Coldfoot is north of the Arctic Circle and we were there on the Summer Solstice (6/21). This meant we experienced 24 hours with the sun above the horizon. You sort of loose your sense of time-of-day under those circumstances.
When we left Coldfoot in the morning we backtracked a ways north to visit the settlement of Wiseman. It’s a one-time mining town founded when gold miners left the old Coldfoot for richer diggings The population was 21 as of the 2000 census. Here is a shot of the Wiseman Museum which contained all maner of artifact from the gold mining era.
Wiseman is definitely an “off the grid” place with wind and solar power prominently visible.
Wiseman purports to be the best place in the country to see the northern lights. There are several B&B’s there that cater to those wanting to see the Aurora Borealis.
There were lots of signs that Wiseman was “real Alaska.” This is one that brought that home to me.
After leaving Wiseman we continued south again. At one point we came across a small lake and a moose who seemed to want to pose for photos.
There were quite a few areas along the Dalton Highway where there had been recent forest fires. We were told that, in this part of Alaska, fires were just allowed to burn. One positive result of this was the large areas full of beautiful flowers called Fireweed.
At one point the pipeline was very near the highway and we stopped for a closer look. We also got a chance to experience what the tundra is really like. Our guide dug a small hole, big enough to put your hand in, so we could feel the permafrost just below the surface. The pipeline is elevated on supports which are continuously cooled to keep them from melting the permafrost and sinking into it. Here is Jan and I, doing our part to support the pipeline.
Later in that morning we pulled off at a spot that was exactly on the Arctic Circle. Our guide and van driver, Kandi, had a little cerimony where each of us stepped across a line marking the N66° 33′ latitude.
For lunch that day we stopped at a place calledYukon River Camp. They had faxed our menu selections from Coldfoot the night before and Kandi radioed in via CB as we got close. When we arrived our meals were already waiting for us. Great service!
Here is a picture of the only bridge in the US across the Yukon River. We were told that, in terms of volumetric flow, the Yukon is one of the largest rivers in the world.
Once we crossed the Yukon we were nearing the end of the Dalton Highway and nearing Fairbanks again. The whole trip to Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay and back turned out to be one of our favorite parts of our Alaska adventure.
In Fairbanks we stayed again at the Sophie Station Hotel and enjoyed their great patio for dinner.