Sunday, July 11, 2010

Day 55 –Haines Junction, YT to Koidern River

Today’s Mileage 131
Miles to Date 4957
Miles Remaining 4685

Not too far northwest of Haines Junction, between the Donjek River and the Alaskan Border the road became very rough with frost heaves. We had to slow to less than 35 mph and even then the coach was bobbling up and down. We decided to just cut the distance from Haines Junction to Tok, AK in half and are spending the night at Lake Creek Provincial Campground. The campground is empty so far and it is a Saturday so we must be too far away from any local population that loves to go camping on the weekend. One thing nice about the Yukon Provincial Campgrounds is that they supply free firewood. It is dry camping and the charge is $12 a night.

By the 1970’s, the southern sections of the Alaskan Highway in Canada had been vastly improved, but the highway north of Haines Junction had received relatively little attention as the travel volume was 85% American. The U.S. agreed to fund the reconstruction of the road north to the border to a modern 60-mph road in 1977, the Shakwak Agreement. Completion date was to be by 2010. The problem is that much of the soil along the north Alaska Highway is of glacial origin and unsuitable for road embankments. Anything that causes the permafrost to melt will cause the ice-rich soil to liquefy. The liquid soil has little strength and will settle or subside. Then when the winter temperatures come, the soil refreezes causing it to expand or heave. The process causes a very roller coaster that wreaks havoc on the drivability of the road surface, especially in long heavy vehicles such as RV’s.

Between 300 and 400 years ago, Kaskawulsh Glacier advanced across the Slims River and closed the drainage outlet of Kluane Lake. The water level rose more than 3o feet and the lake’s drainage reversed. Water that had flowed to the Gulf of Alaska carved out a new channel at the northeast end of the lake to connect with the Yukon River system. Instead of traveling 140 miles south to the Pacific Ocean, Kluane Lake waters began a journey 10 times longer to the Bering Sea.

The Kluane Lake area had a short lived gold rush in the early 1900’s. Tagish Charlie staked the first claim on the 4th of July Creek in the summer of 1903.


The new winner in the ongoing best cinnamon bun quest is the Village Bakery in Haines Junction. I had one with walnuts. They did not have bear claws so the hunt continues for bear claws plus even better cinnamon buns.

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