Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Dawson City, YT to Tok, Alaska

We left Dawson City this morning for Tok, Alaska via the Top-of-the-World Highway. The journey began with a ferry ride across the Yukon River at the edge of town, during which the enormous (40+ foot) RV parked next to us took up the full length of the ferry and caused it to tip to one side.


The road continued along a series of ridge lines rising from about 2,200 feet at Dawson to 4,200 at one of the summits. You could look down on both sides of the road for 1,000 to 1,500 feet into the valleys to the north and south, hence the name: Top of the World. The road was about one-third paved and two-thirds gravel in the first 70 miles from Dawson City to the Canadian Border. After that, all gravel.


We crossed the border at what must be one of the most remote locations there is, 70 miles from Dawson, and 40 miles from Chicken, the first settlement in the U.S. (if you can call it a settlement; the summer population of Chicken is 22, the winter population is 6!) We have to say, based on at least this road, the Canadians know how to build a better gravel road than does the U.S. We were able to drive 45 to 55 while in Canada, but were lucky to get up to 35 after we crossed into the U.S.

Alaska 201013 

The temperatures today were mostly in the low 70s although we had one cooler section between Chicken and Tok.  For about 15 minutes we were in the middle of a heavy hail storm. It dropped from 72 to 39 degrees in just minutes.


It’s  another 80 miles back to the Alaska Highway from Chicken to the metropolis of Tok. We’d planned to stay at a state campground 20 miles west of Tok, but 5 miles out of town we were stopped and told they were escorting cars through the next stretch of road because the fire we’d been hearing about was still blazing away, and the campground we were aiming for was closed. So we turned around and found a nice spot here in Tok. This means that we will, after all, be able to have “Musher” omelettes at “Crazy Eddie’s” in the morning, something our blogging friend Gene spoke highly of.  Next it’s on to Fairbanks for a couple of days and then Denali!

A Puzzler

When coming down the Dempster Highway the other day, we noted two locations where there were a number of white patches, not snow, about 50 feet off the road. We stopped at the second one and found the white patches were pieces of fur!? We picked one up, and it seems to be some sort of animal pelt still attached to skin, but without any bones, other tissue or odor – it’s completely dried. The puzzler is: what kind of animal did it come from, and how did it come to be separated from said animal? Here are a couple of pictures. What do you think it is? There is no head or paws to give a clue.

Alaska 201011

When we passed through Customs into Alaska, the border patrol agent asked that we open the rear door to the truck cab. He spotted the “pelt” and asked about it. We explained its origin and asked what they thought it might be. They speculated it could be a portion a caribou hide, and that perhaps a bear had killed it. Who knows? Cathryn speculates it might be a Pika.

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