We have made it up and down the Dalton highway to Deadhorse on the Prudhoe Bay so 2x 797 km. The trip was well worth it. The first 150 km is over forest covered mountains ranging from 150 m at the river crossings to almost 600 m at the top of the mountains. At several places you could see the remains of the recent forest fire. Also there is a lookout over the valley where some 20 years ago there was a large forest fire. Now you see that the hills in the distance are slowly reforesting. Different coloured patches of trees can be seen. So it is no longer a single mixed forest. We crossed the Arctic Circle for the second time and on the way back we camped there at the recently renovated campsite. After our first night on the Dalton highway camping in the open, alongside a fast flowing river, and with strong cold wind blowing all night, we drove up through the mountains and over the Atigun pass (1463m) in the Brooks range. The scenery was beautiful. Before the pass, the tree height reduced slowly and after the pass there are no trees anymore. When we drove over the pass it started to snow lightly. Due to the low visibility we drove slowly up and down in second gear. Also we did not want to slip off the road down the cliff on that slippery muddy gravel road. The skies cleared up on the north side of the mountains. First there are still low hills with streams but later it flattened out completely and we drove through the real tundra. The ground is wet so you cannot walk over it. After the pass a large herd of reindeer crossed the road. Unfortunately by the time we got the camera out we could only film how they were running away. That was not the case with the first Muskox we saw. They graze individually and look like moving boulders or tanks in the green landscape. We saw several of them both on our way up and on the return journey.
Deadhorse at the Prudhoe Bay was a disappointment. It is nothing more than a large collection of Oil contractor yards with tons of stored equipment and rigs. I assume they are all waiting for the restart of a large drilling campaign. In between the storage yards are some large accommodation blocks and a container supermarket. It is an industrial camp for oil workers. We checked what the diesel price was ($9.49 per gallon) that was already $2 more than at Coldfoot where we tanked the day before and that was already $2 more than in Fairbanks. No need to say that we did not tank there and used our 15 L jerry can to refill the car. We camped outside of Deadhorse along another fast flowing river which is draining the whole of the tundra into the bay. We had to park far enough away from the edge of the river to be sure that it did not erode away during the night to where we were parking. You can only visit Prudhoe Bay by appointment with a bus tour. We did not do this since we had already walked in the Arctic Ocean in Tuktoyaktuk Canada. At a truck stop before the turnoff to Chena, we filled up the camper again for a normal price and Rudy had a large truckers breakfast. He felt a lot better afterwards. A full stomach and a rest after another 300+ kilometres of bumpy sand and tarmac road. Note: It is only August here but the temperature is already 10 degrees or under and with the addition of cold wind it seems that winter has arrived. It doesn’t help that our camper heater is on strike. It stopped working yesterday.
The hot springs are a real local tourist attraction. We are going into the hot spring tomorrow but are now staying at the campsite. We just came back from a tour of the ice sculpture exhibition where we saw a few sculptures which have parts renewed every few months because they are slowly evaporating. It is freezing inside but they provided thick jackets if you need it. The main attraction is the ice bar where you can have a cocktail that you drink from a glass made of ice and of course the whole bar including the bar stools are made from ice too.