Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Alaska Highway
Episode 1- The Alcan

Alaska Highway – for us just the beginning of our adventure, for many an adventure itself. There is something special, kind of mythical about this road, the history, the wilderness,  space and emptiness – something people from the south miss, so they come here for adventure, they come to encounter ‘the Nature’, as they say here  is ‘the last frontier’, the last real unspoiled beauty of Northern America.
The road was built in 1942 for military purposes and at that time that was the only road to Alaska. However, white people had been visiting this forgotten place long before – first fur trades from Russia, then gold seekers and then army – it was either trekking, by sea or air. No-one thought Alaska could be habitable, pleasant or interesting place to visit. The war turmoil however, made wide public realize about an existence of this piece of land and so just after the WWII had finished adventure seekers started hitting the road north. There was virtually anything at that time; few small communities, few petrol stations, where you could also buy some food, and the road was hardly drivable in all four seasons (even today there are still long stretches where permafrost and wetlands damage the road nearly every year). So even for a car it was a big challenge. Nowadays is different – there is plenty of services along the road; for a car it is an easy drive, for a bike the distances are still significant. The road is very touristy – between June and August, when all the services are operating, the road is full of RV’s, motorbikes, 4x4 and delivery trucks. The ride is easy; you can sleep in bed and eat in a restaurant every day, spot a bear and take a picture and look at the immensity of Nature; the beauty of northern lands is simple, it is not something that makes you to say ‘wooooooooow’ the minute you see it; you need to get engaged with it, be there for some time and feel it. There is just forest, but the forest is endless and so dense that you can barely go inside (if you dare to encounter its wildlife), there are just rivers, but so ‘free’, ‘untamed’, like none of the one in our civilized, organized part of the planet and there are those distant mountains. I thing only cycling the Alcan you can still feel the wilderness and get the sense of adventure the first travelers came for.

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