We are all about oil in Alaska. Whether you are pro- or anti-development, taxes from oil revenues provide 90% of Alaska’s state budget. Driving North on the Dalton Hwy, or “Haul Road” as it is locally called the trans-Alaska oil pipeline is ubiquitous. The road was/is used to supply the oil fields all over the North Slope of Alaska and has been open to the public for many years. This post is a small photo tour from Fairbanks north through the Yukon River valley, Gates of the Arctic National Park, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in autumn. That’s right, its fall here already. Next week I will post about the hunt that happened at the end of this drive.
This first photo was shot from the road just North of Fox, Alaska.
We are nearing Livengood, Alaska
Yukon River out the East side of the bridge
Yukon River from the North side
The Hwy and the pipeline side by side. The vegetation around the pipeline are deciduous trees and shrubs that filled in the disturbed area when the spruce trees were cut for the pipeline access.
Nearing the Arctic Circle.
A burned stand of black spruce. This area has continuous permafrost.
Alas, we arrive in the Brook’s Range, the northern extent of the Rocky Mountains. Nice fall colors here. The light was a bit dim, obviously.
North of Coldfoot, Alaska
Chandalar Shelf, Alaska. We saw a grizzly bear a few miles in the distance here. Clearly not close enough for a photo. Note the snow line in these photos.
Gaining elevation as we head through Atigun Pass in the Brooks Range.
Searching for caribou in Atigun Pass.
This Dall sheep buried its head right when I tried to snap a photo. We stopped for a second but needed to keep moving with truck traffic coming behind. We also saw a few bull caribou being stalked by bow hunters.
We made it through the pass onto the Slope. I liked the shadow from the cloud on the mountain and the shadow created by our car. There was not a heck of a lot of sun this day.
Here the pipeline parallels the road closely again. When I first came up the haul road the sight of the pipeline bothered me. I used to research birds in the oil fields for a consulting firm years ago and really burned out on all of the infrastructure on the landscape. I have not really been up here in a number of years but this trip would certainly make me feel like I was in some wild lands as we would see a ton of wildlife in the coming days.
These last two mountain shots just show some of the variation in rock formation. They are both located in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. If you are interested in travel there I know some folks (Arctic Wild) that do rafting and backpacking tours in the ANWR.
OK. This final photo is from the next blog post and I add it because I feel I have shorted you on wildlife photos. Though there is a ton of wildlife to see in Alaska it can be a challenge to photograph- particularly if you are not even and amateur and have a point and shoot like myself. Most of my wildlife viewing happens only with a nice set of binoculars.
This is a muskox just outside the ANWR grazing away and not bothered by our presence.
That’s all for now. I will post some photos and a bit more dialogue next week about our hunts up north. We just got back and have a lot to do. Once I get some time I will write about the mountains, moose, caribou, muskox, wolf pack, fox, and sheep we saw.
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