We watched this grizzly bear for a long time before it decided to take a stroll.
A video of a grizzly bear in Kluane National Park.

     We finally made it to the "main" part of Alaska but the last stretch of highway was awful.  I mean 200+ miles of "pure screaming hell."  (Sorry, "pure screaming hell" was the name of one of my favorite rapids on the Gauley River in West Virginia.)  It seems that modern technology has not yet figured out a way to build a road on permafrost.  If you dig into the soil to build a road-bed, the permafrost melts, the road sinks several feet, and fills with water.  The current solution is to build the road on top of the soil and insulate the permafrost from melting.  Good idea?  Maybe but there is nothing to stop the permafrost from thrusting and heaving to create a huge roller coaster ride with devastating consequences to the suspension systems and frames of all vehicles.  The solution--a constant state of road construction with miles upon miles of gravel and wash-boarding.  Our speed on the last 200 miles of the trip to Tok, Alaska rarely exceeding 35 mph and dropped below 10 mph for a couple of hours on this "road from Hell."
An avalanche chute in Kluane National Park.
     Of course, we got a major "silver lining" as we saw a bull moose lazily grazing in a lake and 2 grizzly bears!  The bears were hanging out on the side of the road doing typical bear stuff and gave us little heed as we stopped to watch.  These things look so huggable; but I couldn't get Nancy out there to try.
There's my moose!
     After departing from the Haines/Skagway vacation, we ended up in Haines Junction, YT.  This tiny town seems to have nothing, except a great bakery and its proximity to Kluane National Park, a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Sight. First, the bakery.  Every Friday night they put on a delicious salmon bake and provide music well into the evening.  (I can't say night as it never gets dark here.)  There we mixed it up with the locals and met an interesting Canadian couple on a 1 year RV journey with their 15 year old daughter.
The Haines Junction "muffin."
We still can't figure out what this is supposed to be. 

A tiny Catholic Church in Haines Junction built from a quonset hut.
     Kluane is amazing and well deserving of its world heritage designation.  However, it is a park that nobody ever sees.  Weird, huh?  Starting in Haines, AK and traveling 146 miles east to Haines Jct.,YT; then heading north for over 200 miles to Tok, AK; then finally going 254 miles west to Valdez, AK; Kluane combined with Wrangell-St. Elias National Park (in Alaska) thrusts up a massive wall of snowy mountains which form a complete blockade to all but the hardiest individuals from penetrating its interior.  This wall imprisons thousands of miles of icy wilderness containing Mount Logan, Canada's highest mountain as well as the world's largest sub-polar ice field.

3 photos of Kluane National Park.
     There are no roads which pass through the wall so the only way to view this remote wilderness is via a plane or by a grueling multi-week backpack.  Although foreboding, the wall ranks up there with some of the most fantastic scenery on the continent.  I managed to find 2 day hikes which got me high enough to catch a glimpse of a couple of interior peaks and glaciers, but I was not up for the challenge of a full blown expedition.

Views from one of my hikes in Kluane National Park.
     Before leaving Haines Junction we took a day trip on the Haines Highway and almost made the 146 miles to Haines.  Since we travelled to Haines by ferry the week before, we decided not to go the full distance.  This was another beautiful drive along the Kluane National Park peaks and over a mountain pass.  We actually travelled out of the Yukon Territory and through British Columbia before dropping into Alaska on this trip.
Kluane National Park on the Haines Highway.
We loved the patterns created by the snow in a mountain
pass on the Haines Highway.
Just another beautiful Mountain on the Haines Highway. 
     After leaving Haines Junction we only traveled 90 minutes up the road in order to experience more of Kluane park.  We scored a campsite directly on Kluane Lake (Yukon Territory's largest lake) where we could watch the mountains and catch views of Dall Sheep and bears.  The lakeshore even coughed-up a few excellent rocks for Nancy's collection.  We also met some new friends in the campground, Jim & Barb Nelson.  We spent 2 days with this interesting couple and discovered that we will be in the same campground in Denali National Park at the same time in July.

2 views from our campsite on Kluane Lake.
Kluane National Park from the Sheep Creek Trail.
An inauspicious start to my hike on
Sheep Creek Trail in Klaune National Park.
     We are now in Tok, Alaska which has nothing to offer except traveler services.  The town has several repair shops which specialize in tires, suspension systems, and frame welding.  Oh yeah, it also has a car/truck wash on every corner as nobody makes it this far without looking like a muddy mess.  Next we will head to Valdez, AK to see the pipeline and the Prince William Sound.
A video of a black bear in Hyder, Alaska.


A new version of the map of our travels can be viewed by opening the link below:


  1. Great to meet you guys, will catch up to you in Denali if not before!

  2. Great post and pics. Sure brings back memories. Have a great trip.

  3. So you did not get beyond the northern wall which is impenetrable... are you watching Game of Thrones?! The scenery is as amazingly beautiful as it is isolated. Enjoy and be safe!


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