Striking hardly describes Muncho Lake in British Columbia with its striking topaz waters and reflections of the surrounding mountains. The lake reaches a depth of 732 feet (223 m).
My Wednesday photographic essay will continue to take us up the fabled Alaska Highway. Last Wednesday we travelled from Dawson Creek to Toad River. I featured views along the way, the building of the highway during World War II, Stone Mountain Sheep, and some very busy beavers. Today we will travel from Toad River to Watson Lake in the Yukon Territory, a distance of 201 miles (324 K). Along the way we will visit the striking Mucho Lake, check out the large woodland bison that hang out beside the road, and view a few of the 70,000 town and city signs that have made their way to Watson Lake’s huge sign forest.
After leaving Toad River Lodge and our visit with the busy beavers, we were treated to a view of the Toad River that parallels the road.
And this view.
We would stop to admire Muncho Lake both on our journey north to Alaska and on our trip back south. We were heading north when we caught this photo. (Note: all photographs in this series are taken by Peggy and me.)
We captured this view on our return trip down the Alaska Highway.
As well as this photo.
Here’s a common sight along the highway: road construction. Tough winters and permafrost pretty much guarantee employment for road workers.
And here we go again, making our way through yet another construction project. Chipped windshields and damaged tires are common. We experienced both. We saw a bear somewhere in here. It may be the black spot on the left (or not).
We also found this handsome fellow, another Stone Mountain sheep. What really got us excited, however…
Was this sign. We had entered the territory of the wood bison, also know as wood or mountain buffalo— as opposed to their cousins, the plains buffalo.
And they begin to appear shortly afterwards. This one has made himself a convenient wallow, that he will wallow around in to get rid of bugs.
These guys are big, with massive shoulders. They can weigh up to 2000 pounds (900 kilos), which make them the biggest land mammals in North America.
We saw them both alone and in herds. They seem to like the edge of the highway for both its grazing opportunity and ease of travel.
A pair of youngsters…
Here’s a sign to thrill the heart of the most jaded of travelers. Canada’s Yukon Territory is almost synonymous with remote and wild. I grew up listening to daring tales of Sargent Preston of the Yukon and his faithful dog King. “On King! On you huskies, on!”
Not far up the road from the Yukon border we came to Watson Lake with its Sign Forest of 77,000 signs from all over the world. If you wander around long enough, you might very well find a sign that was liberated from your hometown and placed here by someone traveling up the Alaska Highway.
The tradition was started during the building of the Alaska Highway in 1942 when a soldier, Carl K. Lindley was asked by his commanding officer to erect directional signposts. While at the job, he added a sign for his own town of Danville, Illinois. The rest is history!
The signs go on and on…
I’ll close today’s post with a photo of Peggy to provide perspective on the height of the Sign Forest.
FRIDAY’S POST: A chapter from The Bush Devil Ate Sam, my book about my Peace Corps experience in the jungles of West Africa.
MONDAY’S POST: We continue our journey down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
38 thoughts on “The Striking Mucho Lake, Big Bison, and a Sign Forest… The Alaska Highway Series”
77,000 signs? This is incredible.
Loved the forests.
I know! There was no way we could check them all out. A fascinating place, however. As for the forests, mountains, river and wildlife… incredible. Thanks. –Curt
Those photos!! So beautiful.
Beautiful photos. I love the sign forest. I went to the Yukon but missed that some how. Cheers great post
Thanks, Kelly. Maybe you were napping. 🙂
Curt, We have long wanted to drive this but were put off by the distance we would have to go from south Florida just to start. I also imagined huge distances of nothing but a road passing through forest. “I think I’ll have to think it out again.”
I’ve spent my share of times on roads ‘passing through forests’ where all you see are trees, Ray . And there is some of that. But open vistas that go on forever are also common. And, I might note, theres a bit to see between Florida and Dawson City. (Peggy and I have made the drive from Alaska to Florida. 🙂 ) –Curt
Breathtaking scenery and wildlife. Love the sign forest.
