between Dawson City in the Yukon, and Fairbanks, Alaska
I decided that I wanted to drive to the northernmost point of the
US. I had been to the southernmost point (Key West, Florida)
only 2 months earlier. Now I had the chance to the
northernmost point. That was my next goal.
at a map to see how to get to THERE. THERE turned out to be a
place called, "Deadhorse". And the map showed that the only
road leading to Deadhorse was called the Dalton Highway.
Deadhorse, on Prudhoe Bay--right beside the Arctic Ocean!
Well, that sounded appealing. So that was it--I was going to
Fairbanks Visitor center they told me to forget about it--there was
no way my car would make it over the Dalton Highway. They gave
me a pamphlet written for those who are thinking about driving their
own vehicle over the Dalton. Here's some of the information
contained in that pamphlet:
miles from Fairbanks to Deadhorse)
didn't exactly have all that with me. But I had one of those
temporary "donut" spare tires in the trunk. And I had a can of
"Fix-A-Flat". I had a couple of flashlights, canned food,
water, camping stuff. Actually, the car trunk was still filled
with crap that I had collected along my journey--stuff that I now
realize was just unnecessary, added weight that I should have left
at the hostel in Fairbanks rather than hauling it all to the Arctic
Ocean and back!
car was pretty new, a 1999 Kia Sephia still under warrentee, so I
was fairly sure it wouldn't break down--even though I had put it
through hell over the past 2 months driving over mountains and
through deserts. It hadn't given me any trouble.
was June, sunny and warm, I figured I'd just take a quick ride up to
the Artic Ocean and be back in a couple of days.
Information included in the Dalton pamphlet:
Get gasoline when you can.
Hwy Junction.......11 mi
of Pavement....................39 mi
0 Dalton Hwy...................84 mi
River Bridge..............139 mi. (gasoline)
The Wildwood Store near the beginning of the Dalton Hwy. Of
course, I had to buy post cards, T-shirts, ect.
Outhouse at the Wildwood Store
sign on the door says:
this at --40 degrees Below Zero!"
The Alaska Pipeline
Dalton Highway runs the length of the pipeline. The sign on
the pipeline above is a warning. This is what it reads:
DON'T CLIMB ON THE PIPELINE!
that it says,
Few Words About Emergencies"
of such emergencies might include:
presence on the ground of crude oil, or a heavy black substance.
black spray above the pipeline or coming from the ground.
hissing or roaring sound of liquid escaping from under pressure.
strong, pungent odor.
white cloud of steam or fog.
patch of dead or discolored vegetation.
you should become aware of a pipeline emergency:
THE AREA IMMEDIATLY!
The Yukon River Bridge--This stop consists of a store/river tour/gas
station--one of the only 3 places to get gasoline.
gasoline and hint of civilization is Coldfoot--120 miles north.
the Arctic Circle!
in my life thought that I'd get the chance to drive over the Arctic
days to drive from Fairbanks to Deadhorse. Spent the first
night sleeping in my tent in the woods just off the road near
Coldfoot . Linda, the hosteller from Holland, slept in my
car. The next morning she caught a ride back to Fairbanks with
a truck driver out of Coldfoot. She had to be back in Calgary
in two days. I continued on to Deadhorse.
"Up the road" from Coldfoot. Approaching the beautiful boreal
forest. Morning mist hanging over the mountains.
conditions were getting progressively worse.
Whoa! And this is just the BEGINNING of the Brooks
Range! I have to drive all the way over them to the flat
at that road!
Time to HYPERVENTILATE! It was great! Every curve
and bend was an adventure! And my little Kia kept
going! And it doesn't even have 4-wheel drive.
Made it over the mountains. Now the "really" bad road
began. Ah, so that's why they recommended 6-ply tires.
of the road was like driving over a dry river bed.
places I could not drive over 10 or 15 mph.
knew that I had to drive BACK over this same road!
There's only one way in, and one way out of Deadhorse--and the
Dalton is it.
Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. My first flat
tire during the entire trip. Actually I got 2 flats at the
same time. The rear tire was destroyed, so I had to use the
little "donut" spare tire. I couldn't get the lug nuts
off. A truck w/pipeline workers stopped to help me. The
front tire was not completely flat, so I used the can of
"Fix-A-Flat". Then hobbled the next 120 miles to Deadhorse at
between 10 and 40 mph.
prayed that I didn't get another flat before I got there!
Fixing the flats. A lot of useless junk in the trunk.
miles from Coldfoot to Deadhorse. I got my flat tires exactly
half way in between. About 120 miles in either direction to a
gas station. Deadhorse--I'm on my way!
fingers crossed--please, no more flat tires!
and Below: The Arctic Tundra. I saw herds of Elk and/or
Caribou. Musk ox too!
a huge porcupine.
made it to Deadhorse! Now what? First thing--get the
tires fixed. The tire place said that they didn't have any
tires to fit my car. They don't usually get cars as small as
mine way up there. So I had to take a tire that was a little
on the big side. Plugged the other tire.
Deadhorse, Prudhoe Bay. Town Directory
Look at the size of these tires! They are as big as my
car. They were free too. The back of my car was so dirty
you couldn't even see the bumper!
The Deadhorse Post Office, video store, and general store.
Bought more post cards & stuff.
were very few people around. Very few. I might have seen
a total of ten. I guess most of them were at work on the oil
the restaurant and had a cup of coffee. Filled out my 17 post
cards. Mailed them. Walked around for awhile. Had
to decide what to do.
was probably around 5PM. It wasn't going to get dark. I
had to decide whether I wanted to stay in Deadhorse or turn around
and head back towards Fairbanks.
about sleeping in my car out by the little airport. The woman
at the restaurant said that other people do that too
sometimes. I just didn't want to pay and arm and a leg for a
bunk. I know, I'm so cheap!
would be hard to get to sleep because it's so early, there's nothing
to do, and it's going to stay light all night. I'd never be
able to fall asleep. I'd be just as tired in the morning as I
was then. So I might as well head back now (which was
then--well, you know what I mean!).
I kept thinking about that long ride back over that 460 miles of
dirt & gravel. The sooner I got started, the sooner it
would be over. I had seen all of Deadhorse. There wasn't
even a coffee shop. And I couldn't sit in the restaurant for
hours. I probably could have. But I didn't want to .
no library, no park, no church, no beach, no trees to sit under, no
bench to sit on, no place to just hang out and relax for an hour or
two. It was pretty desolate.
important thing was that I wanted to see what it looked like, and I
saw it. I had crossed the Arctic Circle, drove north past
Coldfoot, and drove all the way to Deadhorse, Alaska. It was
not easy, but I did it. It was an experience. I saw
animals in the wild that I had never seen before. I saw the
boreal forests, the tundra, Brooks Range, and glaciers. Oh
yeah, I'm glad I did it.
Deadhorse. Only 240 miles to Coldfoot, and 500 miles back to