Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Alaska Highway - From Alpine to Prairie

Alpine Forget-me-not

The Alaska Highway is 1,390 miles from the prairies of Dawson Creek BC to Fairbanks, Alaska.  Since we came up the west coast we are traversing it southeast.  The books say it's paved but don't believe it.  There's lots of gravel, mud and construction along the way with plenty of stones trying their best to crack the windshield and vehicle paint.  But wildlife, vast majestic views and lifetime memories are worth the trip.
Arctic White Butterfly

Our northern most adventure took us up the Steese Highway and two days in the clouds exploring the flower and lichen covered alpine tundra.  We were 50 miles south of the Arctic Circle which I'm sure you could have seen from Eagle Summit at 3,685 on a clear day.

Here are some of our unique wildlife finds high on the treeless mountains - these are excluding the mosquitos and gnats that were very abundant.
Northern Wheatear - note leg bands

Bracted Lousewort

Lapland Longspur

Tumbleweed Lichen

Red Fox kit

Short-eared Owl

Rusty Blackbird

From Fairbanks back to Tok - our Alaska circle was complete, except for Haines, but you need to leave the state, travel through Yukon and a corner of British Columbia then back into Alaska's southeast panhandle.
White-winged Crossbill

We camped next to Lake Kluane in the Yukon - a hangout for Grizzly Bears and we did see two of them.

We traveled through hundreds of miles of Black Spruce forest always watching for Northern Hawk Owls.  Finally after it seems like millions of strange looking tree tops, we did find a pair and one was very cooperative for photos.

Yukon's territorial flower, the fireweed, blanketed the roadsides along the Kluane and the Haines Highway.

We stopped in the rain at Million Dollar Falls and found this Snowshoe Hare checking out the campsite.

Along Haines Summit at Chilkat Pass we found families of Willow Ptarmigan in the soaking rain.

Mew Gulls are quite common in Alaska and this one thought Ty was a little too close to it's fledglings.

Fairy Barf Lichen

In Haines, we walked the trails of Chilkat State Park to the south and Chilkoot State Park to the northeast for the 4th of July weekend.  The rain forest here has some very interesting lichens and many birds.
Cabbage Lungwort Lichen

The peninsula is part of the 48,000 acre Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve where 3,500+ eagles come from mid-October through December.

Back to Haines Junction for a surprise along the marsh trail.  Ty was pishing for warblers and chickadees and what does he get?  A very curious Lynx who tried to stay hidden from the intruder with the camera.

As we headed toward Watson Lake, we encountered much of northern British Columbia's wildlife.  A herd of Elk, 20 cows and yearlings; three Black bears, 1 wolf and 2 moose.

Between Watson Lake and the northern Canadian Rockies we had some single Bull Wood Bison and three herds of cows and calves, and 19 black bears including one Cinnamon colored one.

At Stone Mountain at Muncho Lake Provincial Park we found Stone Sheep, some very high on the cliffs and some near the road licking salt minerals.

This ram stone sheep was camouflaged against the stone cliffs where most people just passed him by.

With some rain clouds and sun, plus God's blessing of a rainbow, and lots of mud on the vehicle, we passed "Mile 0" on the Alaska Highway.  But there are still many miles to travel through Alberta and the east side of the Rockies which we are looking forward to.

Until next blog - Blessings & Prayers,  Ty & Ida Baumann

1 comment:

  1. Amazing photos, looks like a great few days travel. Is that lichen really called Fairy Barf?!