June 14, 2014

Fort Yukon (inside Arctic Circle), USA

Jun 2007

The Hertz girl was concerned:  “Did you say you want to hire the car at Anchorage and drop off at Fairbanks up north?  It is a lonely road.  People normally fly to Fairbanks”.   We said “Yes”.  For good measure, we added that our real destination is even more north at Fort Yukon inside the Arctic Circle.  She asked us to have fun and gave us the car.
 
The girl knew her land.  There was hardly any traffic between Anchorage and Fairbanks.  We could drive without care and with lots of time to stand and stare!
 
Alaska Road from Anchorage to Fairbanks
 
Life without care, time to stand and stare
 
Our first stop was at Talkeetna, the base camp for Denali (earlier Mt McKinley).  We did not climb the way the adventurous ones did.  We took the easy way out and flew in a small aircraft.  The ride in the thin air around the summit was turbulent; but the scene was picturesque!
 
 The Denali Summit (highest point in North America) was in typical American spirit only slightly taller than the other peaks around. 
 
Denali (earlier known as Mount McKinley)
 
The glaciers on the mountains were long, huge, pure white and bore a silent testimony to the millions of years they took to form and to the infinitesimally slow journey down. 
 
Glacier, several million years in the making.  Infinitesimally slow glide down.
 
Confluence of two glaciers
 
The drive from Talkeetna to Fairbanks through the Denali valley was full of picturesque spots.  We took our time to get to Fairbanks. 
 
The air taxi that was supposed to take us from Fairbanks to Fort Yukon (inside the Arctic Circle) was waiting for us. 
 
 Due to some quirk in the “line of balance” algorithm (remember your Levin & Kirkpatrick stuff?), the heavier one had to sit next to the pilot.  Otherwise the dad who pays always gets the back seat right next to the cargo bay.  It was fun to pretend to fly the aircraft and keep turning back to check how the accommodation next to the cargo bay was!
 
Seat in the cockit thanks to weight factor
 
In spite of peak summer time, the ambient light on the way to the Arctic Circle was “dull” and “omnipresent” casting no sharp shadows.  Rainbows kept appearing at unexpected spots. 
 
Rainbow seen from flight: Fairbanks to Fort Yukon
 
The airstrip at Fort Yukon was very lonely.  No air traffic controllers.  No human beings.  The pilot and our family were the only species of homo sapiens homo sapiens. 
 
Fort Yukon International Airport Terminal 1!
 
Fort Yukon, Alaska
 
The return trip from Fairbanks to Anchorage was by Denali Express, one of the best train journeys in the world.  The glass top train has picture windows and observation decks and a lovely restaurant.  The trip takes all of a day and takes you through some of the scenic spots of Alaska.
 
Denali Express:  Fairbanks to Anchorage
 
View from Denali Express
 
We saw the same glacier from ground level.
 
View from Denali Express
 
We saw a moose crossing the river.
 
Moose crosses river

That single moose accounted for more clicks of DSLRs than all the snowcapped mountains and motionless glaciers that dotted Denali valley.  Perhaps, a single life is more fun to watch than a million rocks!

 

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