Posts Tagged ‘Alaska Highway’

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 17

January 19th, 2012

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log: June 14-September 14, 1971 by Ardis Hyde

(Pioneer landscape photographer Philip Hyde, his wife Ardis and son David in their Avion Camper on a 1968 GMC Utility Body Pickup. Continued from the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 16.”)

Part Seventeen: Fairbanks, Alaska to Mile 65.5 Denali Highway, Alaska

Cotton Grass, McKinley River Trail, Alaska Range, Denali National Park, Alaska copyright 1972 by Philip Hyde.

Thursday, July 15, 1971: Fairbanks, Alaska to Donnelly Creek State Campground, Richardson Highway, Alaska

The day started sunny and progressed to clouds and rain. At 7:00 am the sun was brightest when Malcolm Lockwood left for work as site photographer at NASA’s Gilmore Creek Tracking Site. By 9:00 am when we left Malcolm Lockwood’s home, storm clouds were already gathering. After grocery shopping and gas pumping we drove out of Fairbanks a ways. We passed Alaskaland, then decided to turn around to take David through. Alaskaland combines an amusement park with museums, kids activities, restaurants, shops, educational shows and more. After eating lunch we ventured inside. David liked the paddlewheel river boat and the army helicopter most. At last he had a ferris wheel ride that he and Philip took together. When we got back onto the Richardson Highway and passed through Delta Junction. On leaving Delta Junction, the road became much more interesting than the flat country of the Alaska Highway. The terrain along the Richardson Highway, though also open, presented many wooded rolling hills with small lakes between. We had dinner at a turnout, then dropped down to the broad tree strewn Delta River bed at the base of the Alaska Range peaks. The fireweed and pea vine bloomed in mats out into the river flat. Philip took some photographs along here in the late light. We stopped to look at Black Rapids Glacier. We drove several miles beyond, then returned to Donnelly Creek State Campground. This way we could do that stretch again the next day. The air turned cold and the clouds were solid. We were out of the mosquitos. The temperatures dropped into the 50’s. We heard on the radio that it was 36 degrees in Anchorage.

Friday, July 16, 1971: Donnelly Creek Campground, Richardson Highway to Mile 65.5 Denali Highway, Alaska

We rose at 6:45 am. It had been raining hard in the earlier morning. When Philip looked out the back door of the camper he exclaimed, “Wow,” seeing the Alaska Range peaks visible through a lifting veil of clouds with fresh snow on the lower slopes. We left hurriedly to get down the road for pictures. First Philip made some 2 ¼ Hasselblad photographs before we pulled away, then a short way down the road he brought out the Baby Deardorff 4X5 camera. He drove on and stopped again near the Donnelly Inn Hunting Lodge log and sod cabins. He made more photographs at Darling Creek. At Black Rapids, he made photographs of Black Rapids Glacier upstream of the river flat. He also pulled over at Rainbow Mountain for more pictures. We drove off the main road into Fielding Lake. Fielding Lake was larger than other lakes along the way and surrounded by low brushy slopes and very wet meadows. Philip photographed the abundant wildflowers including Monkshood, Valerian, Mertensia, and Groundsel. On our way back out of Fielding Lake, the rain began again and soon increased to hail. We ate our lunch before reaching the main Denali Highway. Once back on the highway, we soon could see the Gulkana Glacier at a turnout. We also stopped shortly after at the Summit Lake Lodge for gas and propane. We watched a floatplane take off from Summit Lake. We did not stop again until Paxson, Alaska for more gas. We picked up two ladies who needed a ride about 20 miles with a repaired tire for their camper. The Denali Highway started and continued with attractive views of a beautiful alpine setting. The highway stayed high along the ridges, where we were above everything and could see in all directions. We saw rolling mid green tundra accented with darker spruce trees. Lakes and ponds lay in all the swales. The distant snow covered high mountain peaks with snow clouds and mist in veils crowned the scene. Philip made frequent picture stops. Showers continued. We stopped at Tangle Creek Campground to let our ladies put on their tire. We continued to McClaren Summit where it rained hard, but we could still see what a flower garden it was at the roadside. Beyond a short distance, after we looked down at the McClaren River Valley, we stopped for dinner and hoped for the rain to abate to enable photographs. The many ponds below were catching the light. The rain abates and the mosquitos become fierce. After we eat dinner, Philip and David go out on the Tundra for more pictures, both 4X5 and 35 mm. With David in bed we drove on along a moraine top, and stop abruptly for images of a cow moose browsing in the brush close to the road. We made it to Denali Highway Mile 43 by 7:30 pm. Our next stop was at a small pond on the roadside with grass growing in it. A Wilson’s Snipe sat on a post and “cheeped” continually. Driving along the road a few minutes later, Philip suddenly stopped and pointed out the high snowy peaks of the Alaska Range visible almost due west. He was sure we were looking at the slopes below Mount Denali. The light was just right to make Philip a show and having him hopeful that the clouds would part. More pictures at Mile 62 around 8:30 pm. We go on a short distance to Mile 65.5 where we pull off on a track dropping below the main road on the left side and still in view of the distant Alaska Range, which was less clear of clouds every minute. The mosquitos were terrible all night even though the low went down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Continued in the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 18.”

