Sunday, August 5, 2012

From North Pole to Eagle

8/2 We finally leave Fairbanks and head to North Pole. Santa Claus House is the place to go. We sit on Santa's lap and have fun shopping for Christmas presents.

At the turnoff after Tok we head on the road to Chicken. We have driven quite a ways for us and turn off to stop at the West Fork Campground.

The site William picks has a bench overlooking a lake. I listen hard and hear some bird sounds, gray jays and ravens. I also hear a few frog croaks. This is amazing. There is only one frog in Alaska and no other reptiles or amphibians. Only the wood frog. It survives by freezing solid in the winter and thawing out in the spring.

Johna's Lake. Croak croak

8/3 The campground hosts Mitch and Jan are very friendly. When we express an interest in blueberry picking they take us to a patch down the road from the campground. We picked a full quart of berries. Enough for two small berry cobblers.

“Beautiful Downtown Chicken” is our next stop. We stop for lunch at the Chicken Cafe and meet some bikers from North Carolina who are also truckers. They plan to fill out applications to be ice road truckers, just for fun.

Beautiful Downtown Chicken

There are three competing Chickens. Gold Camp is where the Holland America bus comes. You can tour the dredge, pan for gold, pet the puppies, ride the wheeled sled and shop at the gift shop.
chicken statue at Gold Camp

Giant gold dredge at Gold Camp

 We shopped at the gift shop in “Beautiful Downtown Chicken.” Each “Chicken” has an RV park, but we choose to stay outside of town at the Walker Fork Campground, another BLM campground. You can't beat the $5 price for seniors.
The fireweed is almost at the top. When it is at the top summer is over.

Before we get to the turnoff to the campground we come upon the scene of an RV accident. A big rig pulling a tag vehicle hit the soft shoulder and slid down the bank landing over on the passenger side. This happened the day before so the people had been rescued uninjured. Now the problem was how to drag this big bus RV up to the road. It is a pretty long way down. We eventually heard that they needed two tow trucks, a tractor and a motor grader as dead men, to pull it up.

8/4 The dirt road has been smooth sailing. Much better than the gravel roads we hit in the Yukon, so William decides we should go all the way to Eagle. The road goes on forever into the trackless wilderness. At mile 109 an elk runs down the road in front of us at speeds up to 32 mph.

At the bridge over the historic mining river of Fortymile there is a rest stop that answers the age old question.
Do bears shit in the woods? Not if the government builds them an outhouse.

At mile 160 we arrive in Eagle. We had planned to lunch in the Riverside Cafe. The best, only, restaurant in town according to the Lonely Planet we had. But the Cafe washed away in the flood when the ice on the Yukon broke up in the first week of May 2009.
The sign on the building is the high water mark quite far from the Yukon.  With  high snow and high water the river juat broke up the town at break up.
We watched a video on the flood and then went to a pie social at the Improved Order of the Red Men Hall. They only have these once a year and we were just in time.
Sign on the wall in the red men hall

before the flood

Looking back at the town. The Yukon is a big river.

We are camping at a BLM campground outside of town and will go on a docent led walking tour of town Sunday. It will be a long slow trip to Dawson so we will get up early Monday morning to head out.
8/5 On the tour:
Old Episcopal church

Old Arctic Cat, first snowmobile

Upstairs in the NCO quarters at  Fort Egbert

The Eagle airstrip
Much of the tour was of the restored buildings of Fort Egbert. We thought there might have been more walking about the streets of Eagle. But many historic buildings went down in the flood.
Off to Dawson early in the morning.

1 comment:

reinette said...


I'm so sorry to hear about Eagle's flood. I didn't know this and I have fond memories of it. This is the place I started my trek, skiing across Alaska.

What a beautiful journey you are having. I wish I could be there!