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Built in 1942, the original Alaska-Canada highway was a monumental war-time collaboration between the US and Canada to create a lifeline to Alaska and support US operations in the Pacific.

Griffin Post and Teton Gravity Crew continue north to Valdez on the Alcan Highway.

WE’RE GOING 55MPH. . . SIDEWAYS. The ice-glazed roads have finally proved victorious over our tires, and we’re doing all we can not to plow into the snowbanks. Our predicament is exacerbated by the 7,000lb snowmobile trailer that’s currently driving us from behind.

The car turns one way, the trailer the other, until the weight of the trailer wins and repeats the scenario in the opposite direction. What’s worse, unlike a normal fishtail on snow-packed roads, this seems to be incredibly drawn out. For 20 seconds we hurtle out of control into the black night until, somewhat miraculously, we lose enough speed, the trailer falls in line, and we regain control.

There’s a certain romanticism in one’s survival depending on red gas cans, a vehicle, and, at times, the kindness of strangers. Driving a 22ft trailer 2,200 miles to Alaska in the middle of winter might sound like cruel punishment to most people. In some regards, I suppose it is.

While the roads have been improved and few of the original bridges remain, the sense of adventure and isolation is largely unchanged. Dawson Creek, BC, is the official start of the Alcan, although our journey began 1,200 miles south in Jackson, WY. From Dawson the highway heads north through British Columbia and outposts such as Sasquatch Crossing, Nugget City, and Trails North.

Each stop has its own Alcan claim to fame — the largest hat collection, a signpost forest, the location where the north and south highway crews met — each offering a touristy, albeit much needed, break from the white and yellow line.

Although the road has its fair share of manmade attractions, the natural beauty and solitude separate the drive from any other road trip — mountains that seemingly rise from nowhere and stretch on forever, hot springs one could soak in for days, and wildlife that’s as majestic as it is dangerous for drivers. All of it draped in the orange glow of a mid-winter sun that never climbs high on the horizon.

Now in the middle of the Yukon, with all eight tires headed the same direction, we continue our journey. There’s an itch to get to our final destination — Valdez, Alaska — but not the same sense of urgency that usually accompanies a road trip. Driving the Alcan, there’s a feel of “we’ll get there when we get there.” Theoretically, we could make the drive in about a day and half, but it’d be a disservice to the road to make such haste.

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About The Author

Griffin Post

An icon in the skiing world, Griffin Post has either won or placed in the top three of nearly a dozen events on the Freeskiing World Tour. He is sponsored by The North Face, Smith, and Jackson Hole, among several others.

  • Gregssong

    well, this brings back memories I cannot remember because I was 3 in 1947 when my “crazy” parents in a 1940 Chevy pulled a trailer up the newly opened to civilians “Alcan” Highway … my sister was 11 months old … at one pt the car or trailer busted a spring and they had to wait 10 days for a new one to come up from the Lower 48 … in Anchorage an old man tried to attempt my dad w staying to help him work a gold mine somewhere north of “town” … my folks ran outta money several times, but they’d stop and my dad would find some work for a week, and then they’d go until their money ran out again … my folks had many highlights in their lives, but that trip was the highlight of all highlights … why they were crazy enough to go way back then I don’t know, but I have always been super proud of them … my mother held on for a long life and made her “final trip”  just a month ago … blessings on all pioneers and adventurers everywhere !!!

  • Gregssong

    gee, I forgot to add a friend and I went up the highway in 1966 … at one pt I got out to take a foto … 80 miles up the road I noticed my wallet missing … we backtracked those 80 miles, and there was my wallet still lying in the middle of the road … not much traffic even in 66 … I remember the mosquitoes and driving in daylight at 2 am … a rich lady we met in Anchorage offered to pay our way back if we drove our car to Skagway and took the Ferry thru the inland passage … we did and she did … I remember as a 21 y.o. I fell in love w an Indian woman at some venue outside of Anchorage … maybe I shoulda looked up that old gold miner my folks had met…see if he still needed a “partner”  … me staying there and my folks woulda had an excuse to drive the “Alcan” again … 

  • Eva14

    “The Yukon territory is the true definition of wilderness and isolation. Very little has changed since the days of Jack London.”

    This’ll be news to all my iPhone-caressing, Starbucks-latte-drinking Yukon-residing neighbors… ;)

  • Vikki

    I hitchhiked up the Alcan in 1966 with another girl. We were from California and had never experienced winter. I remember standing on the side of the road for hours before a lone truck would come by. We stopped along the way to work as waitresses at a cafe frequented by loggers. I was surprised one day to see a fellow park his bicycle outside the cafe and come in to ask for pie ala mode. I put the pie slice in a paper bag and asked what I should do with the ice cream. “Just put a scoop in the bag with the pie,” he said. “It’ll never melt.” He got back on his bike and pedaled off down the ice covered road. 

  • Dominick Lemas

    I love the blog!! Driving the ALCAN during the winter is excitement tempered with real danger. A buddy and me drove my Jeep Liberty from Alaska to Alabama in January 2011. Such a good trip. We also created a blog ( http://tammaq.blogspot.com/). It is fun to look back over the trip and remember the people, places, and the views. 

  • Sergio Lopez

    tremenda aventura!

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