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"two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." -- Robert Frost

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Alaska Highway in the Yukon--an introduction to frost heaves

We spent a night at the Yukon Motel and Lakeshore RV Park in Teslin, and fueled up as well. Overnight RV guests receive a fuel discount. In May, in these far north climates, the season is known as break-up, meaning ice break up but not yet entirely broken up. 

Alaska Highway shoulders can drop off sharply,  so keeping eyes on the road is important
The night proved cold enough that, in the morning when we pulled up to use the park’s sani-dump, we were unable to use it. Our valve had frozen. Hours would likely pass before any kind of thaw would naturally occur. We pressed on.

Yukon Motel and Lakeshore RV Park:

Getting ready for the Alaska Highway—portable electric heater
We brought along a small electric heater with a simple rationale. Provided we had electric power or could run our generator, we could always break the chill without drawing down our propane supply when propane might not be readily available. As it turned out, during our Alaska summer, breaking the chill was virtually a daily need.

Road conditions—frost heaves
Frost heaves occur when frozen ground beneath the highway undergoes periods of thaw, melt and thaw again. Since water expands when it freezes, the freezing pushes up on the asphalt and leaves other areas sunken. The result is humps that run perpendicular across the highway. In the Yukon, road crews commonly flag known frost heaves with a small orange flag set close to the ground.

The key word is “known.” Frost heaves can be upon you before you can see them. The sensation is similar to driving over an asphalt-covered half-round of a telephone pole—you may be able to ease over it, but you can cause a lot of damage by hitting it carelessly.

The Alaska Highway can be challenging in the Yukon, but
the panoramas make the drive worth the challenge
Driving slowly on the Alaska Highway in the Yukon is
not a burden, since the scenery is inspiring
Driving slowly is the recommended way to avoid the worst damage from frost heaves. By contrast, driving fast puts you and your RV rig in danger. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow this had to be an amazing trip! I've always wanted to see Alaska! I've been getting my travel destinations here