Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska – Day 6 & 7

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

Friday Day 6

Friday’s adventure would start with us winding through a pretty narrow canyon eventually directing us onto a long narrow ridge trail. The ridge at times was just wide enough for the track width of the JK as it snaked along debris covered Castner Glacier in the Red Rock Canyon.

Day 6 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

The ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited traveling on a narrow ridge that runs along the Castner

Eventually the ridge came to an end dumping us on what would be best described as river rock, part of the former path of a the glacier. We drove as far as possible before stopping for lunch.

Day 6 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

Lunch break on Day 6.

On the way back down, we took another route that took us to a cool little unnamed alpine lake where we grouped the Jeeps together for a quick group photo just as the rain started to fall.

Day 6 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

All the members posing in front of a remote, unnamed lake.

Back on the trail for a bit more and we quickly ended up at College Creek, where after a short walk, we were greeted by a questionable suspension bridge that crosses the creek on the way to the Gulkana Glacier.

Day 6 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

A few of the members venturing over a suspension bridge, a footpath to the Gulkana Glacier.

A few of us ventured over the bridge to quickly return after making the trip over the creek. After, we were back on the trail on our way to the last night of JKX in Glennallen.

Saturday Day 7

On the final day of JKX, we found ourselves in the the Knik River Public Use Area. After airing down in the parking lot, we entered the trail system passing lakes with the locals fishing, small sand dunes and crossing several deep waters crossings.

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

Aired down ready for the day’s adventure.

The water level became high enough that we could no longer travel the dry river bed forcing us into tight, winding trails through the forest and brush. Once entering the trail, the trail became very tight and muddy with deep water filled ruts. This section of the trailed seemed to go forever before kicking us back out on the river bed where we traveled until we reached the most spectacular view of the entire trip, the Knik Glacier.

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

Navigating a pretty narrow ridge on the way to the Knik Glacier.

After what seemed like a long time traveling through tight, muddy trails, river rock and crossing several creek/river crossings, we were suddenly surprised by a small bay filled with floating icebergs that were being deposited by the Knik Glacier.

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

First views of the Knik Glacier on Day 7.

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

View of the Knik Glacier on day 7.

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

View of the Knik Glacier on day 7.

We lined the Jeeps up with the icebergs and glacier behind the Jeep and enjoyed one of the most spectacular lunch locations possible via Jeep. What a way to cap off the week long 2016 JK Experience in Alaska.

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

Group photo in front of the Knik Glacier.

After enjoying lunch, we all lined up next to our Jeeps for one last group photo before heading back to the pavement on our way back to where we started, Anchorage. We were greeted by local Jeep enthusiasts waiting for us at the Peanut Farm restaurant and grill where we were scheduled to have one last dinner together before parting ways, aka the “Survivor’s Dinner.”

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

The ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited in front of the Knik Glacier.

We exchanged stories from the week, ate great food and consumed beverages. Then it was time to say goodbye to new friends as we parted ways. What a week in Alaska and memories for a lifetime.

Previous Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska Posts:
Project Quickstand – Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska
Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska – Day 1 & 2
Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska – Day 3
Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska – Day 4 & 5

 

Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska – Day 4 & 5

A quick stop for road construction on the Dalton Highway.

A quick stop for road construction on the Dalton Highway.

Wednesday Day 4

Driving to Deadhorse-Prudhoe Bay is on many people’s bucket lists including ours. When it was announced the night before that we would be making the 1000 mile Dalton Highway trip in two days, you could hear and see the excitement in the group.

The start of the Dal

The start of the Dalton Highway

The Dalton Highway consisted of nice smooth pavement, pothole ridden pavement, patches of gravel, roads made of river rock, full gravel and mud all with a speed limit of 55 MPH most of time. After just over 12 hours of driving on this inconsistent terrain, we reached the night’s accommodations, Deadhorse Camp in Deadhorse.

A photo of the ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited in front of the famous Arctic Circle sign.

A photo of the ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited in front of the famous Arctic Circle sign.

Shortly after the Arctic Circle sign, you can stop at a small ranger station just passed the only USA bridge to cross the Yukon river. There you can get a stamped certificate stating that you were in the Arctic Circle.

Shortly after the Arctic Circle sign, you can stop at a small ranger station just passed the only USA bridge to cross the Yukon river. There you can get a stamped certificate stating that you were in the Arctic Circle.

When you arrive in Deadhorse, you quickly find out that everything in Deadhorse is there to support the oil operations, not tourism. There really isn’t anything in the town, including food or accommodations. Luckily, we had stocked up with food in Fairbanks before leaving for Deadhorse so we had some “tasty” sandwiches waiting for us in the ARB Fridge/Freezer when we arrived and settled in.

Our "hotel" for the night in Deadhorse.

Our “hotel” for the night in Deadhorse.

If you are not traveling via a RV or van, you will be in for a surprise. Don’t expect a five-star hotel. Instead, all sleeping establishments resemble very large mobile homes that are configured in a manner like a dormitory with two twin beds per room and no toilet, but instead a large shared bathroom with showers. Most of the participants on the trip were not fazed by the rustic accommodation, instead seen it as a unique experience.

Our "hotel" for the night in Deadhorse.

