Long Drive – Short Stay; 30 minutes in the Alaskan Arctic Circle. 

Yay! Made it to the Alaskan Arctic Circle!

Only problem was when Pup and I got done stretching our legs from reading the displays…the van wouldn’t start! One crank, two crank…luckily on the third crank the van fired up.

Now what? I’m about 200 miles from Fairbanks at this point and I’m at 1/2 a tank of gas. The van gets around 400 miles on a full tank. Question is continue north into no mans land hoping the van starts or begin heading back to Fairbanks calling the Arctic Circle sign a win?

I doubt my AAA covers the remote frozen tundra…time to double back!

On my way back from the Arctic Circle I saw a sign for gas as I came up on the Yukon River. I pulled in and sure enough they had gas, $5.50 a gallon! I was at a 1/4 tank so I only put in 10 gallons to get me back to Fairbanks where gas is $2.90. Lol.

You have to leave a card inside to be able to pump. As I was walking back in to get my card I met Yukon Jeremy. He said to go down and check out his gift shop and his mom was down there. “One of a kind Alaskan gifts”, he said.
I was more worried about if my van would start after the scare up at the Arctic. Luckily it fired up perfectly!?! I drove over to the little shack that had the words ‘Mostly Birch’ painted on it.

I met Yukon Jeremy’s mom Dorthy. She was organizing the knick knacks. There were animal jaws made into little sleds with little Eskimos made out of fur. Necklaces Dorthy made from shells and necklaces. Also necklaces Yukon Jeremy made from bear/wolf/wolverines and a few others toenails or teeth. Fur hats, and other stuff.

I chatted with them a bit about before trying to race the midnight sun to find a spot for the night. If you’re ever up the Dalton Highway stop by and let Yukon Jeremy tell you a few stories…you won’t be disappointed!

Denali National Park

On the way north the summit of Mount McKinley (or Mt. Denali) popped out of the clouds for a rare appearance. By the time I got pulled over to take a picture it was covered with clouds again. Enjoying the views, I didn’t pay attention to what time it was. Got to the visitor center at 6:30pm and it was closed. But lucky me, as I walked back to the van I saw a sign for a playing of a historic film in the theater at 7pm. It was the first film footage, and second ascent of the summit in 1932. I quickly went back to the van to let Pup out and get him
situated so I can go to the viewing.

In the theatre I sat next to an older lady, Annabel. She’s from New York City but lives in Alaska half the time and in New York the other half. We talked for a while before the movie started. In her 20s she was working in a small town where there was nothing to do and nowhere to spend her money. So after five years she “retired” for four years and traveled! Loved listening to her stories!

The video was of the Lindley-Liek expedition which was the second successful summit of North Americas highest peak. The speaker for the night was a retired historian for the National Park. She had a wealth of information about the parks history. During her research she found a lecture giving by one of the mountaineers and dubbed it with the film. Such an interesting video.

After the film I drove the 15 miles into the park that was accessible by car. The road ends at Savage River trailhead. At roughly 10 PM and the midnight sun still up I decided to run the river loop trail. The loop followed along the river and some beautiful rock croppings. After my run I let Pup roam for a little bit in the parking lot before heading to find a spot for the night. The nights are extremely bright but the “sunset” last night was amazing. Orange yellow, pink, red and blue filled the sky!

Drove outside of the park to find a free spot to boondock for the night. Then the next morning for some reason I drove south. I was trying to see if I could get a clear shot of Mount McKinley. No such luck because it got dark and rainy. So I turned around and headed back to the National Park. Got to back to Denali 45 minutes before the sled dog demonstration. The clouds and breeze was perfect timing to keep the van cool for Pup while I was at the demonstration. I walked around and petting all the sled dogs that were out before the demonstration. During the summers the dogs train with a go cart looking sled on wheels. The Park Ranger gives a spiel on the history of the dogs and the Park. He calls out to get the dogs ready, the kennel area fires up with barks of excitement! They all want to be part of the fun!

After the demo I took Pup for a walk on the only dog friendly trail inside of the Park. For dinner I drove back to Savage River Trail and sat in the van at a view point. I made up my sandwich with turkey, cheese and some horse radish sauce I got at a fast food place. As I was just getting ready to eat a guy with his family pulled up to the view point. He walked up to my side door and asked if he could get a picture with me and Pup. After a picture I put Pup back in the van so the kids could get out their van (Pup is 50/50 with kids.). We talked about my vanlife travels to trail run in all 50 states. Turns out he’s on a similar quest, he wants to run a marathon in every state. He is currently at 23 states. He was running a marathon the coming weekend in Anchorage to check off Alaska as state 24. When I got back in the van Pup was being really weird and adorable. Took me a second to figure out the little shit ate my sandwich! Dude is going to shit his pants tomorrow! Hahaa!

