ALASKAN HIGHWAY (THE AL-CAN)

800px-Alaska_Highway1

A road that was proposed for years became a military necessity due to the attack on Pearl Harbor. It is a road that has been dubbed “a significant feat of time critical engineering and construction” by The American Society of Civil Engineers. In 1995 it was awarded the Historic Civil Engineering Landmark Status” and is a 20th century engineering achievement.

Viewed with by congress as an urgent matte,  it was February 11, 1942 that a Special Committee and President Roosevelt authorized the construction of a joint United States/Canadian effort to build the road north. During it’s construction the Japanese also invaded Attu and Kiska Islands in the Pacific adding to the urgency to protect this state of America and the Pacific shipping lanes.

Even though it was only a dirt/gravel path through the wilderness during the war this historic road was needed as a vital military route to provide supplies, troops and equipment safely to Alaska. An engineering feat to get this 1,390 mile (2,237 km) road completed in such a short amount of time, not just because of it’s length but also for the terrain and environmental restrictions placed by the regions it traversed; then finally that Canada was deeded the access road after the war to gain access into it’s remote northwestern region that was difficult to access at the time.

Construction of the AL/CAN (Alaska-Canadian Highway) officially began on March 9, 1942 with a mobilization of men from the United States. Work along the route was to be provided by American troops and individuals. The Canadian Government provided the right of way through Canada, waived import duties, sales tax, income tax, immigration and provided construction materials along the route. After the war the portion of the highway in Canada was to be turned over to the Canadian Government. America would provide all the manpower and equipment to build this road through the wilderness.

During construction there were numerous rivers to cross. At the time of original construction there were a total of 133 bridges along its route, 64 were more than 100 feet (30.5 m) in length. Pontoon bridges were first constructed to continue work on the road while a timber truss or timber trestle bridge was being constructed. These timber bridges were no match for the winters and the water flows of these untamed waters, so 99 of the 133 bridges were replaced with steel truss bridges, steel I-beam bridges, plate girder bridges, suspension bridges, and reinforced concrete bridges.

More than 10,000 American troops poured into Canada to locate, survey and construct this path north. No formal roads existed north of Dawson Creek, B.C. so the army was instructed to push north from that railhead.

Following winter roads, summer pack trails and winter trap lines a route was surveyed by using local information about the makeup of the topography. With skimpy rations and harsh conditions these individuals completed the road on October 25, 1942 just 8 months and 12 days after the start of construction. Finally opened to the public in 1948 it is one of the iconic adventure road trips for many people.

 

The Northern Adventure – Journey to the Yukon

Having already started the first post of this adventure HERE although I should explain what this Journey is about and where in shall go. 

But First:

ADVENTURE – An exciting, daring, bold, risky or very unusual experience or undertaking fraught with physical, financial or psychological risks.

Lets go on an Adventure

What does this mean? It can be different for everyone; skydiving, mountain climbing, scuba diving, river rafting, caving (spelunking) traveling, exploring…… anything that is outside the ordinary for that individual is an adventure. Many make their adventures a way of life and never stop. For some it is just a day, weekend or short trip. Does it need to involve speed, height, a high level of physical exertion or highly specialized gear, some would say yes. I do not think that at all, it is up to the individual the extent of the adventure to be accomplished.

The Individuals:

The explores will consist of 2 individuals who are basically strangers, we came together on social media in our interests for the outside and vehicle exploration. Communicating through the computer is all we done as we live in different states. The team consists of Heather’s 2015 Subaru Outback (#heidi_roo), and myself in a 2017 Subaru Outback (#sled_rider).

 

The Journey:

It will involve a drive from Vancouver, WA to Dawson City, Yukon Territories, Canada, up the Dawson highway to the Arctic Ocean at Tuktoyaktuk, YT, Canada and back. It is something I have never done and it has always been on my bucket list. I have taken 2 cruises to Alaska and have loved the experiences. I now want to experience the lands of Canada and Alaska from the ground driving through the countryside.

Map 1Map 2Map 3Map 4

  • Will it be an adventure? …..yes as this will go far north as you can drive in Canada.
  • Will it be exhilarating? …..Yes.
  • Will it be fun and exciting? …..Definitely.
  • Is this outside the box for travels…..Definitely.
  • Am I excited to plan and start this adventure? …..OH YES.
  • Has this route been carved in stone…..NO, it will change even as we travel I’m sure.

The trip will leave Vancouver, WA and head up Interstate 5 to the Canadian Border. Crossing into British Columbia, Canada the journey continues north to Prince George, BC and to the start of the Alaskan Highway in Dawson Creek, B.C., Canada. British Columbia has a population of approximately 4,751, 600 in 364,764 sq. miles (944,735 sq. km) making it the 3rd largest province in Canada.

Heading north from Dawson Creek we will go along The Alaskan Highway, Canada Highway 97, passing through Fort Nelson and entering the Yukon Territories, Canada just before Watson Lake to visit the Sign Forest. The Yukon has the smallest population of any Province/Territory of Canada at approximately 37,858 with a land area of 186,661 sq. miles (483,450 sq. km).

What is the difference between a Province and Territory? Territories are administrated differently than Provinces. Provincial government powers are laid out in the Constitution, whereas the territories are given powers from the federal government, thus the territories control less of their own affairs.

Heading north on The Campbell Highway, Canada 4 we will stop in the old mining town of Mayo / Keno then will then make our way up the Dempster Highway, Canada 5, crossing the Arctic Circle, Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada and then continue the final 130 km on the new all season road to Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, Canada and the Arctic Ocean. The Northwest Territories has an approximate population of 44,469 that live in an area of 452,480 sq. miles (1,171,918 sq. km), this province has about the one sixth of the land area of Canada making it the second largest and most populous territory of Canada.

