Literally turning a corner for the lower forty eight brings me up the Taylor Highway through Chicken, then Eagle and on to the Canadian Border into the Yukon and eventually Dawson. In traveling this route into such a remote and wild area a question consistently comes to mind, what would motivate a person or persons to want to come into this country? With all manner of reason and with out the benefit of roads who would venture into such remote areas enduring all the hardships that come with such an adventure and why? Soaking wet soft Tundra, black flies, midges, mosquitoes, cold wind driven snows, bears, wolves on foot and or by pack train with all that you own. The answer of course is Gold and all that it represents for ones future or their families future.
This area is steeped in hardship, some success and history. It is beautiful in it's own right and much to my surprise a mecca for tourism. Chicken captures both the old and the new in Alaska. While prospectors still work the creeks, rivers and mines the new gold in Alaska is tourism.
I could not get up into Eagle as the one way gravel road was very questionable, all 130 miles of it round trip. I had been advised not to haul the trailer up into that country and was not comfortable with leaving it with multiple thousands of dollars in equipment just any where. I had already had a Kayak stolen on quartz Creek.
Chicken was an absolute delight which afforded me the opportunity to have fresh multi-wild berry pie along with coffee that I could stand my spoon up in, just the way I like it. I was the first one there in the morning other than the owner/actors and was told that I may want to enjoy my pie & coffee right away because soon there will be two buses loaded with tourists arriving. Sure enough in about a half and hour the gang unloaded on poor little Chicken. Poor Chicken little was making out like a bandit. Across the road from the old general store, liquor store, bar and cafe was another establishment that appeared to have been purchased by a young couple. The owners in this little mine served up designer coffee and every expensive article that one could imagine, but which one would never imagine to be available in this little oasis of a town. It was interesting to travel the pot-holed muddy road in the early morning fog and then enter the mecca surprise, a blend of the old and new golds.
Alexander MacKenzie, a Scottish fur trader who spent time in the far north (MacKenzie River, in the Northwest Territories is named for him after his trip down said river in 1789) commented on living in the far north and I quote: MacKenzie deemed it "unpardonable in any man to remain in this country who can afford to leave it." Taken from Rowing to Latitude by Jill Fredston.