Yukon Territory

Haines Junction to Kelsall Lake - Haines Highway

13 July 2013 - Saturday

There were numerous forest fires burning in Yukon this weekend. There was a noticeable amount of smoke in the air making for hazy mountains. Even so, we wanted to head out for the night -- to celebrate our 23 wedding anniversary! No dinners in fancy restaurants for us!

The "to-do" list includes hiking to Samuel Glacier along the Haines Highway. Maybe this was the weekend to do that.

As we passed through Haines Junction to head south on the Haines Highway, the smoke was thick. Usually, the view is in high-definition clarity with the fresh clean air, not today though! 

Haines Road with fire smoke
Forest fire smoke in the air over Dezadeash River

Below is a similar view of the Dezadeash River from the bridge on the Haines Hwy.
What a difference the smoke makes!

Haines Hwy
On a clear day with no forest fire smoke - 29 June 2013

Haines Hwy
More forest fire smoke to the west

On previous trips we had noted numerous rough roads along the Haines Hwy. Today we explored some of them. On one, we found some interesting old things ...

Haines Hwy scene
Who, what, when and why?

After some exploring of numerous dead-ends, the Kelsall Lake valley came into view. This area has interested us since our March 2013 drive through here. Dressed in all white, the area was beautiful!

By now the smoke had thinned a bit so the views were again amazing.

Haines Hwy road
The single track road leading to Kelsall Lake

After a few kilometres there was a very rough downhill with a creek crossing at the bottom. With the camper on the truck it didn't seem prudent to continue further. So we parked alongside the road and continued on foot.

Haines Hwy creek
Steve walking down the road to check out the creek crossing

We waded across the creek. Willow ptarmigan burst into the air on the other side. The dogs went flying. We went flying too ...

Finally got our shoes back on and continued along the road. Not too far along there was a side road that led to a camp spot along side the Kelsall River.

Haines Hwy Kelsall River
Kelsall River

It wasn't too far to Kelsall Lake. The dogs were both hot and thirsty ...

Haines Hwy Kelsall Lake
Kodi taking a drink at Kelsall Lake

It was hot. The area is beautiful! We noted some bear tracks too. Rather than explore further we headed back to the truck.

Haines Hwy hike
Looking back at Kelsall Lake

Still some smoke in the air, but not too bad. The dogs were busy pointing out all the Willow Ptarmigan!

Haines Hwy camping
Admiring the views

Back at the camper we took a bit of a break. Steve went down to the river while I played with the wide angle lens.

Haines Hwy
Kodi enjoying the day

Then the telephoto lens to get a shot of the glacier high on the side of Mount Kelsall.

Haines Hwy landscape
Ice & snow on Mount Kelsall

Then I took some shots the other way, looking south to the Kusawak Range.

Haines Hwy Kusawak Range
More ice & snow

On the way to this spot there was a low wet spot through which the truck was in 4-wheel drive. This spot was lovely but we figured it wise to head back out a bit to get to the other side of the wet spot, just in case a rain storm moved in overnight.

There was another camping spot that had a lovely view of the lake and was high & dry. Off we went.

On the way, met some birds! These Willow Ptarmigan are the most interesting characters. On our trip in May, the ptarmigan were courting. Now they had chicks who could fly but usually ran around instead.

Willow Ptarmigan, Haines Road
Willow Ptarmigan with a chick in the background

Willow Ptarmigan
Willow Ptarmigan chick

After the stop for bird photography, we carried on.

Haines Hwy camping
Overnight camp spot

Haines Hwy Kelsall lake
The views go on forever

Finally the sun dipped a bit. No complaints at all about our sleeping accommodation!

Haines Hwy campsite
Set up for a good night's sleep 

Despite the forest fire smoke, it was a lovely evening. No one was around. The willow ptarmigan were busy and noisy. Their vocalizations are great fun though!

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