Day 48 – July 23, 2001 – We got an early start (8:00 am) from Beaver Creek. We always set a certain time to be ready to go and we never quite seem to hit it. A friend compares this kind of thing to herding cats. But with a 200 mile day, we can’t afford to spend too much time getting on the road. It has continued raining during the night and we drove most of the day in drizzle. The Kluane Mountain Range ran parallel to the Alaska Highway. Even though some of the peaks are more than 6000 feet, we couldn’t see anything at all except the base. Occasionally, we could see a jagged peak but mostly they were completely hidden by the clouds. We also ran into extensive road construction. The Alcan Highway was built during W.W.II as a means of transporting troops and goods to defend the northern borders from the Japanese. (The Japanese attached some of the islands in the Aleutians early in the war.) The roughness of this road is legendary and the Highway Department is trying to upgrade and, in some places, widen the road. Numerous patches were torn up and we were driving on rocks and potholes again. Ginger was entertaining us with a rendition of “We’re on our way to Prudhoe Bay…”.
We stopped for lunch at a place called Burwash Landing. Ben and Jennifer had stayed there one night on the 1987 trip. It’s a little of the road but the sandwiches were good and the lake is pretty. We stopped a few others times to take photographs (some of which you will see below) but with the overcast skies, the opportunities weren’t too plentiful. We arrived at Haines Junction around 5:30 pm but it is a pretty small place. The town is literally a junction, a four-way stop with roads leading to the ferries at Haines, Fairbanks and Anchorage, and Watson Lake (further east in Canada). The Kluane National Park borders the community and we spent much of the day driving along or through the park.. The Kluane Range has a tremendous ice field, the largest non-polar glacier field in the world and is a great place if you are into outdoor mountain sports.
We had learned two days earlier that there had been a mix-up in our reservations in Haines Junction so we had made new reservations at a different motel. It wasn’t the worst motel we’ve stayed in thus far but I don’t think they will ever make it in the AAA guide. Our rooms were over the bar.