ALASKAN ODYSSEY DAILY ITINERARY
Depart Raleigh-Durham Airport and fly to Seattle, Washington. After picking up our Vans, we will begin building the Roof Racks for our vans and gathering our supplies for the rest of our journey. We will spend the night nearby and finish the racks during Day 2. The first several days will be spent getting to know each other and learning the routine of working within the group.
Today we will continue to get to know each other as we do a number of activities including: New Games, Initiative Games, and Team-building activities. Participants will begin an informal skills inventory of the others as they begin to find their niche and preferred role in this experience. We tie up all the loose ends as we prepare to depart on our Odyssey in the morning.
Today we travel toward the Pacific Coast and the northernmost Rain Forest in North America--in Olympic National Park. Here we will do some hiking and see the sights as we prepare our bodies for much more of this type of activity. Next it is off toward the incredibly high flanks of the sleeping volcano known as Mt. Rainier. It is here that we will camp tonight and explore tomorrow.
This morning we will wake to the Sleeping Giant Mt. Rainier and we will do some exploring before crossing the border into Canada later tonight. You will need to have your identification out and ready, as we prepare to cross the International Border. As we approach Canada you may want to have Maps of this Big Neighbor to our North as well as have some Practical Information for Visitors to Canada. You may also want to learn how to Convert Your Money to Canadian Dollars and Convert Kilometers to Miles. This information is all on the website, and you may want to print it out for reference. We will make camp tonight in one of the beautiful Provincial Parks near Chilliwack, B.C.
The scenery today is spectacular as we drive toward Mt. Revelstoke another dormant volcano that has had a very violent recent past. We can drive nearly to the summit and observe the crater before descending and heading to Glacier National Park, Lake Louise, and Banff National Park at the base of the Icefield Parkway. Our campground tonight will be in Glacier National Park, one of Canada's best.
Today we enter the rugged, beautiful Canadian Rockies. First we stop at Lake Louise, and then it's on to the Burgess Shale of Yoho National Park along with Takakaw Falls. Trails to Bow Summit (a 10 minute walk) and Peyto Lake with its fluorescent blue-green water beckon us. The Icefield Parkway connects 5 major Canadian National Parks in the Canadian Rockies including: Mount Robson, Jasper, Yoho, Banff, and Kootenay. There are many more short hikes to incredible views and lots of wildlife. Soon we reach the Icefield Visitor Center and our Campground to begin preparing for our ascent to the summit of Nigel Peak the next day.
An early start is needed as we begin to scramble toward the summit of Nigel Peak. Watch for Dall Sheep and Mountain Goats as we ascend the high, windswept tundra. Tonight after summiting this lofty and exposed peak, we will make camp on one of the sheltered ridges. As we watch the Sunset, the change in temperature will cause the Columbia Icefield to generate its own weather. Who knows what the evening will bring?
Today, after descending from Nigel Peak, we will do the tourist thing and view the Athabasca Glacier from below as most of the public does. However, we will also be treated to a much closer view as we ride the Brewster Snocoaches out on the ice of the Glacier. Next, it is on toward the north and the Jasper Townsite. There will be many stops along the way as we encounter more animals and ever so many incredible views and short walks to breathtaking sights. Further north we reach Mt. Robson Provincial Park and then on toward the west and the plains town of McBride. Tonight we camp at a lovely family-owned campground where we can do our Laundry.
Today we will cover many miles as we travel to Dawson Creek, "Zero milepost" of the Alaskan Highway. We will visit the local hardware store and purchase our Bear Bells to convince ourselves that we have done our best to let the bears know we are coming. Some folks call them "dinner bells for bears".
"ThIs SpAcE ReSeRvEd FoR 4 MoNkEyS aNd A TrUcK !"
Today we enter "Super, Natural" British Columbia as we leave Dawson Creek and begin to travel the Alaskan Highway. In Dawson Creek there are several surprises in store for us. First there are boardwalk sidewalks and the traditions regarding the "Zero milepost" of the Alaskan Highway. We will explore the old style of this town before moving on up the Alaska Highway toward Watson Lake, B.C.
