Arctic Circle Expedition : March 12, 2007
The longest road. Alaska highway to whitehorse
Mar 11 - Whitehorse
After a very late night of truck repair, we had a very, very early morning. The goal was to pull out at 630am, but looking ahead at a potential 15 hour drive, we decided a good breakfast was in order. And, well, we were also a little confused about what time it was. Not just because we were all suffering sleep deprevation, but because we all needed a lesson in how to work our Pathfinder atomic watches… Changing time zone and dealing with Daylight savings time…Much too complicated at, well, whatever time it was…
The morning started at -2F and beautiful and sunny. The Rocky Mountains, skylines and valleys were incredible. The ability to see for hundreds of miles was awe inspiring. There were times where you could see the road as it curved toward the future. We kept musing about the explorers of the past and how difficult it must have been for them without so many of the conveniences we had with us today. It is difficult to imagine traveling these distances on sleds or snow shoes instead of vehicles. Not to mention roads, GPS, radios, and cell phones, cold weather gear, sun glasses, etc. Our conclusion - these guys were the real explorers.
At mile 373 we reached the highest summit on the Alaska Highway at 4,250 ft., shortly after, we crossed the Continental Divide. To the south of the Continental Divide all rivers flow into the Arctic Ocean via the MacKenzieRiver. The rivers further north, with few exceptions, all flow into the Pacific Ocean via the mighty Yukon River.
Stopping for fuel (for bodies and vehicles) at Toad’s Crossing we left our contributions to the 7100+ baseball hat collection. When walking into the store/restaurant it was apparent that hats were his passion. The hats covered all ceiling space in the main shop area and ¼ of the top of the walls.
Leaving Toad’s Crossing, the weather turned and we were dealing with near continual whiteout conditions on hard pack ice until Laird. A quick lunch stop and we were back on the road. Our first major wildlife sighting – about 50 Wood Bison were quietly foraging at the side of the highway.
It was inevitable, four or so miles outside of Watson Lake while Kim was giving one of her historical updates we heard over the radio somewhat colourful language from her instead of history. After a moment or so she composed herself and informed us that a rock had hit the windshield of Jim’s 110 and sprayed small shards of glass into the interior. Now all three vehicles had run into problems of one sort or another.
Despite travelling through the ranging territories of the Racheria and Carcross Caribou herds, none were spotted today. But there is always tomorrow.