End of the line.

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Deadhorse, Alaska, United States
Sunday, June 20, 2010

Getting an early start from our wonderful cabin retreat, we headed out into the morning sun (it was due North). The highway was very muddy from the hard rains the day before so the going was slow. This turned out to be a blessing as just about 45 minutes after we left on our way up the Brooks Range we came across a wiry black wolf hunting Ar tic Ground Squirrels. With a sneer he trotted off into the tree line to our left, without his breakfast. We continued the climb up to the Atigun Pass, about a mile high in the Brooks Mountains. Off to our right we saw a pull off that hosted the furthest north spruce tree, goodbye forest hello tundra  .The Pass was foggy and dark, like a Charles Bronson movie, as we started down the north side to the semi-level ice heaved plains below, 160 miles of them. This is a desolate landscape with little more than ground squirrels to keep our attention. The occasional transfer truck would pass and give a few minutes of human contact over the CB radio. This high up there are no Fm stations, cell phones don't work and we were too far north for satellite radio to work. The excitement built as we reached the last 30 miles and saw the ice mounds of the Franklin Bluffs. Then the Caribou, at first just 2 of them playing in the road. And then there were dozens upon dozens. Crisscrossing the Dalton causing us to stop until they cleared.  Just before entering we spotted a herd of Musk Ox grazing the shore of a small freshwater lake caused by the thawing of the permafrost.

Pulling into Deadhorse we checked into our camp housing and went to catch the shuttle to the Arctic Ocean. With great excitement I kicked off my shoes and walked down to the shore waded into the 29 degree water up my ankles, now bear in mind it was 30 degrees with a 25 mph wind. The water felt warmer. CHECK, ok that's off the list, Now back to the shuttle to dry my feet before things start to fall off. Returning to the camp, we prepared for the return trip after learning more then we ever wanted to know about the heart of Americas oil production.

Starting the 495 mile trek back to Fairbanks, we again filled our tank, stopped by General Store to replace some missing bolts the shook loose from the journey up, and started back south. Again we went through herds of caribou and saw a curious Arctic Fox hunting for a meal, and a Peregrine Falcon that had snagged a squirrel. The drive back followed the pipeline that was lost in the fog most of the way up. This day the sun was shining with billowing clouds hoovering over the mountains in the distance. The trip back took about 18 hours and it was sunny when we got back to Fairbanks on the Summer Solstice.

Pictures & Video

Black Wolf Brooks Range Atigun Pass Brooks Range east
Brooks Range east
Arctic Ground Squrrel
Arctic Ground Squrrel
Caribou kids 2 headed Caribou Oil rig  Peregrine Falcon Musk Ox A promise fulfilled
A promise fulfilled
End of the line midnight sun Artctic Ocean Arctic Fox To the Solstice!
To the Solstice!
Comments:
How awesome that you and BJ did this, what an exciting journey! From valmg, on Jun 24, 2010 at 06:18PM
BJ/Danny, I'm still awed everyday during your trip of this once in a lifetime adventure and am very jealous. Continue to drive safe. From Sheldon, on Jun 28, 2010 at 06:41PM
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