Miles and Miles of Mountains

Milepost 3395    Fort Nelson, Yukon, to Delta Junction Alaska

Well, we have traveled the official distance of the Alaska Highway which covers 1,488 miles between Dawson Creek, BC and Delta Junction in Alaska.  But nobody stops and stays in Delta Junction; it’s just an intersection on the way to several other more distant destinations.  We are heading on to Fairbanks tomorrow and then to our final goal, Denali Park where our kids live and work every summer.

I have made few blog posts along the way because I didn’t have access to the internet.   Further, several of the RV parks we stayed at were so far from the electrical grid that they were operating on their own power plants, so we could hear the faint hum of the generator all night.  Every village and lodge north of Fort Nelson has to generate its own electricity.  I guess wifi is a bit much to ask for when there isn’t even an electrical power grid in place.

For hundreds of miles we traveled along the foot of the Canadian mountain ranges.  That is, when we weren’t working our way over some steep high pass or through a narrow canyon.  We developed a new respect for the Rockies here.  No, call it what it is:  fear.  These mountains are beautiful from a distance, but up close they are intimidating.  Our adventure threshold was crossed several times into the area of anxiety.

It seemed we spent an entire day in second gear as the pickup labored up the steep climbs to Summit Pass only to be followed closely by the decline that required many miles of engine braking in order to save the brakes.  Scary stuff, man.

Our trek through the Yukon was an episode that deserves its own coverage, but let me quickly say that the roads there are terrible.  The Canadian engineers either haven’t learned yet how to design roads that will not be heaved by the permafrost every winter and summer, or they don’t have the money to do it right.  I suspect that funding is the big problem as there was a marked difference in the quality when we crossed into Alaska which is a rich petroleum state.

Anyway, the frost heaves have rendered the pavement a mess of dips and ridges and mounds that have turned the highway into an off-roader’s dream.  But for the RV-er it’s a nightmare.  35 mph was too fast for a lot of it.  We entered the RV with caution at every rest stop to push things back into their places in the cupboards and re-organize the stuff in the fridge.

I’ll be writing much more about this epic adventure in subsequent posts, but I want to say right here that, even though I didn’t entirely know what I was getting into, I do not regret my decision to assault the Alaska Highway with a pickup and an RV.  It assaulted me back, but I have lived to tell about it, and tell about it I will.

Watch for it in subsequent posts.  With photos.  I’ll add photos as soon as I return to digital civilization.

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