Archive for the 'Arctic' Category
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On June 16th TotalAdventure flew from Los Angeles to Fairbanks Alaska, to join with our Northern Producer,Martin Z. for a 500 mile drive up the Dalton Highway to Deadhorse – at Prudhoe Bay. WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE.
In the 500 Miles between Fairbanks and Deadhorse there is only one stop with lodging, food and fuel – at Coldfoot Camp. There are otherwise only scattered scientific and work camps ( road and pipeline workers ). There are no rest stops ,billboards, McDonald’s, gas stations , nothing but beautiful unspoiled Arctic nature.
The informal road started after the War (2) but became a formal paved and gravel road with the building of the Alyeska Oil Pipeline in the 1970s. From the top in Deadhorse, at Prudhoe Bay, one can drive 12000 miles to the other end of the planet in Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, where TotalAdventure was only 6 months before , in Southern Summer, before boarding the ship to Antarctica.
About 140 miles north of Fairbanks. The summertime forest is verdant and full of mosquitos. The sign makes for good target practice.
TotalAdventure crosses the Arctic Circle on land for the first time. In the air, we have flown over the North Pole countless times. On this day, June 19, the sun will dip below the horizon for 2 minutes. On June 21 it will not set at all. Note there all tall trees at this latitude. In Antarctica trees do not exist in a true polar climate. SEE THE VIDEO ABOVE.
The pipeline runs nearly 1000 miles from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. The oil supplies mainly the US West Coast, Alaska and sometimes Japan.
Lunchtime. We bought all our own food , as there are no rest stop food courts along the way. Sandwiches for lunch and fresh local smoked salmon for dinner.
Our car – A 4 wheel drive Ford Escape rented from North Alaska Tours. It comes equipped with a CB radio as cell service is only available in Coldfoot and Deadhorse, not on the road itself. Behind the car is the Deadhorse gas station – at $7.19 a gallon it’s 30 cents cheaper than Coldfoot. Though the fuel comes directly from under the ground, it has to travel thousands of miles to be refined and trucked back again
Dinner in Coldfoot. Salmon, cheese, sausage and spirits. Drinking in private is legal in “damp ” zones of Alaska. Some areas are completely dry.,including the secure zone at Prudhoe Bay.
Tracks of a young bear in what appears to be very soft sand – evidently not quicksand.
Entering the Brooks Range – separate from the Rockies to the South – about 5500 feet and still a fair amount of snow in June.
Scientific station at Toolik.
Musk Ox. A smaller member of the Buffalo family . Some of the best meat I have ever tasted – but did not have it this time. One would have to know a licensed hunter in season.
A river having just thawed out on the first day of summer. SEE THE VIDEO ABOVE.
A lodge at Coldfoot Camp.
Crossing a river near the Brooks Range.
Dalton Highway Panorama.
Leaving Coldfoot Camp Northbound.
Leaving the Brooks Range for the North Slope.
The sun rises on May 15th and doesn’t set till July 29th. We were there at the exact solstice at 0658 AKDT on 21-6 . ( 1058 EDT)
Prudhoe Bay is a town of 3000 people with no permanent residents. Workers are there 2 weeks and one week off. 7 days a week,12 hours a day. 0600 to 1800 and 1800 to 0600. Most live in Texas or Oklahoma and are flown back there between shifts, although a a few live in Anchorage and Fairbanks. Average salary is $ 150,000 a year, with many making much more. Right now 300,000 barrels a day are pumped. In the 1970s there were over 2 million barrels pumped a day. The machinery of the wells in encased in concrete to prevent freezing in 60 below temperatures in the winter.
At last , the Arctic Ocean. On the first day of summer, the ice has melted along the edges ,but is still a solid sheet further out. We swam in the 32 degree water ( 0C ) The air was 37 ( 2.5) TotalAdventure has now swam in all 4 Oceans ! Saltwater freezes at 28 F, -2.8 C. SEE THE VIDEO ABOVE FOR THE SWIMMING !
2700 miles across is the Norway/Karelia Russia border. Chukotka Krai , Russia is 650 miles West and Yukon Territory ,Canada is about 120 miles East. The North Pole is 20 degrees or 1200 Nautical Miles.
Swimming Amongst the Arctic Ocean Ice Floes in Zero Centigrade.
$ 219 a night room at Deadhorse. Comfortable beds, very hot shower down the hall and laundry ! The very hot shower was great after the swim.
Returning South On The Dalton. Though the land looks green and marshy during the eight week melt season, it is actually a desert. There is only 5 inches of precipitation annually, most of that in the form of snow, though we had a cold rain for a few hours. When the snow melts ,it has no where to go because of permafrost below and the weak sun can’t evaporate it.
Spanish motorcycle crew at Coldfoot – they have come all the way from Tierra del Fuego.
Icy River !
