Sunday, June 26, 2016

Alaska 2016

This was our second trip to Alaska. It was only a couple of weeks later in the season but there were big differences in the weather and  very large numbers of mosquitoes.

After touching down in Fairbanks I had a couple of hours sleep, then I took a flight to Coldfoot Alaska, about 60 miles north of the Artic Circle.

The first fantastic sight was the
Yukon River

Things changed very dramatically as we flew over the Caribou Mountain Range 

As we approached Coldfoot we could see the Dalton Hwy and the Alaska pipe line below.

The airport at Coldfoot.

The road to Wiseman was a dirt road that in the winter is covered by 4-6 feet of snow and ice. You can see last years snow depth by the willow tree bark that was eaten by Snow Shoe rabbits  about 6 feet off the ground.

One of the Original homesteads in Wiseman about a hundred years ago.

Current population: 24 very rugged individuals

After visiting with some of the locals we traveled to Coldfoot Camp.

The TV show"Ice Road Truckers" has made this place famous as the mid-way point between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay. During the winter it is all ice and snow with minus 20 degrees being
a balmy temperature. This time of year it is just wet mud.
Only eleven people live year round.

After a very enlightening day, we were back in the plane and in the air at just about midnight and were able to get a good view of the Midnight Sun even with some clouds moving in.

As some of the clouds cleared we saw our last views of the Brooks Mountain Range.

 Before we headed to Denali National Park we spent three nights in Fairbanks and did the obligatory sightseeing.

The only difference between Caribou and Reindeer is that Reindeer can fly.

On the way to Denali we stopped at the first Iditarod Race Checkpoint in Nenana.
This time of year the only dog sled you can travel on are dogs pulling 4-wheelers.

As you approach Denali National Park it is hard to believe that the mountains before you are actually
dwarfed by the Mountain peak of Denali which stands at about 20,000 feet.

Moose are everywhere

We were very fortunate once again that Denali was not hidden by clouds. Our guide tells us
only about 20% of visitors get to see it in such clear weather.

After a couple of days at Denali we headed by rail to Mt. McKinley Lodge in Talkeetna;
once again we are blessed with great weather and we have great views of Denali. The 60-80 mile per hour winds at Denali's peaks are blowing large plums of snow off the top of the mountain.
We found out the next day that a young mountain climber was killed in his attempt to the summit.

The views from Mt. Mckinley  Lodge were just as fantastic until later that night when clouds moved in.

Only one night at the lodge then we headed by bus to Kenai for our whitewater rafting trip down the Kenai river.
Our cabin at Kenai could not have had betters views.

Before getting on the river you have to suite up.  After all the water temperature is about 37 degrees
this time of the year and you do not want to get wet.

Most of the river was very easy going as the video below.

But when we reached the canyon area things got a bit bumpy.

We end at a large lake surrounded by mountains.

 The temperature drops by about 20 degrees as
the wind is blowing off the mountains.

Because of the high wind we could not take the boat across the lake so we had to hike
out about two miles to catch the van back to Kenai cabin.

It was a beautiful hike except for the thousands of mosquitoes.

ON TO THE SHIP: Glaciers, Whales, Bears and more