Dawson Creek, British Columbia to Fort Nelson, British Columbia
452 kms, 5.5 hours
We were carefully making our way up the Alaska Highway (kilometre 384 to be exact), listening Rob Inglis narrating the audiobook, the Hobbit, in a soothing British accent. The dwarves and Bilbo were tentatively exploring the depths of Lonely Mountain, afraid of running into Smaug the dragon. And then, out of the blue, came a terrifyingly loud CLACK CLACK CLACK! I looked to my left. A huge truck was passing us while its tire was shredding, strips of the tire slapping against the wheel well. With a loud BANG a large part of the truck flew off, crossing our lane right in front of us. I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing, and I am impressed no bodily fluids escaped me. For his part, Rich calmly and gradually reduced speed as what turned out to be the wheel well missed us by maybe 30 feet. A few seconds earlier and we would have been toast. Immediately another truck passed us as the first truck sped on.
Rich and I looked at each other as he kept an iron grip on the steering wheel. Inglis was still calmly narrating the Hobbit in a background, although I have absolutely no idea what he was saying. I pressed pause and we both exhaled. If anyone is going to drive me over treacherous winter roads with massive trucks speeding past, I’m glad it is Rich!
This morning we’d started our drive at mile 0 of the Alaska highway, prepared with our emergency kit, wool long johns, warm clothes, mitts, scarves, and toques. Only it was 4 degrees out. After our frigid journey through the prairies it felt very warm. At a pit stop along the way I overheard an news anchor CBC complaining about the cold temperatures in Toronto and I couldn’t help but laugh. Here we were, outfitted to survive the terrible cold temperatures of the north and it was a good 30 degrees warmer then where we came from.
The drive was not as bad as we’d feared. We had great clear weather and the roads were mainly paved and wide and well-gritted. Here is the run-down…
Kilometre 56 - We encountered a steep winding gravel road, taken at slow speed it was no problem.
Kilometre 61 - We crossed a long steel bridge which was very slippery but fortunately we had been warned about this at the motel and assured it was normal, so we didn’t panic and made it across without incident.
Kilometre 92 - The first sign for Whitehorse! 1342 kms away.
Kilometre 104 - A random statue of a guy with an axe on the side of the road.
Kilometre 194 - The first view of mountains in the distance.
Kilometre 252 - A sign for trucks to put on their chains for a steep descent. We were fine with our winter tires.
Kilometre 384 - Our near-death experience!
Kilometre 452 - Fort Nelson, safe and sound in our ridiculously expensive motel room.
Tomorrow we venture into more treacherous conditions and high mountain passes, not to mention the motel prices at Watson Lake!