Thursday, 27 June 2013

190 The Haul Road (Ice Road Truckers fame)



Tuesday 25th June 2013 Miles Today 403 Total 10555

After a long but hot (21 deg C) and fitful nights sleep we got up a bit earlier that usual and were packed up and away for just after 10am. Aside from the squirrel in the washing sink getting a drink from the dripping tap, there was nothing positive we can say about this campsite.
The problem we had was the heat. In our rain gear it was unbearably hot and with the midday temperatures of 29 deg C and we were permanently sweating and losing body fluid so we decided to ride without them for the day. A difficult but necessary decision.
We set off for a long day with a projected mileage of around 260 to Coldfoot. About ½ the road was dirt or gravel and it made life interesting but after a while we got used to it and to be honest it was well kept and graded so we generally did not lose too much time because of it.
This sign made us laugh.



And here we are, just after the village of Livengood we entered The Dalton Highway.

The Dalton


This road exists for one reason and that was/is to build and service the Alaska Pipeline that pumps oil from Prudhoe Bay Oil wells on the Arctic sea down to Fairbanks, about 1000 miles further south.



This pipe is what it is all about


It was closed to the public till a few decades ago and now is a Mecca for psychotic bikers. Just getting here is a monumental task in its own right and the road itself is covered in ice and snow for most of the year. Many of you will have seen ‘Ice Road Truckers’. This is the road the series is based on. Fortunately for 3-4 months of the year it is clear and normal traffic can access it. Although, earlier this year, an acquaintance of mine, a Dutch guy named Sjaak Lucasson, rode from Barrow, a further 500 miles past Prudhoe and the most northerly point in Alaska, across the 500 of frozen sea ice, past Prudhoe and then on to Florida. He is a hard man.
There were some rock sections that were like marbles but by and large it was flat compacted gravel.

Typical Dirt Rd



And we drove over the Yukon for the last time (Northbound)


This grader made an interesting berm for us to get over.



The pipeline meanders on for about 500 miles and South. The bends allowing expansion.



Valley view



Finally arrived at the Arctic circle



But we have been here before but on the other side of the planet.



There were a few bush fires in the distance.



And a Carlisle Truck, from the Ice Road Truckers series.



We then ummed and arred about camping at Coldfoot but when we saw the lack of facilities we sorted out one of the guest rooms. It was just a pile of huts joined together and an afterthought  toilet and shower added later. This is plain to see due to the strand board decoration. Not bad for $199. Doh !   Oh and no coffee either.

Once in the room we chilled out for a couple of hours and at 9pm we hit the road again for a 140 mile ride (70m out and back) in the midnight sunshine. We rode to Attigan pass in the sunshine and it was weird – big time. Attigan will be known to all those who see the Ice Road series.

Attigun pass itself. It was around 11pm. Desolate and at 4500 feet it was quite cold - finally,

video


There is still a lot of ice around.

The low sun gave the mountains a brown glow

It is another 170 miles to Prudhoe bay but we could not see any advantage of going there apart from bragging rights in the pub and we are past that stage in our lives (OK, Karen is anyway, I am still a loudmouth slob).
 On the way back we took some pictures of the sun around midnight for no other reason than we could. The last picture below was taken at 12:02am Alaskan time. 

The view behind us looking North


These two piccys were taken a couple of minutes after midnight. 
 We have finally seen the midnight sun. It is all South from here on in. It was then back to our pidgeon hole for some much needed sleep. 

Wednesday 26th June 2013 Miles Today 244 Total  10799

Today was a long trip south with no choice but to use the same road we had just came North on. 


Silly old fart relaxing outside the Ritz  errr..  tin hut hotel complex.

The ride South seemed to be quicker than the one North but it may have been due to a slightly wider throttle setting but I could not possibly comment on that.


Mum and calf grazing.


video


video





Trying to recapture the Norway picture, unfortunately, no Leon, so Kit and Ted had to do and our flag has somewhat shrunk!
The Yukon Bridge, again, showing the wooden deck. Ice proof and easily replaced. Most bridges are made of wood in this area for that reason.

As we were getting near to Fairbanks we were stopped by roadworks and offered a small diversion as an alternative. We took it and drove past a saloon called "The Howling Dog Saloon". We just had to go in for a beer. The place was a mess with used dollar bills, T shirts, baseball caps and bra's all hanging from the ceiling. It was great. A real mish mash bar. We sat next to a woman called Kathy. She was a gold miner. Not just any miner, she owned her own mine which she could only work for 3 months of the year due to to snow and ice. She was very eccentric. She had a sheet of 'Bounce' (as in the stuff you put in the tumble dryer) in her hair. She swears it keeps mozzies away !!!
 On talking to her she gave us a lot of information about current road closures due to forest fires and advice on where was good to go and visit. A while later, a  friend of hers, Dan Vischansky came in. He too was a miner but only since he gave up animal taming for Disney studios. He showed us some pictures on his mobile phone of him hugging a 7 foot grizzly bear that he had tamed and some wolves he had trained for films. Sadly, computer graphics have now replaced real animals in films so he reverted to mining. He also showed us some pictures of him down the mine with a cast gold ingot about 9" long. 

This place has more than its fair share of interesting people.

We also found out that the Saloon had some small cabins for rent at the rear of the property so we stayed late, got drunk and then hit the log cabin for a good nights sleep.

Standing guard outside the cabin was this fellow and his mate.



You want a fight ???
As is the norm for us, weather wise, we have stumbled into a heatwave in Alaska.  Apparently about 3 weeks ago it was -40F (its the same -40C 1) then it jumped to 30F (around freezing), there was still snow on the ground and they had suffered a particularly long and bad winter, then overnight the temperature changed from 30 degrees Fahrenheit to in the 90's which is where it is now.  It is breaking records. This has caused the mosquitoes and other flying nasties to flourish and feed voraciously on the locals and Karen.  There are wild fires all over the place and the air is thick with the smell of burning. This in turn makes the wild animals, even wilder and unpredictable.  We have been warned by several locals that female Moose are the most dangerous animal here even above the bears..

3 comments:

  1. I agree, not much to see in Deadhorse, more for bragging about it. I did go all the way and you can see pictures here:
    http://www.riding-the-usa.com/2014/01/day-18-arrival-in-deahorse-prudhoe-bay.html
    and the return:
    http://www.riding-the-usa.com/2014/01/day-19-u-turn-in-deadhorse.html

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  2. 2 things stand out on reading your blog. 1) your weather was a lot worse than mine and 2) The trees have got a lot worse with the Pine Beetle in the short time between 2012 and 2013.
    One other thing. I note you did not see many animals, we had the same experience in Alaska. Canada and the northern states were much more "alive".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, almost no animals in Alaska, most of the sightings were in the Yukon.

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