[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
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”
Stopping at Liard Hot Springs for a long relaxing soak. The upper (beta) spring is much
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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