We made it to Alaska, not once but twice!
A short drive north gets us to Washington and our rally point with 13roads for our caravan to Alaska. We setup in a buddy site and get to work with final preparations and provisioning. There is much discussion about spare parts as well as protective measures for the trailers. We opt to protect all of our windows with yoga mats as well as add protection to any exposed hoses and pipes underneath. We end up pushing a little closer to the border to a private campground for our final, final preparations and provisioning. We also rediscover our favorite sushi place and a new Banh Mi place as well. The latter even has durian smoothies!
It’s go time! We could keep preparing but really we just need to move. So late in the day on Sunday, 28 May we cross the border into Canada. It went very smoothly and we searched for a place nearby to overnight. Our first option was quite sketchy and we end up at a roadside pullout. It was our first such stay and quite pleasant. We were lake views and it was relatively quiet. Our first real test of solar, the system performed flawlessly.
We pushed further north towards Wiliams Lake and then on towards Prince George where we visit the British Columbia Rail and Forestry Museum. We stay for a few days, taking advantage of the town to obtain Canadian provisions (chocolate and chips) and make our way west to the Cassiar Highway and to the town of Stewart, B.C. Along the way, we see our first glacier, Bear Glacier just outside of Stewart.
Despite commencing our trek later than we intended, we were still early for the season and our desired municipal campground was not yet open. A private camp was open which gave us base from which to explore. A few miles from Stewart is the Alaskan town of Hyder. Yes, there is a small chunk of land that is actually US soil. We’d heard much about this quirky, townlet, but nothing was open yet. We did, however, drive to the Salmon Glacier which is in Canada, via Hyder. So technically, we made it to Alaska! We tried to get to the toe of the Salmon Glacier but there was still too much snow on the road.
By this time we are aware that two other members of our Alaska group, Less Junk More Journey and The Aluminum Whale are also in Canada. Where exactly, we weren’t sure as we didn’t always have cellular connectivity. Just north of Stewart, still on the Cassiar Highway, we overnight at another pullout, overlooking a lake. We could get used to this! The next morning, guess who shows up? Karen and Ritchie of The Whale. They had actually leapfrogged us when we stopped in Stewart but we passed them the previous day. Our convoy was now legit with three members. From here our merry band traveled up to Watson Lake and then to Whitehorse, the capitol of the Yukon Territory.
With plans to head to Dawson City and take the Top of the World Highway to Alaska, we provisioned in Whitehorse and made plans to meet in Dawson City. In reality our convoy was more of a loose coalition of travelers heading in the same direction and at roughly the same pace. As prepare to leave Whitehorse, I receive a text message from Marissa of Less Junk More Journey. It turns out that they made really good time driving up from Texas and were ahead of us. They had wanted to stop at Braeburn Lodge for the fabled cinnamon rolls but missed the stop and had no way to turn around. We agreed to pick up one for them so we set the lodge as our next rally point for our group.
The Braeburn’s rolls were everything they were reputed to be, as was the rest of their food. It was a good day’s drive to the camp near Dawson City. The Whale got there first and claimed some good spots for us. Less Junk had been in town, so we suggested they join us at camp. Just as they show up, we learn that they have a significant water leak. It’s all hands on deck to help our friends. To make a long story short, they were able to fix the leak and you can also watch their YouTube video of the event.
Dawson City was quite fun and interesting. We spent time visiting the town, taking a historical tour, riding the ferry, visiting Tombstone Provincial Park and riding the ferry some more. The free ferry runs 24/7 back and forth across the Yukon River in season.
We could have easily stayed in Dawson City longer but we had a date in Fairbanks for the Midnight Sun Run and other summer solstice festivities. We had concerns abut the road conditions on Top of the World but it had been pretty dry so we made the push to Alaska. The border crossing at Gold Creek is only open during the day, so timing our drive, we push back into to Alaska again and pause in the town of Chicken. It is said that they couldn’t spell Ptarmigan but could spell Chicken, so that’s how the name was chosen!