Equipt's Alaska Solo Trek June/July 2014

concretejungle

Adventurer
great report and thanks for sharing!

Regarding paying for fuel and food.... do you suggest cash and a visa card? I would want to be safe that if i was somewhere and needed fuel or supplies they wouldn't take any cards and not have enough cash on me.
 

Equipt

Supporting Sponsor Presenting Sponsor of Overland
Paul what is you highest cost per L or Gal, I am at 1.988/L or about $7.48gal
Yep, 1.988/L was as high as I saw. Spendy, but worth it. I decided a long time ago that the price of gas is what it is, so I don't fret about it too much. What I get in return outways whatever the cost is. It used to drive me nut, but ever since I gave up hope I feel much better.

Thanks,
 

Equipt

Supporting Sponsor Presenting Sponsor of Overland
great report and thanks for sharing!

Regarding paying for fuel and food.... do you suggest cash and a visa card? I would want to be safe that if i was somewhere and needed fuel or supplies they wouldn't take any cards and not have enough cash on me.
I use my Am Ex for everything I can, backed up with a Visa, and cash on hand in case neither work. But I haven't found a gas station yet that doesn't at least take Visa. Make sure you contact your bank and let them know about your travel plans. Otherwise you get to Canada and your cards decline. Not cool.

Cheers,
 

p1michaud

Expedition Leader
Paul, great journey to date. Mt Robson is beautiful. A friend and I biked then hiked in 21 km nearly 10 years ago now. Safe travels!
 

p1michaud

Expedition Leader
Paul,
Something dawned on me today while out fishing about the current configuration of the 4Runner. Can you outline a bit of the tools, recovery gear and spares you are carrying? I notice a specific lack of shovel, axe, MaxTrax, High-Lift normally present on you vehicle roof racks...
 

SDDiver5

Expedition Leader
Earlier you mentioned you heard from a trucker about what had happened to the flipped car. Are you frequently in communication with truckers and other traveleres via HAM/CB or is this word of mouth at gas stations, towns, etc?
 

NewRider

New member
Just finished reading through this entire trip report and all I can say WOW... I knew AK was a place I wanted to we eventually but now I know it needs to be a place I overland to for sure! I'm currently planning a much less aggressive trip and this has given me some great motivation and ideas for how exactly to tackle that. Great report Paul! Can't wait to see the next installment!!
 

Equipt

Supporting Sponsor Presenting Sponsor of Overland
Paul,
Something dawned on me today while out fishing about the current configuration of the 4Runner. Can you outline a bit of the tools, recovery gear and spares you are carrying? I notice a specific lack of shovel, axe, MaxTrax, High-Lift normally present on you vehicle roof racks...
Sure, I would be happy to list out a few things. Tool kit is pretty straight forward. A variety of screwdrivers and pliers, metric wrenches, hammer, multimeter, and such. Full recovery kit including winch extension, tree strap, snatch strap, and tow strap, D rings, etc. I have a shovel on the rack, and a Gerber hatchet in the clamshell inside. I don't have any specific spares. The truck is too new to need much. i carry some fix-it quick goodies like emergency hose wrap, JB Weld, Duct Tape, tie wire, etc. I didn't bring the maxx Trax this time. I wasn't planning any solo deep small road stuff. I figured I had too much road to cover and a couple deadlines to meet. Messing the truck up somewhere too remote and by myself just wasn't wise. The roads I have taken, while remote, are not that technical. The recovery gear I have is sufficient. A hi lift on my truck is just dangerous. Better left at home. Running pretty light, and the truck is in top shape, so I did not expect to run into too much trouble. The only time I have used the recover stuff was to winch a California couple in their Westy back up a soft roadside.

Cheers,
 

thelal

Observer
Bellingham and "rest stop" with the Irish Lally clan

Paul

Sorry - missed this thread earlier.
Great stuff and good to see the CA/Alaska portion you're travelling as we'll be hitting that shortly.

