Alaska – An Overland Adventure: When we announced our intention to go to the northernmost drivable point in Alaska, we were told to expect clouds of mosquitoes, rivers of rain, dangerous trucks catapulting gravel, a useless drive up to a dead end we would need to drive back from, and of course starving grizzly preparing for winter. In other words, cold, boring, and dangerous. But what did we find? Poetry. The purest form of an overland trip, translated in the winds, the lights, the colors, the trails, and the sound of wild silence.
As we drove up north to Alaska, we said goodbye to the soft Canadian summer. Slowly we fast-forwarded time and were thrown into an advanced form of Fall. In Denali, we were surrounded by giant snow-caped mountains, entire valleys of yellow and orange trees and cold winds flowing along the large riverbeds. If the elements are so intimidating here… what will it be all the way up north? There was only one way to know, so we buckled up and set off with our Defender on the Dalton Highway.
There is a second between the 66 and 67 parallel when everything changes. The colors, the smell of the air, the wind intensity. Almost immediately after that, came the climb. Only 1400 meters elevation, but at this latitude it makes a world of difference. Even the last sparse bushes gave up and we were left surrounded by mountains made of gravel and sand texture rocks. This natural frontier protects trees and nature south from the arctic rough winds and cold. Beyond it, only the uneven tundra subsists in front of the arctic ocean.
We dive into a sea of fog covering the flatlands leading to the arctic ocean. With it came the rain and with the rain came the mud. Slowly but surely, our Land Rover Defender puts on layer after layer of mud and over the course of our repeated stops, we soon were just as muddy as our rig!
Then, when you finally make one with the road, when you feel like it is going to go on forever, when you almost forget it led somewhere: the road ends. We had made it to Deadhorse and the oilfields of Prudhoe Bay. A fascinating place, looking more like a space station on mars than anything we had seen before. A city of containers in a land made of mud and fog. There is not much to explore over there, this is an adventure where the saying: “it is the journey that matters not the destination”, takes on a true meaning.
So here we are at the edge of the American continent, a hand in the arctic ocean, turning our heels and wheels 180 degrees and now looking straight south. At this instant, the snow fell. Covering the brown mud, the grey mountains, and the red tundra in a coat of immaculate white. A brand-new white page opening under our feet, inviting us to write our journey.
What did we tell you? Alaskan poetry.