Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The bright yellow dandelions edging the roads of British Columbia finally gave way to the pinks of wild sweet peas in the lower Yukon. In the northern Yukon we saw swaths of purple and blue arctic lupine along the road’s edge. The locals say in a couple of weeks all the roadside flowers will have gone to seed and in their place will be a massive display of hot pink fireweed covering the roadsides and surrounding hills.
On Sunday we drove a section of the Dempster Highway on Sunday. It goes from Dawson City to the Arctic Circle and the town of Inuvik (460 miles on a gravel road.) If you’ve ever seen Ice Road Truckers you’ve seen this road. This is the Yukon’s only all weather road. The highway itself sits on top of a gravel berm to insulate the permafrost in the soil underneath. The thickness of the gravel pad ranges from 4 ft to almost 8 ft in some places. Without the pad, the permafrost would melt and the road would sink into the ground. The valley floor which is mostly tundra, is squeezed between two mountain ranges. The great Yukon River is     born here. he valley which is dotted with lakes and ponds is a major stopping point for birds migrating north for the summer breeding season. This is home to the largest herd of barren ground porcupine caribou in the world (150,000.)

The Yukon is so wild, untouched and beautiful, so huge and full of wildlife, it makes you want to stay and explore. It’s easy to understand why some people come for two weeks and never leave.

We are now back on US soil. We drove the Top of the World road from Dawson City to Chicken Alaska on Tuesday. Long drive (110 miles) on mostly gravel road, with sheer drop offs, no guard rails, lots of pot holes, tons of dust, and incredible views. Glad the drive is behind us! So Chicken is a population of 17. They have a gift shop/cafe/liquor store/bar for their downtown. There is a gold dredge here that Jim’s father worked on when it was in California. So we tour the dredge today and then we are off to Tok, Alaska tomorrow. Jim says it’s a real town and hopefully will have good wifi so I can upload some photos.

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