June 3, 2014
Today, we packed up and pulled out of the
Pioneer RV Park in Whitehorse, Yukon. We hit the
Alaska Highway for what would be our toughest day of travel.
To date, we have travel almost 5,000 miles of more good road than bad. But, today on the last leg of this journey through the Yukon, we were presented with the
roughest of roads. And, all of it in the last 100 miles before we reached the US border in Alaska.
We had places that warned us of
frost heaves. We traveled over
gravel roads, and we traveled where
there was only one lane of road, or we had to be
led by the pilot car.
According to the Milepost...
Since the Alaska Highway was first punched through the wilderness in 10 short months in 1942, this war-time road has been under reconstruction. There never seems to be a shortage of road to straighten, culverts to fix, bridges to replace, or surfaces to level out, especially along the stretch of bumpy road between the Donjek River and the Alaska border. According to Public Works Yukon, much of the soil along the northern Alaska Highway is of glacial origin and unsuitable for road embankments. Anything that causes the permafrost to melt will cause the ice-rich soil to liquefy, and liquid soil has little strength and will settle or subside. Then if this soil refreezes during lower air temperatures, it will expand or heave. This process wreaks havoc on the drivability of the road surface by creating undulations and cracking.
However, in some spots, you will see these
tent like fixtures. They are part of the Alaska Highway Permafrost Research Project, which is testing specialized construction techniques. The techniques are designed to minimize melting of the permafrost by allowing cold air to penetrate the road embankment and increasing surface reflectivity. These temperatures will be monitored over the next several years to assess their effectiveness. If the designs prove to be practical and effective, the may be used more extensively along the highway. This is an international project involving Yukon Highways and Public Works, The U.S. Federal Highways Administration and other public agencies.
But, all in all, it wasn't as bad as we had visualized. And, the beautiful
Kluane Mountain Range and Ice Fields kept our minds off the rough roads...well, mine anyway since I wasn't the one driving!
And, before we knew it, after 12 days of traveling, we were leaving Canada behind us and saying hello to the
USA and our
We are looking forward to a great summer!