Road Trip 2013: Day 16. Morning in Stewart and the Cassiar Highway

My morning in Stewart is one of my favourite memories from the trip.  Time stood still for that moment and the busyness of the trip disappeared.  As with the other road trip 2013 entries, this was originally written in the evening of that day, while the memories were still fresh.

Day 16: Stewart to Dease Lake – 409 km driven
I woke up this morning in my bed in the motel in Stewart. I enjoyed lying there for a while, and then got up and had a shower. It was raining outside, and the forcast all around seemed to call for rain. It seems I’m constantly trying to figure out what to do with rain days right now, and yet things keep working out.

I was undecided whether to leave or stay in Stewart another day. I really enjoyed the sleepy little town, and would gladly have stayed and wandered around, even if it was raining. So I went to the toastworks which was a little breakfast place…which had a $5 coupon from the inn, so I figured I might as well use it. I got a coffee and then ordered something called The Pacific, which was eggs florentine, with a slab of smoked pacific salmon. It was a very unique breakfast, and it tasted delicious.

The Toastworks Cafe
The Toastworks Cafe

I sat there with my coffee, watching the traffic out the window for a while, and then decided I would try to stay another night. But it turned out that the inn was full for the next night and I couldn’t extend my stay. And I wasn’t going to tent it, because Stewart was in for a lot of rain that afternoon and night. At least when I looked at the weather, the rain was less chance further north. I spent a bit more of the morning walking around the canal at Stewart since I hadn’t had a chance to explore it before. It looked great with the fog and clouds covering the mountains.

The bordwalk, looking toward the Pacific Ocean.
The canal, looking toward the Pacific Ocean.

Then I set off. The first bit of the trip was just a repeat of the road that I drove in, and I just enjoyed the driving. Then I got to a part of the Cassiar that I hadn’t driven and started the turn north. I could sort of see mountains along the side of the road, in the distance, and there were a lot of places that I was pretty sure I was missing out on great mountains due to the clouds. I was a little disappointed that the clouds didn’t clear up much, although the rain let off a little and just spit every now and then. I stopped at one place, kind of considering just getting a motel room, but it was a lot more expensive than I wanted to spend, so I kept going.

The Cassiar Highway. Despite the rain, this is one of my favourite pictures from the trip
The Cassiar Highway. Despite the rain, this is one of my favourite pictures from the trip

The road began to change as I drove further north. At first it was a proper highway, with lines, a bit of extra pavement, and some shoulder. Soon, the shoulder was gone, then the edge of the road was right at the white line, then the lines were gone, and eventually it switched over to rough pavement that was almost like gravel…just not loose like gravel. There was the odd gravel stretch and some areas where the road had been reduced to one lane due to washouts. A bunch of the bridges had wooden decks, or metal grating. For a while there wasn’t really anything to see, and then there was a stretch where they were putting in hydro poles. I even saw a baby black bear, with no mother around.

The Cassiar Highway
The Cassiar Highway

But then it began to open up, near the Stikine river. The road started climbing, and at the crest, I could see the valley all laid out before me, rimmed with “mountains”(they were sort of more like hills than real mountains, but still better than anything Ontario has to offer). The lodgepole pines along the side of the road became more sporatic, and everything started to take on a real wild feeling. At this point, there were very few cars on the road, and even though there were no shoulders and the edge just dropped off, I had no worries about just stopping near the side of the road to quick jump out and grab some pictures. When I stopped in places that weren’t near water, it was dead silent…quieter than I had ever heard. It was awesome. The clouds also began to clear up and there was some sunshine…although there wasn’t really any blue skies.

The Cassiar Highway
The Cassiar Highway

I got to Dease lake and didn’t really see any campgrounds, so I asked and was told to drive a bit further north. So I’m camped at the Water’s Edge Campground, and my site is right by the water. There are some trees and a drop before the water, but I can get there by a trail. I will probably go down there and sit for a while tonight. Otherwise, I may drive to Telegraph Creek tomorrow if the weather holds out.

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