Alaska Bear

October 13, 2008 11:13 PM | Alaskan Photo Tours

alaska bear

The Alaska Highway: A road of mysticism Silvestre – From Dawson Creek to Fairbanks

The black bear interrupts its roadside food to have a glance reproachfully at the intruders. The bus driver has slowed down so that we yawn. His cry alerting the passengers is one we hear often on the road Alaska, not just to spot bears.

Dall sheep, standing out in brilliant white against rocky mountain slopes. Moose, elk, grizzly bears in the distance. A lone wolf slouching in our way. Caribou sighting becomes old hat.

The highway is exploding with life and color and salmon are running. Once, as our Greyhound bus runs along a river, we see a bald eagle once down in the water, claws extended. For a brief second rises with a huge salmon in his tight control. The struggle of the salmon and the eagle carries enormous weight in the River. Hunter and prey in fact disappearing.

As suddenly as it had disappeared, the eagle reappeared, either sprayed with gravity, but they cling to their capture. I can barely move their wings, fighting his way out of the water never releasing his hold on the salmon.

The driver tells us he had seen similar events – but then anything is possible on this path of mysticism desert. The length of the Alaska Highway is the only daunting – 2378 km.

What is a postcard of a beautiful landscape. As the road moves to the north and west, the landscape changes to an extensive mountainous land planted more robust, full of snow-covered rivers, turquoise lakes and glaciers blue ice. Classic north woods are full of wildlife and wildflowers.

The land is also a mosaic of people who run shelters, bush planes fly, man gas platforms and truck unit.

Travelers meet veterans like Dean (Old Griz) Elston, who teaches "cheechakos" (novice) how to pan for gold in the wilderness in the Yukon Kluane Village.

Old Griz is itself a mother dough, "the affectionate name given to veterans. There is only one way for cheechako to become a sourdough: see river freezing in the fall and stay to see the ice grinding brake parts in the spring. Old Griz, a bulldozer operator who helped build the Alaska Highway in 1942, has some incredible stories to tell.

The road was completed in an astonishing eight months, probably the greatest engineering feat since the construction of the Panama Canal. The project was a company in times of war. The Alaska Highway linked to the rest of the United States and could have served as a way to move troops if Japan had attacked the territory. He also served as an overland route the supply chain gravel runways in northern Canada and Alaska always emergency landing facilities of 8,000 warplanes carried the Union Soviet.

At the peak of its construction, some 11,000 U.S. soldiers 7500 civilians and 11,000 pieces of equipment built the road at a frantic pace, 13 miles a day, sometimes in temperatures of minus 40 degrees Celsius.

It was a hard life. The men had to build 133 bridges and 8,000 culverts. Machinery snapped, ice hit piles, flash floods tore bridges after heavy rainfall or rapid melting glaciers and trucks bottomless muskeg ingested and excavators.

Gradually, an approximate form, the bumpy track made by forging a road over swamps and bogs, forests, mountains and more than five through canyons of the rivers.

The road builders were plagued by huge mosquitoes and gnats. A popular story is that were built two airstrips in Whitehorse, one of the planes, the other for mosquitoes. An old swears that someone once mistook a mosquito to a seaplane and tried refueling.

The Alaska Highway is still a deserted road today, but many of the curves have been straightened and the two-lane road is paved. There is occasional evidence of human habitation – Village hidden among the trees, a group of log cabins, a roadside cafe or motel – but most part is a very lonely road.

Each year about 200,000 travel its length. We have chosen the easy way – that "rode the dog", and let the Greyhound bus drivers do the job.

The journey started in Dawson Creek in northern Columbia United Kingdom, Canada, where the famous Mile Post Zero indicator is a magnet for tourists. The coach said the nose by the long, narrow strip of the road and in the first 900 miles of thread their way through of quiet, rolling pastures.

After Fort Nelson came to the Rockies. The road passes through two provincial parks and rustic communities through as Summit Lake and Toad River. Then the winds across the Liard River valley and along an old Indian trail and the fur trade.

When approached the Greyhound Watson Lake, we were in the Yukon, where the sun shines for at least 20 hours a day for much of the summer.

The bus stopped a short distance from the forest Enter online. Here, in 1942, a soldier of nostalgia, road work erected a sign pointing to his hometown in Danville, Illinois. Over the years, others followed suit and today there are 20,000 characters, of all shapes and sizes, most of them "stolen" from their towns and cities.

After leaving Watson Lake, the greyhound jumped beside the picturesque River Rancheria, through the broad valleys of the mountains of the Yukon to Whitehorse, capital of the Yukon.

Whitehorse is the buildings are a happy mixture of pioneering spirit and urban sophistication. Log cabins share streets with modern office buildings.

It is also full of history of the great Klondike Gold rush. Whitehorse was a staging point for the 30,000 fortune hunters who poured in the Dawson area City in the late 19th century.

The SS Klondike sternwheeler now rests on the banks of the Yukon River. She and her sister ships were once the main lifeline linking the city of Whitehorse and Dawson.

The Yukon is named after an Indian word, "Yuchoo" meaning the greatest river. " It is a appropriate name for a river flowing through what is still a long border and a virgin, a maze of desert rivers, high mountains and glaciers.

Much of the Yukon still unserved by road. The only way is to paddle, walk or fly in a seaplane. There are only 30,000 people scattered over its 483,000 km squares, but is also home to more than 200,000 caribou, moose, 50,000, 25,000 and thinhorn stone sheep, 10,000 black bears, 500 wolves and 254 species of birds.

Beyond Whitehorse, the road skirts the 22,000 square kilometers Kluane National Park. Kluane is an Indian name for "a place of" fishing, and lakes and rivers are full of salmon and trout. Its strength lies in a sea of ice – the largest non-polar icefields in the world – of which the massive glacier flow through the valleys. From here the road makes a run Alaska Fairbanks relatively flat.

Our bus made a stop in North Pole, a small village about 20 kilometers before Fairbanks. This is where the U.S. Post Office delivers all incoming mail to Santa Claus. This is where Santa's elves are fighting to implement all Christmas Wish – a place that makes dreams come true.

Dreams like ours – to drive the Alaska Highway.

About the Author

Extensive news freelancers for many years, joint Editor-in-Chiefs of the destination trade magazine, Canadian Traveller, Ursula and Eldrid Retief are Editors-in-Chief of several travel web sites, including Travel Tidings Alaska at

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