The campground manager told us this morning that it had been 18°F minimum overnight, and again the ground was frozen this morning. But the day dawned clear, blue sky and bright sunshine.
Heading west on the Alcan towards Whitehorse the road was definitely better than the Cassiar highhway. The view was also quite different. The spruce and lodge pole forests looked like an ocean and seemed to go on forever. Most of the day we were able to see the Cassiar mountains to the south but, unlike the Cassiar, the valleys we drove through were broad. This was certainly big sky country.
Along the highway most things like campgrounds and service centers were closed so this highway also feels very isolated. The snow is still everywhere, the lakes still frozen - at Teslin lake we saw a number of people ice fishing - but most of the rivers while still iced on the edges were flowing.
Once the sun had been up for while the temperature got into the 40°F's, the gravel pullouts turned back into mud, and water started flowing from all the snow banks. So spring is definitely underway.
We had some slight changes of plan today. Since so many things are closed we decided to skip Atlin and Skagway, at least for the moment, and go all the way to Whitehorse in the hope of finding out the state of the Dempster highway to Inuvik. We had not realized that there are two ice bridges on this road and if we wait too long they will be closed for the season. Then Inuvik would be inaccessible until the ferries start in June.
But we seem to be in luck. The latest road report dated April 12th is that both ice bridges are open to vehicles up to 64,500 kg - I think that means us - so tomorrow we will make the long drive to Dawson City in order to start the Dempster the following day.