In the past three days I've seen the Gulkana Glacier, gawked at more moose than I can shake a stick at, been caught in a crazy storm miles away from shelter, crossed the Arctic Circle, been nearly sucked dry by mosquitoes (not in a good way), watched Adam spray Deet right in his face (on purpose), driven a Polish backpacker 60 miles, eaten my weight in trail mix, crossed a river via a suspension bridge, drank my weight in beer, kicked ass in euchre (on the Arctic Circle...best Monday-night card session ever!), been in the truck as a passenger for seven hours and driven for 12, seen Beaver Slide, climbed what-turned-out-to-not-be-Finger-Mountain, said 'take a piss' 100 times, peed in the woods 12 times...all this and I still haven't showered, hooray!
On Sunday, Sam and I and his friends, the Bird family, drove down the Richardson Highway to the Gulkana Glacier near Paxson. We hiked in, crossing the Gulkana River via suspension bridge and almost made it to the Glacier before the skies opened up and we were soaked (yes, we were wearing rain gear, that's how hard it rained.) At one point it was raining sideways. We drove back home that same day, pointing out wildlife to the Bird Family, who were following in a van behind us. At one point we pulled into a campground and I thought I saw a brown bear in the creek along the road. I gasped my 'holy-crap-there's-a-bear' gasp and Sam started looking around.
'Baby? What is it? What do you see?'
I looked closer.
It wasn't a brown bear. It was a rusty barrel.
'I see a brown...barrel.'
'A brown bear?'
'No, a brown barrel.'
'Yeah. Let's go.'
The next morning, Richard, Rachel, Adam and myself headed North to the Arctic Circle. Our goal? To have euchre night on the Arctic Circle. The Dalton Highway was BRUTAL. It took us six hours to go less than 300 kilometres...and half of it was paved! We didn't see any wildlife except for the occasional dead rabbit. Oh and there were mosquitoes as big as my head and flies the size of large cats. We picked up a Polish dude at Yukon River Camp and brought him to the Arctic Circle, he kept going North, though. I love car camping because you can bring so much crap! For us, it was mostly food and beer, some of which we ended up given to a traveler from Arizona who was passing through...we gave him some food, not beer (come on).
We played cards until the wee hours of the morning (admittedly, I was the first in bed around 1:30, because we had run out of good beer and the others started drinking Bud. I draw the line at Budweiser.) And of course, since we were at the Arctic Circle the sun didn't set. We drove back today stopping on the way home to take some pictures.
The next adventure? Paddling the Chatanika River on my birthday weekend. The summer of Jill and Sam is here and the living is easy...except when we have to work... I got a call today from Yahoo! Sports asking if I would photograph the annual Midnight Sun Baseball Game on Thursday (solstice). The game starts at 10 p.m. and is insanely popular with locals, tourists and media outlets from Outside. Yahoo even sent a reporter up for it. Crazy. The editor asked if I could file photos to them from the game. You know, from the press box, he said. I snorted. Yes, there is a press box at Growden Park, but no internet access. I might have to run over the News-Miner to file during the game but parking will be a nightmare, so I'm not sure if that's going to happen either. They might have to do as we Alaskans do and wait.
Our destination: Gulkana Glacier.
It had been sprinkling on and off all day, which made for some nice photos.
Funky moss on a rock.
Maddie Bird on the bridge. She was the first across despite some near-freak-outs the night before at just the talk of having to cross it. Guess who the biggest chicken was? Not her, that's for sure.
Chicken Jill crossing the bridge. I recorded myself with my new audio gear. You can hear the river roaring underneath and me going 'You got it. You got it. Holy f**kin' s**t, you got it.' Yes, I was the most scared. It was wobbly and it moved, ok?!
My feet on the bridge.
Sam and I. You can see the storm behind us. The bridge is over my right shoulder. We thought we might make it to the Glacier and back before the storm hit, but no, we did not.
A moose munching in a pond just off the Richardson Highway.
The monstrosity that is the Trans Alaska Pipeline.
We made it! Friends at the Arctic Circle, where the sun doesn't set and the bugs will drive you insane.
I loves me some car campin'. Richard did the cooking...I haven't died yet.
We couldn't actually see the Beaver Slide, which was rather disappointing. We had some great fun with the sign, however.
Richard on top of what-turned-out-to-not-be-Finger-Mountain.
The view from what-turned-out-to-not-be-Finger-Mountain.
Sign at Yukon River Camp.
Sign at Yukon River Camp.
The aftermath...driving the Dalton is really, really hard on cars.