Don’t Feed the Bears in the Yukon, or Anywhere… The Alaska Highway Series


Yukon mountain and trees

Ho-hum, another day along the Alaska Highway— except there was nothing ho-hum about it. Our journey through Canada’s Yukon Territory took us past one breath-taking view after another.


We left Teslin with our fingers crossed that our spare tire would make it the hundred miles to White Horse. It was an okay tire, but it had seen 40 thousand miles! Lower 48 roads, no worry; Alaska Highway in the Yukon Territory, well maybe. Turns out, we made it fine. A Ford Dealer provided Quivera the Van with a new shoe and she was raring to go! The spare happily returned to being a spare.

Off we went, motoring across the Yukon Territory. Haines Junction, Kluane Lake, and White River came and went. In two days we were at the Alaska Border. Today’s photo essay will provide views of some of the sights we saw along the way.

Whitehorse, YT Mural

Getting our tire replaced in Whitehorse allowed us to wander around town and appreciate sights like this First Nation mural.

Dall sheep sculpture, White Horse

This handsome sculpture was outside the Visitor Information Center.

Stained glass, Whitehorse, YT

Inside, a stained glass window gave a fine representation of the country we were traveling through.

clouds and mountains along alaska highway

Back on the road, we were reminded that it seemed to go on forever…

Yukon Territory, Alaska Highway

Alaska Highway, Yukon Territory

Fireweed along Alaska Highway

Fireweed added bright splashes of color along the highway’s edge.

Do not feed bears, YT

A campground at Kluane Lake reminded us not to feed the bears. I am pretty sure the occupant of the bird house agreed. The bordering Kluane National Park was grizzly bear country and they often wandered in looking for food.

Grizzly Bear, Alaska

Why anyone would feel tempted to feed anything like this, I haven’t a clue! (I took this photo in Alaska but it fits here.)

Bear patrol

An ATV at the campground had this bear patrol sign on it, along with a pair of fearsome huskies.

Yukon scene

We searched the mountains behind the campground for grizzlies. We didn’t see any but we did see Dall Sheep.

Moose antlers, Yukon Territory

White River, where we stopped on our way back south, had an extensive collection of antlers to remind us of other occupants of the far north, such as moose.

Antlers on roof, White River, Yukon

One rooftop was covered in antlers.

Peggy with moose antlers at White River, YT

Peggy provides some perspective. How would you like to wear these on your head? This set weighed close to 50 pounds.

Yukon lake

A small wayside on a lake before we reached the Alaska Border gave us this view.

Reflection shot Yukon Territory

And a reflection shot.


A moth was in the pebbles next to the lake.

Duck family in Yukon Territory

And a family of ducks worked the edge.

Skinny Coyote

A very skinny coyote put in an appearance as we left.

Bob Bray, Linda Hart on Alaska-Yukon border

And finally, we reached Alaska, where Bob, Linda and Sister posed for us.

Alaska-Yukon Border

This sign showed the Alaska-Yukon Border. It’s my idea of the type of fence that should exist between nations.

Yukon Border

Looking back, we were reminded of our journey. Larger than life, indeed! Next Wednesday we head into the wilds of Alaska.

FRIDAY’S POST: It’s back to MisAdventures and who shot Pavy’s pig. It couldn’t have possibly have been the Mekemson kids, could it?

MONDAY’S POST: We continue our journey by raft through the Grand Canyon.






The Yukon Territory: Canada’s Far North… The Alaska Highway Series— Part 4

A series of totem poles represented the different Tlingit First Nation clans at the Tlingit Heritage Center on Teslin Lake. This is beaver. I thought he would be a good kick-off to my posts on the Yukon Territory.

Peggy and I, along with our friends Bob Bray and Linda Hart continue to make our way north on the Alaska Highway in my Wednesday photo essay. Today we enter the Yukon Territory, a name that is almost synonymous with the Far North, at least in my mind. Sargent Preston and his dog King were big in my childhood! We didn’t enter with a bang, fortunately. We could have; a tire on our van had developed a large bubble. It was ready to pop! Fortunately, we were able to limp into the small town of Teslin and get it fixed at the local junk yard. The junk yard owner even turned out to be a shovel artist!