From Watson Lake, B.C. and the famous "Signpost Forest" @ mile 635 it is on to Teslin, Y.T., and then on to Whitehorse, which is the Capital of the Yukon Territory. Here we will see the famous three- story log "skyscrapers" and the Whitehorse Rapids Fishway, where salmon bypass the dam and continue with the world's longest fish migration. This town is the highest navigable point on the Yukon River and takes nearly 4 months to float along its length to Northeastern Alaska. Just outside Whitehorse, we turn off of the Alaskan Highway and onto the Klondike Highway (Yukon Highway 2). We travel towards the Klondike gold fields and the Dawson Range. Along this route we will stop at a hot spring that is lacking the odor of sulfur and then see a working reindeer farm. On up the road we will see the famous Lake Laberge which was immortalized by Robert Service, the poet laureate of the Yukon in his poem "The Cremation of Sam McGee." As we crest Conglomerate Mountain at kilometer 344 we will do one of our many geology stops and collect geodes, thunder eggs, and white plume agates. Tonight we will make our camp in Carmacks, Y.T.
Leaving Carmacks this morning we head toward the gold fields and watch for Golden Eagles, bears, and other wildlife. As we begin to approach the Klondike Gold Loop Area we see more and more remains of former gold mining activity. We will ascend to the top of the Midnight Dome to enjoy a fine view of Dawson City. Next we will take the driving tour of the Klondike Gold Fields. Break out the gold pans because we will be panning and sluicing in these areas. When we finish, we will go into town and see the sights including: Diamond Tooth Gerties, Stern-wheeler Keno, the Robert Service Cabin, boardwalk sidewalks, locomotives from the narrow gauge railway, Gold Dredge #4, Bear Creek mining community, and even Pleasure Island Restaurant to become a member of the Sour Toe Cocktail Club. We will camp early tonight to prepare for our huge drive tomorrow.
We now cross the Yukon River and depart for Moosehide, Sixtymile, and Boundary as we drive across the Top of the World Highway. After crossing the U.S./Canadian Border at Poker Creek, we enter the town of Chicken. This town was called this because of the many small birds called Ptarmigan found here and no one could spell the name. Leaving Chicken we head south on the Taylor Highway and head toward the Alaska Highway and then north to Tok. If this day seems long, it will be OK, because it is one of the longest of the year. Pressing on the last 200 miles, we will camp near North Pole, Alaska to camp tonight. Laundry Opp!
From our campground we travel into Fairbanks, get lunch and resupply before leaving for the Far North. As we leave Fairbanks, we will turn off toward Circle Hot Springs and will spend the night in the outpost town of Circle-- the town closest to the Arctic Circle and resting on the shore of the Yukon River. The Summer Solstice (longest day of the year) is today, and we should be able to see the sun wheel around the sky without setting this evening as we soak in the hot mineral waters as the wildlife watches us with calm repose.
Today we travel the "Haul Road" or Dalton Highway toward Prudhoe Bay. This road was originally built for the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which follows the road for the entire length. The road connects the North Slope oil fields at Prudhoe Bay with Fairbanks. We will only be going as far north as Coldfoot today, and the abandonded mining camp of Wiseman. Here we will be well into the arctic tundra having passed into it near mile 95. Shortly after Crossing the Arctic Circle we first gain sight of the Brooks Range. This northern-most trip is to be challenging as well as exciting. We will be panning for gold today, and tonight we will climb an unnamed mountain in the Brooks Range. We will spend the night between Coldfoot and Wiseman in a Bureau of Land Management Campground--approximately 85 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
Get your binoculars ready and prepare to search the horizon for Polar Bears, and Musk Ox. As we leave the Brooks Range behind, we will see the Last Spruce tree in North America and head toward the Arctic Ocean. We will have the chance to really earn our Polar Bear Patch as we swim in the brisk, icy Arctic Ocean North of our Continent. We will return to the balmy southern region above the Arctic Circle once again staying in our BLM campground between Coldfoot and Wiseman.
