Week 1: Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks (Dalton Highway)

Start of the long journey North of the Brooks Range, Alaska

On June 30 I took a 16 hour bus ride going North from Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay. The road is long, 2/3 gravel and very hilly. Built to construct and support the Trans-Alaska pipeline it crosses the Arctic Circle and further North the Brooks Range to Prudhoe Bay at the Arctic Ocean. I got off the bus at 10:30pm at a cold, windswept place at the end of the road called Deadhorse. Population is 0; nobody lives here, people just fly in to work in week-long shifts here. It’s 70 degrees Northern latitude, several hundred km North of the Arctic Circle. There are no trees here, just tundra grass above the permafrost. Big machines and oilrigs everywhere, as well as a few container-housing lines and hotels. Not exactly a scenic spot. I am the only person camping, next to a sign stating “Caution: Bears have been spotted in the area!” My first midnight sun, bright as day all night!

Next morning on July 1st I take a mini tour to actually get to the Arctic Ocean and dip my toes in it:

Standing in the Arctic Ocean

Then I finally set off to begin the long ride South back to Fairbanks. I meet a few other cyclists along the way. We camp along riverbeds, under the pipeline and on more or less developed designated campgrounds. We enjoy beautiful sweeping vistas of the Brooks Range, crystal-clear mountain lakes, our camping gear and cooking, as well as the satisfying food at the few truck stops along the way. We also endure the mosquitoes, the heat and dust of passing trucks, as well as the endless series of steep hills – many of them pushing the bike rather than pedaling!

Here are a few pictures from the Dalton Highway ride:

Camping near Galbraith Lake right under the pipeline

Untamed wilderness away from the road

One of many long sections of the road

At Arctic Circle

I was lucky with the weather: It was sunny and dry all the way, barely missing some severe thunderstorms over the Brooks Range one day after I had crossed the Atigun Pass… I finished in 7 days, with nearly 8 hours of riding on average for a total of 838km, 12.500m vertical and 54 hrs of ride time. What a trip!

For more pictures, see the Alaska ride page.

1 comment July 9th, 2009


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