Although people have lots of ominous things to say about driving in Alaska, we knew from past experience that the Top of the World, the road that takes us from Chicken, Alaska to Dawson City, Yukon Territory deserves its challenging reputation. The road is aptly named, climbing to 4,300 feet and winding from one mountain past to the next. At times the road is on the spine of the mountain range, buffeted by winds. And most importantly the road is dirt/gravel and very narrow. The locals in Chicken told us that every summer 4 - 14 RV’s take a dive on the soft shoulders and roll into the valley. That’s a cheery thought! And it was raining when we awoke yesterday, making the soil more slippery and the shoulders softer. So we were chicken in Chicken and decided to wait one more day for better weather. And this time our wait was rewarded with some sun shine. As we waited in the campground, a caravan of twenty rigs rolled in, totally covered with mud. If we had left as scheduled, we would have shared the narrow road with them coming from the other direction. Sometimes being chicken is being smart. As these RV’s plugged themselves in, the already limited electricity produced by the campground generator, kept going down. Our electronic control module shut down and we had to use the generator. The internet also became strained. I could download one email every 3 - 5 minutes.
In the sunshine the Top of the World highway was magnificent. On the Alaska side we passed numerous tents and folks zipping around on ATV’s. The caribou hunting season has opened and these folks had purchased $350 permits to fill their freezers. The Canadians are far less gun hungry and there was no such activity after we crossed the border. Occasionally it sprinkled a bit and at the top snow flurries swirled. But the sun kept peaking between the clouds, illuminating the dark spruce against the red and orange ground cover.
We averaged about 20mph and jittered down the washboard road. Our equipment came through it all muddy, dusty, but intact. The road ended at the Yukon River with a short ferry ride to Dawson City. It was not large enough for both our rigs to cross at the same time, but no one was waiting and we were both back on land in fifteen minutes.