September 6, 2015 Dawson City, Yukon

 

Morning View From the Dome, Dawson City
Morning View From the Dome, Dawson City

Back Up to the Dome and Top of the World Highway

The image above was taken from the very spot where the young partiers were celebrating last evening. Alone up here this morning, I would have to say the atmosphere is much improved and the view is decidedly different with dense fog hiding the Yukon River below and the rising sun gently lighting the distant mountains.

As always, just click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Along Dome Road, Dawson City
Along Dome Road, Dawson City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This morning the sun was hitting the aspen groves along the side of Dome Road. Fall foliage comes much sooner here than it does back in New Hampshire.

Prius Repaired
Back in Action !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minus a wheel cover, but it sure is nice to have the Prius back in action!

Morning View From the Dome
Morning View From the Dome
View From the Dome, Dawson City
View From the Dome, Dawson City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The two images above were taken from the same spot looking to the southwest from the top of the Dome. The top one this morning and the bottom late yesterday afternoon, atmospheric conditions and light very different.

Morning View From the Dome
Morning View From the Dome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had hoped to get some morning light shots looking down on the town of Dawson City from up here on the Dome, but the fog above the river this morning has the town completely obscurred, will have to come up again a little later in the morning tomorrow, after the fog has lifted.

Return to the Top of the World Highway

Two weeks ago when I descended to Dawson City, I wondered if I left the Top of the World just a tad too early to catch the peak brilliance of the autumn colors on the tundra. Little did I know then that I would still be here two weeks later, so this morning I headed back up the Top of the World Highway to see what the color looked like and just maybe find some more caribou.

Fading Colors Along the Top of the World Highway
Fading Colors Along the Top of the World Highway
Faded Colors, Top of the World Highway
Faded Colors, Top of the World Highway
Faded Colors, Top of the World Highway
Faded Colors, Top of the World Highway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I found was that the tundra autumn colors probably peaked during the time I was marooned here in Dawson City.

Faded Colors, Top of the World Highway
Faded Colors, Top of the World Highway
Faded Colors, Top of the World Highway
Faded Colors, Top of the World Highway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still quite nice, but the yellows were fading fast and the brilliant reds and oranges were turning to more subdued rust tones. Think more pastels than brilliant, vibrant tones, yet still very interesting and so different from foliage back east. And, alas, not a caribou to be seen, anywhere, guess I really had no idea how lucky I was that day a few weeks ago when I found an abundance of them up here.

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August 20, 2015 Top of the World Highway, Yukon

Top of the World Colors
Top of the World Colors

A Magical Day Along the Top of the World Highway

Top of the World Colors
Top of the World Colors

After waiting out two plus very long days and nights ( no cell phone, internet, or TV signals up here ) sitting in the clouds and watching it rain, this morning, despite still being enshrouded in fog, I decided to drive the Prius down to Dawson City. It appeared that there was a possibility of some sun coming out today, and even if it didn’t, I had to get out of the confines of the motorhome and do something other than watch the rain come down. It was starting to get a little depressing!

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Top of the World Colors
Top of the World Colors
Top of the World Colors
Top of the World Colors

No more than ten kilometers ( I’m in Canada now, therefore I have to speak metric ) from the campsite, I dropped below the clouds and was just stunned with the dramatic lighting the inclement weather conditions were producing … some of the most interesting light I have witnessed in quite a while.

Top of the World Colors
Top of the World Colors

I often would stop and take a shot, then see how rapidly the cloud shadows were racing across the landscape, so that within a few moments a completely different looking shot would emerge, different highlights, different shadows.

Top of the World Colors
Top of the World Colors

Adding to the drama was the quickly advancing color of the low growing tundra vegetation. They say that the reds and golds continue to gain in intensity until the end of the month.

Quick Check on Dawson City

Ferry Across the Yukon River
Ferry Across the Yukon River

I proceeded on and took the small, and free, ferry across the Yukon River into the lively little town of Dawson City.

Ferry Across the Yukon River
Ferry Across the Yukon River

This thing sure looks awfully small to be handling large motorhomes with their toads, but since I have seen a whole lot of big rigs go by my campsite on the Top of the World Highway, I guess I can be assured that this little tub can surely handle my mid size rig.

