Saturday, June 12, 2010

Moose, Frost Heave and Mosquitoes

Ever since we began our research for this trip, three things we were warned about, repeatedly, were moose leaping in front of vehicles, frost heave on the highway, and mosquitoes the size of bats! After a month on the road, never having a problem with any of the afore-mentioned threats, we’ve become sanguine. Well, today proved it’s never a good idea to let your guard down on a road trip to Alaska!


Just after heading down the highway east from Tok, AK this morning, Bob yelled “Moose!”  Sure enough, leaping out of  the trees and bushes on the side of the highway, not far in front of our truck, was a large female moose! Cathryn hit the brakes while Bob grabbed his camera and started clicking away, even as the moose quickly disappeared into the bushes on the opposite side of the highway. No harm, no foul, just an adrenaline rush that took some time to subside.

“Milepost” serves as the Bible for Alaska road travelers, a book which describes, literally mile-by-mile, the entire length of the various highways from the lower 48 and throughout  Alaska, telling history, what services are available, location of visitors centers and campgrounds and much more. About the stretch of road we traveled today, from Tok, AK to Destruction Bay, Yukon Territory (YT), Milepost has this to say: “According to Public Works Yukon, much of the soil along the north Alaska Highway is of glacial origin and unsuitable for road embankments. Anything that causes the permafrost to melt will cause the ice-rich soil to liquefy, and liquid soil has little strength and will settle or subside. Then if this soil refreezes during lower air temperature, it will expand or heave. This process wreaks havoc on the drivability of the road surface by creating undulations and cracking.”   Well, in our view, this is an understatement! This segment of highway is reportedly the worst the entire length of the Alaska Highway, and we found ourselves driving 30 mph much of today. On arrival at Kluane Lake at the end of the day, we found inside the trailer that two upper cabinets had popped open despite taking the extra precaution of securing them with bungee cords on the door pulls, and several items had fallen to the floor – fortunately none made of glass! No snoozing today while riding shotgun, as the road was simply too rough.


The large mosquitoes are out in droves here at Kluane Lake, despite the fact it was 49 degrees, overcast, and the wind blowing hard enough to raise white-caps on the water on our arrival.  We’d have liked to sit outside, but the weather prevented it, so the mosquitoes didn’t bother us at all tonight. And we have a spectacular campsite, (dry camping with no hook-ups) right on the shore of the beautiful lake, with no other campers in sight.  We remain happy and well!

1 comment:

Diana, Eric, and kids said...

Moose, frost heaves, and mosquitoes...duly noted!