Monday, September 7, 2009

Sun, Sept 6: Houston (Alaska)

After a good night’s sleep, we mess around with house keeping chores until afternoon. Then, as the weather is still very nice, we decide to make a circle drive over Hatcher Pass which is northeast of our camp ground.

First, we head back north about 12 miles to Willow where we turn east on Hatcher Pass Road.
The first 11 miles are paved but in fairly poor condition. Then we hit gravel and the road steadily deteriorates as we climb up toward the pass. Hunters are out in force and we stop once to put out a smouldering campfire that some "sportsmen" had left. The campsite is filthy with cans, human waster, toilet paper and spent shotgun shells everywhere. The Haul Road drivers didn't think too highly of the hunters...maybe we now know why!

Moving on up the pass, the scenery gets more and more spectacularbut the road becomes a series of giant potholes!The fastest we can drive safely is about 10-15MPH. But, taking it slow, we enjoy the scenery.We see many families out picking blueberries and the traffic on the road is quite heavy to be such a lousy road. Toward the top of the pass, we see mine tailings spilling down the side of a mountainand one mine operation that is still working.At the top of the pass is Summit Lake and the parking area is crowded with cars and trucks. Many people are picnicking by the lake so we join them.There are several people hang-gliding off the cliff face down into the valley.Once they get to the bottom, there is a truck waiting to run them back up the hill for another go.It sure looks like fun. Just past the lake, the road heads steeply downhill and we pick up pavement again and head down the valley.In the distance are the mountains near the Glenn Highway and we can see hanging glaciers in them.As the valley levels out, we turn right toward Wasilla and then back north on the Parks Highway to Houston and our campground. The total trip is 82 miles and 23 of it is an extremely rough road. It is fun on a pretty day but we would not try it if it was wet.

Back at the rig, we fix hashbrowns and hamburgers for dinner. Dick then cooks up two pounds of sausage to freeze. That makes cooking breakfast much faster and easier. Carolyn works on the blog and night comes on about 9:30PM.
It is amazing how much sooner night is falling as the days pass. Sunrise and sunset are coming four to five minutes later and earlier each day. When we got to Fairbanks on August 23, sunset was at 9:42PM. Today it is at 8:50PM! A month from now it will set at 6:57PM and the sun will not rise until 8:18AM.

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