Day 352: Coming Clean

This morning we went to the free car wash in Tok at the Tesoro station and spent an hour or so scrubbing off the 1000 miles of Dalton Highway dust. It’s nice to have our white truck back:


We drove just a bit South of town to the Tetlin National Wildlife Preserve headquarters:


The kids completed their Junior Ranger workbooks:


We then drove about 60 miles East to Tetlin NWR’s free campground on Deadman Lake. Thankfully, the only spot that would fit our monster RV was available:


While Trish made Shabbos dinner, I replaced the RV’s two manual thermostats with digital ones:



Good Shabbos from Deadman Lake, near the Alaska/Canada border! See the trip map for today’s drive.

Day 351: National Park Bigger than Switzerland

This morning we drove to the end of the Glenn Highway and about 6 miles South on the Richardson Highway to the visitor center for Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.  This park is the largest in the park system, is larger than Switzerland, and contains 7 of the 10 tallest mountains in North America.

The kids worked on their Junior Ranger workbooks.  Here I think there looking at what I hope is simulated bear and moose scat:



The visitor center had pelts and skulls of area animals on display:



The kids received their badges:


Outside there’s a fish wheel on display, a kind of water wheel that scoops up salmon as they swim upstream to spawn:


It was too cloudy to see the Wrangell Mountains from the visitor center.  We did a brief hike out to an overlook of the Copper River:



We only saw one colony of these mushrooms, each one the size of a ping pong ball:


The mosquitoes in the forest were plentiful and aggressive.  We walked very fast to stop them from landing on us.  Despite this, M walked behind Trish and swatted them when they landed on her.  These are just the ones that stuck to her shirt.  Yummy!


After leaving the visitor center, we drove North to the Tok Cutoff to overnight at the Chevron in Tok as we did the first time we came through three weeks ago.  See the trip map for driving details.

Day 350: Flying to the Knik River

This morning we got up early so I could fly before thermals made the air too bumpy.  We got out to the field close to three hours after sunrise, since the sun comes up a bit before 5AM here.  I warmed up the motor, leaning back into its thrust:


The run out and launch went flawlessly:


I gained altitude as I flew out towards the river and our RV:



Ground control was standing by:


M watches me come in for a landing:


Unfortunately, I had a bit of windsock dyslexia and landed downwind instead of upwind.  Thankfully, the wind wasn’t that strong, but it still made for a landing that was too fast to run out, so I kind of skidded in to a stop.  Thankfully, neither pilot nor gear were harmed:


It was cold enough that I got to try out my swanky flight suit:



It was great to get back in the air!  Here’s a screen capture from the action camera shortly after takeoff:


After the flight, we continued North and rejoined the Glenn Highway.  At mile 101, we pulled off to view the Matanuska Glacier:


We hiked an interpretive trail at the overlook:




Continuing North, we passed more mountain vistas:



Tonight we’re overnighting at a pullout on the Glenn Highway about 50 miles West of Glenallen.  See the trip map for details.

Day 349: North to the Knik River

This morning, B and I went for a short ride on the Girdwood to Bird bike path, which largely parallels the Seward Highway along the Turnagain Arm.  This location has tidal swings of over 30 feet, the second highest variation in the world.  While on the ride the tide was mostly out, so most of the Turnagain Arm here was just a mud flat:


As usual, we did a some of our homeschooling in the car:


We drove North on the Glenn Highway, then the Old Glenn Highway to the town of Butte.  The paragliders I met in Girdwood yesterday gave me contact information for a PPG pilot in Anchorage who told me about a farm field in Butte where I could take off and land.  We left the RV in a dispersed camping area on the Knik River, then drove the three miles North to the launch site:


Kicking up dust to check the wind:


Since I hadn’t done forward launches in almost a month, I practiced this a bit:




B is ready for take off:


By the time I was ready to put on the motor, it was close to 10PM, so we called it a night.  I’ll come back and fly tomorrow.  You can’t beat the views from this field:


See the trip map for today’s drive.

Day 348: Hand Tram at Alyeska Resort

This morning I tried to straighten out the rear staircase damaged by the wheel departure last week by lashing it to a tree and then stepping down on it.  I did get it straighter, but it still won’t fold out:



On the way up the Seward Highway we passed some beautiful views:




We turned off the highway and headed up to the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood.  While Trish was making lunch, I spotted a pair of free flight paragliders come in for a landing, so I rode my bike over to talk to them.  They take the tram up to the top of the mountain, then fly down.  Some day I’ll have to try unpowered paragliding.

After lunch, we headed out on our hike.  The goal was to hike three miles in on the Winner Creek trail to a hand tram that’s used to cross an otherwise impassable river gorge. The hike starts by walking around the main resort building:





The trail starts off as a boardwalk:


After a couple miles we reached the junction for the hand tram:


We crossed a creek via a bridge:



Finally we reached the hand tram.  The tram hangs from a steel cable and is moved along by pulling on a rope loop that runs through the tram cage, then around a wheel on each side and attaches the the tram on top.  This design allows both the tram occupants and others on “shore” to help move the tram along:


After riding the tram across and back, we stopped at the bridge over the creek:




At last we returned to the resort:


Unfortunately, I forgot to turn off the tracking when we drove away, so only the first half of the track is of the hike:


Since it was getting late, we decided to overnight at a pullout on the Seward Highway just outside of Girdwood.  The bottom of the RV is protected from road spray in places by tarp material, and this tarp was torn in spots as a result of the tire departure.  Before dinner, I repaired holes in the tarp by gluing on tarp scraps over the holes:


See the trip map for driving details.