Posts Tagged ‘Atigun Pass’

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Days 29-30 – Deadhorse to Denali National Park

August 6, 2017

After staying the night at The Arctic Oilfield Hotel, which has got to be the northernmost hotel accessible by car in America (the other two hotels in Deadhorse are slightly farther south), I got up in just enough time to take a shower and get to Camp Deadhorse, which, while sounding like a Halloween store, is actually the outfit that runs the tour buses through the oilfield to Prudhoe Bay, on the Arctic Ocean.

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Deadhorse in the morning.

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Day 28 – Dalton Highway, Northbound – Part 2

August 6, 2017

Having gone to bed at two in the morning, I woke up later than I’d of liked and didn’t really get moving until almost noon. The plan for the morning, now early afternoon, was to hike from the campground to the park boundaries of Gates of the Arctic National Park, just to accomplish having been there. I wasn’t setting my ambitions any higher than that.

The more I looked at the map though, the more I felt that even that would be aiming high. It looked like the park boundaries would be at minimum a five mile hike, but could easily be closer to 10, making it a 10-20 mile round trip, off-trail. That was just more than I was willing to get myself into.

I looked over my maps again and noticed one of the places where the park was only a mile or two from the road seemed to feature a wide, flat valley that would be dead easy to follow. I’m much more willing to take a chance on two miles than 10. The only problem was there would be a river crossing involved, and I had no idea how wide or deep that river would be, so it could be a dead end. That, and the area I was looking at was 75 miles behind me, so getting there and back would burn three to four hours.

I decided it was worth giving it a shot, so I got in the truck and headed south.

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Day 27 – Dalton Highway, Northbound – Part 1

August 5, 2017

I’ve spent the last four days traveling the Dalton Highway, and can say that most of the info I’d read on the Dalton Highway was alarmist. From what I’d read (The Wikitravel entry in particular) it sounded like traveling “The Dalton” was some kind of ultra-badass expedition that I wasn’t sure I was up for.

I needn’t have worried; it really hasn’t been that big of a deal. I’m betting the conditions are very different in the winter, but in the summer, it’s just a long, rough road.

That’s not to say it’s completely pedestrian, but the real reason for caution isn’t that the likelihood of something going wrong is higher than on any other dirt or gravel road you can think of, it’s not. It’s that the consequences of something going wrong are much higher. Still, even those consequences are along the lines of time and money rather than life and limb.

If your car breaks down on the Dalton Highway, you’re not going to die (again, at least not in the summer. I can’t speak to the winter), but you are probably about to spend days and hundreds or thousands dollars getting everything sorted out. You could probably buy a small car for what a tow would cost. Shipping parts from Fairbanks or Anchorage would be difficult and expensive as well.

Overall, as long as you don’t drive like an idiot, have a sturdy, high ground clearance vehicle that you trust, and are prepared to spend the night in that vehicle if things go bad at the wrong time of night, you’ll be fine.

Even though it wasn’t quite the Robinson Crusoe / Mad Max experience I was anticipating / afraid of, the Dalton Highway and the land it travels through is a different sort of place than I’d ever experienced, and I’m glad I was able to get acquainted with it. I’m going to be covering the 800 mile out-and-back in probably three posts, with this post taking care of Day 1.

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