We finally made it to Alaska today! We are so excited! Let’s catch up on everything that has happened the last two days, though.
When we got up yesterday morning and left our campsite in Kluane National Park, we knew there were two more stops in the park that we wanted to make. The first was another park visitor center, which we found to be very informative. The best part about this one was that they had spotting scopes set up on the deck directing our attention to quite a few dall sheep on the hillsides around the center. It was a group of females and some babies, and they were so fun to watch. Sadly, we didn’t get any great photos, so we just enjoyed seeing them with our eyes and not through a camera lens.
Next, we stopped for a short hike up to Soldier’s Summit. This is a short, steep trail that has interpretive panels along the way talking about the building of the Alaska Highway. An area at the top of the trail commemorates the ceremony that was held here in 1942 to officially open the road. We loved learning the history of the highway and reading about the experiences of those who worked on it, but even without all the information, this would be a great hike. At the end of the hike, in addition to the area commemorating the opening, there is also a beautiful overlook of Kluane Lake, complete with another set of those Parks Canada red chairs we mentioned in our last post. We very much enjoyed the view, the history lesson, and our last few minutes in Kluane National Park, but we had miles to make. It was time to get back on the road.
We had been warned that once we reached Destruction Bay, the condition of the road would deteriorate. That was an understatement. Until Destruction Bay, there had been a few minor bumps and some small sections of construction, but nothing too terrible. After Destruction Bay, though, the highway really changed its attitude. There were near constant gravel breaks, frost heaves, deep potholes, and damaged pavement. We didn’t suffer any terrible damage during the drive, but it is always fun when you walk into your camper and find a random screw on the floor. Turned out it came out of the mounting bracket for our microwave, and of course, it was stripped out. Jeff had to do a bush repair that included whittling a stick to glue into the hole so we could get the screw to bite in again. Considering the truly awful condition of the road, though, we considered ourselves lucky that that was all the damage we sustained. The damage may not have been too bad, but boy did the truck and camper ever get dirty! No joke, this is probably the dirtiest either of them have ever been! Anyway, we knew there was more of the awful road to come in the morning, so we stopped for the day at a reasonable hour and got some rest for what was to come.
When we woke this morning, we were bound and determined that we were going to make it to Alaska today. The road was every bit as awful as the day before, but just like the day before, Jeff navigated through it like a champ and WE MADE IT TO ALASKA! Our first stop, was of course, the Welcome to Alaska sign and international border. Here, the border is marked by a 20 foot wide swath that is cleared in the vegetation between the two countries. It seems like it would be difficult to maintain the clearing, but apparently, they come through periodically to keep it all cut and cleared. There is certainly no question about where the border is when it is done like this! Crossing into Alaska also meant entering the Alaska time zone, so we are now four hours behind our friends and family who live in the Eastern time zone! As for coming through US customs…it was the easiest border crossing we have ever made. The border agent checked our passports, asked us if we had anything to declare from Canada (we did not), and told us to have a good day. Thankfully, there were no surprises or scrambling to meet last minute requirements like when we entered Canada.
Tonight we are set up at an RV park in Tok. Unfortunately, our first day in Alaska won’t be full of adventure, but we have some chores to take care of before we go any further. We have laundry to do, VEHICLES TO CLEAN, and we are getting pretty low on groceries, so that needs to be taken care of. We hope to get all the icky stuff taken care of here tomorrow so we can be on our way to finishing the Alaska highway and starting our Alaska explorations on Saturday! Come back in a few days to see what Alaska has in store for us!
Until next time!