This week we’re off on another lengthy road trip to Alaska, from California. My wife Julie and I have made the trip twice previously and it provides spectacular scenery, wildlife viewing, a history lesson, and some high adventure.
The trip through Northern California, Oregon, and Washington is nice, but the real fun begins after crossing into British Columbia. We’ll travel 560 miles north through the most beautiful scenery via the Western Access Route to Prince George, the only large city we’ll encounter in Canada. We’ll next run 300 miles west to the Cassiar Highway, the remote, narrow and winding 500 mile shortcut to Watson Lake BC. From there we’ll rejoin the Alaska Highway for another 550 miles through Yukon Territory to the Alaska border. Continuing on it’s another 600 miles or so of great scenery (Matanuska Glacier, other) to our destination in Moose Pass, on the Kenai Peninsula. Fuel stops can be few and far between, and breakdowns simply can’t happen as the nearest repair facility could be perhaps 500-800 miles away. We’ll be towing a heavy and oversize boat, so great care and preparations have been made to truck and trailer to insure reliability.
The truck received all new belts, hoses, filters, fluids, a new front wheel bearing and battery, and careful attention to tires, brakes, U-joints and such. I’ve packed a spare fuel pump, fuel filter, and tools to re-secure or replace whatever may break or jiggle loose. The roads we’ll travel are mostly paved with occasional gravel sections and heaving (sometimes huge rippling of the pavement—a real surprise if not seen in time!) The trailer received new brakes, all wheel bearings replaced and packed, and two spare tires. Spare trailer parts include two leaf springs, two loaded hubs (bearings already lubed and installed), spare boat tie-downs, lights, and other misc. parts.
Canada’s provincial parks offer some great camping with meticulously clean and possibly weekly repainted tables, outhouses and such. You learn quickly to shun the beautiful, green, tree lined campsites and opt for high and dry ugly gravel bars to mitigate the voracious clouds of mosquitoes. On our return drive in August we’ll spend extra time on two great side trips, to Skagway, via the South Klondike Highway and White Pass (incredible views) and Hyder, a postage stamp sized town near the southeastern tip of the Alaska panhandle. Practically surrounded by Canada, the 90 or so folks there rely on Canadian services but stubbornly fly or barge in their groceries, they say because Canadian food just isn’t the same! This side trip always provides spectacular bear, wolf, porcupine, and glacier viewing.
Seven dollar per gallon fuel and Cheetos are something to become accustomed to, as well as pumping your own water from park wells, and incredibly friendly and helpful locals and other travelers. In BC I believe every sentence said there by a local ends with Eh? Once in the Yukon or Northwest Territories they don’t seem to do that. In Prince George, one HAS
to resupply at Canadian Tire! This amazing store is like a Walmart, Tractor Supply, Wheel Works, Bass Pro Shops and Home Depot all combined—I could browse there for days.
We’ll spend eight or nine days making the trip north and possibly twelve on the way home. We’ll miss some neat places on the bypassed Alaska highway, such as Fort Nelson (great private auto and airplane museum), Muncho Lake (great fishing), Liard Hotsprings, and countless other interesting and scenic wonders.