Pretty much the whole highway, Peggy! And the sign forest just keeps growing. It would be fun to see a map with punch pins of all the cities and towns represented from around the world. –Curt
Such beautiful pictures but the signs…love them!
It’s quite an experience to wander among them RG. The first time I was there in 1986 there were maybe 10,000 and now there are over 70,000! –Curt
Those bison! I travelled the Alaska Highway several times from mid 80’s to mid 90’s and I don’t think there were any there then. I’d love to see them. That must have been spectacular.
Interesting that they weren’t there, Alison. We saw quite a few. Maybe, like several other species they have made a comeback. I assume they are protected but don’t know that for sure. They obviously like the highway roadside. It makes for good grazing and easy travel. –Curt
Curt this is a really nice series. The reflections on the lakes are very pleasant.
Some of the best reflections I’ve seen Tim. And glad you are enjoying the series. I am sure that you and your camera would enjoy the trip if you haven’t already done it! –Curt
Yes, I would. It’s much farther North than I’ve been.
Surely the roads are subject to that much more harshness from the winter. And with the expansion and contraction, the bitumen is bound to crack somewhere… indeed it guarantees work!
I suspect that the highway workers are right up there with people who work on taxes and morticians when it comes to guaranteed work, Suan. 🙂 –Curt
Death and taxes… sigh. wonder if one can buy and island and declare independence…
The thought has passed through my mind… 🙂
I really like the reflection pictures Curt.
The lake was beautiful that morning, Andrew, almost ethereal. –Curt
Yes, he is handsome, as well the buffaloes. I heard a very moving account of some bison that Terry Tempest Williams observed with her husband out west as the caravan grieved the loss of one of their own, a mother who’d had a stillborn and then was too weak to fend off predators. The couple saw how intelligent they were. Very sad and beautiful.
Animals do grieve when they loose a partner or child, D. We once had a fox whose partner was hit by a car down at the foot of our driveway. We didn’t know about the accident but we would hear the fox howling each night down on the road. When we checked it out and found the dead fox, we carried it away and buried it. The fox ceased its nightly vigil. –Curt
Curt, what a wondrous and breathtaking landscape – your and Peggy’s photos capture its grandeur beautifully. The blue hue on some is almost surreal and the lake seems endless. As for the bison, I’d be in awe and fear seeing them so close – it’s like another world. Finally the signs – wow!! 77,000 – did you bring one along to place there? I’d be sorely tempted!! Happy Travels and glad the weather cleared up so you could go.
The trip up the Alaska Highway is one of my all-time favorite road trips, Annika, for both its beauty and wildlife. We kept our distance from the bison. 🙂 I see photos of folks that walk up to them and take photos. Insanity! It’s kind of like feeding a bear a hotdog out of your hand. Watson Lake is a kick, and they encourage people to bring signs, and even have a workshop where you can make a sign. I’ve been by it 5 times but have yet to bring a sign. I do agree it’s tempting and I have thought about it. –Curt
Very wise to keep your distance from the bison! I have an uncle who is a keen photographer and once in Florida he not only got out of the car when he saw a family of alligators, he then walked towards them to get a better shot! As they noticed him, he edged quickly back to safety! 😀
Not nice to mess with Mother Nature… especially when she has big teeth! 🙂
The sign forest is intriguing. I spotted Sisters, Oregon right off. That’s not too far from here! Really enjoying all of the adventures!
Just outside of Bend, right? Thanks, Gunta. Glad you are enjoying the adventures. –Curt
Yep! Just north of Bend. Cute little town.
I cannot believe how much wildlife you saw along the way. Epic road trip sightings!
Thanks. It seems that the Alaska Highway is prime for wildlife sightings. 🙂 –Curt
Love these Alaska Highway posts! The scenery is stupendous, and the other little detail are fun, too (signs, road work, animals, etc)!
Thanks, Lexi. Hopefully they help provide a break from worrying about your robbery. –Curt