The View From the Front of the Ferry
The View From the Front of the Ferry

Sitting in your car at the front of the ferry, you sure do hope the bow doesn’t take any kind of quick dip.

Ferry Across the Yukon River, Rather Primitive Landing
Ferry Across the Yukon River, Rather Primitive Landing

My only real experience with ferry crossings has been down on the coast of Texas, and I can assure you that this ferry docking point doesn’t look quite as sophisticated as the ones in Galveston or Port Aransas.

I poked around Dawson City, checking out the Visitor’s Center and three of the private campgrounds, figuring I might stay a few days and do some of the side roads in the area.

Top of the World Campsite
Top of the World Campsite

Back Up the Highway to my Campsite

That tiny white dot in the center of the image above is my motorhome, perched in one of the nicest spots I have ever found to boondock.

Black Bear Cub
Black Bear Cub

I made myself a sandwich for lunch and just as I sat down I noticed some movement in the brush just below the motorhome. The abundance of berry bushes in that area had me kind of disappointed that I hadn’t seen any bears here, because it sure looked like a great spot for them to show up. Then this cub poked his head up … and up ahead of him I could see another black body running up the hill towards the road. So I grabbed the camera and went outside to see if I could get some shots of him ( them ) if they decided to cross the road.

Black Bear Mom and Cubs
Black Bear Mom and Cubs

And I was already too late. Mom and yet another cub had already made it up to the road and were racing across.

Black Bear Mom and Cubs
Black Bear Mom and Cubs
Third Black Bear Cub Lagging Behind
Third Black Bear Cub Lagging Behind

The first one I saw from inside the motorhome was actuall y the last of the four coming up the hill through the bushes, I had missed Mom and the brown cub.

Third Black Bear Cub Lagging Behind
Third Black Bear Cub Lagging Behind

This last cub didn’t seem too concerned that his family had gone on without him. In fact, he didn’t cross the road and head up the hill in the same spot the other three had, and ran quite a way down the road before heading up the hill.

Another Caribou Hunt

Tundra Colors
Tundra Colors

After my lunchtime bear encounter, I decided to drive the sixty-five kilometers back west to the border station to see if I could find some caribou once again.

Caribou Trails in the Tundra
Caribou Trails in the Tundra

But today, I would not find a single caribou up here. Looking at the many trails worn into the tundra in the image above, no doubt they are still moving through this area, I just wasn’t fortunate enough to locate any today, perhaps I had used up all my good fortune a few days back.

Tundra Colors
Tundra Colors

But the tudra colors still offered many nice opportunities to do some photography. The dark, brilliant reds in the foreground of the image above happen to be cranberries and are the most intence of the tundra colors.

Tundra Colors
Tundra Colors
Tundra Colors
Tundra Colors

This colorful hillside is the same spot where a few days back I ran into two different groups of caribou browsing. None today, however, but the cloud cast shadow on the hills below made for a nice foliage backdrop.

Tundra Colors
Tundra Colors
Tundra Colors
Tundra Colors

If I weren’t wanting to get down to Hyder to catch some bears feasting on a late salmon run, I would be very tempted to stay up here and find out just how intence these ground colors will become. Well, maybe that would be one of many reasons to return here sometime in the future.

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August 17, 2015 Top of the World Highway, Yukon

Bull Caribou Posing
Bull Caribou Posing

Caribou of the Forty Mile Herd

Rained all day yesterday here on the Top of the World Highway, but I decided to stay put and wait for some nice weather to go back up to the border and hunt for more caribou. Plus I really hate to drive the rest of this incredibly grand ridge running highway when I can’t enjoy the spectacular views. In addition, when I see the vehicles pass by that are just covered in mud, it seems it may well be worth my while to wait for a dry day to continue on.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Low Hanging Clouds
Low Hanging Clouds

So this morning I was up and out as soon as I could tell there was some sun and blue sky above the fog that enshrouded my roadside campsite.

View From Top of the World
View From Top of the World

As I climbed back west towards the border, I kept running into and out of the fog/clouds, making for some wonderful photo opps.

