Trekking Tales: North to Alaska, part one

Before starting out, we told anyone who would listen: “We’re going north.”

Before starting out, we told anyone who would listen: “We’re going north.”

“How far north?” all would ask.

“I hope we get to Fairbanks, Alaska,” was husband John’s usual response.

“It’s all new territory to me,” was my helpful contribution.

“How long will you be gone?” inevitably followed.

“One month,” John would say. “As soon as we see the first frozen pond, we head south.”

“Six weeks,” I’d say optimistically. But he was right.

John, the geologist, had worked in northern B.C. and the Yukon, being flown from northern communities to remote areas where he often stayed for months on exploration forays.

But that was decades ago, and he was keen to see what it looks like now.

Consequently, John was tour director and navigator, usually my role.

Despite much to occupy me in the months leading up to our mid-August departure date, I still had to sit on my hands to resist organizing. We both pulled it off, even though John’s route had us counting off the miles of Alaska Highway backwards.

“That’s a long way to travel in reverse,” I could not resist commenting.

Our comfortable, elderly fifth wheel was supposed to part of a trip north many years ago, but during the delays that followed, thanks to heavy cladding added to its frame, the truck’s mileage was halved (or do I mean doubled?)

Anyway, truck and RV stayed home; car and credit card would see much use.

Our back-up plan, in case of “no room at the inn” was packed into a large car-topper: tent, bedding, back-packing stove and such.

“We don’t want to open that again until we are home,” we stated. Happily, it stayed shut and its contents were dry and dust free when we opened it in our driveway a month later.

Setting the odometer’s trip meter in Little Fort, we stopped first at my bestest buddy’s home in McLeese Lake.

Next day we met Quesnel family and friends for lunch and drove to Wells to sample the irresistible fish and chips they had been telling us about.

More friends welcomed us to Prince George that evening. Despite living there for many years, they had never been on the Historical Walk; our being there provided the perfect excuse.

All of us had been connected to Prince George in 1960s and 70s, so the descriptions had special meaning, as we learned more about that time and earlier decades in that once disreputable city.

This friend’s mother remembers waiting for husband Bill there and being approached by a woman who said roughly: “Beat it. This is my corner!”

On the day we left, adding groceries to provide breakfasts and one picnic per day and filling the gas tank, we wondered what prices lay ahead. We had now run out of friends. The credit card was about to heat up!