I mention the population and sizes of these Territories as they are still sparsely populated; a majority of Canadians live very close to the border with the United States. The population for the state of California is estimated to be 39,497,000 in 2017 with an area of 163,696 sq. miles (423,970 sq. km). The state of Washington has approximately a population of 7,535,591 and a land area of 71,362 sq. mi (184,827 sq. km). When you look at these numbers California has 241 people per sq. mile (93 people per sq. km), Washington has 106 people per sq. mile (40 people per sq. km), while The Yukon with 6.5 people per sq. mile (1 per sq. km) and The Northwest Territories having 1 person per sq. mile (about 1 person per 2 sq. km). So as you can see the farther north we head the less people, cities and urbanization will be encounter.

SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD PLAN.

After dipping our feet into the Arctic Ocean and exploring the area it will be time to return to Dawson City, Yukon Territories, Canada to explore the old mining district and town. The journey will then cross the Yukon River on a ferry as we head west to Chicken, Alaska along Top of the World Highway. Continuing on the Taylor Highway to the junction with the Alaskan Highway, we turn south for Haines, AK along the beautiful Haines Highway.

Backtracking to the Alaska Highway the route passes through the Capitol of the Yukon Territories, Whitehorse, the only city in the Yukon Territory. Leaving Whitehorse we will head toward the Cassiar Highway, Canada 37, and back to Prince George. From Prince George it is east to Jasper, Alberta, Canada to visit Jasper National Park and Banff National Park along the Icefields Parkway to Banff, Alberta, Canada.

From Banff we will enter back in to the continental United States and journey along the Going-to-the Sun Highway in Glacier National Park. After a short stay in Glacier NP it is time for all to return to our home bases.

·      Adventure? …..I think so.

·      Something out of my ordinary routine? …..DEFINITELY for me.

So what does this involve? A lot of investigation on the Internet, reviewing maps and with the help from individuals who kindly share their knowledge of the areas that are being visited. I will be camping along the way when possible and staying at motels, hotels or lodges only as needed to freshen up.

·      Will schedules change?

·      Will additional sites present themselves?

·      Will destinations be revised?

All a YES to me, it is still being planned so anything is all possible.

Since we will be camping most of the nights along the journey. Some of the camping equipment in my vehicle will include Roof Top Tent, sleeping bag, stove, pots, fry pan, plates, cooking and eating utensils, camp chair and table, mosquito repellant and head netting, camp lights and batteries, propane, lighter and matches, trash bags, cleaning bucket, 5 gallon drinking water container, a refrigerated cooler and food storage containers, a hand held GPS, first aid kit, whistle, cordage (para-cord), knife, bear spray, maps, compass and Garmin In-Reach Satellite Emergency System . Communication between vehicles will be with HAM, GSMR and Citizen Band (CB) radios. We will have at least one complete set of tools and vehicle recovery gear for any unforeseen issues with mine having a winch permanently installed.

This should be a great Journey.

Beacon Rock along the Columbia River

I heard of this climb in a magazine promoting hiking trails surrounding Vancouver, WA. I decided to climb the up the short 1.8 mile (2.9 k) round trip to the top of this rock when the weather got better. At only 700 foot (213 m) elevation gain this may seem like an easy hike, but don’t fool yourself it’s a 700 foot (213 m) climb in only 0.9 mile (1.45 k) involving many switchbacks, steep grades, and stairs the entire distance. Who needs a gym with a stair master when you can go out here.

IMG_0506

A prominent and distinctive geological feature along the Columbia River Gorge, this 848-foot (258.5 m) high landmark was the core of a volcano 57,000 years ago. The rock that remains is the lava core that was not washed away by the massive force of ice-age flooding. During the last Ice Age an ice dam formed in Idaho creating an enormous lake behind a 1/2 mile (804.5 m) thick block of ice.

This ice dam failed numerous times sending an enormous amount of water down through the Columbia River Gorge flowing at 60 mph (96.5 k/hr) up to 600 feet (182.9 m) deep. The city of Portland, OR could have been 400 feet (121.9 m) under water during these floods. This amount of water caused erosion created the hanging valleys and waterfalls that are prevalent along the river right now.

The trail built by Henry Biddle between 1915 and 1918 is one of the oldest trails in the area. At the time Biddle built the trail with handrails and bridges to the top for people to visit. His family later donated the land to the Washington State Parks in 1935.

An important landmark along the Columbia River this rock served as a landmark to local tribes denoting the last of the rapids of the great river. Originally named “Beaten Rock” by Lewis & Clark in their journals on the Voyage of Discovery in 1805, it was renamed on the  return journey “Beacon Rock” for unknown reasons.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“The entire trail is a near-continuous series of switchbacks, many of them less than 20 feet long and the trail loops over itself at least twice. I counted 52 switchbacks, while one of my sons counted 54 and the other came up with 49. That says less bad about our educational system than it does good about the distracting views. The trail is completely lined by handrails and is safe for all but the tiniest walkers.

Most of the trail is up the open, west side of the rock, providing views down the river of Angel’s Rest and Cape Horn. With little shade or water, this part of the trail can be really hot in the summertime. Beacon Rock actually has two summits and the trail works around the south one and proceeds up the east side toward the higher, north summit. The trail is forested here, but the terrain is still rocky enough to provide great views of Hamilton Mountain and the river toward Bonneville Dam. At the summit, a few quite large stairs lead to the summit pinnacle. Here, trees block a bit of the view, but it’s certainly worth seeing.

The wind is usually howling on one side of the rock and dead calm on the other side, creating a dramatic difference in the perceived temperature. You’ll need a jacket most days, but you’ll carry it a lot.” – OregonHikers.org