I've visited Alaska several times since my first trip in 1980, but I've always flown to Anchorage, then out from there. Each time I've looked at those wonderful lands of British Columbia and the Yukon, and wished that I'd had the time to spend driving and camping along the way. Last year, May of 2017, I made it happen.
Short version: left my home in Wenatchee, Washington and drove north about 2200 miles to Fairbanks. Flew out from there in a small plane, and camped in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for nine days. After returning to Fairbanks, I took a somewhat longer route home.
Yes, this was a hunting trip, but I'll refrain from posting any fallen wildlife photos here, and concentrate on the trip, which was a wonderful adventure.
My one real disappointment was the lack of fishing. Other than at a lake in southern British Columbia, I encountered conditions that were poor for fishing. The rivers in May were running at flood stage, and the lakes were still frozen.
The border crossing was uneventful. I didn't bring enough Canadian cash, more would be very useful. People were quite friendly and helpful. Over a beer, one BC resident told me that the thing that rankled people the most about Americans, was our tendency to treat Canada as some sort of possession of the USA, rather than acknowledging that it is a large, sovereign nation with laws to be respected. Having traveled a fair bit when younger, I appreciated that.
There isn't much of a road network heading North. Bellow out the song "North to Alaska" here... Only a couple of major routes, with some variations possible. I headed north from my home in Wenatchee on Hwy 97, which interestingly was still referred to as 97, in Canada. Up thorough Penticton and spent my first night camping at Kane Lake, BC. It's a very pleasant little group of lakes with very nice campsites. A tote of firewood was purchased for $10 and needed some additional splitting. The campsites I used in B.C. and in the Yukon were all excellent!
Day two saw me passing through lovely Merritt B.C. where I found terrific country music murals:
At a bakery in Ashcroft, I found great cookies and coffee. Mining country:
Camped the night at Purden Lake in a steady rain. Again my little tent and bag kept me comfortable.
Detoured towards the coast and spent a night with friends in Terrace. Flooding rivers and road construction slowed progress. I was getting farther north now, in more remote territory. Fueled up and grabbed coffee at Bell 2, a heli-skiing resort. During the drive I came around one corner and found a grizzly in the road! We managed to avoid colliding. It was a banner day for wildlife sightings as I also saw two black bears, three caribou, an eagle and a moose.
Camped that night at frozen Dease Lake, next to a nice German couple who were touring British Columbia. Made a long drive the following day and camped at another terrific campsite, this time with free firewood, but no way to split it. A very large snowshoe hare shared my campsite, we heard coyotes nearby so perhaps the hare preferred my company?
Next up was a hike along the shore of still-frozen Lake Kluane. Fascinated by the beauty of the area, I didn't notice a grizzly also strolling along the lake until I was nearly back to my Jeep! We'd been on intersecting routes:
Treated myself to a motel room, a shower, and a great meal at "Fast Eddy's" in Tok, Alaska. I spent some time in Tok and very much enjoyed. Was also able to do some laundry there. Roy, a Native American, told me that his grandfather came to Tok from Seattle in 1922/1923, and that he had walked the last week of his journey, following the telegraph wires.
Finally I reached Fairbanks, an interesting little city. Spent the night, then headed farther north in a small plane.
More to follow: