A Glorious Morning on the Road

An amazing thing happened when I was on the road with Jack one time.

We woke up at what the truckers call 62 Mile, a good-sized pullout used by truckers and tourist buses and just anyone traveling the road.  It was Pink Birch Tree on the Daltonlate September and the drive up north had been sunny and crispy cool.  I could not have gotten luckier on a time to be on the Haul Road.   Orange and yellow autumn colors abounded and even a pink birch tree showed up every so many miles.  (Click to enlarge.)

Tourists on the Dalton HighwayNo snow had fallen, but when we woke up that morning at 62 Mile the tundra outside was a winter wonderland.  There were tourists milling about, gazing at the frosty grasses that surround the pull out.

Tourists on the Dalton HighwayAnd as you can see, there was a long line at the restroom, so I decided to take a walk out onto the tundra, and I’m so glad I did.

I discovered frost-covered fireweed, spider webs glinting in the morning light, and best of all, an absolutely stunning mist rainbow.  I hadn’t known they even existed before, but now I have proof they do.  As the frost was evaporating off the tundra, the water vapor in the air created a rainbow that shimmered in the sun’s light.  As I stood watching, the sunlight slowly burned off the frost on the ground, leaving plants thawed on one side and still frozen on the other, and the glorious rainbow eventually faded away with the warmth of day.

A moment of astounding beauty.  Luckily, I took a quick video and lots of photos, some of which may give an inkling of how amazing that morning was.  If anyone ever tells you that the arctic tundra is a frozen wasteland with no redeeming qualities, here is proof that it is not true.

(Click on the first one and scroll to the right.)

 

 

Huge mod is pushed up “Koyukuk”

The hill that drivers call “Koyukuk” is right next to the Koyukuk River and it’s one of the steepest on the Dalton.  It’s about 30 miles south of Coldfoot.  The video was taken last winter.

Jack happened to be there to document this huge mod being pushed up the hill by push trucks and also being steered from the back because it’s so long.  If you look close you can see someone standing outside on the load as it goes up the hill – he’s steering the rear end as it goes around the curves.  The guy doing the steering is one of the former owners of Carlile and he comes up the Dalton for these types of loads that need some special care.  (Carlile was sold to Saltchuk Corporation a while ago.)

In case you are wondering, the truck is going pretty slow, about 5 miles an hour in 3rd gear.  The last thing you ever want to do, Jack says, is change gears when you’re going that slow with that much weight since you’ll stop before you get it into a different gear.  If you stop it’ll take a while to get going again and without the momentum you’re putting a lot of strain on the truck and there’s too much potential for breaking something.  The years Jack spent in heavy haul were great years he says, but he doesn’t miss it.

 

Jack’s Freightliner

Jack is driving a new truck, a Freightliner.  He’s discussed this a little in the comments section of the About page.  Jesse Aird asked:  “Why the Freightliner? Hard to beat a W9.”  Jack answered:

“Well, my bosses asked me if I wanted to try it out and I know a lot of owner operators have them up here and like them, so I did. Turns out the engine is great (DD16), there’s lots of room in the cab, and I don’t feel exhausted at the end of several trips in a row, maybe because of the comfortable seat. The truck rides better. I don’t care what brand it is as long as it’s comfortable and reliable.”

He added to Pete Wylie aka Straight Arrow:  “There is something about the Freightliner that makes a better ride. It takes bumps better.”

So there you have it, why Jack is driving a Freightliner.

Happy New Year!

Before and during forest fire photos

A few weeks ago Jack and I went north on the Steese Highway to camp for a few days.  When we got there it was a normal clear day but dense smoke rolled in later in the weekend and luckily we were on our way out.  The road we were on, US Creek Road, gave us a good view of the hillside and one fire.  A helicopter was scoping it out but you can’t see it very well in the photos.  Later the road was closed by BLM.  There’s a couple of Jack fishing shots too.  The grayling weren’t biting but I think Jack could’ve kept trying for hours….well he did actually.  To view them at the correct size, click on the top one and scroll to the right.

 

Past smoky days in Alaska

Right now the smoke comes and goes on an almost daily basis from the tons of wild fires around us.  We’ve had some really bad days but it can change in an hour and blow out and be clear for a while.  And it hasn’t been too hot so that helps.

Here are a few photos of past smoky days in Alaska.

(If you haven’t seen the forest fire photos Jack took back in 2004 on the Dalton Highway, click here.)

Click on the first one and scroll to the right for the best viewing.

 

 

 

Satellite image of Alaska – smoke and clouds

Here’s a satellite image of Alaska from several days ago, June 22nd.  The clouds are white and fluffy; the gray underneath them is smoke from wildfires.  You can actually download a large image on the NASA website and zoom way in.  It’s amazing really, how beautiful Alaska is, regardless of what hell it’s putting us through.  Here’s the link:  http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=86098&src=fb

Satellite image of Alaska 6-22-15

Here’s what a wildfire looks like from an airplane. Fascinating.  Thanks for the photo Joe Kemp.

Smoke from a wildfire, photo from Joe Kemp