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[pct-l] re: Hiking in Alaska

Sorry all about the non-PCT reply, but here goes.  

I spent three springs and summers on the North Slope assisting plant 
ecologist/physiologist on global warming research. I did some hiking and 
driving from our camp at Toolik Lake, about 120 miles south of Prudoe B. I'd 
have to dig-up some materials to get exact names and locations. But here's 
my two cents for now. Two hiking spots from the haul road immediately come 
to mind one north of Atigan Pass on the east side of the haul road across 
from the airstrip, an east trending canyon that has a waterfall, and if I 
remember correctly, through a hole/window in a hike rock outcrop (believe it 
or not). I can't remember the name of the canyon or airstrip, I can dig this 
up. As I recall it was the only canyon had a spire or pyrimadal-like rock 
formation from Atigan, north.  Another spot was about 45 minutes (?) north 
of Toolik Lake, across from the Highway Maintenence Station (I don't recall 
the name of that station). The peak is called Slope Mountain, and makes for 
a nice dayhike.

Both places were great for Dahl Sheep sightings (you can often see the sheep 
from the road on the dark shale slopes). Like most places up there in the 
summer, mosquitos are the worst I've ever been in (you could literally see a 
cloud of them following someone). Of course, everything is cross-country, 
and walking can be slow and tiring on the tussuck tundra, characterised by 
foot-high grass mounds. Its very wet spoungy between the mounds, and feet 
can get chilled pretty quickly depending on the height of the permafrost 
below the surface. I've reached permafrost as high as about 5" below the 
moss. Some days I'd wear very supportaive boots while hiking, other days 
because of the cold ground, Sorels, with back-up liners (in the car or back 
at camp (one pair drying-out of perspiration). 

The haul road. I'm not sure what the gas situation is like there, now that 
they've opened the road to the public. When we were working there, we had an 
account at the DOT stations to sign for gas. No credit cards or money was 
exhanged. You'll need to look into this, as this still might be a problem 
beyond tourist places like Coldfoot and Yukon. There's a great 
geology/physiology guide of the Dalton Highway/Haul road. I'll dig up the 
author's name if you want. The conditions of the road changes dramatiacally. 
Its well maintained, but after a rain or other event, it might be a few days 
until a blade can reach a certain section. Rocks thrown-up from trucks can 
be a problem, but rocks thrown-up from your own vehicle can be as well. If 
you can afford the cost and the room, bring two full-size spare tires. I've 
gone through my share of tires up there. Also bring a gas tank puncture 
repair putty. Rocks rupturing fuel tanks are common. It happened to me.

Email me directly for further info.

-Ken Marlow
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