Cassiar Highway 37: Nightly Stop in New Hazelton, British Columbia

Odometer:  169,081

169081

Day Distance & Time:  621 Miles; 9 hours 49 minutes

621

Overall Trip Distance & Time:  5,382 Miles;

5382

Kitwanga, British Columbia in 2006

kitwanga_2006

Same spot today

kitwanga_2016

I saw this poem in a frame in a gas station bathroom today and it struck me as something worth sharing.

Come drive the great Alcan Highway from one end to the other

Miles of splendor and adventure, become a vein of northern gold.

One time in the summer, let the Arctic sun steal your slumber.

Again in winter, challenged, by the frost and bitter cold.

What a great highway, with its very few by-ways.

Just think, you’re heading northwest to the Pole.

Don’t wait too long to drive it, prove you can survive it.

You should go now, before your dream grows too old.

Come drive the great Alcan, from one end to the other.

Give a thrill, bless your bones, far from home.

The people you meet, and the places you eat and sleep,

Make it worth all the miles, upon miles, you roam.

So come drive the great highway, give thanks for those By days,

Don’t complain, till it’s explained, how the whole thing was done.

Take the trip of your lifetime, celebrate the grand northern lifeline.

The great deed done under the spell of the midnight sun.

– J Hamilton Clarke, 1989

Okay, it took 88 hours in the car, but I’m finally getting fatigued.  And FYI, my trip timer in the car maxes out at 99 hours, 59 minutes, so sadly it won’t even be able to log my entire Alaskan trip.  Don’t these engineers at Acura know there are people out there (okay, just one person) who like to take 131-hour road trips?  Today dragged on for a lot of reasons.  But I’m happy to report that we’re safely at our nightly destination after having seen more of the great, beautiful north.

Jason and I have now “clinched” Highway 37 – the Cassiar Highway – in British Columbia.  That’s a term my friend Kevin uses when he successfully drives a highway from end to end.  And Jason and I did all 450 or so miles of the Cassiar, from the junction with the Alaska Highway in the Yukon, to the end point where it tees into Highway 16 at Kitwanga, BC.

cassiar2

By the time we got to the southern terminus, we were both pooped, so we only came another 20 or so miles east to a small town of New Hazelton to call it a night.  Luckily, despite being old, the place is well kept and the lady at the front desk couldn’t have been any friendlier.

bulkley_new_hazelton

From the point that we departed Teslin, Yukon this morning, the rain has been persistent throughout the day.  Those of you who were disgusted by my muddy car should rejoice because at this point, most of it has washed off.  We made our way south from “Nugget City” just west of Watson Lake and the Cassiar Highway weaved through green forests for seemingly endless miles.  Road conditions were very good considering how infrequently traveled that stretch of road must be, but the shoulders are narrow or nonexistent, the road itself is quite narrow, and there are no pavement markings whatsoever for many many miles.

hwy_37

We had zero cell service for the entire day which made us feel all the more removed from civilization.  And the settlements along Highway 37 are barely blips on the map.  Our first stop was in Dease Lake which had just one all-in-one gas station, grocery store, and small deli.  I had to wait for the cashier to ring up someone’s broccoli and whipped cream before she could activate Pump #2 for me outside to get some fuel.  I indulged in some potato wedges, buffalo chicken nuggets, and a corn dog to scarf down in the car on my way out.  Gas station diet.

dease_flyer

Roads got progressively better the further south we got, and I suspect by now we’ve seen the worst of them.  We are still about 14 hours / 800 miles from Seattle so it’ll be two more days before we drop back into the US of A.  But today’s scenery along the lakes, rivers, and mountains was beautiful despite the wet weather.  Jason and I both got antsy in our cars today.  I caught him taking a run around a rest area this afternoon to get some blood flowing in his legs again.  Tomorrow, we press on to southern British Columbia.  Stay tuned!

Rain (and a bit of snow) as we made our way east from Teslin this morning.

snow2

Fueling up at Nugget City.

nugget_gas

Legal drinking age is 19!

19_drink

Cassiar Mountain Range

mtns

Love the excessive use of quotes on this cork board posting at the Dease Lake gas station.

quotes

Are we there yet?

tyson2

The deli in Dease Lake

dease_deli

More of the Cassiar Range

cassiar_ilx

Taking time to stop and enjoy the flowers.

flowers

Lots of rain means lots of puddles on the roadside.

ilx_cassiar

Stop for fuel and hot cocoa in “Bell II”

bell2

Update:  Jason and I went to find dinner.  Turns out everything in town (all 3-4 restaurants we drove past) were closed, either because they were out of business, closed on Sundays, or closed because it was 9:30 p.m.

But, in the process we stumbled across this awesome one-lane historic bridge!

crossing_hagwilget

It crosses Hagwilget Canyon with the Buckley River.  Beautiful (and rainy!).

hagwilget_2

Nice little side tour to end the evening.

hagwilget

(We ended up getting microwaveable meals from the Chevron to cook at the hotel room, blah!)

13 Responses to “Cassiar Highway 37: Nightly Stop in New Hazelton, British Columbia”

  1. Wow, that picture of Petro Canada sign at top looks exactly the same after 10 years! Other that the price of gas going up almost 1000% from 12 to 112 dollars a liter!!!! Everything else in whole picture looks identical. Even the positioning of cars. That takes some work.

    • Believe it or not, I got the placement of the car in the first attempt! And Jason mastered the photo re-creation. I’m updating the post right now to include a neat canyon we found just now on our way to find dinner.

  2. Cassiar done! I don’t want to see it for another 10 years though. 😉

  3. My wife commented on your epic trip that it seems you have had few moments to just relax and take in the views. And that’s the way it is on most long trips. Getting from point A to point B as quick as possible. But the person on this end of the keyboard can’t imagine the things that you and Jason have seen. That’s what trips are all about. And whether in pictures or tucked away in your brain, the memories of the trip will be there.

    Had a laugh about trying to find a place to eat dinner at 9:30. They probably “roll up the sidewalks” at 6:00PM!

    • Yes, our time outside the car has been relatively short. There is so much to see and explore up here that I’d need an entire summer (or more) to do all that I’d like to. But for now we are making the most of our time and creating some memories along the way. I look forward to piecing together a video with all the short clips I’ve been taking. As for dinner, the bean & cheese burrito from Chevron hit the spot. We’ll find something more substantial tonight when we roll into Cache Creek.

  4. I just noticed on the one lane bridge that once again the roadway is made out of metal so the snow in the winter passes through it. Also the side of it is made out of raised concrete. I bet they have a snowplow with a blade the near exact width of that road.

  5. Is it safe to say as beautiful as it all was it will be good to get home or are you planning a rest stop in B.C. that involves an all day spa?

    • It will definitely be good to get home – if nothing else, so I can clean out my pigsty of a car and get back into my routine. But that’s still several days down the road (literally). The next few days will be a lot of fun. I have 10 people to see in / around Seattle, including dinner with my cousins tomorrow night!

  6. Seriously, though, Acura should have sent along a film crew for this drive.

    • Haha, probably true. They haven’t really cared that much to be honest. I notified them
      via email pre-trip (also discussed it with them several months in advance) and have sent a link along the way. But hey, I’m having fun and that’s all that matters! I hope you have a good Memorial Day, Tim.

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