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September 26, 2013: Liard Hotsprings

We opted to bypass driving the Cassiar Highway and instead drove the Alaska Highway. This was because I wanted to (again) spend some time in Liard Hot Hprings. The ride there did not disappoint. We drove through the Rocky Mountains, all the while taking in the fall colors. The foliage is different than in New England, so the colors also differ. Back there, you see shades of red, green, orange, yellow, and green. Here you see shades of gold, yellow and orange. Love those aspen and birch.

It had begun to rain, just a light drizzle, by the time we reached Liard. But it was not cold, and this made all the difference in the world. We decided to check out the provincial campground, thinking that

it was closed. The fee station was closed, but the campground itself was open. I read the rules sign – it didn’t say No Horses. Others must have had the same idea that we had, that this would be a good place to camp, because the majority of the sites were filled.

We did a complete loop, and then returned to the site that best fit our specifications. This one had a picnic table, was fairly close to the outhouse, a pull in area for the truck and trailer – and to the side, an enclosed grassy area with trees at both ends. “Perfect for high-lining,” I said, to which Pete agreed. We did look further, but the adjacent area was too swampy – we didn’t want our china dolls to get their feet wet.

We parked, and then set up camp. Pete then went to pay our fees, and on the way made friends with Mr. Ranger Sir (remember yogi bear?). This is a good idea, especially if you are going to do as we did, and tie your horses up in a public space. I, in the meantime, began doing evening chores.

We went for a soak after dinner. A good time to do this. It was dusk, and the mist hung low over the pool. We walked the boardwalk, which is always fun. The walk and bathing area brought to mind photographer Imogene Cuningham’s work. I expected sirens to come forth and escort the men into the woods.

I like Liard because they’ve maintained the naturalistic setting. Trees surround the pool, and there are rock and dirt walls, rather than concrete. And there are no diving boards or water slides. I’m sure that this reduces the number of children.

Once in the pool, you can veer to the right, where the hot water enters the pool, or to the left, where the colder water leaves the pool. I like doing both. It’s always fun to people watch. I’m a bit more reticent, but Pete likes to strike up conversations with other bathers. There were just a few guys present in the evening, but at 9 a.m. the next morning, there were several more. He talked to a woman who is a park ranger, both at Denali and at Death Valley. We learned that she now lives in McCarthy. This lead to a discussion about the shooting that occurred there many years before. Once again, I realized that you never know by looking at someone what stories they might have to tell.

We packed up and left shortly after our second morning soak. Our hot springs visit was (I thought) a bit too short. In response to Pete’s question, “could you live here?” I gave a resounding yes.

Next: 186: 9/27/13: Watson Lake - Rodeo/Signage