Alaska - Week 2
July 3, 2022
I (Victor) completely underestimated how long the drive from Salt Lake City to Anchorage would be. In fact, it is the same driving distance from San Francisco to New York City or from Seattle to Mexico City. That helps to put the distance in perspective. But anyway, we made it, and it’s beautiful as I imagined it!
Kuan just finished her 28-day backcountry adventure in Utah and she will be flying to Anchorage this coming Wednesday to join Margo and I and. We can’t wait to be reunited and to finally start this adventure as a family!
Monday: Boya Lake Provincial Park to Whitehorse, Yt (6h / 504km)
Shortly after publishing our article last week, I received a message from someone living in Yukon that follows our blog.
He told me that they were experiencing a flood in their community. People were about to be evacuated and some highways could be closed as the water level was rising abnormally fast. I realized I could get stranded in Canada for an undetermined amount of time or have to take a huge detour if the road going to Alaska was closing. So I decided to leave Stewart, BC and do the long drive to Whitehorse, YT were the conditions seemed better.
As I am writing this article, it seems that a small portion of the highway was destroyed by rushing water and the Alaska Highway is now closed.
I am thinking of all the people affected by these events 🙏
Tuesday: Whitehorse, Yt to Tombstone Territorial Park (6h / 564km)
In the morning, Margo and I took a stroll in downtown Whitehorse which was lovely as the city was mosquito free. The city was quiet, the coffee was good, and after a couple of hours I feel re-energized to continue my journey north to Tombstone Territorial Park and the Dempster highway.
The Dempster highway is one of the only two roads(?) that leads to the Arctic Ocean in North America and ti is on every overlander bucket list. It is almost 1,000 miles round trip, and while I would have love to do it entirely, I decided against it. When we budgeted this trip to Alaska the gas prices were not as high as they are today and I simply can’t afford doing these extra 1,000 miles. And that’s okay, we drove to the arctic circle before when traveling in Norway a couple years ago and I am sure there will be more opportunities in the future!
As you may know, the sun does not really set in the summer in this part of the world. I am very happy with the blackout curtains we have in the camper. It has not been an issue to have darkness while it’s still bright outside at 3 am…
Wednesday: Tombstone Territorial Park to Chicken, Ak via Dawson City, Yt (4h / 285km)
In the morning, I decided to go check out the visitor center and hit the trails! But I was confused because the sky was very hazy compared to the previous day. It was hard to take good pictures of the beautiful scenery.
After a couple hours of hiking, I decided to get back on the road and continue my journey to the town of Dawson City. Along the way, I stopped to take pictures and when I jumped out of the truck, I smelled the distinct smell of forest fire. Everything made sense: the haze was smoke in the air coming from a nearby forest fire.
As I arrived in Dawson City, the smoke was dense and the air was thick. I learned from a local at the gas station that two wild fires started the night before and were not far from town. One of these fire was only a couple miles south of the only existing road that leads to Alaska from Dawson City.
I was planning to spend a night in Dawson City, but the air was so bad and I was worried, again, that the road to Alaska could close forcing me to do a huge detour. So I decided to just keep going and cross the border on that day.
Thursday: Chicken, Ak to Tok, Ak (2h / 77 Miles)
After a good night of sleep on BLM land near Chicken, AK, we headed to Tok, AK and arrived in town around 10.30 in the morning. I had strictly no idea of what to do next because I was planning to be in Canada for a few more days but the smoke chased me out. I was also tired by all the driving and in an urgent need for a shower.
So I decided to take the day off and found a lovely RV Park just outside of town with fantastic cell service, a laundry and clean showers!
Friday: Tok, Ak to Nabesna Road in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve (2h / 80 Miles)
After topping off on gas, we headed to Nabesna road in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve. The smoke was gone and the views were beautiful. I had the feeling that our Alaskan adventure was finally starting!
Saturday: Nabesna Road in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve to Valdez, Ak (3h30 / 200 Miles)
Knowing that Kuan will emerge from the backcountry on that day, I wanted to move to a place with cell phone service available but also a place were I would be able to rest for a couple of days while waiting for Kuan to fly to Anchorage.
After looking at my map, I decided to drive a couple of hours to Valdez, a small community by the sea and surrounded by beautiful green and snow caped mountains.
I am planning to go to Anchorage on Tuesday to run some errands, restock on food, service the truck and change the oil while Kuan is taking a few days to rest at our friends in Salt Lake City.
She will arrive in Anchorage on Wednesday and the next update will be written by the both of us!