd lone bison, and then an hour or so later there was another smaller herd of 10-15 bison.

Calf suckling at her mom.

Bison calf, with horns just starting to grow.

We continued on and found a third large here of 20-30 more bison. There was one really big male in this herd that snorted at us pretty good as we went by really slowly. It was awesome to see them - they're huge!

He wasn't very happy with how close we were.

Couldn't quite reach.

A herd of the bison, on the edge of the forest.

From the last herd, it wasn't far to our stop for the night at Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park. We'd had good luck with campgrounds so far, and in hindsight should have known that on the Friday of a long weekend the parks might be busy. We rolled up to the gate of the Provincial Park to discover that they were full. Which really sucked, as it looked like a nice park. Fortunately there was an RV Park across the road. It wasn't the nicest place we'd stayed, but we were able to have a shower and hook up water and power.

The one time on the whole trip that the sign actually aligned with seeing something.

We got settled at the park, then walked across the road to go check out the Hot Springs. There's a long boardwalk that goes through a marshy area out to the springs. They've built up a really nice facility around the hot springs, and we checked it all out.

 Boardwalk out to the hot springs.

Boardwalk out to the hot springs.

The hot springs, from the forest path from the campsite.

They have built a really nice facility to take full advantage of the hot springs.

Beautiful clear water in the hot springs.

We returned to the RV Park, and had a drink and a snack, then got into swim gear to head back to the park. It was fairly busy in the pools, but there was lots of room to lounge about. The water temperature was really nice, with good variation for everyone. The lower part of the pool was warm, and got hotter as you moved to the top end where the water comes out. The smell of sulphur also gets stronger as you get closer to the source.

Steam rising off the hot water as the air cooled.

The source of the hot springs. The water was very hot at this end, and the smell was pretty overwhelming.

There are also a set of upper pools that are now permanently closed because they found some endangered snail that lives in the waters. We soaked for a good hour and then went back to the RV Park. We made burgers and salad for dinner then played some cards before mom and dad went to bed.

Justine and I stayed up for a while, hoping for another northern lights show. About 11:00, I poked my head out and saw a bit of colour that looked promising. I had initially thought that we could just stand out at the highway, but between the lodge and the traffic on the highway there was way too much light pollution. So we walked into the park again, and stood on the boardwalk out to the hot springs.

The light show started slowly...

Things started slowly, with just some colour at the horizon. It picked up a bit over the next hour or so, but never was the show that we got the night before. Still, it was great to see, and was likely our last opportunity. Then it was time to pack up and get to bed.

...then it stretched out over the whole sky...

...the clouds added some interesting effects...

It didn't last too long - the clouds rolled in and that was the end of the show.