After topping off the fuel we left Fairbanks and headed toward the Dalton Highway.
The James W. Dalton Highway, usually Dalton Highway (Alaska Route 11) is a 414-mile (667 km) road in Alaska. It begins at the Elliott Highway, north of Fairbanks, and ends at Deadhorse near the Arctic Ocean and the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. Once called the North Slope Haul Road (a name by which it is still sometimes known), it was built as a supply road to support the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System in 1974. It is named for James Dalton, a lifelong Alaskan and an engineer who supervised construction of the Distant Early Warning Line in Alaska and, as an expert in Arctic engineering, served as consultant in early oil exploration in northern Alaska.
The weather was good. We started up the North Slope Haul Road about 11:00 am tucked behind a small convoy of flatbeds loaded with heavy equipment. Off the the left of the 1st major incline there was a crumpled and twisted rig that didn't make the turn during the last storm. We drove slow, there is an air of caution by almost all who drive the haul road.(and then there are the silly people).
Trees as far as the eyes can see. Valley after valley of a green velvet with black rivers snaking their way through the undisturbed vistas.
our first stop was for lunch at a small pull off (Colorado Trail head). We ate a light lunch, a sub sandwich we bought before leaving Fairbanks. The bugs were not too bad, at first. We ate and jumped into the jeep headed to our next goal, the Yukon Crossing. This bridge is located at mile 56. Now by todays standards that seams like only an hours drive but with the fluid road conditions it can take 3 hours, even in the summer. We got out and stretched our legs, and had a slice of fresh apple pie at the Yukon River Camp. The next leg to reach the arctic circle about another 90 minutes away. After taking the obligatory photo at the Arctic Circle Marker we started the long climb towards the base of the Brooks Mountain Range and our accommodations in Coldfoot.
The views where breathtaking and the road was teeth shaking. at times it felt like driving down railroad ties and other time the packed mud was smooth enough to drive 65. Then without warning the road would be filled with 6 inch deep potholes. After a few spilled ....everything and 200 miles of Bumpyville (Official trucker term) we pulled up to the Gates of the Arctic Visitor Center where our host worked. After meeting with Hiedi we followed a pilot car through 13 miles of slimey muddy bumpy construction to get to our cabin in the "town" of Wisemen.
Now if you ever find yourself in this historic little burg the Boreal Lodge is a must see, and the owner... well she has hospitality's only found in the deep south.
Hi Danny & BJ
You guys are sure having one amazing trip - so many incredible experiences.
It's into Day 4 now at your folks'
David (& Dale) From , on Jun 23, 2010 at 01:58AM