Thursday, June 7, 2012

June 6,7 – Top of the World Highway

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We were going to move on yesterday but we awoke to the sound of rain so I checked the forecast. Today looked better so we just went back to bed and had a very lazy day. We need one of these every once in a while.

We really wanted the best weather for our trip to Alaska on the Top of the World Highway because of the long distance scenery.

When we got up today it was still kind of gloomy but we could see some nicer skies off in the distance to the east so we took our time getting ready, hoping it would catch up with us. The weather seems to come from the east here. I am used to it coming from the west at home. I added enough gas to our tank to get us safely into Alaska and hopefully cheaper fuel. It was $1.59 a litre in Dawson City.

Our trip across the river on the ferry went without incident. I was a little worried when I saw some RV vans scraping the ramp as they got off but I guess we have more clearance. We had to wait for two crossing of the ferry before we got on, mainly because they can only take one large vehicle at a time and a commercial truck had precedence. By the time we were across the sun had caught up to us but there was still some haze in the distance.

Looking back I am not really happy with the pictures today. They just didn’t capture what it was like to be here.


The views from the “highway” were amazing. First you must STEEPLY climb for 14 km and then you really do seem to follow the tops of all the hills for 100 km to the Alaska border. It is mostly dirt but seemed to be in very good shape. The few paved section were much worse and chewed up.

At the top of the first climb we stopped at a viewpoint back down to the Yukon River, to give the RV a bit of a rest.



From here on we did seem to keep gently climbing until just before the border. The RV sure got a workout. With the road conditions, for the day I averaged 37 kph over the 180 km and got rather poor gas mileage of 43.9 litres per hundred kilometers.




Lots of deep valley views with snow capped mountains off in the distance.


Once we got above the tree line, it got pretty barren with some snow beside the road. The road is closed for the winter and only opens around may 15th.




Thankfully we only met a few vehicles and then in places where we could see them coming.



The border crossing is literally in the middle of nowhere. There are no towns for almost 100km in either direction. It is the most northerly land border crossing. It would almost seem like a punishment to station the customs agents here. The crossing itself was easy. A few questions and “Have a nice trip.”


As soon as we entered Alaska the quality of the road went downhill. In Canada it was still fair to call it a dirt highway. In Alaska I have seen better cottage access roads. It got very narrow, soft shoulders, a bit softer gravel and lots more washboards.


Shortly after the border we came to this very nice viewpoint. Up to this point we had seem maybe 10 other vehicles. This was actually kind of crowded. There was a Holland America bus and a string of 6 identical vans that were travelling together.




We left before the bus and it never did catch up to us which was surprising given how slowly I was driving.

Now we started to go back down. This was not so much fun. A dirt road, a lane and a half wide, no shoulder, hairpin turns and sometimes 500 foot drops just next to you. I almost (I said almost) wished we were on the bus so that I could spend more time looking at the views than the road.






Now we are in a campground / parking lot in Chicken, Alaska for the night. We are another hour behind so now it is a 4 hour time difference from Toronto.


Our RV is center right. Here are some of the town’s sights. A giant 10 foot chicken and an old dredge.



One of the campgrounds is having a music festival this weekend. Here is the stage. You can guess what they call it.


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