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Stage 542 – Raspberry Creek to Fort Nelson

542’s a right lumpy affair, offering virtually no flat road in the entire stage. It heads east towards Fort Nelson in the east of British Columbia, but doesn’t arrive there until stage 543. It also, somewhat loosely, follows the Muskwa River, albeit as a distance of between four and seven miles to the north: I think it’s probably better to say that both the road and the river are heading east and will finally be reunited in Fort Nelson.

The rollout is uphill and climbs to Raspberry Creek after just one mile before descending sharply for the next half a mile. The longest, steepest and most testing climb of the stage then kicks in and at the start of it, the Alaska Highway swings right to start heading east. The top of that climb, at four miles, is the highest elevation of the stage. There’s then another sharp descent to cross water either side of five miles before an up/down lump sees the road gain and lose a hundred feet of elevation by seven miles: it’s that kind of a stage.

More climbing is on the agenda from eight miles and after not one, not two but three water crossings, it peaks at nine miles, just before the junction with Route 99 which heads north to Maxhamish Lake near the Yukon border. Route 97 meanwhile, hangs a right straight after the junction and starts heading south east on a descent that stretches out all the way to thirteen miles, where strangely enough the road crosses a couple of streams. Then it’s back up to fifteen miles on a lumpy ascent as the road negotiates its way along a ridge. On the descent off that climb, there are streams aplenty: in preparing this preview, I counted thirteen streams crossing under the road between thirteen and eighteen miles, all flowing south into marshy land to the right of the highway.

The road passes by Parker Lake at eighteen miles, and shortly after that the old Alaska Highway branches off to the north: it’s a dirt road that rejoins the main highway on the approach to Fort Nelson on stage 543. The Alaska Highway descends, lumpily it must be said, from fifteen miles to almost twenty miles where it crosses the main Alaska Pipeline, which one assumes is buried underground. Coming off a right hand bend after the pipeline sets up the final mile to the finish, which naturally on a stage such as this, climbs all the way to the line.

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Ascent: 846 feet / 258 metres

RGT Magic Road: B1NDoZM42O0f

Total distance: 20.8 mi
Max elevation: 1752 ft
Min elevation: 1497 ft
Total climbing: 769 ft
Total descent: -871 ft

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