On the road again – traipsing across the Yukon

We left Denali three days ago and are now in a campground just outside Whitehorse. This is the first time we have had a cell signal for three days so perhaps that will help explain the lack of blog posts for the last three days. You can’t appreciate how big and how rural Alaska and the Yukon are until you travel up here. One hundred miles between small gas stations is normal. Grocery stores like what we are accustomed to only exist in the larger towns. That is not to say you can’t get around up here but you need to think ahead because there isn’t someone around every corner to help you out of a mess if you get into one.

After leaving Denali we traveled south on Alaska 3 to Cantwell where we picked up the Denali Highway, Alaska 8. This dirt road would have had spectacular views if the weather had been better but it was cloudy and rained off and on the entire day. The Denali Highway really is a trip through history. “While the highway opened in 1957 as the first road to allow access to Denali National Park, the history of the road as a route of adventure through the wilderness is a fabled tale in the history of Alaska.

From the earliest Americans through to the Copper River Basin-dwelling Athapaskan tribes, the present-day Tangle Lakes area was an important seasonal hunting ground. This area contains some of the earliest evidence of human occupation in North America. In the 225,000 acres of the Tangles Lakes Archaeological District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, over 400 archaeological sites have been documented. The modern-day history of the area began approximately 100 years ago, when gold miners in the Valdez Creek region, near the Susitna River, pioneered a trail to the east between the mining district and Paxson, and a little later westward from the mines toward present-day Cantwell. The current highway roughly follows these miners’ tracks for much of its distance.

Traveling the Denali Highway today is truly a path through awesome wilderness that links travelers to Alaska’s prehistoric past and gold rush history.” (http://www.denalihwy.com/area/denali-highway)

Even though the weather was lousy, we did manage to see a moose.
There are a few hunting camps and lodges on the Denali but very few places to stop. This was one.
The entire road is fairly narrow and gravel. It is also quite rough in spots. The bridge has a wood deck.
Occurring in glaciated and formerly glaciated regions, an esker is a long, winding ridge of stratified sand and gravel. The Denali passes over a number of eskers like this one.
It’s too bad the weather wasn’t more cooperative because the views could have been spectacular.

Once we traversed the Denali we traveled down route 4 beyond Paxon to Sourdough Campground where we spent the night. The state and provincial campgrounds are well maintained and a great deal at $12.00. It turns out that the river at Sourdough is one of the most popular and best producing fishing rivers in Alaska. Since we bought our non-resident licenses the day before we threw in a line and caught a number of little 6-8″ fish. We tossed them back and didn’t catch any of the trophy salmon or graylings that others have caught in this location but we had fun.

Next day we headed for the Yukon border at Beaver Creek and camped at Snag Junction, a YT provincial park.

Some of the scenery along the way was spectacular but unfortunately we had another cloudy and rainy day.

Tonight we are camped just outside Whitehorse in Wolf Creek Campground, another provincial campground. There are no hookups or showers at these campground but with 40 gallons of fresh water we are pretty self sufficient for a week or so before we need to replenish our water supply. The trip here was a fairly easy 250 mile day so for the three days we have put about 750 miles behind us.

An ever present sight up here this time of year. Construction season is short and they make the most of the days available, working 7 days a week.
This is typical of the roads here and why they are working so many construction projects. The weather here destroys the roads pretty quickly so it is a never ending task to keep repairing them.
We did manage to add to our collection of animals – king salmon spawning run. The fish are red and fighting upstream to their spawning grounds. Just gorgeous.
We also added swans…
…and a cow moose with baby to the photographic collection.
…and Helen managed to find the world’s largest gold pan.

That’s all for tonight. Tomorrow we shoot for Watson Lake for a night before we swing south on the Cassiar.

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