The Dalton Highway
To Deadhorse, Alaska

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Fri. 6/1/2012

Interesting day with lots of weather extremes-- sunny, heavy rain, and even an avalanche. We had nice weather at a point (mi. 258.6) recommended for hiking by my travel guide, The Milepost. We were able to scramble up a steep mountain, with expansive scenery and flowers. It was beautiful, and the dog had a great time too. The avalanche was over the road at about mile 248ish, covering the whole road with about 5' deep snow. I was the second car to encounter it from the north. Fortunately, there was a nice big turnout not far back where traffic gathered for the next couple hours or so, while heavy equipment moved into place from the south side to clear a path for us. After a period of dark clouds and heavy rain that made driving difficult south of Coldfoot (175), we arrived back at the arctic circle wayside under blue skies. We're camped here for the night. Luna is lounging outdoors in the shade, keeping an eye on Angel who is exploring the nice quiet campsite. Milepost 115.5.
odometer: 1119.7 - 1281.1

Glacial Avens from mi. 258.6

hiking in rocks at mi. 258.6

avalanche in Atigun Pass, mi. 244

Atigun Pass scene

Lapland Rosebay, in the rain, mi. 215

camp buddies at the arctic circle

Additional images from June 1st, along the Dalton Highway

These lovely Glacial Avens (Geum glaciale) decorated the rocky mountain where we hiked.
Another view from the rock-covered mountain at milepost 258.6
While waiting for the snow to be cleared, Luna and I hiked around in the area.
Atigun Pass scene 2 / Atigun Pass scene 3
A big rig clearing snow from the Pass while trucks line up to wait
Vehicles wait at a pull-off below the avalanche; my van is between the big trucks.
Bog Rosemary buds-- pretty but toxic

 Sat. 6/2

Today was rain and more rain. And hail, too! We finished the Dalton Hwy and drove into Fairbanks for a bit, to get something to eat and to gas up. The sun finally came out when we reached the city. Although I found many flowers up the Dalton (including the ones below), I didn't see any Parry's wallflowers. So we're headed out the Steese Hwy now, to the NE, where I hope to find some around Eagle Summit. We're camped at Steese milepost 39 in the Chatanika River campground. Parry's wallflowers tomorrow!
odo: 11281.1 - 1521.8

view of 2290' Yukon R. bridge

Yukon River, mi. 56

alpine arnica

wooly lousewort

frigid coltsfoot

Alaska starwort


 Sun. 6/3

Started the day at mi. 39 Chatanika River campground and ended it at mi. 60 Cripple Creek campground. In between we hiked the Pinnell Mountain Trail at milepost 85.5, where there were plenty of flowers. I know you're losing sleep over this question: Did we find Parry's Wallflowers? YES! There were quite a few along the trail at Twelvemile Summit. We drove up to Eagle Summit anyway, and hiked around there in high winds. There were very few flowers out there. But I feel like I've gotten plenty of wildflowers now and can start to mosey on toward home.

odo: 1521.8 - 1636.4

trail scene, with Parrys wallflowers

closeup of Parrya nudicaulis

rocky scene along the trail

northern singlespike sedge

bell heather

Alaska synthris

More scenes and flowers from the Pinnell Mt. Trail at Twelvemile Summit, Steese Hwy

Another view from along the Pinnell Mountain Trail with a glimpse of the Steese Hwy
Parry's Wallflowers, Parrya nudicaulis, the whole plant
One more view of Parry's Wallflowers inflorescence
An additional look at the strange hairy little flower, Alaska synthris
One single tiny Lapland Diaspensia flower
Purple Cress, Cardamine purpurea
Closer view of Purple Cress

 Mon. 6/4

From Steese 39, we drove back into Fairbanks today, where it was 73ºF. The dog complained of the heat, so we found some shade to park in at Creamer's Field and took a nice shady walk on the grounds there. The migrating waterfoul stayed way out in the distance. Later in the afternoon, we headed out on the Richardson Hwy and are currently camped at the Donnelly Creek Campgrounds, mile 238.
odo 6/4: 1636.4 - 1826.4

Tues. 6/5

Cloudy with intermittent rain, but there were many times when the weather was fine. Luna and I found plenty of places to explore along the Richardson Highway. We also took a little detour on the Denali Highway and found fun places there as well. Had a delicious and leisurely lunch at the Black Rapids Roadhouse (mi. 227.4). It wasn't far to Glennallen and my daughter wouldn't get off work until 6PM anyway, so no rush. When I did get to Glennallen, Luna and Shana's two little dogs (Kendra & Sadie) played together while their humans had a nice chat. Her pups have learned to run an obstacle course, and even Luna learned to do a jump (after first knocking it down). And a good time was had by all. Then we were on the road again, headed toward home. Camped in a little pulloff not far from Glennallen.

odo 6/5: 1826.4 - 1989.3

Summit Lake, mi. 195 Richardson Hwy

Richardson Hwy scene­ Alaska Range

Unusual white colored Beautiful Jacob's Ladder, near Glennallen

Wild Sweet Pea, near Paxson

A tiny Silvery Blue Butterfly, on wild sweet pea

The last sunset of the trip, Glenn Hwy

A creek scene on the Richardson Highway, with wild sweet pea
One more mountain scene from the Richardson

June 6, 2012:
Final trip odometer reading: 2166.3
We've been to the Arctic Ocean, and driven a large triangle route through Alaska, with beautiful scenery everywhere. It was a memorable trip. I was looking for early spring tundra flowers and found them. But the other big reason for this particular trip was that the Dalton Highway is the northernmost portion of the Pan American Highway. In a few years, when I retire, I'm planning to go on a much longer trip down to Tierra del Fuego, the southern end of the Pan American Highway. (Or perhaps I should say it this way: En pocos años, cuando me jubile, voy a conducir desde Alaska hasta Tierra del Fuego, en la Carretera Panamericana.) Now I have done the first part of that advanture. The rest will have to wait. I'm going to need time to learn Spanish first. :-)

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