Low Hanging Clouds
Low Hanging Clouds
View From Top of the World
View From Top of the World
View From Top of the World
View From Top of the World

I have spent the past week up here on the Boundary Spur Road and now the Top of the World Highway and I have been able to observe the tundra vegetation turning color right before m eyes.

Ground Color Along the Top of the World Highway
Ground Color Along the Top of the World Highway
Top of the World Boondocking Campsite
Top of the World Boondocking Campsite

It really is starting to get quite colorful and I assume it will become more so before much longer, sort of reminds me of autumn in New England, just a lower version. And yes, that is my rig in the image above, one of the nicer spots I have been parked on this trip … a pretty nice view, plus with the border shutting down at 8 PM and not reopening until 8 AM, there is absolutely no road noise at night so the silence up here is deafening.

Top of the World Boondocking Campsite
Top of the World Boondocking Campsite
Top of the World Boondocking Campsite
Top of the World Boondocking Campsite

A couple more shots of my campsite.

Bull Caribou Backlit
Bull Caribou Backlit

A Successful Caribou Hunt

I ran into my first small herd of caribou bulls around KMM 90 on the Top of the World Highway as I made my way back up to the border.

Bull Caribou Backlit
Bull Caribou Backlit
Caribou Bull
Caribou Bull

They weren’t very cooperative as far as providing me with any good lighting, staying between me and the rising sun, but they did come in fairly close …

Curious Caribou
Curious Caribou

and at one point, their curiosity about what I was doing kind of got the best of them.

Caribou on the Ridge
Caribou on the Ridge
Caribou on the Ridge
Caribou on the Ridge

A little farther up the road I ran into another small group of bulls as they made their way up a ridge and disappeared into the valley below.

Bull Caribou Posing
Bull Caribou Posing
Bull Caribou Posing
Bull Caribou Posing

My good fortunes continued when I turned off the highway and investigated one of the few side roads, very rough and muddy, but I discovered yet another small herd of bulls gathered in this area.

Caribou Grazing
Caribou Grazing
Caribou Feeding
Caribou Feeding
Caribou Bulls
Caribou Bulls

This is one of my favorite shots of this group when they all turned to see exactly what that strange five legged creature was that was so obviously stalking them.

Caribou Bulls
Caribou Bulls
Caribou Bulls
Caribou Bulls
Caribou
Bedding Down
Caribou Bedding Down
Caribou Bedding Down

Around noon the group finally stopped moving and settled down for a siesta.

Father and Son?
Father and Son?
Father and Son?
Father and Son?

I wonder if these two are related. The younger bull followed this mature bull very closely all the while I was following the group.

This turned out to be one of the most exciting, rewarding, and physically exhausting days of this entire Alaska adventure! Following these guys, walking on the spongy tundra carrying my tripod and camera mounted with the 600mm lens, had me wondering at times if i was going to have a heart attack. But well worth the effort, just a great day at the Top of the World!

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August 15, 2015 Boundary Spur Road, Alaska

View From Top of the World Highway
View From Top of the World Highway

Finally Rescued (No Thanks to Good Sam’s Roadside Assistance)

I awoke to gorgeous blue skies with huge brilliant cumulus clouds this morning. What a day! Actually, what a day to do Top of the World photography, not waste my time trying to get Good Sam’s Roadside Assistance to help me with my flat tire, here, out in the middle of nowhere.

But, once again I headed up to the Border Station, and resumed my post on their phone.

My first call was to check back in with Galen, to see if he had found me some help and to let him know I had not found any in Chicken. Naturally, there was no way that GSRA could connect me to Galen, just could not be done. So, once again, I start all over with Amanda. This time I tell them to please contact Williards in Tok, since I had been told yesterday that they are the people to talk to. Amanda says that she has located some notes on my calls from yesterday, says they still haven’t found anyone to agree to make the service call. Says she will contact Williards and asks me for my call back number. Once again, I describe my phone situation. She seems to understand and tells me to call back in fifteen minutes and she should have something by then.

I make the call fifteen minutes later and get, drumroll please, Moses. Moses can’t possibly connect me to Amanda and has quite an attitude when I explain how frustrating this is getting for me. Says this is my problem, they HAVE to have a call back number. I give up and tell him I will call again and hope I get Amanda by chance.

