Just out of Dease Lake, I stopped
at Jade Lake to buy a few souvenirs for the kids. The owner
of the shop talked about panning for gold in the area. According
to her, casual panning is permitted in Canada regardless of whether the
land is claimed or not. My one regret in how I packed for the
trip was that I was unable to figure out how to carry my gold pan.
I remembered reading that Dease Lake was a historical gold area. To date, there is still activity. A former
asbestos mine is now being worked for jade and gold. The proprietor
said a neighbor had pulled out a nugget out of a local creek the size of two golf balls. He didn’t have the nugget assayed or valued, just kept it for his wife and for his own personal satisfaction.
At my first gas stop after leaving
Dease Lake, an old prospector named Bill was sitting in the doorway.
For my $1000.00 investment, he said he would develop a claim sitting over rich,
gold-bearing gravel. He
told me he had discovered the location of a lost claim. The miner
of the lost claim had pulled gold from a strata of gravel, and Bill had
“followed” the strata by the North Star to a new location. Now
he's waiting for someone to put up the money require to dig down 30
feet in a caisson to reach the gold. Some of the stuff he said
made sense. Some didn't. I declined to invest.
Shortly after leaving Dease Lake, I crossed into the Yukon Territory...
The Cassiar Highway's north end terminated at the
Alaskan Highway, at the town of Watson Lake. I turned north on
the Alaskan Highway. The Alaskan Highway had an entirely
different feel than that of the Cassiar. The pavement was
painted with white and yellow lines. There were four lanes, two
in each direction. The roadway was cleared back about 200 feet on
each side. Mileage markers were now in miles, not kilometers.
There were roadside signs for US brands of lodging and food.
I didn't like it. It looked
and rode like any major thoroughfare anywhere, and lacked the character
of most of the roads I'd ridden to date.
About 30 miles out of
Watson Lake, I pulled over for a brief break. In the restroom, I
found a classical rendition of an old story. In the first act, the actor bemoans his fate:
Here I sit,
Tried to shit,
And only farted.
In the second act, a sympathetic
voice offers hope and encouragement, but with bragging overtones of smugness:
Don’t be blue.
I just shit
Enough for two.
And in the third act, the hero
achieves his dreams and goals, but not without discovering that success, like chocolate, can be
Decided to give it
One last chance.
Tried to fart,
And shit my pants.
through couple of towns. There weren't much to
each. Towns are scattered about 60
miles apart, so if one doesn’t work, getting to the next takes some doing. I finally got close enough to Whitehorse (pop
20,000) to push the rest of the way.