Visions of wilderness in the far north swirled through our head as we left Jasper, AB. The Icefields Parkway from Lake Louse to Jasper presented us with stunning scenery. The landscape along Trans-Canada Highway 16 was as wild as it could be.
Turning north from Hwy 16, the road traverses endless forest and our stop at Grand Cache, AB was like being in a frontier town. Just getting to the start of the Alaska Highway (formerly the AlCan) was going to be an adventure in itself!
Then we started seeing more and more traffic. Suddenly, the forest gave way to Grande Prairie, AB, a city of 55,000 with all of the urban conveniences that one could want – big box stores, gas stations, restaurants, hotels, industry, four-lane highways, and housing developments. So much for the wilderness adventure.
We forged on toward Dawson Creek, BC, famous as “Mile 0” on the Alaska Highway. This must truly be a frontier town. After all, this was the place where, in 1942, the US Army Corps of Engineers and Canadian civilian contractors began constructing 1,420 miles of road through the wilderness, all the way to Big Delta, Alaska. It’s the last stop before launching into the northern woods.
In our minds, we’re seeing log buildings, a quaint main street, and lots of sourdough-like men with white beards. Scratch that. Dawson Creek is still Mile 0, but in reality it is just another modern agri-industrial / oil town in British Columbia with 11,500 residents, big box stores, a couple of old buildings, and several nice museums.
The wilderness has got to be just ahead….