I'm a 1/2hr from Bellingham and I see your dates around the 8th but not sure of your Ferry*3
7-08 Ferry to Bellingham WA
7-09 Ferry
7-10 Ferry
before you hit Seattle (1hr from us)

Love to have you stay here for some Irish hospitality and a home-cooked meal (may come with a drink or two and some 'tarts').

We're (+3 kids + trailer behind Landcruiser 80) setting off in Sept to Alaska -> Mexico -> Central -> South America -> Africa -> Europe -> Ireland - approx 1yr, 30K miles and would like to see your setup, get some advice on equipment etc.

We've been R&Ding for some time (need to get a page up here) and have had several overlanders stay with us on their travels up North (from South America), the last few months (Feliz, Simone, Neil, Milan + Lizzybus). All have done or still exploring Alaska recently.
The Lizzybus folks (Jayne/David) should be here (120K miles, 5 yrs on road in LR) - FB

Also doing a BBQ 4x4 get-together on the 12th (Sat) July if anyone is around (general invite) - just "book up" here and info here (+swap truck parts)


Our upcoming website

All the best
Brendan Lally thelal at iname dot com
303 532-5898 Sedro-Woolley WA 98284 exit 232-230 I5 N. Mt Vernon
 

Equipt

Supporting Sponsor Presenting Sponsor of Overland
Earlier you mentioned you heard from a trucker about what had happened to the flipped car. Are you frequently in communication with truckers and other traveleres via HAM/CB or is this word of mouth at gas stations, towns, etc?
The story about the rolled car was told to me while at a road construction stop by the guy holding the stop sign. I haven't used the 2 meter on the trip yet. There hasn't been an opportunity to. I talked to a long haul trucker at that same construction stop about their radios, and they all still use CB Channel 19 up there. I also asked him on the proper etiquette for passing a semi out on the Dalton. He said that you give them a little time to know you are there, they can see farther than the shorter vehicles so if they don't let you pass for a minute or two it is for a reason, then they will usually put on their blinker when it is safe. I am sure not all feel as professional as this guy did. He looked the big mean nasty Alaska trucker part, but a pretty nice guy.

cheers,
 

Equipt

Supporting Sponsor Presenting Sponsor of Overland
Solo no mas!

Solo no mas!

I guess the first bit of news to convey is that my solo travels have come to an end. My partner in crime / favorite co-pirate / wife Heather landed in Fairbanks late Friday night. She is going to be with me until July 6th, leaving Juneau on a plane. It’s great to have her along for the second act of this adventure. My friend Troy Bignell, on leave from HEMA Maps in Australia to intern at Overland International, lands in Juneau 2 hours after Heather’s departure. Troy will be with me for act three.

So I spent two weeks in the truck by myself. I traveled over 5,000 miles, crossed a couple borders, racked up a healthy list of National Parks, and had the opportunity to see some incredible country to boot. Remote travel and a mess of logistics left me limited on communications. Funny thing is, I never really felt alone. I have met quite a few fellow travelers, had a few interesting conversations in distant watering holes, chatted with a slew of international adventure junkies, and even snuck in a call or two home. And I have this forum thread to share my travels with all of you. I haven’t been alone at all. Thanks for being here with me.
 

Equipt

Supporting Sponsor Presenting Sponsor of Overland
Denali NP

Denali
Mile 5720

Saturday morning Heather and I left Fairbanks, heading south on Highway 3 for Denali National Park. It’s roughly 2 hours to reach the gates. A very long time ago, perhaps the first park to mandate this, Denali NP limited remote access to the park interior to bus transit only. The fear was that expansion of roadways to meet the demand would remove from the remote experience a visitor should have here. So they have a shuttle system that can take you as deep as you want to go. The Park road is just short of 100 miles long, ending at a couple wilderness camps you can reserve months/years in advance. We chose to take the Eilson Visitor Center loop, traveling 66 miles in and 66 miles back. The loop takes 8 hours total, and would leave at 1:00pm. We had a bite of lunch at the Grande Denali Lodge, overlooking the park entrance and the commercial mayhem just to the north of the gate.

