More Bears Than Fingers (Day 4)
Route: Highway 16 > BC 37
Smithers > Morice Town > New Hazelton > Meziadin Junction > Bell 2 > Iskut
Drive Quality: 12/10 (not a typo)
Road Quality: 9/10 until you reach Bell 2, then reduces to 7/10; more significant potholes, some uneven roads (mostly marked), looser tarmac
Gas Stations: If you stop at every available spot, sufficient. Though there are no services between.
Wildlife spotted: Bald eagles, wolf, 13 bears
The best drive of the trip so far. The mountains grow taller, the rivers wider, the wildlife so abundant one stops pointing.
The vastness you feel once turning North at the Stewart-Alaska Junction swallows the road, the towns, civilization as a whole. It is nearly impossible to think of anything other than the road in front of you, which rolls rollercoaster-like through valleys and around sharp, rocky mountain passes.
Somehow, we missed the rain. The clouds clung to world’s edges, spitting threats at us before swallowing them down and retreating around the next bend. The road was often damp, but the drops never fell. After two days of wet boots and soggy gear, we were thankful.
Both Smithers and New Hazelton have respite stops, including gas, food, and motels. During other seasons, many of the Indigenous Communities on this route offer tourism services, but most of them are closed due to Covid-19, and have people posted at the entrances to check IDs and enforce a local-only policy.
Meziadin Junction and Bell 2 are both camps which support mining and other trades. They both offer fuel, cafeteria-style dining, and accommodations. On our journey, both were completely booked, which forced us to press on to Red Goat Lodge in Iskut (which offers camping and cabins, if you’re lucky enough to get one!).
Note to travelers: call ahead and book accommodations (including camping). There is no cell service along the highway, and the camps charge between $6-10 for 1 hour of wifi. We got lucky at our stop in Iskut, but from what we hear the area is usually full (despite Covid restrictions). Plan ahead unless you are comfortable sleeping highway-side. If that’s the case, be sure to have bear spray and proper food storage.
Meziadin Junction: More casual dining, deli-style wrapped sandwiches, homemade soup
Bell 2: Full dinner menu, café with specialty coffee, teas, and snacks
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