Thursday, June 28, 2012

Alaska–Day 43

Today we had great scenery as we drove from Whitehorse to Beaver Creek.  But about all I can say about the road condition is, “yikes!”  At first we planned to stop at Congdon Creek Provincial Park along Kluane Lake.  But it was cold and threatening rain, so we decided electrical hookups would be good.  Just look at these mountains.


Kluane Lake is the largest lake in Yukon.  It covers approximately 154 square miles.  In addition to the hundreds of thousands of acres of timber we have seen in Yukon, the amount of water in lakes and rivers is amazing.  Earlier today we drove near, but couldn’t see, Kusawa Lake, which is 45 miles long and averages 2 miles wide.  Here are a couple of pictures of Kluane Lake.


The wildlife that we saw today was three horses on the road and two bears on a hillside.  Here is the mama horse and colt. Dad was bringing up the rear, making sure the colt got across the road.


A little later we came on this black bear, which is brown, and her black cub.


If you have never driven in the north, you may not know what frost heave is.  Quoting The Milepost, “According to Public Works Yukon, much of the soil along the north Alaska Highway is of glacial origin and unsuitable for road embankments… ‘Anything that causes the permafrost to melt will cause the ice-rich soil to liquefy, and liquid soil has little strength and will settle or subside.  Then if this soil refreezes during lower air temperatures, it will expand or heave.’”

Here is what the highway looks like in patches of frost heave.  Look at the white lines along the sides. It shows where the bumps and dips are.


So what happens in the RV when we drive on these roads?  Look at this.


Again from The Milepost, “Vent-like structures alongside the highway here are part of the Alaska Highway Permafrost Research Project, which is testing specialized construction minimize melting.”   Drivers in future years will benefit if they get this figured out.


The condition of some sections of the road is awful.  But there is almost no traffic, which allows us to go as slow as we want.  Along some stretches of the road today we went between 30 and 40 mph.  Most days John has been staying between 50 and 55.  We have more time to take in the scenery.  Plus, we are getting 13+ miles per gallon at these speeds.

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