Our shuttle driver was a wealth of information about the park. The shuttles are allowed to stop at any time for pictures and wildlife viewing. They also pick up hikers and bikers a any point along the road too. So if you choose to walk for a while, it’s all good. Catch the next bus, if there is room. There are a series of stops along the route, roughly an hour to an hour and a half apart, where the shuttles stop for everyone to get out and stretch. My first impression of this whole “everyone on the bus!” experience was wrong. I expected to hate it. Nope. It was pretty cool! For the first time in quite a while I didn’t have to watch the road. The bus was comfortable, and we were up front. Not bad at all.

Denali 1.JPGDenali 2.JPGDenali 3.JPG

We made it to the Eielson Visitor Center around 5pm, with the sun still very high in the sky. It’s a new center, built into the landscape quite well, with LEEDs certification for environmental sensitivity. Very cool. Eielson is considered the first real opportunity to view Mount McKinley from outside the shuttle. The valley below the center was magnificent, with the base of McKinley to the west. It was very cloudy when we got there, but the summit cleared in a small window in the clouds just as we were getting ready to leave. Check! Saw McKinley. Absolutely beautiful. On the return, heading away from the focal mountain range, Heather says “Hey, isn’t that Mount McKinley back there?” We stop the bus, and all turn to see the entire mountain clear of clouds. Awesome. We were quite a ways from the mountain now, but you cannot deny it’s grandeur. We also saw caribou, eagles, sheep, bear, and other small critters along the way. Most of them at considerable distance. I have photos, but the animals look like small dots of color.

Denali 4.JPGDenali 5.JPGDenali 6.JPG

We made it back to the park entrance just before 9pm, and yes the sun was still high. We splurged this night, getting a room at the Denali Princess Lodge. A couple sodas on the deck of the lodge finished out one incredible day.
 

Equipt

Supporting Sponsor Presenting Sponsor of Overland
Talkeetna

Talkeetna
Mile 5890

The next stop on our Denali Adventure was a trip south to the small enclave of Talkeetna. It’s roughly 3 hours south. We had a reservation for an excursion I have been dieing to do. Heather and I were scheduled to fly over Denali NP with Talkeetna Air Taxi. This was going to be cool. Our pilot Mike gave us an orientation on the 1963 DeHavilland we would be flying today. It is an impressive plane. Classic aviation experience. Since I was the biggest guy in group, I got to ride shotgun. Can it get better?

We took off and headed straight over Denali State Park, northwest toward Denali NP. The original plan was to circle McKinley, but the clouds were not allowing us to do that. Socked in on the north side. So we flew up close and personal with imposing ice strewn peaks, and landed the plane on a glacier. Talk about a thrill!

Talkeetna 1.JPGTalkeetna 2.JPGTalkeetna 3.JPG

Twenty minutes of stomping around in the pristine snow and we were off again. The DeHavilland lifted off the ground at 60mph, in what seemed like a football field in “runway” length. Impressive. A few more passes around the glaciers, and back to Talkeetna we went. I took my Spot Messenger with me too, so if you want to see our flight path it is in the link on page 1.

Talkeetna 4.JPGTalkeetna 5.JPGTalkeetna 6.JPG

To celebrate our tour, we made our way into the township for a bite of lunch and a mosey. Talkeetna is a great little town, reminiscent of Big Fork in MT. Cool little shops, a couple pubs, and great atmosphere. We camped just outside of town.
 

Workhorse

Observer
Paul, it seems you are having a blast. Great excursion and an awesome write up!!!

Tell Heather I say hello and hope your journey is blessed with no troubles at all. Enjoy your trip!!!

Enjoy your tent lights too!

Ross-
 
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