To warm ourselves after our Polar Bear Swim, we will visit Manly Hot Springs on our return trip to Fairbanks. Hot showers and Laundry will temper our spirits as we unwind from our Arctic Trek.
This morning we will visit the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, to see the view of the city and to see the wonderful museum with displays on all of the regions of the state, the 36,000 year old bison that was recovered from the permafrost, the Geophysical Institute for Aurora Studies, and the Dog Mushers Museum. Stopping by the bookstore we can pick up some souvenirs from our trip. The afternoon fare is Whitewater ("Ice Water ") Rafting on the Nenana River near Healy. Grizzly Bear Campground near the entrance of Denali National Park is the campsite for tonight.
This morning we head for Denali National Park. Here the Adventure begins. Rising early, we board the bus and travel to Wonder Lake deep in Denali National Park. If the weather cooperates with us, we will be treated to some of the finest views of Denali that we could have. The wildlife is everywhere. Tonight we will stay at Wonder Lake Campground.
Leaving Wonder Lake, we return to the Park entrance and head south on the Parks Highway. Shortly after passing Cantwell, we travel through the Nenana River Gorge, whose overlooks yield spectacular views of the Alaska Range. Passing Denali State Park, we continue south through the Susitna Valley. There are lots of Moose here in the sedge flats near Little Willow Creek, and Loons on Kaswitna Lake. Still further south we meet the Petersville Road, which heads west to the Dollar Creek Mine and the Alaska Free-Gold Mine. Next we head to Wasilla with it's Muskox Farm, Reindeer Farm, and the Iditarod Museum. We will camp tonight in Denali State Park.
The Town of Talkeetna is our objective today as we research the requirements and skills needed to successfully summit a formidable mountain peak such as Denali. Later we will board a plane equipped with skis and head toward the Alaska Range. Flying over Denali, and Mount Foraker and other great mountain peaks of the Alaska Range, we make a landing at the Denali Base Camp on the Ruth Glacier. This is your camp for tonight so stop whining!!!! (If you think this is COLD, try the Summit!) This IS Your Mail Day!!
Getting a good start on our activities today by sledding down the Ruth Glacier (Not!), we include a visit to the Independence Gold Mine, War Baby mine, and the Lucky Shot mine, then we're off to Anchorage, and the University of Alaska at Anchorage. Resupplying, we spend the rest of our day in Anchorage and vicinity sightseeing and preparing for the next several days. This will be a great time for doing laundry and other housekeeping.
This morning we head south toward the Kenai Peninsula. Checking our itinerary we find that our day will be very busy. Just south of Anchorage, the highway has been chipped into the Chugach Mountains above Turnagain Arm. Dall Sheep pick their way along the cliffs above, and Beluga whales chase salmon through the waters below. We will stop at Potter Marsh, Portage Glacier, Tern Lake and the Crow Creek Mine. The wildlife in this part of Alaska is somewhat different from the rest of the State, because we are at lower elevations and closer to the Ocean. We will have many opportunities to see much variety and lots of it in the next few days. Next we head toward Seward where we will take a Tour of the Kenai Fjords and Resurrection Bay tonight before settling into our campground in the dense forest above the Kenai Fjord.
First on the agenda today is the Exit Glacier and the Million Dollar Bridge. Then it's north to the Sterling Highway to see Cook Inlet, and then on to Anchor Point and Clam Gulch. We will take a side trip to see the picture postcard community of Hope. This will be after doing some Recreational Gold Mining on the Kenai Penninsula.
Homer is known as the Halibut Capital of the World. Located on beautiful Kachemak Bay, an arm of the Cook Inlet, Homer is surrounded by snow-capped mountains rising thousands of feet into the sky with glaciers winding their way to the ocean below. Salmon and trout swim in the crystal clear waters while eagles and seabirds search for food along miles of beaches. Homer is where we will have the opportunity to go Sea Kayaking, Fishing, and Clamming, and enjoy our catch of the day.
