May 29, 2013

Day 2: The Home & Native Land

Day 2: Tok, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon

Wildlife Spotting: eagle, wild horses, grizzly bear, 2 black bears, dall sheep, elk

Distance Traveled: 618 km/386 miles

Total Distance Traveled: 1142 km/714 miles

(Forgive me for being so late on this post.  When you’re in the middle of nowhere, it’s kind of hard to find an Internet connection.)

We left Tok around 8:30am to sunny skies. I think that must have been Mother Nature's way of showing us what we'll be missing in AK.  

Driving out of Tok, we followed along the Tanana River (Discovery Channel’s “Yukon Men” anyone?), the largest tributary of the Yukon River.

We drove through a landscape best described as taiga, a Russian word, meaning “land of little sticks”.  The Black spruce that characterize this ecosystem grow so slowly that a tree 2 inches in diameter can be 100 years old!

There was evidence of wildfire.  According to an interpretive sign, in a good year there are 650 major wildfires that occur across the state of Alaska, half of which are ignited by lightning!

We had to make a stop at the Alaska/Yukon border.  A narrow clearing of 20 feet/6 meters wide marks the border.  This swatch was originally cut by surveyors from 1904 to 1920 along the 141st meridian and spans 600 miles/966 kilometers from the Arctic Ocean south to Mount St Elias in the Wrangell Mountains. 

There was a bench sitting right on the meridian.  You could chose which country you wanted to be in. I kept my composure through most of our goodbyes, but it wasn’t until I was standing half in Alaska, half in Canada that the waterworks started.  Which side did I want to be on?  For the past three years, I’ve called both home.  It’s funny how things change – the temper tantrum I threw at the border just then was very similar to the one I threw that day in Walmart when I found out we were moving to Alaska.

Despite getting stopped at the border with our American bought car and the border agent going into full panic mode, Canada welcomed us with open arms.  After the whole car debacle, it was good to hear the agent say “Welcome home!”.

When driving the Alaska Highway, you have to pay attention to all of the signs and flags at the side of the road.  The major frost heaves in the road sometimes feel like you’re on a roller coaster, and if you’re not careful, you could seriously damage your vehicle.

The drive was gorgeous, with many wildlife sightings, including a grizzly and a couple of black bears.

How you make a call in the middle of nowhere.

We rolled into Whitehorse just in time for dinner.  We met up with a friend of mine and after some dinner and local brews, we got a tour of Yukon's capital.

They took us atop Grey Mountain, to give us a view of the city, and to Miles Canyon, which was originally called the "Grand Canyon" by gold seekers.  The Yukon River, that flows through the canyon, measures 2000 miles/3218 km, draining 1/3 of Alaska and noted as the 4th or 5th longest river in North America (apparently depending on who you talk to).

Miles Canyon, Whitehorse, YT.
The view at sunset from our friends' backyard in Whitehorse.

So, until next time, when we make our way into British Columbia, and inch a little closer to home on our oldschool road map.


1 comment

  1. Love the latest update. Photos are great. The 'phone' foto should be your face book timeline.

    Continue to have fun.



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