I’ve been asked by quite a few about our (Lydia’s & my (Jim’s)) trip to Hall’s Lake, so here’s some photos and info.
I came down May 18th on my own. I flew on Alaska Seaplanes from Haines to Juneau, then on Alaska Airlines to Seattle. I felt like it was pretty low risk trip down considering the short flights, limited time in terminals and near-complete mask wearing by those involved. On AK Air there were plenty of empty seats separating each of us from others. Once at Seatac Mary Lou and Knute were kind enough to drive mom’s car to the airport and met me in the eerily deserted arrivals ramp. Lydia did the same thing on June 6 and I picked her up. I guess Lydia is like me: We both love to look out the window of the plane and take some pictures. Here are some from each of us. Click on photo for larger version.
Had some good family time at Hall’s Lake…
I went to Whidbey Island to pick up Matt’s (now Lydia’s) SUV
Lydia and I spent quite a bit of time working on her ’97 Honda Passport (with ~240K hard miles on it)
Before we knew it it was time to head north. We went via Whidbey Island and visited Shannon’s folks and sister and kids. Had our first mechanical problem when the power steering system started leaking like crazy. After some assessment and calling around we tried taking off the belt and found it was not too hard to drive it without the power steering, and since the pump was not pressurizing the system, it was not leaking. So we drove 1900 miles without power steering.
Then, after stopping at an auto parts store to have them read a newly-it check engine code, and getting groceries in Bellingham, we reached the Abbotsford border crossing about 6 pm (no lines to wait in!). We knew traveling home to Alaska was on the essential travel list, and we knew what they were wanting from us as far as travel habits (for instance, we had enough food to get us all the way through, and we weren’t planning on making unnecessary stops), so we weren’t too worried, but you never know what they might ask. After getting through those questions, the border guard went heavy into the weapon questions (I think the “offroad” model Passport with the picture of the deer on it sent him that way), but totally skipped any questions about produce or the like. We could have brought some fruit after all. Then he gave us a little federal Canada COVID briefing, warnings and handouts. No mention of masks, and the guard was not wearing one (we were). He then told us how we’d have to stop for the BC officials about 200 meters ahead.
The BC people had a similar set of questions and briefings and had us create a travel plan (they kindly entered it for us when we told them we have poor or no internet access in Canada). Neither of the officials who came to our window were wearing masks, or anyone else at their station that I saw. Neither the BC or federal people asked if we had been tested (we had).
We drove a couple more hours to the Skihist Provincial campground. It’s very nice; big, (58 sites) and there were maybe ~8 parties camped there. Oddly, this was actually more “crowded” than the previous time we had camped there, pre-COVID, a few summers ago when there was maybe 1-2 other parties. Hard to figure since it such a nice campground with flush toilets and running water, is in a serious rain shadow, and only costs about $21 Canadian (if I recall correctly). We were pretty jazzed, as it was nice weather and most of the tough stuff was behind us: all the prep and hopefully all the auto repairs, saying goodbyes, I-5, customs, Fraser River Canyon. And we had a Costco-sized case of Cup-of-Noodles.
Turns out we had no paper map (no milepost) and no way to use online maps. I wasn’t worried about getting lost, but found I did want to know details…how far till xx. So whenever we saw a map sign at a pull out we took a picture of it.
The rest of the days were nice, and mostly uneventful.
Day three was pretty long. When we gassed up at Fort Nelson, we calculated that we did not have enough spare motor oil considering how fast we were burning it. So I masked up and went into the gas station and bought a couple liters at the “gotcha” price. We stopped outside the Visitor’s Center to try to use their wifi from the parking lot, and I snuck inside to use the flush toilet, knowing from previous trips the layout meant I did not have to get near anyone (mask on of course, don’t remember seeing anyone else with one).
We were planning on camping at Muncho Lake but were surprised to find that both campgrounds on the lake were full. I think there were groups of boaters convening there, mostly from BC but perhaps some Albertans too. So we drove on thinking we might have to wing it and pitch the tent in a gravel pit or something, but were again surprised by the BC campgrounds. The Liard Hot Springs campground is usually full early in the day since the hot springs are so popular. This time there were 6 parties previous to our arrival according to the person who checked us in, out of I think more than 60 sites. Quite a change from the usual. Most of the reason: hot springs closed.
Our last day, we entered Yukon Territory. There was a repeat of the BC welcome: welcome to the Yukon but please leave as soon as possible. They want you to spend no more than 24 hours transiting, and stop as little as possible. They stop you on the two main highways in, and then ask you to check in at a highway station in Whitehorse. By now we were not surprised that no one at either of those checkpoints was wearing a mask (except us — when we pulled up, not while on the open highway). I saw only one other person on the entire Canadian portion of the trip wearing a mask besides the gas station attendants at Costco in Prince George (I presume the Costco employees and perhaps shoppers were masked, since it seems to be company-wide policy, but we did not attempt to go in the store, just got gas). Obviously not a scientific survey, just an interesting observation.
The last day was a long one, but got an early start and did not have to worry about setting up camp at the end of the day. But not much time to stop for photos. All in all the trip was good and did not seem to much different than previous ones. Except we were in a real macho Alaskan rig.