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 16

October 18th, 2011

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log: June 14-September 14, 1971 by Ardis Hyde

(Ardis, David and Philip Hyde in Their Camper. Continued from the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 15.”)

Part Sixteen: The Alaska Highway, Mile 1337 to Fairbanks, Alaska

Fall Tundra Near Brushkana Creek, Denali Highway, Alaska Range In The Distance, Alaska, copyright 1976 Philip Hyde.

(See the photograph larger, “Fall Tundra Near Brushkana Creek, Denali Highway, Alaska Highway In Distance, Alaska.”)

Monday, July 12, 1971:  We awoke at 6:00 a.m. to rain showers, but the visibility improved and the sun even came out between showers. We spent the morning right at our camp while Philip photographed the swallows. We also did office chores, each took showers and I baked bread. We ate lunch also before leaving. The Alaska Range was clear of the clouds with sunshine on all the peaks. After leaving at 12:10 p.m., we made some picture stops for flowers with the 35 mm camera. We stopped at Mile 1377 for yellow poppies and wild aster. At Mile 1379 we stopped for Larkspur where a scenic turnout, several campers and two tour buses brought out a swarm of people. We also stopped at Johnson Road Bridge for Philip to make photographs upstream. Mile 1381 presented a roadside cut bank for a flower garden with poppies in white, yellow, coral, orange, pale and deep pinks. A stunning sight that Philip photographed in 35 mm and 4X5 view camera. Some wind, but not enough to spoil the picture show. I gathered seeds as plants had everything from flower buds to ripe and dry fruit pads on them. It grew cloudier now, almost solid overcast. At the Big Gerstle River Bridge, Mile 1392.8, we descended by gravel road out onto the gravel river bed for the view and a 4X5 photograph back at the Alaska Range, rising in height now and showing some glacier laden peaks. David played with the spread of stream pebbles. Philip was pleased with the photographs he made of the Alaska Range here. We stopped at Delta Junction for gas. We found an overlook of the Tanana River flats, but the mountains were cloud-veiled so we at dinner and waited. Philip exposed a 4X5 color transparency, but had to retreat before he could get a black and white negative because of rain. It was very humid. We have started seeing Arctic Larch trees. The Arctic Larch are about the same size as the Spruce here, but with lighter, feathery foliage. After dinner we continued North with David in bed. Soon we were coming into birch stands. It was wonderful to see a native forest of birch trees. We arrived at Harding Lake Campground and decided to spend the night as it was now raining harder. The fee was $2.00 for Harding Lake because it was a new state campground. We used the dumping facilities. Philip had to change the right front tire for the second time. It was one we had repaired in Juneau. The surroundings consisted of a mixed birch and spruce forest with a moss carpet. Douglas squirrels and snowshoe rabbits were common. It was a warm, though wet night, only getting down to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tuesday, July 13, 1971:  We woke up at 6:00 a.m. to rain and left Harding Lake Campground about 8:30 am. We drove through the big campground and along Harding Lake, then out to the Alaska Highway. Intermittent houses and businesses appeared along the highway all the way into Fairbanks. The dirt Alaska Highway would soon be replaced by a freeway that was under construction from Eielson Air Force Base into Fairbanks. We stopped along the runway to watch a B-52 Jet Bomber taxi out to the runway. We waited but they didn’t take off. We headed on into Fairbanks by 10:00 a.m. Our first destination was a service station to get the tire fixed. I shopped next door at Traveland. Then we drove on to the parking area next to the China River Restaurant where we ate lunch. We crossed the Eagle River over a bridge to the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce located in a sod roofed log house. Then we headed out to the College and the University of Alaska Museum, the Student Union, bookstore and so on. Drove over to Malcolm Lockwood’s home where we met Jean and her daughter Elisha. In the evening I went with Malcolm’s mother to look at Eskimo made objects. I bought a group for Christmas presents. Philip looked at prints of the University of Alaska’s Museum staff photographer Barry McWayne.

