[Cdt-l] Eau de DEET

Jim and/or Ginny Owen spiriteagle99 at hotmail.com
Mon Aug 11 13:07:16 CDT 2008

This will likely be longer than usual but those who manage to get to the end may 
understand the title.  The format will be a series of “incidents” that we’ve encountered 
or experienced over the last few VERY busy weeks.  
After camping at an overlook on the Denali highway, we discovered that a ground 
squirrel had taken up residence in the frame of the truck. Dislodging him was an exercise 
in stubbornness – we won, but barely.  It’s the first time we’ve ever been growled at by a 
ground squirrel.  
Waking up in a shelter on the Pinnell Mt Trail north of Fairbanks to a grey, foggy and 
eventually rainy day.  The 27-mile trail is entirely above treeline and we’d walked in to 
the shelter the previous day accompanied by high winds (20 – 40 mph) and low temps 
(35 – 45 deg).  We got back to the truck just before the deluge.  
Looking out over the Chena valley from Angel Rocks.  It was a relatively short hike, but 
typical of Alaska (and Canada) – steep.  Afterward, we visited Chena Hot Springs, but 
didn’t stay. At $145 for a half day visit that was out of our comfort zone.  
Stopping for gas (at $6+ / gallon) in Chicken and having to wade through the “Princess
 people” who were complaining about not seeing any wildlife when we’d just seen 2 
moose a half mile back down the road.  “Princess people” are those who are on the “land 
option” of a Princess line cruise.  We ran into them everywhere.  And we have no respect 
at all for “the Princess” – but I won’t expand on that right now.  Oddest part of the 
Chicken stop was the poor kid standing in line for the outhouse who was literally green 
due to extreme motion sickness. 
Driving the Top of the World Highway – literally feels like the “top of the world”.  The 
road runs along a ridgeline above treeline and you can see for miles and miles ahead.
  Great views if the weather is good, but it would be miserable driving in bad weather.  
Seeing moose every day – although not always close enough (or fast enough) for photos. 
Moose move much faster than you’d believe when they want to hide. But we’ve gotten a 
lot of good photos (and video) of some of them.  
Touring Dawson City, home of the Klondike Gold Rush, and for a short time, home to 
Jack London and Robert Service.  Those who aren’t familiar with the names should 
become so.  Dawson City is also home to Diamond Tooth Gerties Saloon - dancing girls 
included.  Now we know why Robert Service and Jack London liked this town.  
Getting 100 miles up the Dempster Highway and discovering that we had a bad tire.  The 
Dempster Hwy is 450 miles of bad gravel road that leads to Inuvik, NWT (well north of
 the Arctic Circle) through some wonderfully beautiful country. We got as far as the north
 end of the Tombstone Provincial Park before turning back because of the tire (and 
maybe partially because of the $8/gal gas).  Turning back didn’t help much – we still 
didn’t find a place to get the tire fixed until we got to Whitehorse – 250 miles later.  
Doing the “Alcan Run” --- from Dawson City to Dawson Creek.  Who is this “Dawson” 
character ayway? 
Stopping at Liard Hot Springs for a long relaxing soak.  The upper (beta) spring is much 
less crowded.  
Stopping at the Northern Lights Center in Watson Lake – it was interesting because their 
video presentations were based on spacecraft data from programs that Jim had worked on 
in the past.  Good show.  
Walking through the “Signboard Forest” at Watson Lake.  It consists of probably 20 
acres of posts with signs that have been attached by travelers starting back in the 1940’s
when the Alcan Hwy was being built.  The count as of last year (2007) was something 
over 65,000 signs.  We didn’t get pictures of all of them, but there were a few that were 
of particular interest.  
Finding a traffic jam on the way into Jasper National Park – and then working our way 
through the herd of bighorn sheep that were licking the salt off the roadway and stopping 
Trying to find a campsite in Jasper in the middle of a major Canadian holiday weekend 
was “interesting”.  We ended up in the Snaring River overflow area for Jasper National 
Park – there were probably 3,000 people out there – and maybe a dozen outhouses.  
Backpacking for 6 days from Jasper to Mt Robson (about 120 Km) on the GDT.    
The trail was everything we were warned about -  it was wet, wild, rough, tough, extremely 
beautiful and extremely buggy.  The mosquitos could only be described as a
 Biblical plague.  So much so that we have photos and video that clearly show some of
 the clouds of the little suckers.  Several photos have one huge  bug right in the middle of
 the image  – they’d be nice pictures without that.  We were sometimes off-trail (“lost?”)
 for much of the  day in places where the “trail” simply disappeared in the middle of the
 vast meadows of flowers.   The flowers, the mountains and the sheer number of glaciers
 and icefields  made the hard parts worth the trip.  The only real disappointment was that 
we saw no  bears, moose, caribou or elk.  Where did they go?  On the other hand, we had 
the longest period of sunshine that we’ve seen since we left Utah.  
Oh yeah  - “Eau de DEET”   ----- we were told that the mosquitoes would be minimal 
because it had gotten cold in the mountains.  So we took a “minimal” amount of DEET 
(about ½ oz of 100% DEET).  We used it VERY sparingly and brought back about 1/3 of 
that – and about a dozen mosquito bites a day.  
This hike also emphasized the fact that Jim’s knee will preclude any more long hikes 
until it gets “fixed” (replaced) – this Fall.  
Being back in Jasper and trying to decide what to do next – we’ll probably head south on 
the Icefields Parkway.  We’ve driven it twice before, ridden a bus through it once – and 
walked the length of the mountains it showcases last year on the Great Divide Trail. And 
it’s eminently worth doing again.  
After that we know we’ll be going to Head-Smashed-in Buffalo Jump Provincial Park, which 
reportedly has the best available historical exhibits re: pre-Columbian Plains Indian life.  
We missed that last year – we won’t miss it again.  
Y’all have a good day,
Jim & Ginnyhttp://www.spiriteaglehome.com/
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