Date: April 27, 2013
Tonight’s Location: Tok, AK
Mileage: End - 17650
Start - 17327
Total Miles for the day: 323
Weather: sunshine with a few brief snow showers
Temperature: start 13º
Year List: 195; Life list: 342
Birds: Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Snow Buntings, Raven, Magpie, Merlin, Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk, White-tailed Ptarmigan, Spruce Grouse
We awoke to a beautiful blue sky and dry roads – a traveler’s paradise, especially traveling northwest! We traveled alongside of the St. Elias Mountains, and then followed the shoreline of the huge Kluane Lake – over 25 miles long. All of the mountains were covered in deep snow, and we had almost none of it on the roads – that made both of us very happy travelers indeed.
The only thing that made John’s job a little more difficult was the occurrence of frost heaves. In one of the photos you can see the shoulder of the road undulating, which happened frequently in the 300 miles today. Frost heaves occur because the roadbed is constructed of the soil in the region, which is glacial soil – it liquefies when it gets wet, which makes the road literally sink. However, in the winter (and also all through April, which is supposed to be spring, but whatever!!!), that same soil freezes, expands and heaves. Neither American nor Canadian scientists have been able solve the issue, so we drove very slowly to keep the rig and us from coming apart. There are lots of tire marks at frost heaves, where unsuspecting drivers left their cranial imprint on the roof of their car! After the past few days of very harrowing driving, however, almost no snow/ice on the road was a very welcome relief!
We enjoyed a snack at a pullout along Kluane Lake, an amazing glacial lake that runs for over 25 miles. Last time we were here, we saw swans swimming on the lake, but today, everything was one solid sheet of white, as were most all of the rivers, lakes, ponds, marshes – there just is no liquid water anywhere!! Perhaps it is because it is supposed to be below 0 here tonight! We are bundling everything we can bundle and hunkering down.
We happily entered Alaskan customs and flew threw when the agent realized that we were volunteering for F&W. We were very happy to find a beautiful new highway in place of the muddy gravel we experienced at the border in 2010. But we were most grateful to be back in the good old USA, where we could use the phone and our internet.
Our new friends that we met at Rancheria met us here at Tok RV Village and our first order of business was a grand hot shower in the spotless shower house. We have been taking spit baths for almost a week, again, because there is no liquid water. Our rig might be cozy, but the water tanks are not set up for camping in frigid weather.
Together, we walked over to Fast Eddy’s restaurant, enjoying Alaskan Amber on draft and halibut burgers – John had chicken. The best part was the excellent conversation – we learned all about their decision to purchase a 5th wheel toy hauler instead of a motorhome. We had a great time. We said goodbye when we said goodnight, as they will head for Fairbanks and we go south around the back side of the St. Elias/Wrangell Mountains, bound for Anchorage and eventually Homer. It has been a great day!