One of the key skills to guiding in the outdoors is flexibility, but who would have thought that Pam and I would need to use this skill so much simply by driving to our destination? Yes, 2,700 miles does present a lot of opportunity for things to come up when driving from Montana to Alaska, but in our case, “things” being the road, went away. Flooding added to the heavy water from the spring thaw, washed away part of the Alaskan highway. What an adventure! Fortunately, we caught this at the tail of repairs – which I would like to add, were done with impressive speed and only left the roads closed for a couple of days. We were only held up for a few hours and started our bumpy, curvy, and beautiful drive through British Columbia, the Yukon, and into Alaska.
At one point, we drove over a brand new bridge. The river had completely washed out what ever structure was there before and now there were piles of boulders pushed into the river with loads of gravel layered on top. Over we went, not blind to the leftovers of the road to our left. Less than a foot to the side of the center line was now a 4ft. cliff where the water had stolen the rest of the road.
It was pretty exciting to see both the power of nature and the quickness of people to respond. Even more exciting, was doubling my lifetime bear sightings in a single day! Pam and I saw 15 bears along the drive through north British Columbia and into Yukon. 12 black bears – including one cub – and a mom grizzly with her 2 cubs! It was a beautiful day for munching the grasses along the side of the road and I assume the stop of traffic for the last few days had called them to enjoy it. These bears, along with moose, elk, bison, fox, coyote, eagles, bighorn sheep, marmot, and mule deer sightings have only left us void of caribou. We will keep our eyes peeled to check off caribou from the land list and then will move onto water! Whales, sea lions, otters, and more are all waiting for us on our Alaska adventure vacations to appreciate them for simply being there – and this is our job. Pretty spectacular way to spend the summer if you ask me.
Your friendly Alaska guide,