Saturday, June 30, 2012

Catch-up day in Tok

Last night we got into Tok, Alaska.  It isn't much of a town but it does have a decent grocery story and gas stations. Up until two years ago it had an outdoor Salmon Bake but like I mentioned yesterday that is one of the interesting things that has faded away.

We did however eat at Fast Eddies a place recommended to us by at least 3 different sets of people along the way, they used to run the Salmon Bake.  This is our first dinner out in several weeks and only I think our third dinner out.  A week or so ago we ate out for lunch in Whitehorse and I believe that was only our second or third lunch out. We haven't eaten a single breakfast out. Not to bad for 36 days of travelling. I will admit we have gone out for ice cream a couple times and baked goods 3 or 4 times usually after hikes. Other than those we've eaten really good, I have gone down a belt notch!

Fast Eddies was pretty good, it had a salad bar and a pretty big menu. It was the first dinner out we ate with my brother and his wife as well and we all enjoyed being waited on! I had prime rib, Will and Reen had Chicken Parm and Al had a pizza with Canadian Bacon (um a little late for that we are in the USA now) and sausage. 

Today was catch-up day. We all did laundry and spent a good amount of time on the internet which we hadn't had in a long while.  I think several naps were taken and Reen did some sewing.  Our fridge and cupboards were pretty much empty so we also went shopping.  As much as we've saved not eating out much food has been pretty expensive and sometimes pretty scarce, although I expect Alaska has a lot more stuff than the Yukon and norther British Columbia had, time will tell.

It rained basically all day, so it was pretty easy to have a lazy day indoors.  Most of this town's population are dog mushers or related to dog sled racing in some way. There was a related tourist stop I wanted to checkout but never got around to it. It would have been another tempting source of Husky Puppies and I am not sure I could have resisted.

Tomorrow we head south-ish towards Wrangell St Elias National Park.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Finally in Alaska!

After a bunch of short or no driving days today's 200+ mile drive seemed extra long. Maybe because we were finally getting to Alaska.

Or maybe because the last section of the highway in the Yukon before you get to Alaska is in the worst condition of any stretch of the highway.

Here you can stand one foot in the USA and one in Canada!

And we get to change to Alaska Time Zone, not that time means anything since we haven't had a dark night since about Edmonton.

Goodbye Yukon!  You parks were beautiful and your camping cheap.

Our Rigs framed by the Welcome sign. After these shots we had to go through customs which was pretty quick this time.

On the way we had gone through Burwash Landing and a small museum and this the worlds largest Gold Pan. It was nice to see another large thing, we hadn't seen one in a while.

We also stopped in at a dilapidated but open lodge on the highway, and elderly couple was there with a mess of merchandise strewn around, they were drinking coffee and more than willing to share some stories and jokes. It was a sad reminder of all the closed interesting highway places that are now gone.

We've been told most of the stuff has closed over the last 15 years as tourist traffic on the road has decreased. It probably was much more fun back in the days. Sadly a lot of the guide books aren't that up to date and we are disappointed that several Salmon Bakes, Carts selling Cinnamon Buns and aCrepe Place  are all gone.

All in all the over 4700 miles we've already driven to Alaska have been a lot of fun.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sheep Creek Trail and a Grizzly

I know another hike! This makes 4 hikes in 6 days for us. Today's is Sheep Creek, we are supposed to see Dahl Sheep.

This hike isn't supposed to be too bad, only 6 miles round trip. The first half is basically a constant up-hill climb, but unlike some of the other hikes the trail is nice and smooth and the bugs aren't too bad.
This is our view as we hike up and up and up.

We had another visitor, this time he was a little early for lunch.

From the highest point on our hike we were lucky to have good weather and be able to see the toe of a Glacier.

We hiked till we reached a canyon over looking 48 Pup Creek. Like the King's Throne hike there was a ridge we could have added to this hike but it was too windy.

The ridge trail didn't look like it would add any views to this hike and we were tired so we skipped it.

At the bottom of the trail we read a sign about a person who was killed by a grizzly on this trail in 1996.

After we were eating dinner back at camp my brother came knocking on our door to tell us there was a Grizzly bear in our campground!

Amazing! He lumbered around the field eating (and pooping) and eventually walked away.

Then he came back a little later and we went out to see him again.
You can see just how close the Grizzly was. That is will taking his picture.

He was a young Grizzly but still very big, probably almost as big as any of the Black bears we have seen so far.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Drive to Destruction Bay

Here is a shot of the swimming area we swam in a couple days ago. Today we left there to drive to Lake Kluane a much bigger and I am sure colder lake.
The drive approaching Kluane National Park.

The wind was so strong it was creating mist.

Our campsite on the lake.

A short walk through the trees from our campsite and you were on the shore of the lake.

Here is my brother and his wife hanging out on the beach behind their site.

We had some olives as an appetizer and then I cooked over a very roaring campfire. The wind made for a very hot and fast burning fire.

The main course was roasted brussel sprouts and a rib-eye steak.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Auriol Hike (Kluane National Park)

Today's hike is flatter but longer than yesterday. We thought we might see some Moose but we didn't. At some point we talked to two hikers that turned around because they said the trail was flooding, we decided they were wimps even before seeing the trail.

This was the flooded section it was rushing water but not deep enough to be dangerous.
The picture above it the trail... where as this is a stream we are crossing. Water was higher where the trail actually crossed but we found this old off kilter bridge that was supposed to be closed.

It was plenty stable and I made Will joke around like it was collapsing under him.

We did do the bridge one person at a time just in case.
Tiny Sub-alpine flowers!
More tiny flowers.

