Tok, Alaska, milepost 1314
Monday, June 25, 1973
And we arrive in Alaska! Finally! Although when you think about it, from south of Los Angeles to mainland (as opposed to panhandle) Alaska in ten and a half days isn’t so bad. Slightly more than 3200 miles, so a little over 300 miles a day.
Kluane Lake is a pretty good-sized lake, and it took us a while to get to the end of it. We ate lunch that day at a place called Snag Junction, which holds the record for the coldest temperature in North America, -81dF (-63dC), back in 1947. It was not anywhere near that cold the day we were there, thank goodness, although it was chilly and rainy.
Apparently the rain had something to do with the overturned semi we passed a few miles past Snag Junction. My diary says that no one was hurt, but I don’t know how we knew that. I suspect my father stopped to find out. It would have been typical of him. Back in the days before cell phones, or cell phone towers for that matter (I wonder how much coverage there is even now along the highway), I wonder if the Yukon highway patrol was there, or if any help was on the way, and if so, how it had been summoned to such a remote place. My diary is not very forthcoming on the subject.
Snag Junction is only a few miles from the Alaska border, and we went through customs for the second time on the trip. It was sprinkling rain at the time, and apparently the windshield wipers were not working so well. We also stopped to take photos of the “Welcome to Alaska” sign.
My diary is odd in the sense that it mentions things I don’t remember, and doesn’t mention things I do remember. One thing I do remember vividly that should have shown up in my diary by now is the almost endless grove of aspens we drove through at one point in the Yukon. Miles and miles of shivery pale green leaves and papery white trunks. Another was the rock that bounced up and hit the undercarriage of the car not long before we reached Alaska. Almost immediately after that, the fuel indicator started going south in a big way, and I remember my dad getting out in the rain and crawling on his back under the car to check to make sure the tank hadn’t been punctured, even though there was no trail of gas behind us. As it turned out, the tank was fine, and the indicator was, as my current car’s gas gauge also does, showing less gas while going uphill.
One thing I was very conscious of and noted in my diary every day was the cost of things. The cost of each night’s campground, for instance, is meticulously noted, and ranged from nothing at all to the princely sum of $6.00, although most campsites that cost anything ran around $3.00 with full hookups. Nowadays when I camp, I count myself lucky to get away paying less than $10 for just a space to pitch a tent, although the occasional free campground still exists. And I did note other costs occasionally. I mention this because apparently we’d been planning on grocery shopping in Tok, and the prices were so steep that all we bought was a dozen eggs.
I don’t talk about the scenery very much at all in my diary. I expect that’s because my father and I both took reams of photos, and I assumed I’d always have those. I wish I had them now.