Back In Fairbanks At Last . 1020 miles round trip and now, in 80 degree weather we viewed Mt. Denali ( McKinley) from over 130 miles away. The 20,000 foot mountain is eternally snow covered.TotalAdventure flew to McKinley Base Cap twice in 2016.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE FOR THE WHOLE EXPERIENCE !
From September 14th to September 17th, TotalAdventure travelled on the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage north to Talkeetna, back to Anchorage and South to Seward as well as whistle stops in glacier areas. The video shows a compilation of the entire trip, along with the the incredible adventure experiences offered in each area.
On the morning of the 14th, we left Anchorage on the Denali Star Train at 7:50 AM for the 3 hour ,150 mile ride North to Talkeetna. As Gold Star passengers we were seated in a glassed roofed upper deck, with an outdoor balcony for photography and viewing.Upon arrival at the tiny frontier town we passed Nagley’s Store. The Denali Star Train goes all the way to Fairbanks – an 8 hour journey. Fairbanks is Alaska’s second largest city and serves as a Gateway to the Arctic.
After lunch we walked to the security – free , private, Talkeetna Airport for our incredible flight on K2 Aviation to the Denali Base camp, where climbers for Mt.McKinley begin their 2 week climb to the Summit. Experience the flight in the blog posts below.
Afterwards we were invited for cocktails at the incredibly beautiful Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge – 5 Star Luxury Rooms with ample views of Mt.Denali on a clear day. A simple, but hearty dinner was enjoyed at Mountain High Pizza Pie – real Italian style from the owner who hailed from Pittsburgh.
After a long day we returned to our rustic inn, the Talkeetna Roadhouse , for a good night’s sleep. TotalAdventure stayed up a few hours editing the incredible aviation footage for the video featured on the Mt.Denali post below.
The next morning, Thursday the 15th, our group split in to two. The bravest of us, including TotalAdventure went Ziplining with Denali Zipline Tour.
The rest went on a jetboat adventure with Mahay’s Jet Boat Adventures. The rivers run fast and cold, fed by Mt.Denali’s glaciers. Interesting fact – the snow that falls today on Mt. McKinley will flow into the river 1500 years from now. The boat stops at a remote dock for a wilderness hike, observing old trapper and miner cabins. The guides are armed with shotguns in case of bear attacks – which thankfully have not happened.
After lunch we were treated to a tour of the Denali Brewing Company by founder Sassan Mossanen. Denali Brewing products accompanied many of our meals on the trip. Alaskans drink almost the entire production – so unfortunately none is yet exported to the Lower 48.
Early the next morning, Friday, September 16th at 6:45 Am we boarded the Coastal Classic Train for the 5 hour journey to Seward . It was a short walk from the depot to the town docks, where we boarded a Kenai Fjords Tour Boat for an incredible North Pacific Adventure- see below.
At the end of the day, chilled to the bone, we checked into our toasty warm cabins at the Seward Windsong Lodge. That night , we feasted at the hotel’s restaurant – the Resurrection Roadhouse – on local seafood delicacies of halibut and cod – fresh, not frozen.
Our final day on the Alaska Railroad Adventure was on the Glacier Discovery Train. Our group rode to the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop to kayak across an icy lake to the Spencer Glacier. We were guided by Ascending Path ( See Below). The Alaska Railroad is one of the last railroads in the world to use whistle stops. The railroad serves remote areas that don;t warrant a station. Rather, a passenger tells a conductor at what milepost he wants to stop and notifies the engineer with a whistle. When getting back on the train, days or weeks later – the passenger stands by the tracks and flags down the passing train.
Our final night was at the Alyeska Resort – Alaska’s ‘s most luxurious hotel, with beautiful ski slopes overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The season goes from mid November to almost May, with snow measured in feet,not inches. Our final dinner- at 10 PM – reached by cable car – was at the mountain top restaurant Seven Glaciers – amazing Alaskan seafood, Kobe beef – best of all Spencer Glacier ice in our whiskey glasses.
TotalAdventure has journeyed on many of the world’s railroads, as you can see throughout our blog .The Alaska Railroad is amongst the best run – and certainly one of the more luxurious trains one can take for a daytrip. Other US train lines do not even begin to compare. Now that winter is approaching the line scales back for one weekly trip – The Aurora Winter Train !
Please scroll below, for all the Alaska Adventures !
On Saturday September 17th we rode the Alaska Railroad to the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop. Our expert guides from Ascending Path met us for the short trip to a lake where we donned head gear and kayaked two miles across a frigid ice filled lake.
The 28 degree water is deadly cold. No matter how good a swimmer you may be you do not want to flip over without a drysuit.
The ice is 10,000 years old and showing its’ age.
In the Blue Room.
TotalAdventure in the Blue Room.
Late summer calving into the lake.
