Decision made. John is not happy enough with GR2 to head up another long remote road (2400km round trip), so we will slowly wend our way south to Haines to pick up our ferry. We are also hoping to catch up with Ivan & Luda, who we travelled through Russia with a few years ago, who are also travelling to Haines.
We head back towards Delta Junction, stopping for the night at Quartz Lake Recreation Site. These parks are usually pretty cheap to camp at & you get a fire ring & wood. So we have a roaring fire to keep the mozzies at bay & warm us up. In the morning it is still drizzling so we give up on the walks & head on to Delta, this time stopping to explore all the museums & old roadhouses. (Last time we were on the back of a tow truck!!) In fact today we do a mere 93km, stopping to camp overnight in the massive river bed of the Nanama River at Delta. Another roaring fire using lots of driftwood.
The next day is still gray, but slowly improves. We find the lovely Moon Lake Recreation Site, & so stop early. Again another fire & lots of people to chat to. Off again towards Tok. We hunt down Wifi at the souvenir shops. We are hoping to hear from our friends as they should be reaching Tok by now too. Nothing. So we carry on to the Tetlin National Wildlife Reserve – a huge area of wetlands surrounded by mountains. Here we find Yargar Lake with a free campground, so decide to stop & put in our inflatable boat. Gorgeous water, but so much weed it looks as if we are floating over a forest. In the evening we sit & chat for hours beside the lake with 2 Swiss couples & an Alaskan guy. We watch beavers swimming past hauling sticks for their homes, & then a magic sunset at midnight.
The next day there are many more stops as we meander south. At the info centre we meet 3 Aussie couples in their US RV’s. Then time to cross back into Canada where we stop at Beaver Creek for water & Wifi (still no news) Still slower going through lots of roadworks. When the rain starts we stop at another State Campground at Lake Creek. In the evening the weather clears & the next day is fine making the drive to Burwash Landing, Destruction Bay & Kluane Lake very pretty. Lots of stops later we reach Haines Junction. It is getting late so we start looking for a spot. No free spots at lovely Lake Kathleen, or nice spots up the Mush Lake side road, or at the native fishing village of Klukshua (it looks as if a Powwow is happening – or maybe they are waiting for the fish to come in) We do wander around & look at the old fish drying racks & storage houses, before finding a spot beside the river.
The next day starts gray & drizzly. A magic drive through the mountains & high country – we even see another big black bear. Eventually we cross over the border yet again into the USA and follow the Chilkat River down to Haines. Here we pass through the Bald Eagle Preserve (although there are none here today). In town we head to the info centre & then the library for Wifi. News- our friends are due tonight or tomorrow morning. Then head off to explore the Old Seward Fort area & then the Chilkoot River where the salmon are running. No bears today (although we can see where they have been – plenty of telltale deposits on the road), but lots of Bald Eagles. We head back to the main road into town to camp for the night – that way our friends will not miss us.
We wake to a beautiful sunny morning. After waiting a few hours we decide to head off to explore. Beautiful days can be few and far between! This time we explore Mud Bay Rd, with great views of the glaciers before heading back to Chilkoot River. Canoes are been put in. A couple excitedly tells us that they saw a grizzly catching fish. Then a boat goes in, so we decide to put the inflatable in as well. We head over the lake to watch the bright red Sockeye Salmon spawning. No bears, but is awesome to see the fish in action.
The next day we are due on our ferry to Juneau & our friends have still not arrived. We stay near town, but eventually have to give up & head to the ferry port. Guess what – the next day we get a text…..”Where are you?” Murphy’s Law!