This Glorious day will be spent Paddling and enjoying the wildness of this wonderful unspoiled area. If we are lucky we might catch a Halibut that will provide us all with enough food for all. Tonight we will camp in this beautiful area after paddling in the icy waters of the Cook Inlet and Kachemack Bay.
Today we head back north toward Anchorage and the Glenn Highway. We will resupply in Anchorage and travel through Palmer and into the Matanuska Valley. Here with the fine fertile soil and the extra hours of sunlight provided by the midnight sun, some of the finest and largest vegetables are grown. We will see the glaciers on the sides of the Chugach Mountains and follow the Border Range faults, with vistas of the Wrangell Mountains to the east.
Leaving Palmer, one gets a fine view of the Matanuska Valley and the braided streams on its floor. Here the fine loess deposits are more than 30 feet thick. Then we travel past the Matanuska Glacier and the Moose Refuge. We travel through the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve after stopping at the Ranger Station in Chitna. Entering the park via the McCarthy Road, we begin our journey through some very spectacular country. We traverse the Gorge of the Kuskulana over a bridge that is 238 feet high at mile 17 and then at mile 61 the McCarthy road ends. Here we park our vehicles, cinch up our packs, and take the hand operated tram across the Kennicott River to the town of McCarthy nestled at the southern base of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
From our campground we can see upstream and view the snowy summit of Regal Mountain and the Root Glacier. Tonight we will camp beside this great river of ice. First we will do the walking tour of McCarthy and then on to the abandoned copper mining town of Kennicott. We will spend some time here before hiking the remaining one and a half miles to our campsite tonight. Be careful with your food and trash because this is Bear country. The attractions of this area include: The Historic Kennecott mine, the Confluence of the Root and Kennicott Glaciers, the Stairway Icefall, and spectacular views of the Wrangell Volcanic Mountains.
After visiting the Stairway Icefall and several of the Kennecott mines and prospects, we will return to make our camp again for the night and rest well.
Leaving Kennicott and McCarthy, we head back toward Glennallen and the Tok Cutoff. Here we travel the 125 miles to Tok and the Alaska Highway. Here we camp in Tok and Rest and Resupply. There are beautiful views back to the Southwest from where we have just come as the sun creeps toward the horizon. Laundry Opp!
Today we must cover a good deal of distance and we are up fairly early to head out. Traveling from Tok, we depart for Haines. This will be on the only part of the Alaska Highway that we have not yet traveled. Highlights of this day include stops in the Kluane Lake area. This area is one of the youngest and most geologically active areas of the continent. Mount Logan at 19,519 feet is the tallest peak in Canada and should offer spectacular views. We will take several opportunities to stop and take photos and stretch our legs. We will stop in Beaver Creek, travel through Haines Junction on our way to Haines.
DAY 33 and DAY 34
This is an early day for us as we board the Alaska Marine Highway System. Our ship will take approximately 36 hours to make the trip through the Inside Passage between the Coast Mountains and fiords. We will spend the night on deck as we pass Juneau, the State Capital, which is only accessible by sea or air. The size of our ship will permit aerobic exercise as well as excellent wildlife viewing possibilities. All too soon we will need to disembark as our port of Prince Rupert looms into view. Departing Prince Rupert, we will have several hours to continue travel before resting tonight.
Today, as we travel back to where we began our journey, we will compose our Superlatives, "Quips, Quotes and Queries", and work on our Alaskan Odyssey song. Tomorrow we will have our closing and awards as we prepare to bring this most wonderful experience into perspective.
Homeward Bound!. This day will be bittersweet, reflective, and memorable as we realize that this Odyssey that we began a short 35 days ago is not really drawing to a close but will continue to unfold. The friendships, the memories, the richer understanding of this Great Nation and Canada that we have are all part of the individuals that we each are and have become.
We have discovered more than we may ever realize.