Saturday, January 22, 2005
So, we saw the musk ox probably about 40 miles south of Deahorse and Prudhoe. The absolute highlight of the trip though is this guy:
It was so funny, we were coming up through the North side of Atigun Pass and were in the avalanche zone when off to the left we saw this little black creature. At the time we were convinced it was a beaver of all animals but instant replay makes it look like a porcupine. Still, it was way way up in Atigun pass, right where I'd seen some sheep on an earlier hiking trip a couple years back. No place for a porucpine that's for sure. ... That's why I bring the camera with me, so I can catch odd ball things like this porcupine up where it totally didn't belong. So, that had us laughing up to the top of Atigun but then there was the scary drive down on the south side of the divide. We made it though and the road was actually good but boy was it tense cutting through all of the avalanche paths. Probably better to drive it when it's dark out...
So, south of the pass Shane thought he saw a huge moose. We stopped the truck and went up to check it out. Talk about cool, an older moose and another moose were mixing it up a bit like the old guy was teaching the younger one some moves for beating other bulls to get the ladies. So, we listened to the clunk of their racks and watched from the road. Pretty neat though.
The sun was setting (it was like 2ish) so that was nice, too. I just love the Brooks Range, the mountains are so incredibly rugged and barren. You can see that a little right here:
We saw tons of caribou all day long north of the brooks range but we ended up also seeing a couple of herds south of it. That was neat. So, here's one that was hanging out right in the road down a few miles from the moose.
So, pretty neat to see all the animals. The problem was we kept seeing moose all the way down the road to Fairbanks at night so it was an extra vigilant trip. There's been a lot of snow this winter so maybe they're hanging out closer to the road. Who knows. It sure is good to be back though!
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Here's a picture from this morning. We were still driving to the site when it was looking the best but you can still catch a little of the flavor:
Well, we started the trip in Alpine, remember that place? Well, it was just as lame as before. The bright side: I got my own room this time. One of many downsides: I was right next door to the designated smoking room for the whole facility.
So, a big emphasis up here is safety, to an insane degree. Up there safety glasses are required when you're outside with sometimes disastrous results, it's hard to see when you fog up like this every couple minutes (how's this for a horrible picture):
It also leads to some amusing signs (there's an obsession up here with using handrails when on stairs):
... inside the dairy section of the fridge:
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
trip to just crazy. There were whiteout conditions all along the dalton from
Prudhoe to the Yukon River. So, finally we left Fairbanks Tuesday morning. The
temperature: -44. Brr! However, up at Sag River DOT camp it's -18! Warm spell.
Here's one of my favorite signs in the state, it's just outside Livengood at the
start of the Dalton Highway:
It was a beautiful drive up, nothing like the previous days. However, it was
freezing cold. It took forever to warm the truck up. I didn't go by myself on
the drive, a Japanese exchange student named Atsushi came with me. He's going to
drive back with Ken so that Ken doesn't drive the road by himself. However, Ken
wasn't with us because he had to run back to his house one last time. So, hoping
Ken would catch up we took our time driving north taking pictures here and there
so the sign and the arctic circle of course but the amazing part of the day was
that sunrise and sunset were about three hours each. So, the sky was gorgeous.
Here's a tree I saw at Gobbler's Knob (is that a great name or what) somewhere north of the Arctic Circle:
So, we get to coldfoot and it's warmed up to -40 but it's a little breezy. BRRR!!
! Ken caught up and passed us when we were gassing up. Towing the snow machine
trailer meant that I couldn't go Fairbanks to Coldfoot on a single tank of gas (
240 miles). I wonder how much the temperature affected our fuel efficency, too.
Anyway, we left coldfoot and a half hour or so before Atigun Ken decided to take
a break. Atsushi and I went ahead. The aurora was dancing like crazy, a real
treat even with the super sunset. So, Atsushi and I decided to wait for Ken. So,
while looking for the next pullout we ended up in the avalanche do not stop area
of Atigun pass. So, through the pass we went. Boy, sketch central. Pretty
nervous going through there, lots of drifts all over not deep ones just enough
to get a little nervous. Plus there was truck traffic from the other direction.
Well, after a tense half hour we got through it to the other side. At the first
pull out outside the avalanche zone we waited for Ken. Here's a couple shots of
the aurora at the pull out.
The road coming down north of the pass was a little drifty but the bonus on the
weather was that it was 15-20 degrees warmer than the other side. So, we're now
in Sag River, 360 miles up the road from Fairbanks (in 13 hours) and about 120 from Deadhorse
and Prudhoe. Tomorrow the work begins and then we'll be staying in Deadhorse.
Catch you all later.
Friday, January 07, 2005
We'll be driving the red Ds up to Prudhoe Bay. Does the fun ever stop?
Here's another interesting one:
Thursday, January 06, 2005
Well, tonight I was taking the dogs out when I realized the snow plow dude was stuck in the neighbor's driveway. It's my neighbor that has a coduroy trail made out of skinny black spruce going back to his cabin resting on black spruce stumps (totally a funky setup). So, headed over there and ended up helping to get him unstuck with my truck but it took a while because he was in there good. The reason I mention it is that I've been busy this winter making up for all the times I got stuck in Kenai... at the Gulkana Glacier... coming up from Haines with Johnson in 2001... the list goes on and on. So, happy to continue to be catching up on getting people unstuck.