Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Monday, September 11, 2017 – Dawson City, Yukon to West Fork BLM Campground south of Chicken, Alaska

Dawson City is located on the banks of the Yukon River. On the northern edge of Dawson, you board a free ferry to cross the Yukon.  We have not had to wait more than a few minutes for any of the ferries we have used.  Once on the other side, we were on the “Top of the World Highway” on our way to Alaska. 

It was foggy in Dawson this morning, so we had no idea what kind of day we had ahead of us.  But as we assumed, the warmth of the river caused the fog.  As we climbed out of the river valley, the fog was gone.  From pull-out viewpoints, we could see fog hanging over the river for miles. Actually, a beautiful sight!  Once on top of the ridge, you can see for miles.  We could see the mountain range along the Dempster Highway.  Clouds were hanging over the peaks of the mountains, so it was not clear their morning either.
Ferry at Dawson City across the Yukon

Berries along the trail

As soon as the weather cleared we knew we were in for a beautiful drive.  The golden leaves on the trees and shrubs just beamed; the orange and burnt orange leaves glowed. The deeper red on the floor of the wilderness give the area a depth of color.  We hope the photos give you some sense of what we saw. We could not stop taking photos.  Some of the valleys were full of golden leaved trees, other slopes were all green pines.  If you note, there are no trees with the reds and burgundy’s like we have in the maples and oaks in Iowa.

Every curve or bend brought a new scene.  The first week of September is truly the time to come to the North – our timing is perfect.  We continued to the US/Canadian Border, showed our passports and kept driving.  We did pull over to change our vehicle back to U.S. measurement.  We are on a gravel road which is good enough to go 40-50mph.

We continue taking photos of scenic spots, just slightly different position!!  We are not coming back to take more photos, so it is better to take too many now. 

Canyon on the road to Eagle

Hunters with pack horses

Typical Hunting camp

We had decided to go to Chicken, AK. even though Cal’s brother recommended we take the road to Eagle.  His brother helped build homes in Eagle Village after a flood cause by an ice jam on the Yukon River.  Eagle is located on the Yukon River, just 100 miles north (down-river) of Dawson City.  Cal’s brother gave us the name of someone to contact if we went to Eagle. 

We actually drove past the junction of the Eagle road about 4 miles, when we discussed the fact “if” this was a wise decision. We turned around, and drove 65 miles on gravel to Eagle, Alaska!!!  

Along the way we began seeing lots of 4-wheelers on trailers behind pickups or camping trailers. We also saw what appears to be hunting camps set up at pullouts – several campers and maybe a tent, with 2-3-4 ATV 4-wheelers. Finally, at one location we saw a Rangers pickup, with the Rangers standing outside.  We stopped to inquire about the current hunting season - it is Moose and Caribou season but there are few caribou in the area yet. Later we saw these Rangers checking on hunting licenses.  They were having a busy day.

We did come up behind a young caribou, but we do not have a good photo of him. The drive to Eagle was a beautiful drive and the gravel road was in good condition, making it all worthwhile.

When we arrived in Eagle we drove to the street beside the Yukon River where we found the grocery store. Inside we asked the gal behind the counter if she knows “so and so”.  She went to the phone and without even looking up their phone number, she called them. She told them visitors were on their way, never giving them our name!  She gave us directions through this wooded, wilderness town, and we drove directly there.  They had no idea who was crawling out of the vehicle, but as soon as we mentioned Cal’s brother, we had been friends for years!  We had a great visit over a cup of coffee/tea, learning about their life here in Alaska, and especially Eagle. 

After about two hours we were on our way, as we hoped to get as far as Chicken for the night. It began raining while in Eagle, and it continued to rain off and on the whole way back to the Top of the World Highway. 

All along the way there were more and more hunting camps.  We even saw hunters on horseback, in areas where there are no trails for 4-wheelers.

In Chicken, we found a restaurant that was still open, had supper, but then decided to drive on to Tok for the night.  However, as it was getting dark we decided we wanted to see the scenery in the morning.  We stopped at BLM campground about half way to Tok. 
Chicken Alaska

OH MY! This campground is full of hunters.  There was one empty spot which we took.  In chatting with several of the hunters, they are hunting moose right now.  One of the guys already has a freezer full of caribou which he hunted about 600 miles north of here.  These guys are prepared!  They have freezers run by generators, and they have enough stuff along so they can/will stay here for up to 3 weeks.  Hopefully everyone in their party will get a moose – 1 per person. 

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