Log #55l Top of the World to Alaska

December 30, 2012 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 55, The Logs

French Cay Harbour, Roatan, Honduras

Dec. 30, 2012

Hi Folks,

This will be my last log this year, and so I wish you all a Happy, Healthy New Year 2013. We are still in
Roatan, the largest islandof Islas de la Bahia off the coast of Honduras, and will be until early next week
when we will head up to Belize City, about 135 nautical mile overnight passage.

Log_55k-1_Honduras_Map

Judy and I are taking the VHF net for several days, including New Year’s Day. We enjoy the camaraderie,
the weekly activities, local shopping, the crystal clear waters, the excellent snorkelling and diving on the
surrounding reefs, and the warm 27 to 30 C (80 to 85 F) weather. On New Year’s Day we are having a Chili
Cookoff at a local marina.  A few days ago when snorkelling we watched a small octopus gelatinously
slither over some coral, then it jetted off in a streamlined profusion of opaque trailing tentacles. The Marine
Park here will be holding a course in spearing, cleaning, and cooking the Lion Fish, an attractive but
invasive species that they want to supress. We have seen a few of them while diving and snorkelling.  We
have seen dozens of lobsters and a few conch, but harvesting them is not permitted in the park. The coral
down here is in good shape and the diving and snorkelling are great.

This log gets us to some fantastic parks and scenic highways on our way into and out of Alaska. It is a
beautiful state.

 

All the best,

 

Aubrey

 

Log #55l Top of the World to Alaska

French Cay Harbour, Roatan, Honduras

Dec. 28, 2012

We left our campsite on the banks of the Yukon River across from Dawson City and headed up and up into
the mountains to go along the Top of the World Highway, a rough but scenic road which goes along the
ridge line on the top of the mountains over to Alaska.

Log_55l_Top_of_the_World_Hwy_(Wikipedia)

Log_55l_TopOfTheWorld_Fall_colours_(Wikipedia)

The above two pictures are from Wikipedia files

The vistas along this road are awe inspiring, almost as if I were in a low flying airplane, skimming the crests
of the mountains. These pictures illustrate why the road is called “Top of the World Highway”.

Log_55l_2_Top_of_the_World_vista_1      Log_55l_Top_of_the_World_vista_2

Log_55l_Top_of_the_World_vista_3                                       Log_55l_Top_of_the_World_vista_4

The isolated border point presented no problems. Our trailer has never been inspected by the border
guards, and we are then free to travel all over the U.S.A. However when we enter the country with Veleda
IV, we are required to check in at EVERY STOP, whether it be an isolated anchorage or a marina, each
day. It is quite a drag, but at least we are able to do so by phone (when we have a phone signal). The
officials we call sometimes don’t know where we are calling from, as they are sitting in an office in some
city, not necessarily on the coast. When we say we are in such and such a bay at anchor, they often say,
“Where’s that?” We then have to try to explain what river or town nearby they can use as a reference. They
have no ability to just accept the latitude and longitude of our location. If we fail to check in, there could be
dire consequences of fines of several thousand dollars, so we make the effort. But – in a trailer there is no
such oversight by the Homeland Security people.

Log_55l_Alaska_border_crossing

There is no town at this Poker Creek border crossing. The nearest town is Chicken. That’s right, the first
town in Alaska is called Chicken; the locals could not spell the name of the local bird, the ptarmigan, a
pheasant-like bird with an appearance reasonably close to a chicken. So, Chicken it was! The “highway”
had spectacular scenery. The town, or hamlet has a population of only 200 but a small brave plaza offering
– what else? CHICKEN! We passed several small gold panning groups along local stream beds and saw
the worm-like tailings of the gold digging dredges, one of which was abandoned in Chicken (see picture
below).People will camp in their camper pickup trucks or trailers alongside the rocky stream beds, and pan
for any gold as part of a summer holiday.  

Log_55l_Chicken_plaza           Log_55l_4_Abandoned_dredge_in_Chicken

On our way up to Fairbanks we went through Tok, the official end of the Alaska Highway at mile 1422 from
Dawson Creek, B.C. There is a good tourist information booth there with interesting accounts of the Alaska
Highway, the gold rush and the oil industry, as a major oil pipeline crosses a river nearby. I took a picture of
a “pig”, a cleaning projectile sent through the pipelines to clean any accumulating residue. We saw some of
these at the Leduc display outside of Edmonton earlier in the summer. I am impressed with the integrity of
pipelines, and the companies’ awareness of environmental issues. Pipelines buried below ground should
not interfere with caribou migration. The main weakness is sabotage or terrorism, and even then, if there is
a breach in the line, sensors can immediately shut off the flow, minimizing any damage until repairs can be
effected. In Canada this is a big issue, getting oil from Alberta to the markets.

Log_55l_3_End_of_Alaska_Highway_at_Tok     Log_55l_Oil_pipeline_cleaning_plug

On to Fairbanks, a large modern city with multiple lane highways, a return to modern civilization after all the
rough highways and small towns we have been through in the past two months. We went to a bird
sanctuary inside the city, on a former dairy farm now noted for the migration of sandhill cranes.

Log_55l_Sandhill_crane       Log_55l_Sandhill_cranes_in_flight

After wandering through the local Heritage Centre we saw another river paddle wheeler, and enjoyed an all
you can eat salmon bake. Mmmm!