Wednesday, July 14, 1971:  We spent the overcast and partly rainy day mainly visiting with Malcolm Lockwood’s family. David and Elisha played very well together. Philip and Malcolm Lockwood were in conversations about photography or out on a short field trip in the afternoon to a birch grove with Barry McWayne. I wrote letters, baked cookies and baked bread. About dinnertime the sun began to come out, but most of the day had been grey with rain off and on.

Continued in the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 17.”

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 15

September 8th, 2011

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log: June 14-September 14, 1971 by Ardis Hyde

(Ardis, David and Philip Hyde in Their Camper. Continued from the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 14.”)

Part Fifteen: The Alaska Highway, Mile 1129 to Mile 1337, Alaska

Sunday, July 11, 1971: We awoke to an overcast sky and poor conditions for photographs. Philip wanted to make a Hasselblad picture of St. Elias Range, but decided on a close-up of the fireweed with the 4X5 Baby Deardorff instead. (Not the widely published and printed image, “Tundra, Fall Color, Willow, Dogwood, Fireweed, Denali National Park, Alaska.”) Then our route continued on uneventfully due to the poor and glary overcast lighting. The heat increased until we made a gas stop at Beaver Creek, Alaska Highway Mile 1202. At mile 1211 we stopped for pictures of a burned spruce forest carpeted with fireweed. The magenta tones of the fireweed, we could see from a distance. Up close the fireweed was quite beautiful accented with the black upright spruce snags. We stopped at the Alaska—Canada border to read signs. We stopped again not far away at the Border Station to mail some cards and letters. We made our lunch stop off the highway in a large cleared area, originally for an old mill. By then it was very warm and humid. Philip napped and I wrote more letters. We drove on without stopping as the sky continued grey and the photography possibilities were not good. We passed through a continuous dwarf spruce forest mixed with birch. We passed the Central Plateau of Alaska sign around Mile 1270. We stopped for pictures of roadside flowers, bladderwort in water and camus lily. I napped while Philip and David told me that they had jumped out at the scenic viewpoint at Mile 1272, but found the light too poor for photographs.

We had gained a total of two hours by crossing time zones. We crossed the Tanana River bridge and began looking for a dinner spot. We stopped short of the Tok River on a side road. We drove in and found a cemetery at the end of the road adjacent to a spruce and aspen forest teeming with mosquitos. Rain set in with a general sultriness. After dinner David opted for a ballet performance instead of a story. Earlier in the afternoon he and Philip had a long talk about the float plane they are going to build back at home. David was doing most of the talking. I napped in David’s “Studio” (above the cab). After dinner with David down for the night, we stopped at Tok Junction for water and high priced gas at 61.9 cents a gallon. We were glad to leave that tourist trap. Pressed on to the town of Tanacross, Alaska. We turned there at Mile 1324.5 and drove out on a rough gravel road to Tanana Ridge. The most interesting feature of the Indian settlement was one old log house with a sagging sod roof beside a pond with the Alaska Range in the background. Philip made photographs of the scene. We also noted some long narrow canoe like river craft that the Indians powered by outboard motor. We drove back out toward the road and looking more closely at the airport noticed that the numbers on the runway were 1324, matching the Alaska Highway mile markers. After one more stop for a photograph of Sanguisorba or Great Burnet Bloodwort, we turned into Moon Lake Campground, but left promptly as it was already too crowded. A short piece down the road we turned into a huge open area perhaps cleared in the past for road construction. We found a perfect camping spot behind a mound of gravel inhabited by nesting cliff swallows. It was all a clean openness around us. The woods was at a distance affording us a broad view of the nearby Alaska Range. The clouds were sometimes low on the mountains, sometimes rising above the peaks. The mosquitos were not a problem here. So with a total of 204 miles traveled for the day, we turned in at 9:30 pm while it was still 61 degrees Fahrenheit.

Continued in the next blog post in the series, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 16.”

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 14

July 28th, 2011

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log: June 14-September 14, 1971 by Ardis Hyde

(Ardis, David and Philip Hyde in Their Camper. Continued from the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 13.”)

Part Fourteen: Haines Highway, Yukon, Canada to The Alaska Highway, Mile 1129, Alaska

Tundra, Fall Color, Willow, Dogwood, Fireweed, Denali National Park, Alaska, copyright 1971 by Philip Hyde.

(See the photograph large, “Tundra, Fall Color, Willow, Dogwood, Fireweed, Denali National Park, Alaska.”

Saturday, July 10, 1971: Up early to bake hot biscuits for breakfast. Philip also out photographing early. He saw moose tracks on the roadside and went in pursuit. The wet flats of the Chilkat River were the right habitat. This area was also a wildlife refuge, but we failed to see any moose. We did see numerous snowshoe hares with white hind feet before hitting the road at around 9:00 am. Soon we pulled off for pictures of a mother duck and eight ducklings. By the time Philip got out with his Hasselblad 2 ¼ camera the mother duck was hidden in the grasses. Back on the road we came into a beautiful open valley with a very flat and wet bottom. Soon we were into dense cottonwoods, willows and undergrowth again. Mixed in stunted spruce trees were growing high enough to cut out our view of the backside of Mount St. Elias. We drove into Kluskus Indian Village, situated on an attractive flat along a stream. In the stream, a spruce sapling trap was arranged to catch salmon. The Kluskus Indian Band had log cabins and log caches arranged around the flat. A friendly atmosphere prevailed with a tourist enterprise of hand made objects for sale. We bought a moose hide with beaded décor and a head band for my niece Kris for $3.00. Philip took some 2 ¼ pictures. Then we were on our way again with a stop for water at Dezadeash Lake Resort. We drove into Kathleen Lake Campground for lunch. The road allowed only private access further on, so no good for pictures. A bear appeared in the campground and David was quite excited to see it.

At Haines Junction we made a brief stop for milk at 60 cents a quart and bananas at 37 cents a pound. We were dismayed by roadside clearing all through this part of Canada, at least 50 feet each side of the road. We made a short detour into Sulphur Lake to look. The sky had become quite cloudy over intermittent light showers. After we joined the Alaska Highway, the traffic became heavier and the road surface much more uneven. We could not go over 30 m.p.h. as holes suddenly appeared. The next 4X5 view camera stop was a view of the Kluane Range over the spruce forest in the flat below. Everywhere the aspen trees are dense among the spruce trees. Fireweed is profuse and a lovely magenta under the green Alaska cottonwood trees. We drove what seemed like a long distance following the shore of Kluane Lake. The rain showers were heavier as we stopped for dinner at Burwash Flats Campground, mile 1105. David went to bed and we were on our way again. We gained an hour through the time zone change. We stopped at Mountain View Lodge , mile 1128 to look through their “giant telescope” at Mount Logan. We could not tell which mountain was Mount Logan, but we could see some very high white mountain peaks and glaciers. The land was elevated there over the flat valley through which the Donjek River flows in multiple channels. We drove a short way further and found a gravel pit again on up the hillside overlooking the same view we had just seen of Mount Logan. The mountains are too grey now, but perhaps in the morning they will be good for photographs. It stayed dry the last few hours of daylight, but the sky filled with clouds.

Continued in the next blog post in the series, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 15.