Wednesday, August 16th, 2006
I pass through the road construction area at 6:30 AM just as the road crews are beginning to work. I look into their faces remembering their comments in the Camp dining hall. Strangely, l’ll miss them too. It seems I’ve become attached to the road and all associated with it. But, this turns out to be a very difficult walking day. The rain comes early and only clears for short periods of time. Going up the many mountain passes and then back down is painful and I struggle. At 7 PM I am still climbing and exhausted when a pick up truck pulls up to me. In a strong southern accent the young man says “I got a seventeen foot oversized load coming. I’d sure appreciate it if you would step off the road when you see it approaching.”
By 8PM my left heel is in pain. And then suddenly it is over. I have walked the Dalton Road, 415 miles, from top to bottom. Am I ready for Stage 2 ??????????????
Tuesday, August 15th, 2006
This is my last night at the Yukon River Camp. I am nostalgic as I look out over the muddy river. It has been difficult walking on the Dalton. But I will miss it.
Monday, August 14th, 2006
The Yukon River Camp is cramped with construction workers working on the road. Most are from Alaska and are here on a four month contract working ten hour days seven days a week. Brad Weese from Fairbanks tells me it is hard being away from his wife but the money is good. “When the road gets icy in February it is really dangerous” he reminds me. I tell him I have walked 20 miles a day for the last four days. He is impressed, I think.
Monday, August 7th, 2006
More rain. Despite the nightly showers I remain mud encrusted. In the down pour, just as I am feeling sorry for my self two bicyclists pass. They are from the Netherlands and have traveled over 1000 miles from Calgary, Canada. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The roads in Siberia are worse than this Dalton RoadÃ¢â‚¬Â, they say. And off they bike into the evening mist.
Sunday, August 6th, 2006
I walk hard all day completing 22.5 miles. I feel I have earned the right to drive 70 miles to Coldfoot camp for a hot meal and a warm bed. Oh, I also took a shower!
Coldfoot, mile #175 on the Dalton Road. This was a former mining camp during the gold rush era. The saloons and dance hall girls re gone. Now Coldfoot is a truck stop. It is still 240 mile south to the next meal and bed along the desolated Dalton. College students here for the summer are the staff. The temperature was 60 degrees below zero in its worst winter. Once, summer temperatures reached 98.
I spend four nights in Coldfoot walking more than 20 miles each day and eating like a king, I convince myself, at night.
Saturday, August 5th, 2006
After breakfast of a peanut butter sandwich and coffee the morning sun motivated me. I walk 13 miles up and down large hills. The lone walker approached carrying a large back pack and a tent slung round his waist. Iv’e been waking for two and a half years”, he related. “I started in Mexico City, walked more than 10,000 miles, and when I reach Deadhorse I am finally going back to my home in Switzerland.” I felt very inadequate compared to this true trekker.
I returned to repair the ATV trailer and then the rain came hared and furious. Covered with mud I ate pretzels smothered with peanut butter. Carefully I read the directions and for the first time in my life used a tire plug kit to repair the tire and with a small compressor plugged into the campers lighter inflated the tire. More rain. I returned to the river bank for another night in the camper and a second can of ravioli. I wondered if I was loosing weight.
Friday, August 4th, 2006
I saw the wolf sniffing around a small creek right along the road. I gripped my pepper spray, held my bear bells to silence them and wobbled on faster. In a flash though the wolf was on the road moving toward me. We both stopped and exchanged stares. I started walking slowly. The wolf followed picking up the pace. He was half the size of a horse with long silver hair. His light color eyes glared at me in the early morning sun. Steadily he closed the distance between us. Then a large tractor trailer roared by. The wolf ran into the woods but came back on the road still pursuing his game, me! The truck driver slammed on his breaks and sped the big rig in reverse toward me. Is that your dog, I replied. It is a wolf. Unfazed the predator still came toward me. Afraid I jumped on the running board of the truck and we sped away.
Thursday, August 3rd, 2006
My ATV trailer had another flat tire. A hunter approaches. Your not going to leave that trailer here are you? The truckers need this as a pull over spot. He gripped his cross bow firmly as his young son peered at him from the pick up truck. “NO”, I said with a smile as the hunter walked off into the tundra in search of Caribou. I secure the trailer to a bridge abutment and kept walking.
Saturday, July 29th, 2006
Dense fog covers Deadhorse. I drive to the start of the Dalton Road and start my Dream Walk. The tundra is cold and bleak in the morning mist. I wobble along quickly until the sun finally is bright and complete 24 miles for the day.
Thursday, July 27th, 2006
Anxious to experience walking the dirt pack Dalton Road I walk 2 miles south before breakfast sipping coffee I brewed in the camper. After breakfast I walk five miles north. The heavily forested area makes me leery of bears so I ware my bare bells and whistle for the first time. Then I drive 240 miles to the Coldfoot services. There is nothing in between except beautiful, extremely desolate wooded terrain.