Monday, October 02, 2006

Vacation, Alaska Continued...


We are well beyond Atigun pass now. The air has gotten much colder at this altitude. The mountains are visibly snowy and I can see a number of glaciers off in the distance.

I found a mountain spring earlier and filled up our water jug with freezing cold water. We were tossed out of a camp site early this morning as it is the last day of the 'season.' Mid-September is the official end of any summer on-goings up here. The pipeline is still snaking along beside us, sometimes below, sometimes above and sometimes it is completely gone and we are left alone among the snowy peaks. It is like man's definitive stamp on nature out here.

I have the strongest urge to mount it Dr. Strangelove style and ride it until someone from Chevron comes down and pokes me with a stick (I accomplished this a few days later...these are my dad's pictures).

There really is starting to be nothing up here. I have seen 7 or 8 cars on the road all day.

We're looking for a place to set up camp where we can stay for a few days and hike into the interior a bit, or maybe just build a fire and get warm. Passing through the Brooks range the sight is absolutely incredible. The mountains seem to never end, one after another each seemingly formed from different rock, each a different shape and color than the one before.

Then as quick as they rose up they are gone. The land goes flat and the sky again opens up in vast expanse. The clouds disappear and the sun peeks through. The ground slowly warms. It is beginning to look like the desert of the Southwest. Dry, flat tundra stretches for hundreds of miles. We have heard reports of Caribou heards roaming South, mostly from hunters, but have seen nothing larger than a squirrel or a bird (many of which a crows or ravens and are of a good size, bigger than a cat, anyway). We've set up camp, tucked in between four or five mountains.

The land is so barren up here. We passed the Northern-most tree earlier. I think it trumps the Northern-most Denny's for sure, even though it appeared to be held together by duct tape.

Everything is wet including the little bit of wood that I found, so no fire tonight, unless you count Mr. Heater.

Early to bed. Hike tomorrow. I found a really cool fossil of some kind of plant along a river today, I should have looked for more, but I had a case of bearanoia and had to head back to the camp.