Alaska's Winter Horizon

Alaska's Winter Horizon

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tok to Anchorage

Got up and ate a good breakfast that was included in the price of our stay at the Golden Bear Motel. For a continental-type breakfast, they had quite a lot to choose from on the buffet. We left there full and ready to start the day. If you visit Tok, we recommend the Golden Bear Motel. The owners are super nice and try very hard to please. It's not the Ritz-Carlton, but it's clean, comfortable, and the rates are reasonable. I made one last stop at the Tok General Store for some natural foods and then we were on our way.
 As we made our way down the Tok Cutoff on another rainy morning, we again encountered a lot of road construction and several long delays. As we were on no schedule, we really didn't mind. After one of the delays, we spotted a bull moose grazing in a small lake.
 This really was one of those Alaskan postcard moments.
 We've seen so many moose since we moved here that we now rarely take pictures of them.
However, a bull moose in the water with full antlers is definitely an exception.
 Back on the road we stopped occasionally to enjoy the beautiful views and snap a few photos before passing through Glennallen.
 Once we got on the Glenn Highway, we set our sites on having an early dinner at the Long Rifle Lodge. As we were getting hungry by this point, it seemed an awfully long way from Glennallen. We finally made it to the lodge and enjoyed burgers and fries for all while enjoying a million dollar view from our table of the Matanuska Glacier.
Kate was quite happy to be back into cell phone range!
 As we made our way back toward Anchorage, Greg and I both hated to see our trip come to an end. It was quite an adventure and we saw so many beautiful things and did so much fun stuff, that our Golden Circle summer trip will go in the record books as one of our favorites.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Haines Junction, Canada, to Tok, Alaska

Remember to click on the pictures to make them larger. 

We slept in a little later and by the time we checked out, it was time for lunch. We grabbed some burgers at a local cafe and then hit the road toward Alaska. We hadn't traveled far when we spotted a black bear wandering in a dry creek bed.

 By the time we got into position for a picture, it had made its way back into the trees. It seemed like a good omen for the day to offer some prime wildlife viewing. Once again, the drive was beautiful.
 The mountains seemed so very close!
 Again, Kluane Lake and all the other lakes and rivers were awe-inspiring on this gorgeous day. We stopped briefly at one of Canada's visitors centers near the lake.
By the time we reached the areas that we felt were sure places to see some wildlife, we ran into a lot of road construction, delays, and super dusty conditions. It became obvious very soon that nothing would be likely to be grazing today on all the dust-covered vegetation near the road. In between avoiding huge potholes and heaves, we stopped in at Burwash Landing and read about the fire that nearly destroyed the town. We drove on and made our way through Beaver Creek. We were barely out of the city when we spotted movement on the right side of the road. We saw 3 bears but we had to turn around and get in a good spot to take pictures. By then, we could only see 2 cubs near the road.
These 2 cubs were very strange in the fact that one was so much larger than the other.
It was almost as if one was from last year and one from this year.
That would be quite unusual as the sows don't normally give birth again until the previous cubs are no longer with the mother.
 Greg is going to check with a wildlife biologist friend to investigate this further.
 We drove on and made it back into Alaska.
 We stopped briefly Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge and then rolled into Tok for the night.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Skagway to Haines Junction,Yukon, Canada

Once the train arrived back in Skagway, we jumped in the car and tore out toward Canada. Again, the drive was awesome! British Columbia is definitely an area we would like to explore further. We climbed high in elevation and took in mountains, rocky and barren of vegetation. These kind of mountains would fit in perfectly with the mountains out west. Eventually, we came to many beautiful lakes and rivers.
 We started to see a lot of green again though the mountains in the distance were still covered in snow and ice.
We stopped often to take pictures and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

 It wasn't long before we spotted movement and discovered that it was a large black bear. These wary bears were often harder to spot as they are more at home in wooded areas, especially when grizzlies share this same territory. This one seemed to be in great health with a lush black coat.
 As we made our way into the Yukon territory, the beauty of the Klondike Highway continued.

We came to an area known as Carcross Desert which again would remind you of something out west. However, this isn't really a desert at all. It was actually created by a long gone glacial lake. Only 640 acres of the silt and sand dunes are left for us to realize how magestic the lake must have been.

We drove further into the Yukon, and our handy Milepost guidebook mentioned watching for elk in a certain area. Sure enough, we soon spotted 2 females, one collared and tagged, in a meadow.
 Almost immediately, we saw the huge male hidden in the trees.

This was way cool as none of us had ever seen an elk in the wild before. We continued on the journey, driving through Whitehorse and arriving in Haines Junction for the night.