At 7 ½ miles long, Muncho Lake is one of the largest natural lakes in the Canadian Rockies. The Terminal Range west of the lake is the northernmost section of the Rocky Mountains. These and the mountains east of the lake, the Sentinel Range, climb to 7,000 feet. The views of the lake framed by these mountains are spectacular.
Since it was raining and we did not see any wildlife during our drive to the lake, we doubled back in the car once it cleared for another opportunity to spot some wildlife. We drove back as far as some spots that are known for wildlife and had much better luck.
First, we spotted a very handsome moose. Since only the males have antlers, we realized he was a bull, possibly a young one. He was eating just in front of a line of trees and he walked down to a creek and drank some water. We got a nice long look at him and the light was great for photographing him. Moose have such interesting and goofy faces.
Unlike moose, sheep have horns, not antlers, the difference being that they do not shed them. And both male and female have horns. But like bighorn sheep, the rams’ horns are larger and curve to eventually reach a complete spiral. No rams in this group though.
Finally, we saw several caribou. They are beautiful animals and seem quite docile. Females and males both have antlers, and while the males shed theirs around December, the females shed theirs around April. This means that the cows become dominant for those few months and can lay claim to the best feeding sites.
That same day, we stopped back at the Toad River Lodge for some ice cream and a little more internet – for CA$1! We also used their ATM and filled up our gas tank – a convenient little place. But 42 miles from Muncho Lake was too far to drive out there again so we have been in the “NoFi zone” for days.
We enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch at the Summit Lake Campground in Stone Mountain Provincial Park. The location is on a small, picturesque lake just past the highest point of the Alaska Highway. It was pretty cold and windy which apparently is fairly common in that area, but it is quite a lovely spot.
When we arrived in the area, several campgrounds and businesses were still closed so choices were somewhat limited. It seems that the start of June is when things open up more generally. We saw more than one business that opened on June 1.
But we were quite happy with our choice of the MacDonald Provincial Campground. Although they have no WiFii or hookups, we generally have a preference for provincial parks, they are less expensive and usually more scenic.
The MacDonald Provincial Campground was in a perfect spot right on the lake and we had our particular grouping of sites pretty much to ourselves.
Tip of the day: We heard from one of the Muncho Lake campground proprietors that it costs a great deal to connect to the fiber optic cable that runs along the Alaska Highway so some RV Parks and lodges still use satellite links. And there is zero cell service here and for many miles in any direction.
Many campgrounds limit Internet usage. Another proprietor told us they limit WiFi access to 50MB per day. So if internet access is a priority, it is best to ask specific questions about WiFi access and speed prior to registering in a campground in this area.
During our stay on the lake, the weather was variable. Mostly cloudy and sometimes windy with some occasional sunshine. As well as some periods of rain.
But all in all it was pretty nice. Not too cold, not too rainy, not too hot.
Later that day, we set off on our first kayak outing. It was still pretty cloudy, but we were determined. We stayed close to the shoreline on our side of the lake just in case the weather deteriorated. During this and our other kayak outings, we had the lake practically to ourselves.
Even in not so nice weather, we really enjoyed the view from our campsite. Our view from the front window was of pine trees, the lake, the forest across the lake and some mountains. We watched the rain, the clouds and the sun all taking turns over this spectacular scene.
The one negative is that there are a lot of deer flies around and they are attracted to the exhaust from burning propane in the motor home, so they swarm around it. Quite frankly they were swarming around all over the campground. On the plus side, they do not bite. The attendant told us that there are 11 types of mosquitoes here, and only one of the 11 had hatched. And there were no bugs on the water.
On one particularly rainy day, we took nice long naps and were wondering whether we would get to take the kayaks out. But since we could launch our kayaks right next to Island Girl, we seized the moment and headed out the moment the rain cleared.
It was actually pretty late in the evening, but with the longer days it was still daylight. The weather could have gone either way but as we paddled out the sky slowly cleared and it became a glorious calm evening with a mix of blue sky and puffy clouds.
We could hear lots of birds singing, but only saw a few little ones flying away. And we were only able to identify a few swallows and a sandpiper.
On another short hike, this time in the forest by a viewpoint of a salt lick known to attract stone sheep, we had no luck with sighting stone sheep. But Angel did find lots and lots of beautiful wildflowers.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Eagle were there, one on the nest and the other nearby tree, but no eaglets. Seems they had not hatched yet.
Muncho Lake is truly a spectacular place and very much worth spending several days there.
We are so happy that we decided to stay put for a bit, but we have a lot of miles to go yet.