Journey to Alaska

Timm standing at Mile 0 on the Alaska Highway

Our journey to Alaska begins tomorrow morning.  We’ll be driving 1,387 miles on the infamous Alaska Highway from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada to Delta Junction, Alaska, United States.  Along the way, we plan to stop at Stone Mountain and Muncho Lake Provincial Parks in British Columbia, and Kluane National Park in Yukon.  We’ll stay in campgrounds and also try to find some nice dispersed camping spots.  We expect the trip to take about 2 weeks and hope to arrive in Alaska around June 23.

Timm standing next to the Mile 0 plaque

The Alaska Highway was built by the U.S. Army in just 8 months in 1942 to provide a land route from the continental United States to Alaska.  This was in response to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941.  The U.S. government was worried that the Japanese would invade Alaska via the Aleutian Islands, which they eventually did, capturing and occupying two islands.  The existing American air and sea defenses in Alaska were quite weak at the time, air and sea transportation to Alaska was difficult and hazardous due to the extreme weather and long distances, and so a land route was needed to transport men and troops to defend Alaska.

After the Panama Canal, the construction of the Alaska Highway is arguably the most ambitious construction project of the first half of the 20th century.  The 1,700-mile (at the time) route was through unchartered wilderness.  The troops and civilians assigned to build the highway had little experience dealing with the extreme cold temperatures, and even less experience building a road in such a hostile environment.  The workers had to learn how to operate heavy equipment, build roads on muskeg and permafrost, and deal with frostbite and mosquitos.

Over the years the Alaska Highway has been paved, widened, and shortened.  Today it’s a modern paved 2-4 lane highway with shoulders and turnouts, though its condition varies along its length, ranging from excellent to bumpy due to frost heaves.  But the view is spectacular the entire way.

We’re excited to get started.  See you in Alaska!

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