Fifteen minutes late I call and get yet another woman who cheerfully tells me she will attempt to connect me to Amanda. Amanda then answers but I’m guessing this might not be the same Amanda who was previously trying to help me. Referring to her notes on me, I am told by this Amanda that I CANCELLED my service call yesterday at 3:30 PM. Obviously, this comes as a bit of a surprise to me as that is when I told Galen ( remember him, about six different operators ago ) to please continue looking for help and I would call him back today. As this Amanda’s attitude continued going hostile, I figured I may as well just give up.

In one last act of desperation I called again and got Heather. After starting again with her, I finally asked to please speak with a supervisor as I was beginning to realize I had reached my wit’s end.

A supervisor came on the line, no name given, told me they have done everything humanly possible to get someone to respond to my situation but NO ONE within a one hundred and fifty mile radius would agree to do so and she suggested that I call 911. Call 911…. this is an emergency! I told her I just couldn’t do that, that 911 was for a severe life threatening emergency, not just a case of a pathetically incompetent roadside assistance company not being able to do their job for which they have already accepted payment.

If You Want Something Done, You Just Have to Do It Yourself!

Ten minutes after getting off the line with Good Sam Roadside Assistance, I got the number for Willard’s in Tok from the helpful woman manning the Border Station. I called and arranged for a service call in all of about three minutes, said they would be there in about three hours! The woman at Willards mentioned that she had been contacted by Good Sams Roadside Assistance, actually wasted over an hour on hold with them, and had been awaiting a confirmation call from them, a call that never came, she said. And GSRA told me how NO ONE within a hundred and fifty miles had agreed to come out here, in other words, they just flat lied to me!

A $1700 Tire Change
A $1700 Tire Change

About four hours later an elderly man in a beat all to Hell F-250 pickup arrived on scene. I assumed from our later conversations that this was Williard, who told me he was seventy-eight years old, about as old as the truck looked but still not as old as the compresssor that was mounted on what was left of the bed of the ancient F-150. He got right down to business, slowly, needless to say. I did get a bit of a kick out of talking with this true Alaskan, and although certainly not the quickest tire change ever performed, he did seem to know exacty what he was doing. So, two hours later, and $1748 poorer, I was once agin ready to hit the road.

View From Top of the World Highway
View From Top of the World Highway

Another wonderful Top of the World images from just short of the Border Station.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

I made it through customs without incident, just asked a few routine questions about the dogs and food, guns, and alcohol, then simply showed him my passport and was waved through into Canada.

Canadian Side of the Border and More Caribou!

Caribou
Caribou

Not two miles past the Border Station, I saw a small band of caribou bulls grazing towards the road. Fortuitously, there just happened to be a large pulloff just at that spot, so I hopped ot, ran back to the Prius for my tripod and set up my camera with the long lens…

Caribou
Caribou
Caribou
Caribou
Caribou
Caribou
Caribou
Caribou
Caribou
Caribou

and got some nice shots…

Caribou
Caribou

…before they finally crossed the road and headed downhill.

So nice to be back on the road!

Down to Dawson City
Down to Dawson City
Down to Dawson City
Down to Dawson City

I decided to try and make it about half the way down the Top of the World Highway tonight before using a roadside pulloff for my overnight boondocking campsite and found a pleasant spot around KMM 65. After reading all the warnings about this highway, I was pleasantly surprised to find it a very well maintained, wide gravel road, absolutely no reason to dread travelling it whatsoever.

Not five minutes after setting up I saw the unmistakeable profile of Island Girl’s tow vehicle approaching me ( Brenda and Hector carry two kayaks atop their car ). They had stopped where I was stranded back on the Boundary Spur Road yesterday when they saw my rig as they passed by on their way to Dawson City. Not knowing that I had made it back on the road ( no phone or internet up here ) they were heading back up the Top of the World Highway on a 70 mile, one way no less, rescue trip with their small 150 PSI compressor and some slime in case my flat were just the result of a slow leak, which, it turns out, it most probably was ( a defective valve extender was the cause of my problem )! It is very comforting to realize just how nice some of the folks you meet along the way can be! Thanks again guys!

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