Banff Is A Funny Word

Day 23: Prince George, BC to Banff, AB (659km, 14670km total) Finally, a beautiful wilderness I have no desire whatsoever to climb all over... these mountains are just too much! This was just a first glimpse coming into Banff; before we spent a whole day wandering around the Canadian Rockies today... Day 24: Banff, AB to Lake Louise, AB/BC to Radium Hot Springs, BC to Banff, AB (380km, 15050km total) This has to be one of the most beautiful scenic routes on earth, going for a day's drive through giant mountains filled with exotic wildlife, it felt more like a…

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Slow Boat to Canada

Day 20: Lake Laberge, YT to Sbekagway, AK (221km/137mi, 13293km/7638mi total) Most of this route was on roads we'd already seen back through Whitehorse. On the branch toward Skagway, though, there was one of the most bizarre landscapes in the entire north: the Carcross Desert. This tiny true desert, created by a mountain rain shadow, looks spectacularly out of place at best in its climate. The crossing back into Alaska, on the same mountain pass once traversed by the dreaded Chilkoot Trail, was still snowy even in late June. It's easy to see why so many 99ers' journeys ended here,…

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It Was On the Marge of Lake Laberge

Day 18: Anchorage to Tok, AK (318mi, 7061mi total) Leaving Anchorage, we passed through Mat-Su County, a region named for its two spectacular glaciers, the Matanuska and Susitna, which form the two main rivers of southeast Alaska. It was a tourist experience again, basically, but I got to see and almost approach the Matanuska glacier. (Leave it to my parents to stay off the ice, even the part on the tour, on trumped up fears of falling through!) From a distance, the glacier looks almost like a snowfall. But not so much standing at its icy face! This was as…

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Around the Wild

Day 16: Fairbanks to Denali to Fairbanks, Alaska (292mi, 6382mi total) Planning the trip, I kind of dreaded Denali day. This seemed like about the worst possible experience for a repressed outdoorsman, having to take in the Alaskan wilderness from the window of a tour bus. As much as I tried to tell myself it would be just like a safari (like I ever wanted to go on safari?) the idea just seemed depressing, missing out on it all when it's right outside the window. This wasn't exactly Alexander Supertramp's bus; I wasn't going 'into the wild', just around the…

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So Long To This Cold, Cold Part of the World

Day 14¼: Deadhorse to Wiseman, Alaska (241mi, 5819mi total) All this and we were only halfway! Starting back southward, the enormity of the continent really started to sink in. It took two weeks to go north, it would take as long again to get home. We were fully a quarter of the way around the world from where we started, in a place where caribou roam free, and a pile of dirt laid out in a more-or-less straight line was called a "highway". We would see a lot more of this... before there would be any recognizable pavement, let alone…

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On Thin Ice

Day 13: Fairbanks to Wiseman, Alaska (266mi, 5317mi total) So started the next stage of our adventure: the notorious Dalton Highway. The northernmost road in the Western hemisphere, the Dalton was built as a trucking road, to bring loads to the Beaufort Sea oil operations in the winter, and provide maintenance for the Alëska Pipeline, which carries crude oil south from Prudhoe Bay to the refineries in Valdez. Tourist travel on the Dalton wasn't even allowed until 2003, and was never any more than a total afterthought, with a 400+ mile dirt road to nowhere being so far out of…

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