We constantly evolved and updated our route plan as we started our way back home. We definitely tried not to travel the same roads we took to get north. As we still had plenty of time in our schedule, we zig-zagged a bit and tried to hit side destinations as we went back through western Canada. The route we ended up driving had us ducking between Canada and Alaska repeatedly.
One side trip that we did was to drive the dirt road to McCarthy through the Wrangle St. Elias National Preserve. Maybe it was just our mood or the weather, but it was very dry, dusty, and not as pretty as many of the other places we had recently been to, so we drove the length of the road both ways in one day. But heading east from there, toward the Canada border, we camped at a really great nature preserve with a beautiful lake and vibrant ecosystem. We spent the evening watching beavers busily doing their thing and we heard wolves calling to each other at dusk from either side of the lake.
The drive down to Haines, Alaska, area from the Yukon was really pretty; lots of open expanses and alpine tundra. It’s really interesting to see how seasons come and go as you travel in latitude, elevation, and weather. One morning we woke up and it was locally fall. The fall color was really nice in western Yukon.
We had a little trouble finding good camp spots in the Haines area as it is a very geographically constrained area. We spent a day in a wetland perfecting our salmon photography and then found a reasonable camp spot at a state park. We saw a really pretty lynx running down the road that evening. The lynx we saw was quite a bit bigger and lankier than bobcats down south.
There was a big cold weather front coming down from the north, so the wind in Haines really started picking up and we changed our plans a bit and got a standby trip on the ferry to Skagway to jump ahead in our route before the weather hit. It worked out great and we were able to get a nice camp spot in the Yukon before the wind really picked up.
That evening, we ended up sharing a camp spot with a nice German couple that turned out to be the parents of an expedition couple that we had met a few days earlier. They were there to meet up with their son and daughter-in-law and travel together for a while. They were super into our truck and it was fun to talk expedition trucks with them.