Aug 29, 2006

There and back again.

Where were you this weekend? Maybe you took a trip to the lake? Or camped out in the warm summer night? Or maybe you stayed indoors all weekend enjoying the AC because it was Just too hot to venture outside. While all of you were enjoying the sweltering heat wave, I was buried in layers and layers of clothing, clinging to dear life in an effort to sleep comfortably through the night and survive the frigid windy day. That's right, while all of you were enjoying this kind of summer day:

I was more playing like this:

Who signed me up for this kind of August weather? Well...I did.
Some friends and I decided it would be a great idea to go up north driving on the Dalton Highway this past weekend. The Dalton goes to the very top of Alaska, to the Arctic Ocean. From Fairbanks, it is about a 450 mile journey. If you were to think that the drive would only be abour 7 hours, you would be very wrong. Because at the beginning of the highway, there was this sign:

The roads are treacherous with potholes everywhere and bumps and dips that would send our heads to the ceiling of the truck on more than one occasion. But that didn't stop Sam from driving sometimes speeds up to 100mph. Apparently we were all sleeping. It took us about 9 hours. That is very fast, Sam.

We decided to drive up to Toolik lake, pronounced like Two Lick Lake. So, dubbed Team Toolik, five friends journeyed up to camp out at Toolik. We arrived at 2 in the morning after crossing this:

And tried to set up our tent in the 20 degree weather. We realized in the morning we had slept on rocks, even though there were fields of tundra grass all around us. We may have been tired and/or delirious from the cold.
Notice the rock holding the pole on the left side on the tent. It's because we couldn't find duct tape.
2:30 AM logic? Not the best.
The next day we went hiking. It was beautiful!

We collected tons of sheds from caribou.
Ryan found two that he thought really helped him blend in.

I was lucky to find a big one. It had some moss growing on it because it was so old, but I didn't care. I was too tough to care.

When I wasn't carrying the gun, Sam carried the gun "just in case". I was a little worried when we would see any animal because Sam always said "Gimmee my gun". We saw a grizzly on the side of the road with her cub and Sam pulled over the truck and said "Gimmee my gun". The bear was probably rolling his eyes thinking, "man, this guy is such a silly redneck". And the bear was right.

After our tundra hike, which if you have never hiked on the tundra, all you have to do is douse a couch with water and then try and walk on it. Squishy wetness. So after the hike we drove up another 115 miles to Prudhoe Bay. It is as far as the road will take you in the USA.
We saw lots of animals on the way, like these furry musk ox frolicking by the pipeline

The entire town of Prudhoe was built up to capitalize on the oil industry up there. Everyone around you is either an oil guy or an elderly person on a tour bus looking for the arctic ocean. Very odd dynamic. But it felt amazing to be at the top of everything!