Our “hotel” for the night in Deadhorse.

Later that “night” we were surprised by the staff at JKX with BBQ’ed Reindeer sausage with all the fixings. We ended the “night” standing around the BBQ, swatting at bird-sized mosquitos that were not in anyway affected by the falling rain. All while the sky was still bright enough to read your favorite issue of JP Magazine well past midnight.

Thursday Day 5

The Arctic Ocean.

The Arctic Ocean.

After a surprisingly comfortable sleep in our twin beds, we kicked the morning off with a little breakfast in the camp’s diner. Shortly after breakfast, it was off on a tour bus to the Arctic Ocean. We drove this far so we of course can’t leave without dipping our hands (some their entire bodies) in the ocean.

Old oil drums reaching out into the Arctic Ocean.

Old oil drums reaching out into the Arctic Ocean.

The only way to reach the ocean is to drive through Prudhoe Bay, a heavily secured area due to the oil operations. To do this, you must either be a credential worker in the area or be on a guide bus. After going through an armed check point, it was a just short drive to the ocean where we all had the chance to walk out and put our hands in the Arctic Ocean.

Fueling up the ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited in Deadhorse before traveling back south towards Fairbanks.

Fueling up the ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited in Deadhorse before traveling back south towards Fairbanks.

Now that most of us accomplished the Arctic Ocean bucket list item, it was time to head south backtracking our route on the Dalton Highway.

Stopped for construction on the top of Atigun Pass.

Stopped for construction on the top of Atigun Pass.

The route south was the same as heading north, just with a little more rain and mud. After a quick fuel and meal at the halfway point in the small town of Coldfoot, it was back on the road to our night’s unknown location.

The Dalton Highway was a little wetter on the way South vs on the way North.

The Dalton Highway was a little wetter on the way South vs on the way North.

After reaching permanent pavement and civilization, it was what seemed like a short drive to our next accommodation, the Hotel North Pole in the Christmas themed town of North Pole, AK.

Click here for Day 6 & 7 of the Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska

Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska – Day 3

Tuesday Day 3

Muskeg – a North American swamp or bog consisting of a mixture of water and partly dead vegetation, frequently covered by a layer of sphagnum or other mosses.

After an easy day on Monday, we were all quick to realize why Monday was an easy day. During the morning’s driver’s meeting we were told that we were going to experience a mud like no other. A mud that us lower 48’ers have no experience with, a mud called muskeg.

Airing down the Jeep before what would be a challenging muddy day.

Airing down the Jeep before what would be a challenging muddy day.

We would be traveling the Stampede Trail made famously by the mid 1990’s book and later a movie, Into the Wild. The trail began as most off road trails, a mild unapproved road.

We crossed many small water holes along with a few small creek crossings before reaching the hard section, the muskeg.

We crossed many small water holes along with a few small creek crossings before reaching the hard section, the muskeg.

We crossed many small water holes along the way with a few small creek crossings before reaching the hard section, the muskeg.

Muskeg - A North American swamp or bog consisting of a mixture of water and partly dead vegetation, frequently covered by a layer of sphagnum or other mosses.

Muskeg – A North American swamp or bog consisting of a mixture of water and partly dead vegetation, frequently covered by a layer of sphagnum or other mosses.

The ARB Jeep Wrangler JK was pretty far forward in the pack so although challenging, the ARB JK only got stuck on the final muskeg hole and required us using our Warn Zeon 12-S winch.

The ARB JK was pretty far forward in the pack so although challenging, the ARB JK only got stuck on the final muskeg hole and required us using our Warn Winch.

The ARB JK was pretty far forward in the pack so although challenging, the ARB JK only got stuck on the final muskeg hole and required us using our Warn Winch.

Once all the Jeeps were through the muskeg, the trail improved with no recovery required the remainder of the way to the fast flowing Teklanika River. If you have read the book or watched the movie Into the Wild, the Teklanika River is the river that the main character, Christopher McCandless found impassible while trying to leave the area due to a lack of food. The locals say that the river is passible by vehicles and by foot during the early spring river level. When we reached the river, the water was flowing fast and high forcing us to turn around and retrace our tracks.

We stopped for about 45 minutes and enjoyed our packed lunch next to the Teklanika River.

We stopped for about 45 minutes and enjoyed our packed lunch next to the Teklanika River.

After a short lunch break along the river it was back in the Jeeps heading towards the trailhead. Retracing our tracks back to the trailhead also meant that we would have to cross the muskeg section once again, but this time after 14 Jeep pushed through it earlier. As imagined, the conditions were a lot more difficult than the first pass requiring a majority of the Jeeps to be recovered from the almost alive muskeg, including the ARB Jeep JK requiring it’s Warn Zeon 12-S winch several times.

The ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited navigating the Muskeg a second time.

The ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited navigating the Muskeg a second time.

After an eventful day of off-roading, it was back on the pavement on the way to our night’s stay in Fairbanks to clean up the Jeep and stock up for the next day’s adventure.

The end of the Stampede trail.

The end of the Stampede trail.

That night, we found out that the next day’s adventure would be to drive to the most northern part of North America that can be reached by car, Deadhorse – Prudhoe Bay.

Click here for Day 4 & 5 of the Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska