Friday, June 16, 2006

The Yukon trail

The Alcan starts at Dawson's Creek in British Columbia. You drive into the small town, and set your milage to zero because the milepost tracks everything from here. It's a satisfyingly dramatic way to head somewhere new. It's practical as well though because there are very few towns or other landmarks to base things from so it all goes off of exact milage. You can go page by page through the Milepost as you drive and find all the really important stuff.

Mile 467.1 - watch for loose gravel. Rocks thrown up by traffic have been known to break windshields, and you're 50 miles from the nearest body shop.

Mile 274.8 - Frost heaves. If your vehicle is over x length or y weight keep your speed down or risk breaking an axle. (Frost heave example here. I've seen much more impressive ones that look like the road machines had a huge case of hiccups)

Mile whatever - fill up with gas as this is your last chance for 100 miles...

But they point out the interesting things as well, the scenic areas and historic places. Great place to play the site the cabin game.

I've played that since I was a kid and read My Side of the Mountain. I defy any child to read that book and not plan to run away from home, acquire a peregrine falcon, and live happily self-sufficient in an enormous tree. In fact the only problem with that book was the hero (spoiler ahead) allows civilization to creep back in on him - at least a bit. Anyway, after reading that book I spent every car trip that went through mountains searching the hills for the perfect tree. Never discouraged me that New Mexico grows Ponderosa pines more than anything else and although they smell wonderfully of vanilla in the crevices of the bark, they aren't exactly large enough to house a small stove, a bed, and a hawk. (at least none that I ever saw)

Never lost the habit though - still always watch out for the perfect place to build a small cabin. Fortunately Kirk did the same, and we were usually able to agree.

This time we found Muncho Lake. It's a fantastically beautiful lake - the water is rich blue-green and in November the mountains around it were all covered with snow reflecting in the surface. There was a small island about half a mile off the shore - just large enough for a little stand of trees and a large chunk of bare rock. The profile bent in on one side to make a tiny, perfect landing place, and the rock made a natural ladder leading up.


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