We are learning to live off grid while we camp here. We have fresh drinking water in the form of a mountain stream that runs clean and clear down the hill behind our camper. The water is filtered through sand and gravel and is fine for drinking as is. We do have to haul it up the hill when our fresh water camper tank is empty. It holds about 7.5 large plastic water jugs. I have learned that it is easier to take the big jobs to the water, rather than haul it all up here. We fill a bucket with our dirty dishes as we go throughout the day. When it is full, usually after lunch, I take it down to the stream and wash them. It is easier when I don't have to conserve water. I just set the pots to soaking in the stream to soak while washing the little stuff. I can even use sand under the dishcloth for scrubbing! I also do our laundry by hand. I fill a bucket from the stream and set it beside the door outside. I dissolve some detergent in warm water and add that, along with any other additives I might want to use. We toss our dirty laundry into that bucket as the day goes by, also getting it out of the camper. I slip on a rubber glove by the bucket and agitate it and scrub spots throughout the day, as I pass by, when I feel like it. It sits there and soaks for a day or two, then I drain it at the campsite, wring out the clothes and take the bucket of clothes to the stream for rinsing and wringing. Large items can be wrung out by rolling up and kneading on a large boulder, like bread. I hang them to dry back at the campsite. They look brighter and cleaner than they have for years! I don't consider either of these things to be a chore. I love it down there beside the stream! I could sit there all day on those boulders pretending to be someone who has all morning to sit here, puttering away at washing dishes or laundry in the stream. Oh wait!! That is me ! This is my life!! :-)
We have been given a cabin to use, as well, but it is more of a large shed than a cabin. We live in our camper and store our supplies in the cabin and there is also a pit toilet behind the cabin. The cabin serves as a sleeping quarters for Shadow and Abby at night. It gives them a change of scenery and room to run around. They spend much of the night time sitting in the window, looking out and, hopefully, keeping mice out of our food supply. We have a little mouse living in the camper wall now that they have been stalking for the past couple of days. They can't get to him inside the wall, but they keep trying. It keeps them busy. We see him outside, occasionally.
We don't have phone, TV or internet up here and we like it that way for now, although we do watch the occasional movie DVD on the laptop. It's a good break for us, a chance to redefine our lifestyle without those things and spend time growing closer together and reshaping ourselves. We have to drive about 10 mins down the mountain to make a phone call and check our email. We do a lot of walking daily to the campground, around to each site and home again. We also expend quite a bit of energy hauling our water up the hill from the stream. We hike everyday and hope to be lean and healthy when the camp closes in another three weeks. Then we head south for the winter.
Because of the short season up here, this campground is only open for four months of the year. We have been asked to work at the Liard Hot Springs Campground next year. It is larger and there are jobs for both of us there. They also have a tap for the water which is a big help, so we will probably work there next summer. Camp Facility Operators are in great demand, especialy mature, experienced and responsible ones. We have to get through this coming winter first.
Where to go for the winter is a big question for us. We don't yet know where we will be going when we are finished up here. It's more a question of too many choices, as not enough and none of them seem to be exactly what we are looking for. We would like to work some and add more funds to our savings throughout the winter. We don't like a lot of heat and humidity. The days here are very warm, mostly shorts and T-shirts but we sleep under a quilt and extra blanket every night. It's perfect! Also, being so far north the days are very long in the summer months, staying light until about 11pm during the longest day period. At the north pole there are six months of light and six months of dark, all being sort of twighlight really. We are heading into the short day period now and hope to be staying much further south or on the Pacific coast where there is no winter when we are finished here.
Right now we are enjoying the month of quiet reflection and nature that we have here. The campground is busy on the weekends and we have met many nice and interesting people from all over the world! It is surprising how many Europeans are here travelling to Alaska! We have had campers from Germany, France, Sweden, Holland, England, Scotland and several other places that I cannot remember now, however, most are from Fort Nelson, about an hour's drive away. The same regulars fill the campground on nice weekends. Today we met three guys on bicycles, going from Alaska to Argentina! Wow! Yesterday we met a couple of hikers with a goat named "Brownie" as a pack animal. They said that Brownie likes the mountain trails and is very sure footed everywhere, better than they are. He does not, however, like the cold water crossing the mountain streams.
We see a lot of wildlife up here. There are few bears in this area as the highway is just too busy and they avoid humans whenever possible (thank goodness!). Lloyd takes a bat with us on all of our hikes.
We do see a lot of stone sheep, usually right out on the highway. They have lost much of their fear of humans so we assume that people are feeding them. There are little chipmunks in the campground that are like that too. We see the occasional cariboo also. Just last week we saw three young cariboo males on the highway, stopping traffic both ways. The drivers don't usually mind and are out of the cars taking pictures. It can also be sad. Just two days ago a Cariboo family, father, mother and youngster were on the highway when a speeding pick up passed a stopped car illegally and hit the parents head on, killing both instantly. The young one ran off but is not a little baby at this time of year, so will probably survive, but I think the authorities will make sure it does. The Cariboo are protected here. The driver of the truck just kept going but his truck was in bad shape. We have a big piece of the front of it stored away here, at our campsite. It was heartbreaking but both parents were killed instantly and never knew what hit them, mercifully. Cariboo are also called raindeer.
|This animal is the fiercest in the area. It is known to be more dangerous even than the giant grizzly!|
There is a badger and a moose that live near the park and visit frequently and there is a family of beavers in residence there. The beavers make our job more difficult as we have to continually dismantle their lodge to keep the water flowing or they will have the entire area flooded. This falls into our jurisdiction as we oversee all problems in the Summit Lake area. The ranger and his wife pay us a visit occasionally and check things out. His wife is a Camp Facility Operator at the Liard Hot Springs Campground (mentioned earlier) and managed by the same company. They are both very nice people. We get few visitors so it's nice to chat when people do come to see us.
There are many wild strawberries and low bush alpine blueberries here. I picked and picked our first week here. It is getting late in the season here now, more cold nights and fall like days so most of the berries are finished. It's so odd to think that it is only early August and yet fall is on it's way here. They will have snowfall in October but we will be long gone by then! When we are finished here, we will work a few weeks at the Munch Lake Campground before heading south.
It really is a fabulously beautiful spot up here! Unbelievable views and mountain trails with cold and clean streams everywhere. One even runs across our best hiking trails. If you are traveling the Alaskan highway, make it a point to stop in Stone Mountain Provicial Park at Summit Lake. It is well worth the visit!
These are pictures from the hiking trail across the highway from us. It is such a beautiful hike! We are up at the tree line with the glaciers and fiords!
You can Google the Stone Mountain Provincial Park campgrounds, Summit Lake, Muncho Lake and Liard Hot Springs for more information. There are two Summit Lakes in BC. If you just Google "Summit Lake" you will get the wrong one.