We saw so much animal scat but not a single animal except some kind of grouse or ptarmigan.

The view was still good from the higher points on the hike even if it wasn't really a mountain.

The hike was a good 2nd hike we were tired but not too tired.

Tomorrow we drive to Destruction Bay for a couple of nights to do another hike. My legs can use the day off. Will and I have done 3 hikes in 4 days.

Haines Junction is a sad little place, not a single grocery store (the last food / gift shop was closed).  There is great Bakery and the Frosty Freeze and a gas station, each of these places has at least a tiny amount of groceries and 4 or 5 items of produce.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Kings Throne Hike

Today we hiked Kings Throne Trail, it isn't a long hike but has significant elevation gains and some tough terrain.

The hike starts out flat and gradually gets very steep and rocky with a lot (but not enough) switchbacks.
Here we are almost as high as we are going to go and we can see some school buses in the day use area near where we parked for the hike.

Again we hit some snow! Actually here we see a lot more snow once we get to the top of where we are going today.

Here come Al and Reen up the trail! I forget if this is near where it was but someplace around here the trail was very very narrow and the height got to me a bit. Usually my fear of heights doesn't bother me on hikes but at this spot it did.

Oddly on the way down it was totally fine the entire way.
Here we are on the Throne eating lunch! It was terribly windy. The Throne which you can see in later picture is like a saddle surround by a bunch of peaks.

On this hike you can continue up the ridge a little but the wind up there was too much and the almost 2000 feet we already climbed is less than halfway to the top of the ridge. We are at 4200 ft!
This guy joined us for lunch.

Snow in the saddle or cirque of Kings Throne.
The entire hike is only 6 miles round trip but the climb was a lot of work and loose rocks are no fun going up or going down!

This is the view from where those buses were parked. You can see the saddle shape and the place we hiked up which is about 2/3 of the way up that mountain on the left side of the bowl.

We were pretty tired but we went to the Frosty Freeze to get some ice cream before relaxing for the evening. Another hike is planned for tomorrow so we need to rest up!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Whitehorse to Haines Junction

After our longest stay anywhere of 4 nights we got on the road for our next destination.  We are heading to Haines Junction and Kluane National Park.

These are the mountains we are heading to. The front range hides a giant ice field of mountains behind and Canada's highest Mountain, Mt Logan.
Satdly you cant easily get to anyplace to see Mt Logan except my multi-day trek or by flying.

There are ice fields and glaciers you can take flight tours to see as well.

We are heading to a small lake near one side of the park called Pine Lake.
Today's drive was really short at about 130 miles. That is a nice distance, and we get into our provincial camp nice and early. 12$ / night again and free firewood. Also all the mosquitoes you can attempt to kill!

We were in so early we hit the info center and got descriptions of hikes and saw a movie on the park.

After getting camp setup we talk to the ranger who says they have had a 2 year old bear around and we should be on the lookout. Will and I head to the public day use area of the lake and take a very very cold swim.  We all turn in early as we plan to do a nice hike tomorrow.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Grey Mountain Hike (Whitehorse, YT)

Al and Maureen wanted a "Nothing" day so we decided to stay in Whitehorse for a 4th night.  It is a nice town/city and has a lot of outdoors activities right at the doorstep.  We drove about 5 miles to do a hike on Grey Mountain.

You can drive up a "road" to a radio tower to hike down the ridge but we got to a point in the "road" that was pretty scary with a lot of big rocks and a 3000 foot drop if you went off the road.

We opted not to go around the final bend and up to the top and instead had to back down about 1000 feet till there was enough width to do a K-turn.
We drove back down to a different trail head that wasn't as far up the road. I have no idea what you do on that road if someone comes the other way and you need to pass. Crazy, or if it rains unexpectedly and the whole thing is a wet mess.

Later we talked to locals who take their Jetta up the road all the time and felt like wimps for not going to the top.

We ended up getting a lot more exercise this way.
The trail we took called "Money Shot" went straight up the mountain to the ridge. There was "Easy Money" too but that hike would have taken 30 minutes.

There was still some snow in isolated pockets of the trail.

We hiked down the ridge line from where our trail hit the ridge to the highest point Mt Grey.

It had great views all around and the weather was really nice. We had lunch at the top.
For the way down we opted to do more of the ridge and head for where the road we wimped out of would have left us.

Again we didn't make it and instead took a different trail down to make a loop instead of having to walk down the dirt road back to the car.

Tomorrow we head out of Whitehorse and into more and more isolated places until we hit Alaska.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Around Whitehorse, YT

Today we checked out some of Whitehorse's Museums.

First was a historical museum about the ancient wildlife of the area known as Beringa, which is roughly the area around the Bering Strait which was not covered by glaciers during the last ice age.

It was a cool, there was a good film and skeletons like this Bison.
Next door was the transportation museum featuring this DC-3 which is now the worlds largest weather-vane.

The museum also had lots of cool old pictures from the gold rush and of airlines that used to fly bush flights all over the Yukon and Alaska.

We also did a 3.5 mile walk around the Yukon River which flows past the City.
And spotted another float plane taking off.
The walk went past a hydro-electric dam that also had a very large wooden fish ladder and hatchey. The Salmon haven't made it this far yet as it is almost the end of their 3 month 2000 mile spawning journey.
 Just a flow I spotted on the walk.
We were very thirsty after the walk and stopped into a coffee shop.

They looked at Will like he was a zombie when he asked for an Iced Coffee and after  pause they said "Um we don't really do Iced Coffee, I could give you some ice and you can add coffee.... or we do Iced Latte's and Americanos"

They also had this sign that you got a discount if the temperature was -35 outside!