Alaska 

Days 17 - August 27, 2009

Miles Traveled: 224 miles

Notable Stops: Left Burwash Landing Resort on Lake Kluane, crossed back into the US, Arrived in Haines

Daily High:

Daily Low:

Notable weather: Mostly sunny with some stratus clouds at Burwash then completely cloudy and rainy from the bottom of Lake Kluane to Haines

 

Today the traveling was rough.

 

Leaving Burwash

 

The day started out nice. We woke up in the parking lot of the Burwash Landing Resort where we dry camped for free. The sky was blue and there were only wisps of stratus clouds off in the distance.

 

We ate breakfast in the resort restaurant. We took a few pictures under the enormous moose head in the lobby of the resort. Then we suited up and hit the road for Haines.

 

It was pretty cold this morning and the blue sky with minimal clouds did not fool me. I knew those stratus clouds were not the tail end of a storm since yesterday was clear. I knew they had to be escorting a storm in.

 

Matt and I decided that because it was not actually raining when we left we would wear our normal cloths with our normal jackets (which are waterproof or supposed to be anyway) with our rain jackets on top.

 

It is Raining Mud!

 

We were driving along, enjoying the scenery when we got to the bottom end of Lake Klueane and were hosed with muddy rain. As this mysterious downpour of mud that closely resembled concrete showered us I removed my glove and put it over my camera to protect the camera. I told Matt we must pull over.

 

Matt finished driving through the construction zone then pulled over. As he continued to drive I could not figure out why or how it was still raining mud.

 

Once we were pulled over Matt grabbed some towels and wiped the camera off first (no, he wasn’t being insensitive, I wanted it that way). Then he wiped off my helmet, visor, jacket and pants and removed my helmet. Once I could finally see (the visor was completely covered in mud) I looked around and wondered why the rain fell so heavily on me and not Matt.

 

We both looked back at the construction site where the rain of mud came from. We saw a water truck parked on the edge of the road. It appeared to be filling its tank from the river. The river was full of glacial silt. Glacial silt resembles concrete.

 

Matt was convinced we’d been sprayed with concrete because it looked like concrete. He was very worried because it was completely covering my side of the car and trailer. I was convinced it was not concrete but the glacial silt that covers the riverbeds around here and makes all the water look chalky.

 

Matt is convinced the water truck was stuck in the mud and spinning its tires in fresh concrete and that is what hit us. Because of the hight from which we were hit with the spray and how many feet down the road the shower fanned out I am convinced the water truck accidentally sprayed us as we were driving by.

 

On the Road Again

 

After we got the muddy mess reasonably cleaned up we put our rain pants on and continued down the road. The scenery was beautiful but I didn’t have my camera out because it was in the trailer drying off. Also, I was pretty sure it was going to rain on us and I didn’t want the camera to get wet again.

 

At some point I fell asleep and was occasionally woken up by the smell of new asphalt. Matt commented that he liked this type of road repair. Being that I’d been sleep I had no idea what he was talking about until he explained the road was very smooth for the last several miles because it had new asphalt.

 

It is a Small World

 

We stopped for gas in Haines Junction. At the gas station a man approached us and started asking us about the car. Finally he asked us where we were from in California. After we told him Sacramento we asked where he is from. He responded that he is from Grass Valley. I told him I grew up there. The conversation turned to trying to figure out if our paths crossed when I was living up there.

 

I am always shocked at what a small world this really is, even when you are in a foreign country.

 

So Much Rain

 

After Haines Junction the rain really set in. It rained and it rained and it rained some more and it did not let up. It rained so much the car and trailer got clean. That was a good thing and proves we were not showered with concrete. It even rained so much our rubber waterproof rain suites started leaking. Then my waterproof snowboard jacket started leaking. Then rain started coming in my helmet even with all the vents closed. The rain that ran in my helmet then ran down my neck and directly into my bottom layers of shirts.

 

Crossing the Boarder Again

 

By the time we got to the US boarder I was soaked to the point that unzipping everything to pull the passports out of my snowboard jacket pocket was painful. Taking my helmet off so the customs agent could identify us was even more painful. After checking our passports, identifying us and asking us the typical boarder crossing questions the agent took our passports inside (to stamp them I guess) and returned with another customs agent and a camera. They asked if the second agent could take a picture of the first agent with the car and us. We happily said yes.

 

Driving away Matt and I commented to each other that the US agents today were much more friendly than the Canadian agent yesterday. (Not that the Canadian agent was rude or anything, he was just all business like his supervisor was standing behind him or something.)

 

Just over the US boarder Matt tried to call Al (who we were to meet in Haines). However, Matt’s phone didn’t have service. The gas station we’d just filled up at wouldn’t let Matt use their phone and gas station pay phone ate Matt’s dollar. Matt was unable to call Al.

 

Arriving in Haines

 

We kept hearing that the drive into Haines was the most beautiful drive imaginable. Today we had to imagine how beautiful the drive might be because it was raining and the clouds shrouded everything worth looking at except a little piece of a large glacier on top of a mountain.

 

Once in Haines we pulled into the first RV park we found and checked in. Matt called Al. Matt and I set up the tarp over the car and trailer and headed to the showers to get warmed up. When I took my outer jackets off I realized just how wet I was. Everything was soaked all the way through. Even the rubber rain suits were completely soaked through.

 

Al and Carol met us at the RV park. We all spoke for a while and agreed we’d got to lunch tomorrow afternoon.

 

After Al and Carol left we washed our cloths and ate. Now we are waiting for our cloths to dry.

 

NOTHING is Waterproof

 

It is still raining and has not stopped since we first hit rain so many miles back on the road. A few days ago I was thinking that the only things that are truly waterproof are solid rubber, solid metal and solid plastic (perhaps some other similar solid materials). Gortex is definitely not waterproof. It is, more accurately, water resistant for a longer period of time than other water resistant things. Today I determined NOTHING is truly waterproof. Given enough time and enough water, water WILL penetrate ANY material. (Don’t tell me how it’s not actually the water; it’s the minerals or chemicals in the water or the force of the water doing it. My point is water will eventually penetrate EVERYTHING.)

Jess, the Enormous Moose and Matt in the Lobby of the Burwash Landing Resort Jess with the Very Muddy Speedster After being Showered with Mud that Resembles Concrete
Jess Asleep in the Speedster at a Rest Stop Jess Asleep in the Speedster at a Rest Stop
Alaska 2009

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