Day 2: Pink Mountain to Fort Nelson, BC – 143.2 miles traveled (April 29, 2016)
We pull out of Pink Mountain Campsite & RV Park at about 10:30 am. For the first hour, the only “town” we pass through is Sasquatch Crossing. Spring hasn’t arrived yet to this more northern area; the spruce and birch trees are still bare. We climb and descend some grades, which let us look out over the unending forest that stretches to the Rocky Mountains in the distance. The other vehicles on the road are mostly oil & gas trucks that climb grades very slowly.
Signs of civilization begin to appear as we near the town of Fort Nelson. We pass a huge building, the Spectra Energy Gas Processing Plant, and a gas pipeline that actually crosses the Alaska Highway. Muskwa Heights is an ugly unincorporated area with a rail yard, gas processing plant, fuel outlets, and the ubiquitous row after row of converted containers that serve as housing for the oil & gas exploration workers.
Just outside of Muskwa Heights, we cross the wide Muskwa River. Midpoint of the bridge is the lowest elevation on the entire Alaska Highway at 1,000 feet exactly.
We arrive at Fort Nelson at about 1:00 pm and although we’ve only been driving for 2-1/2 hours, we’re ready to stop for the day. It takes just three minutes to drive through Fort Nelson and stop at the Triple “G” Hideaway campground at the northwest end of town. It’s the most expensive campground so far in Canada at CN$40.00 but has good Internet, laundry, and best of all, it’s located near the Northern Rockies Regional Recreation Center where there’s a 25-meter lap pool!
Although the whole population of Fort Nelson is just 6,147 people, their recreation center is meant to serve the entire region. The whole facility is brand new. It houses (as one would expect) two ice arenas and a rink, racquetball and squash courts, a gym, climbing wall and Aquatic Centre. The 25-meter lap pool is amazing! No lanes are marked off; one just swims aligned with the lines on the bottom. Only two other swimmers besides Mike & me use the pool for the entire hour that we swim. And after our swim, Mike & I soak for ten minutes in the huge hot tub – heaven!