The rain was just clearing as we left our campground. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center in Watson Lake to see a slide show about the building of the Alaska Highway. It explained in depth the strategic importance to the US and Canada of Alaska during the war with Japan and hence the importance of building the Alaska Highway quickly – in just six months. From Watson Lake our route climbs into the mountains although oddly it parallels the Liard River for many miles and the river is flowing in our direction of travel. At some points the Liard had rushing rapids at others it was wide and smooth, almost like a lake. We crossed the Liard on the only suspension bridge left on the Alaska Highway. Built in 1942 of metal and wood it very utilitarian looking – nothing fancy about it, just functional.
We had a couple of short hike stops during the day. Smith River Falls and the Mineral Lick over the Trout River. The latter is an area of earth that has an unusually large amount of sodium, phorphorus, and calcium in it which attracts wildlife, particularly Stone Sheep. Along the river the walls are highly eroded into “hoodoos” similar to the Bryce Canyon area.
Animal sightings for the day included 9 black bears and a number of wood bison. The latter seem to enjoy grazing and sunning themselves in the open areas along the roadside.
We considered stopping at the Liard Hotsprings Provincial Park, but the day had turned quite warm (it was the second time we had worn shorts on our trip) and the water there is reported to be 108 to 112 degrees. It didn’t sound inviting, so we continued on up and into the mountains to Muncho Lake Provincial Park. Muncho Lake is a deep (400-500 ft), long (7-8 mile) blue-green lake surrounded by steep, rough mountains which rise nearly a mile above it. Many are too steep for vegetation, but oddly on these are patches of trees when the grade of the hillside allows it so the mountain looks polka-dotted with trees. The lake’s color comes from copper oxide.
We stopped at the Campbell Campground in Muncho Lake PP for the night. Our site is right on the lake. We didn’t go for a swim although many of our much younger neighbors were. A fast moving squall appeared just as we were planning to eat dinner, so we ate inside – a dinner of homemade soup, beets, and salad.
Muncho Lake Campbell Campground Review: 15 back-in sites right on the lake. Picnic tables and fire rings. Hand-pumped water and pit toilets. Fire wood can be purchased from the attendant when he comes around to collect the fee ($16). Boats can be put in at the boat ramp and then tied up in the water behind your site.