Arriving in Watson Lake meant we’d made it into the Yukon Territory 🙂
…but first we had to wait our turn on to cross this bridge over the Liard River:
It took several minutes for one of the workers to walk alongside the truck to make sure it didn’t veer into either the side of the bridge or the temporary lane divider. (We watched to make sure he didn’t veer off into our rig.)
Watson Lake is home to the famous “Sign Forest,” home of (depending on whom you believe) as many as 70,000 signs, all started by one homesick GI back during the construction of the Alaska Highway in the 1940s.
A person could spend days walking the long, winding, haphazard rows of posts that sprout signs of all sorts like odd leaves and blossoms. We spotted some towns we’ve spent time in….
But what floored us most of all was that so many strangers from all over the world have been compelled to nail up their own sign.
Maybe some people feel a need to leave their mark. We don’t, so you won’t find a sign that says “Bob and Ellen were here.”
Instead, we decided to walk around Wye Lake (named that because once upon a time (according to an interpretive panel in town), “The Alaska Highway was built ten kilometers away from the original townsite of Watson Lake near the airport. The Y-shaped junction of the access road was called the Watson Lake ‘Y’, and this nearby lake became known as Wye Lake.”
The park is about 2600 acres and the path around the lake is just shy of two miles — a perfect afternoon walk. With blue skies and sunshine, we were ready for a nice stroll in nature.
Though the woods were home to Northern Flying Squirrels, we didn’t see them… though we did catch a far-away glimpse of these Red-Necked Grebes:
Unfortunately, we spotted signs of other wildlife:
The mosquitoes were getting to us, so we quickened our pace, and fast-stepped past a trio of very inebriated First Nations people lingering near one of the pathways from the lake to the grocery store. The unexpected encounter, much like the one we’d experienced in Quesnel near the bridge, unsettled us, but we were glad we came upon the group at the end of our walk rather than the beginning.
The Northern Lights Center gave us a terrific idea of what the Northern Lights are like, not just in Alaska, but around the world. Featuring high-speed video of the aurora borealis, the visuals danced over and around our heads in the Center’s special auditorium. The next best thing to seeing them out on the cold arctic tundra!
And this photo? Taken after 10:00 p.m. Alaska time a few days before the summer solstice. Nope, didn’t get much darker than that all night….!