AK Chronicles: The road
[Editor's note: This is part one in a series called AK Chronicles on TGR's travels in Alaska while filming for their new movie. Stay tuned for future installments.]
As a skier, I've had the privilege of traveling to far off places with too much gear, not enough money, and always a day behind schedule. The swings of misfortune along the way often end up being some of the most memorable parts of the adventure. I've had my luggage lost for a week, drive-trains fall out of trucks in the middle of nowhere, and I once bought 40 packs of Marlboro Reds to "tip" Russians with, only to find out that nobody where I was in Russia smokes Marlboro Reds. So, in many ways a drive up the Alaska-Canada (AlCan) Highway is an adventure in itself.
The 1,387-mile highway (in addition to the 1,200-mile drive from Jackson, Wyo., to the start of the AlCan) is one of the most isolated stretches of black top in North America. Small towns pepper the drive, but travelers are urged to carry their own gas as stations are often closed during the winter or charge prices upwards of $7 a gallon. While winter travel is dangerous -- at times ice-skating seemed like a more viable method of transportation -- those people that take on the adventure are rewarded with one of the most scenic drives in the world. Mountains seem to stretch on forever, herds of caribou roam free, and a sun that barely seems to make it much above the horizon paints everything in a pink alpenglow. At the end of the road, our road at least, is Valdez, Alaska. If there's a better way to rejuvenate one's psyche than riding mountains that seem to be made for big mountain skiing, I'm unaware of it.