Part 1 - Going to the river

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#1)  Part 1 - Going to the river

Postby tsharp » Mon Jun 24, 2013 12:17 am

]NTS:
In July of 2012 wife Susan and friend John Fichtner took off for points far north. By far north I mean to Dalton Post, Yukon Territory for a put in on the Tatshenshini River. There we were to meet four other friends arriving via Haines, AK. The driving part from Parkersburg, WV was to be 3400 miles. We spent long days on the road and tried to make camp before dark. At most of our stops I had enough time to measure a few trees. Our itinerary took us up through North Dakota into Canada and picked up the Alaska Highway near Beaver Lodge, Alberta. Then north and west through northern British Columbia and the southern section of the Yukon Territory until a turnoff heading south at Haines Junction which is about 100 miles west of Whitehorse, YK

Stops along the way included:
Alberta: Banff National Park
This stop included tenting with the mosquitoes in the Two Jack Campground plus traffic jams in the downtown area.
Largest trees measured were:
Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia) 3.7’ x 74.6’, 3.8’ x 70.6’
Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) 2.4’ x 52.5’

Turner and Susan Sharp at Bow River Falls near downtown Banff. Really a cascade instead of falls but is a scenic attraction handy to view by the multitudes of tourists.

Image

Photo by John Fichtner

Typical dramatic scenery in the park

Image

Photo by Susan Sharp

Alberta: Another stop was at a roadside park near the town of Demmitt.
Largest trees measured included:
Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) 4.0’ x 72.5’, 4.5’ x 61.0’

A complete list of trees measured  in Alberta can be found on the Trees database at:

http://www.treesdb.org/Browse/Sites/1502/Details
http://www.treesdb.org/Browse/Sites/1542/Details

British Columbia: Fort Nelson
This was a pleasant lunch stop at town park on the edge of town
Species measured included:
Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera ssp. balsamifera) 3.9’ x 67.9’, 5.9’ x 67.2’
Quaking Aspem (Populua tremuloides) 3.0’ x 89.5’

British Columbia: Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park:
This was a nice stop. For five dollars one got to enjoy an outdoor hot spring that was developed by the US Army while building the Alaska Highway during WW 11. Large and lush examples of Ostrich Ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) and Cow Parsnip (Heracleum lanatum) gave the surrounding area an almost tropical jungle feel.
Surprisingly the park stays open in the winter but another patron warned me the when it gets down to minus`15 to 20 F it is advisable to take off any clothing before walking the short distance to a changing room. The clothing is subject to freezing on sensitive body parts.
To get to the hot spring one must walk about 1/3 mile over a board walk through a muskeg swamp which features some Eastern Larch and Black Spruce. It also features mosquitoes which I was told at the gate are no extra charge but one has two choices -Run the distance at full speed or cover up including head netting.  
The largest of six species measured are listed below:
Thinleaf Alder (Alnus incana ssp. tenufolia) 1.25’ x 26.1’
Eastern Larch (Larix larcinia) 3.0’ x 70.2’
White Spruce (Picea glauca) 6.1’ x 87.3’
Black Spruce. (Picea mariana) 2.4’ x 53.0’
Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera ssp. balsamifera) 5.0’ x 91.1’
Black Cottonwood (Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa) 6.8’ x 91.4’
I had trouble separating many examples of Balsam Poplar and Black Cottonwood at this site and suspect hybrids of the two are common in this area.
A complete listing of trees measured  in British Columbia can be found on the Trees database at:

http://www.treesdb.org/Browse/Sites/1477/Details
http://www.treesdb.org/Browse/Sites/1462/Details

For more information about this park use the following link:

http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/liard_rv_hs/

This stretch of the Alaska Highway from Fort Nelson to the Stone Mountains was  rich in wildlife viewing. Moose, Caribou, Deer, many black Bears, Coyotes Golden Eagles, Bobcat, Bison (including two road kills), and Red Fox  were observed from the road. The picture below is of some Stone Sheep which is one of four species of Sheep native to North America.

Image

Photo by Susan Sharp

Yukon Territory:Teslin Lake campground  
Tree species measured included:
White Spruce (Picea glauca) 3.6’ x 59.5’, 4.0’ x 53.1’
Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) 2.2’ x 50.2’, 2.7’ x 40.7’
We camped at a public campsite not far off the highway near the lake. The camping area appeared to flat top ridge composed of sand and gravel. This was poor and dry site and the tree growth reflected it.
Yukon territory: Watson Lake:
We camped at a public camp ground several miles north of town near a lake which we never saw. The site was much better for tree growth and mosquito activity.
Tree species measured included:
Subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa var. lasiocarpa) 3.4’ x 94.3’
Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) 3.2’ x 57.8’
White Spruce (Picea glauca) 4.4’ x 92.7’
Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia) 4.7’ x 77.5’
Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) 4.8’ x 65.0’
Scouler’s Willow (Salix scouleriana) 1.8’ x 32.1’

A complete listing of trees measured in the Yukon Territiry  can be found on the Trees database at:

http://www.treesdb.org/Browse/Sites/1479/Details
http://www.treesdb.org/Browse/Sites/1482/Details

There is another rather unique forest in Watson Lake, but I did not measure any trees there.

Image

Photo by Susan Sharp

Could that be a wayward Massachusetts sign?
The Sign Forest which apparently was started by soldiers building the Alaska Highway during the 1940’s and has continued as a tradition ever since.

We did stop and camp at Whitehorse in a Lodgepole Pine forest. It was to dark to measure any trees and we left early the next morning after discovering Walmart had penetrated this far north and was open all night for last minute supplies.

Our original plan was to meet the others at the put-in at Dalton Post, but new Homeland Security requirements insist that  we must present ourselves at the border post just north of Haines, Alaska beforehand to notify them of our intentions of reentering the country by river. So it cost us 4 extra hours and a tank full of gas gas and an overnight stay in Haines . However Haines is pleasant town and reminiscent of Cicely, Alaska of the TV show Northern Exposure. They also do not allow the large cruise ships to stop.
Part 2- Going down the river will follow in a couple of days.

For this message the author tsharp has received Likes - 6:
bbeduhn, ElijahW, jamesrobertsmith, Jess Riddle, Matt Markworth, Will Blozan
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#2)  Re: Part 1 - Going to the river

Postby Joe » Tue Jun 25, 2013 9:29 am

tsharp wrote:Turner and Susan Sharp at Bow River Falls near downtown Banff. Really a cascade instead of falls but is a scenic attraction handy to view by the multitudes of tourists.


heck, you forgot your kayak?

Joe
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#3)  Re: Part 1 - Going to the river

Postby Don » Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:49 pm

Turner-
What a road trip!
We had one several years back, going from Anchorage to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories.  I noticed you mentioned Liard Hot Springs...we stopped there on our return in December, and noticed along the boardwalk to the springs, a fairly large birch...I have the measurements somewhere, but couldn't come up with it today...was it still alive and up?  It was on the left not far from the springs as you approached.
We enjoyed our trip, and seeing some of the same locations brings back memories!  Good on ya~
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
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#4)  Re: Part 1 - Going to the river

Postby dbhguru » Wed Jun 26, 2013 9:30 am

Turner


 Quite a report! Lots of miles, lots of great scenery, and lots of trees. We look forward to Part 2.your trip is one that Monica and I long to make.

Bob
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#5)  Re: Part 1 - Going to the river

Postby tsharp » Wed Jun 26, 2013 10:38 pm

Don: The tree was still there or I should say whats left of it. The main bole was still upright but had almost no crown left and no bark. I called it a birch but I did not have much to go on. What species was it?
TS
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