Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 43 –Fort St. John, BC to Sikanni River

Today’s Mileage 118
Miles to Date 4013
Miles Remaining 5629

This morning we had the alignment checked on the coach at the local Freightliner repair facility in Fort St. John. We left the coach did a little grocery shopping and exchanged some U.S. dollars for Canadian dollars at the local bank. When we returned to the Freightliner shop, the coach was finished. The camber was out 5/32 of an inch and was corrected to specifications.

We were on the road by 10:30 A.M. The decision was made to split the leg to Ft. Nelson in two so we are now at the Sikanni River where we will spend the night. It was an easy decision to call it quits after 118 miles as we got up at 6:00 A.M. so as to be at the Freightliner shop 15 minutes before our 8:00 A.M. appointment.

Of course I had to wash the Hummer and coach while in St. John. All was good until we stopped for lunch. It started to rain just as we finished lunch and it was time to get back on the road. It rained for the next 15 miles, just enough to undo the washing efforts.IMG_0285

The Fort St. John RV Park that we were in lost its WiFi internet service Saturday evening and did not come back until we were leaving. The Sikanni River RV Park does not have  internet service plus we are in a deep valley so there is no cell phone service either.


The Sikanni Chief area had the southernmost airfield in the Northwest Staging Route used during WWII. Local pilot Jimmy “Midnight” Anderson used the airstrip. The strip is gravel, 6000 feet long with an elevation 3,258 feet.

Sikanni River was the site of the most treacherous hills on the original highway known as suicide hill and had the ominous greeting: “Prepare to meet thy maker.”

IMG_0284 In 1943, Alaskan Highway construction crews rerouted much of the pioneer road built in 1942 and replace temporary bridges with permanent structures. The Sikanni Chief River Bridge was the first permanent structure completed on the Alaskan Highway. The 1943 bridge was destroyed by arson on July 10, 1992.

The Sikanni Chief River flows east and then north into the Fort Nelson River, which flows into the Liard River and on to the Mackenzie River, which empties into the Arctic Ocean. It is easy to see how the rivers served as both transportation routes and travel routes by both the natives and early settlers. Even today the rivers and lakes connect more settlements then roads. The rivers were navigated by water craft when not frozen and by foot, horse and horse drawn wagons when frozen.


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