This bridge is a beauty backed up by some very impressive scenery. The beauty and the scenery aren’t why I was glad to see it, however. I was hoping the tire on our van that was threatening to blow at any minute would wait.

The tire with its tennis ball sized bubble. The steel belted bottoms of our tires handled the numerous pot holes of the Alaska Highway well. Not so much the side walls. We stopped at a small restaurant in Teslin and asked where we might go to replace the tire.  “Whitehorse” was the reply— 110 miles (177 Kilometers) up the road. “Not likely,” was my reply. “Well, you might try the local junk yard.” It came out more a question than an answer.

We were greeted by this. “Mmm, maybe not good,” Peggy mumbled. A small semi-derelict trailer was apparently the office. I knocked on the door. No one home. I went wandering out among the junked vehicles…

And found John, which is the name I sort of remember. He turned out to be a nice guy. “Well obviously the tire is dead,” he told us, “and I don’t have a replacement. But, I can put on your spare, and maybe you can make it to Whitehorse.”

In talking with John, we discovered he was something of an artist, painting both canvasses and shovels. He quickly agreed to break out his paintings for a photo.

One of his oil paintings of an old cabin.

On our way back south, Peggy and I spent more time at Teslin Lake, first camping there and then visiting the Tlingit First Nation Heritage Center. I decided that our two visits called for a post! Next Wednesday we will continue our journey up the Alaska Highway through the Yukon Territory.

We camped next to Teslin Lake and were treated to this view.

The clouds insisted on showing off. Distant shores suggested the size of the lake. And this was just looking across. The lake was much longer than it was wide.

I was surprised to find the Tlingit First Nation people with their Heritage Center on Teslin Lake since I normally think of the Tlingits and their fabulous totem poles as inhabitants of the coast from the American-Canadian border north. We were greeted with a line of totem poles at the Center that represented the different Tlingit clans. This is Raven.

Meet Frog.

I couldn’t help but think, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down,” when we checked out Wolf.

Eagle with its hooked beak.

The Center was quite attractive and included both cloth and wood art representing the Tlingit people. This is Beaver with an extra tail and pair of rear legs.

And here we have Wolf with his tongue hanging out.

A number of carved masks were on display. I think that this is Eagle.

I’ll conclude with this carving and what appears to be a female representation. The Tlingit are a matrilineal society with property held and passed down by the women of the tribe.

FRIDAY’S MisAdventures POST: When mischief took place in the town of my youth, there was a mantra: The Mekemson kids did it.

MONDAY’S Travel Blog POST: We continue our journey down the Colorado River, stopping off at the Phantom Ranch. Tom wears Bone and I jump off a cliff.

WEDNESDAY’S Photo Essay POST: We continue on our journey through the Yukon Territory and arrive at the Alaska border.



The Striking Mucho Lake, Big Bison, and a Sign Forest… The Alaska Highway Series

Muncho Lake 6

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.

Toad River

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.

View along Alaska Highway in BC

And this view.

Muncho Lake north

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.)

Muncho Lake in British Columbia

We captured this view on our return trip down the Alaska Highway.

Muncho Lake on the Alaska Highway

As well as this photo.

Road construction, Alaska Highway, BC

Here’s a common sight along the highway: road construction. Tough winters and permafrost pretty much guarantee employment for road workers.

Road Construction along Alaska Highway

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).

Dall sheep ram on Alaska Highway

We also found this handsome fellow, another Stone Mountain sheep. What really got us excited, however…

Bison warning sign on Alaska Highway

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.

Woodland Bison and wallow in BC

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.

Woodland bison bull

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.

Herd of wood bison along Alaska Highway

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.

Woodland bison calves

A pair of youngsters…

Welcome to the Yukon sign

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!”

Watson Lake sign forest 5

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.

Watson Lake sign forest

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!

Watson Lake sign forest 4

The signs go on and on…

Peggy Mekemson at Watson Lake Sign Forest

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.