Almost to DeadhorsePrudhoe Bay

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May 1st 2016
Published: May 1st 2016
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From Fairbanks to 5 Mile Camp to Coldfoot

$4.59 a gallon!$4.59 a gallon!$4.59 a gallon!

The irony is that this a petro town. Unfortunately it's all unrefined. So it has to go down to wherever, get refined then shipped back up here by truck.
Location: Coldfoot Camp (blog via Satellite)

Only posted partial pictures because of horrible Internet connectivity! No map for the same reason. Will update this post when I can

(Update: I'm back in Fairbanks and have updated the Post)

Day: 14/15

Distance: 5514 miles

So yesterday was mostly uneventful after I left Fairbanks to head up to Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay. I didn't get on the road until after 5; you know, after the blog, fueling, and grabbing a medium pizza from Dominoes. I took SR 2 north to Livengood. SR 2 wasn't exactly a great road. It was paved but the way it was paved kind of made me think that the surveyor for the road was either sadistic or drunk. Perhaps both. There was dips, valleys, crest and ripples in the road that made navigation tricky. I figured this was a good primer for the Dalton Highway. I was wrong.

Right past Livingston, there was the turn off for the Dalton Highway (SR 11). It used to be called the Haul Highway back in the 70s when they were building the Trans-Alaska pipeline (TAP). I took the highway and immediately realized that this segment of my trip was going to be fun. The first 6 miles were characterized by a dirt road covered with the anti-dusting chemical that made the roads slippery and deep with mud. Add to that 12 degree climbs and descents, hairpin turns, narrow lanes, and incoming wide load rigs and you get the Dalton Highway. The MilePost guide indicated that if you can't handle the first 6 miles to turn around. I believe them. The driving was exhilaratingly terrifying. Feeling your car slip and slid as you try to maintain a semblance of control was a test of driving skills. The road graders leveling the road with dirt, left berms of soft soil on the sides as well in the middle of the road that felt like you were moving through snow and very much acted like you were hitting snow drifts. Getting through this section made me feel like Hercules completing one of his challenges.

My destination, since I spent a large portion of it in Fairbanks to get ready for this trip segment, was to get to the 5 Mile Camp at the Yukon River (5 Mile Camp because it was 5 miles away from the Yukon River -
Washed out road, down to single lane road (barely).Washed out road, down to single lane road (barely).Washed out road, down to single lane road (barely).

Right side of the road (I'm facing back) has been washed out. You have to cling to the left side against traffic and hope no truck is coming your way!
duh). It was at the 60 mile mark of the the 415 mile trip to Deadhorse. I made the camp around 8PM. I had the camp to myself; no one else was around. To make it more interesting, the camp was on a plateau with no vegetation blocking the wind. I had a grand time setting up the tent with the wind blowing fiercely across the ground. I decided to forgo setting anything else up. I got my shotgun and bear spray out and did a tour around the grounds to check it out. Yup, it's a campground. No bears.

I crawled into my tent around 11 and snuggled down to sleep. The good news was that I had no bear encounters and was able to sleep decently to 6AM this morning. I packed up camp, had a cup of chicken noodle soup and coffee (ahhh, the breakfast of champions!) and hit the road. The road is a mixture of gravel, dirt, potholes, potchasms, potcraters, paved, sand, and water (yes water). Now this mixture didn't occur all at once (usually) but rather as a stream of different upcoming challenges with no rhyme or reason to the placement.

As a private vehicle (read small cars), we are supposed to give way to the rigs hauling all kinds of equipment. No sweat. Unless you are in a section of the road where you have only one lane and you happen to be already on it. A couple of times I felt like Wil-E-Coyote in the cartoons as he goes around the corner and has nothing but air beneath him.

After driving this road awhile, you kinda come into a driving equilibrium. The best I can describe it, is like being on a motorboat in heavy swells. You try to keep the boat perpendicular to the seas and use the throttle to coast up or slow down through the swells. It's a fine art, but once you get into the moment it becomes hypnotic. It's all about the timing of your maneuvers and spotting the upcoming swells in order to get the right angle or maneuver for the wave. You are never in complete control, but more like using the physics/momentum of the car (boat) to slide through the waves. I enjoy that type of maneuvering so I am actually having a blast. I only hit one trough (pothole) where
Looking north on Dalton HighwayLooking north on Dalton HighwayLooking north on Dalton Highway

Near Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge
I lost my fillings and where I thought I might have endangered my tires. But good ole BB weathered the bang just fine. Of course as I write this at Coldfoot (mile 175), I still have over 200 miles to go. 😊 Where's the wood (to knock silly)?

My plan is to get all the way to Prudhoe Bay tonight, camp along the Sagavanirktok River near the town and then hop on over to Barrow in the morning. Spend the day in Barrow and head back to Prudhoe Bay that evening.

I've passed the Arctic Circle! Tonight I will be camping much higher up theArctic Circle. How cool is that?


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