Log_55l_Paddle_wheeler_in_Fairbanks_park

On our way over to Anchorage we stopped for a couple of nights in Denali National Park and Preserve,
over 24,000 square km, including over 8,000 square km of Denali Wilderness. We took the bus ride (the
only way to go into the interior of the park) seeing some spectacular vistas and animals in their natural
habitats, including caribou, grizzly bears, elk, and mountain sheep.

Log_55l_9_Caribou_in_Denali              Log_55l_Close_up_of_a_caribou_in_Denali

Log_55l_Grizzly_in_Denali      Log_55l_Mountain_sheep_2

Log_55l_Caribou_in_Denali_stream_bed_2

Log_55l_Grizzly_bear_family_in_Denali_7   Log_55l_Elk_grazing_in_Denali

At one point the bus was delayed as a family of grizzly bears, a mother and two cubs, wandered along the
road in front of the bus before heading down into other mountain pastures.

Log_55l_7_Mother_and_cubs_on_the_road

Log_55l_Grizzly_bear_family_in_Denali_3

I drove along the entrance road at late afternoon to get some pictures of the mountain sunset glow. We
could even see Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in North America, 30 miles off in the distance.

Log_55l_Mount_McKinley_at_sunset

Log_55l_10_Mount_McKinley_at_sunset_2   Log_55l_Denali_Mountains_1

Log_55l_Scenes_of_Denali_6         Log_55l_Scenes_of_denali_4

Log_55l_Scenes_of_Denali_8    Log_55l_Denali_mountains_3

Many of the rivers flowing over the rocky shale valleys change their flow patterns each year as the frost and
the underlying permafrost heaves them into different streams. These are called braided rivers, as they are
in wide stream beds with multiple flow patterns.

Log_55l_Scenes_of_Denali_7

I would have liked to be there in the fall when the vegetation starts to turn. As it was, the beauty of the low
foliage was a wash of colours that would be even more dramatic in the fall. Below are pictures I call the
Colours of Denali.

Log_55l_Colours_of_Denali_10               Log_55l_Colours_of_Denali_4

Log_55l_Colours_of_Denali_2          Log_55l_Colours_of_Denali_15

Log_55l_Colours_of_Denali_9                     Log_55l_Colours_of_denali_8

We also enjoyed a tour of the dogsled pound where the Alaskan huskies were bred and trained for sled
dog duties. The rangers use only dogsleds to get to the interior (wilderness) of the park in the winter. It was
a great experience to stay there.

Log_55l_Sled_dog_housing             Log_55l_Alaskan_Husky_at_Denali

Log_55l_Alaskan_huskies_hitched_to_sled                    Log_55l_Alaskan_Husky_at_Denali_5

Unfortunately when turning a corner on my way out I took it too close and went over the curb, causing
another flat tire on the trailer (#4 so far).

Down to Anchorage we went, where we toured the waterfront and the long estuary leading up to it.

Log_55l_Anchorage_at_the_head_of_this_inlet

At a bridge near the waterfront there is an active fishing gear rental location at which people can rent
fishing gear and waders by the hour to fish for the salmon coming up to spawn in this downtown creek.

Log_55l_6_Salmon_spawning_in_Anchorage_creek               Log_55l_5_Salmon_fishing_in_downtown_Anchorage

We went to an information theatre about the earthquake and tsunami in 1964 which devastated the city, the
restored centre now on earthquake proof supports.  There is an excellent Native Heritage Centre showing
the culture of the west coast bands, and a display of sleds and the pens for their Alaskan Huskies.

Log_55l_West_coast_totem_poles_2                                 Log_55l_West_coast_totem_poles_3

On our way to Whitehorse in the Yukon we stopped at Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge, still in Alaska, for a
couple of enjoyable days wandering through their trails, gathering berries, and watching birds, especially
the trumpeter swans, a fairly rare species that Judy had not seen before. We had a delicious desert of
mixed berry crisp, including blueberries, cranberries and crowberries, all favourites of the black and grizzly
bears of the area.

Log_55l_Boardwalk_through_taiga_in_Tetlin              Log_55l_Judy_with_bowl_of_berries

Log_55l_Cranberry_bushes                  Log_55l_Trumpeter_swans_at_Tetlin_2

Log_55l_Trumpeter_swans_at_Tetlin   Logb_55l_Trumpeter_Swan_3

The campsite beside a beautiful lake with a vista across to snow clad mountains was also visited by little
creatures such as ground squirrels (like chipmunks) and grey jays.

Log_55l_View_across_lake_in_Tetlin



Log_55l_Chipmonk_in_Tetlin_campsite

Log_55l_Jay_alighting_on_picnic_table_in_Tetlin   Log_55l_Jay_on_picnic_table_in_Tetlin

This highway between Anchorage to Whitehorse is very scenic, on par with the highway between Banff and
Jasper, with drunken forests, dramatic mountain views, glaciers, verdant valleys with dramatic rocky crests,
and snow-capped peaks.

Log_55l_Scenic_mountains_3              Log_55l_Roadside_mountain_valleys

Log_55l_Mountain_scenery_6     Log_55l_Scenic_mountains_2

Log_55l_Another_glacier

Log_55l_Mountain_glacier_1

Alaska is a beautiful state, especially for nature and outdoor sport lovers.