Autumn colors with ice.
All geared up and ready to go.
On Friday , September 16 we boarded the 6:45 Coastal Classic Train at the Anchorage train station. The three hour jouney follows the coastline south of Anchorage, with occasional sightings of Beluga whales out the window ! The train then traverses the mountains of Chugach National Forest before arriving at Seward. At Seward it was a short walk to the dock.
We boarded the Coastal Explorer , a sturdy sightseeing craft operated by Kenai Fjords Tours. For the next six hours we explored the northernmost points of the Pacific Ocean, at 60 Degrees North.
Looks like Hawaii, but with snow. Last winter’s snow still on upper slopes with new snow starting soon.
American Bald Eagle in Seward Harbor.
Otter playing and hunting for fish.
Seals relaxing on a warm ( for them ) 40 degree day.
Blue ice from Glacier to Ocean.
Incredible Oceanic Geology.
Fishing village near Seward.
The Alaska Railroad Adventure continued the next morning, September 15th. Early morning showers let up and TotalAdventure , always expanding beyond previous comfort zones, was soon enjoying hurtling through the forests and over lakes at 30 MPH.
Denali Zipline Tours is an amazing experience, with very patient and knowledgable guides who perfom a short training session before embarking on the treetop adventure.
On our first day of the Pre-Summit 2016 Adventure our group departed Anchorage on the Alaska Railroad for a beautiful three hours journey to Talkeetna. After lunch we arrived at the local airport for an incredible flight to the Mt.Denali basecamp. Until recently known as Mt.McKinley , it is tallest mountain in North America, at 20,310 feet. 6249 Meters.
K2 Aviation flew our group in 2 planes.
At Talkeetna the temperature was a relatively mild 53 degrees. At the Basecamp it was 20 degrees ( -7 )C ) with 3 feet ( 1m) of fresh powder .It is always winter here.
TotalAdventure – On Top Of The World.
Extremely difficult ice walls – some of which have never been climbed. K2 Pilots are highly skilled – most have been flying the route for over 20 years. Weather is dangerous at all times of the year and quick decisions have to be made.
TotalAdventure may return to Denali next week with more footage.
Tomorrow Morning TotalAdventure boards American Airlines in Miami for a three hour flight to Dallas. After a two hour layover, TA boards a 6 hour and 45 minute flight to Anchorage , Alaska, finally arriving 12 hours after leaving Miami. We are taking part in next week’s Adventure Travel World Summit following the Press Trip sponsored by the State of Alaska. It is promised that there is WiFi in all hotels – so stay tuned for daily updates of Alaskan Adventure !
On Month From Today – TotalAdventure will board an Alaska Railroad train from Anchorage for a National Parks Adventure. Our group – the guests of the Railroad and the Alaska Tourism Corporation will fly with K2 Aviation over glaciers in Denali National Park, and Zipline with Denali Zipline Tours . We’ll then travel by luxury train to Seward and on to Kenai Fjords National Park where we will board a glacier and wildlife cruise. Our group will also hike back country at Exit Glacier . Later on the third day we board the Glacier Discovery Train to kayak and ice climb with Ascending Path on the Spencer Glacier. Our final night is at Alyeska Resort.
The National Park Adventure leads up to this years’s Adventure Travel World Summit , starting on September 19th in Anchorage , Alaska. The Summit, with leaders of the world’s top adventure travel companies, is in an exciting new location every year – in the recent past – Chile,Ireland,Namibia,Switzerland,Mexico,Canada,Brazil,Norway and Seattle.
More updates as the adventure approaches. During the trip TotalAdventure will have daily post,videos and photos.
On the first leg of the trip back to the USA we flew over Greenland. The entire way was clear – very rare for late March.
Mountains accessible only by dogsled or on snowshoes.
Atlantic ice shelf. Soon to give birth to icebergs.
Icelandair Flight 631.
Some open water.
Southwest Cape – onwards to Labrador !
For Adventures In Greenland CLICK HERE.
Today was a relatively light day with only 200 km on the road. First above the beautiful Arctic City of Akeryuri to Hliarfjall Ski . Though there is only 600m ( 1900 ft ) of vertical it looks delightful – fresh powder, no line ( there were only about 8 people on the whole mountain) . All for about $ 30 a day – far less than US ski prices – now over $ 100 a Day !
We then headed west to Hvanneyri, on the way to Westfjords. Once again we encountered wind and snow, though not the blizzard conditions of yesterday.
Typical house of Akeryuri.
An early Prime Minister of Modern Iceland immortalized in Akeryuri’s Lutheran Cathedral.
Oceanic Ice ! Not quite the Arctic Ocean, but the Greenland Sea, which leads from the Atlantic to the Arctic Ocean.
Evening snowfall in Hvanneyri.
For Adventures In Iceland CLICK HERE.