I was going back-and-forth trying to figure out what to do. Makes it hard in the National Park when you can’t have a private vehicle go any farther then Savage River. The bus ride was to time consuming to try and coordinate. Trying to find a dog sitter outside of the Park was turning into a hassle too. So I called it quits…time to roll north. On the way to the park entrance there was a mama moose and her baby on the side of the road. They walked right by my driver side window and I got some really great shots! Great ending to Denali National Park.

Winner Creek Hand Tram


After helping 3 mom’s with 11 kids cross the the Winner Creek Hand Tram my arms were jello! But Pup and I made it to the gorge before helping more people cross the hand tram on the way back. Sure wish there was a foot pedal because we all know my legs are stronger the my upper body.

Midnight Sunset in Alaska 


Before getting to Anchorage I made a few stops along the way. A hike with Pup on some trails around Thompson Pass for beautiful 360° views! Boondocking off of Soup Lake and running up some random trails just to see where it would lead me too…more amazing views

But my favorite was when I went to a spot in Eagle River. I drove from Soup lake to try and find the Pioneer Trailhead. No such luck finding it. I did see a place situated between private property signs that may have been the trail. I did not go checking into it because 99% of Alaskan have a gun. I did not feel like getting shot just to run a trail so I headed out to the next stop. I opened the iOverlander app to see if there were any good spots listed. Closest one was at the end of a street where locals watch the Aurora Lights.

Around 10:30 pm, I drive up the long windy road to the end. It’s a trailhead parking for Mt. Baldy. I park in the flattest area of where the signs direct me too. None of the signs indicate I can’t overnight park here. As Pup and I walk the trail the sun starts to make its way down out of the clouds. This is my first Alaska sunset! Or as close to an Alaskan sunset as you will get with the midnight summer sun. I walk to the van to grab my camera to capture the moment. Walking up to the edge of the road I hear some one say to me they like my stickers.

Annie and Chris are two young local badass trail runners. They stopped to walk Chris’ cute corgi puppy up the short, but steep 1,200 ft gain, one mile trail to the summit of Mt. Baldy. We talked for 45 minutes before they headed up the trail. With the midnight sun still hanging above the horizon, and the inspiring talks of the Mt. Marathon race, I laced up my shoes to run. It probably was not the smartest thing to go for a solo run at 11:30pm but I knew the youngsters were up there to scare away the bear if there were any. Man, did that straight up hurt but the view of the sunset at the top was worth it!

The next morning I rolled toward Anchorage. I pretty much b-lined it through the city to head to the next trail. I made a quick stop at the highly talked about Flattop Trail to find the parking lot slam packed full…no thanks I’ll find a less popular spot.

Did some bird watching at Potters Marsh, hiked with Pup at McHugh Creek Falls and then finding a spot for the night in Chugach National Forest. 

Worthington Glacier – Valdez, Alaska 

As expected the rain was on and off as I got to the main highway from McCarthy. But as I drove up to Worthington Glacier there was a break. Hike a Pup to a glacier time!

Worthington isn’t my first glacier but it is the first most accessible one that I could hike old man Pup. I chose to take a path with Pup that didn’t involve crossing the water. It didn’t get me close to the glowing blue I hoped for but it was still a nice hike to a view on a mound. You better believe Pup got plenty of fresh glacier water drinks along the way too!

After getting back to the van it started to sprinkle but I decided to run quickly to the base. I got lucky on the path I took with Pup. The glacier silt was almost like quicksand in some spots.

Once I got up to the base I had the glacier all to myself. When I touched the blue glowing ice I felt a little like superman. It’s possible the double waterfall on the side made it feel unrealistic.

Well worth being covered in glacier silt by the end!

Meeting Shaun at Chilkat State Park – Haines, AK 

My original idea was to ferry from Skagway to Juneau and then Juneau to Haines. That changed after finding out it would cost $300+ to ferry the van back and forth. A more feasible option, at $90, was to ferry from Skagway to Haines. Either way I was planning on driving down to Haines so this option would save me the gas money it would take to drive to both cities.​

​I went to the ticket office to book my one way trip to Haines. There was only standby left for the 3pm boat and check in was at 1:45pm. I didn’t feel like wasting my day waiting around not knowing if I’d get on that day so I booked the next day boat at 8pm. This gave me more time to check out Skagway and Dyea.

I got into Haines around 9:30pm. I didn’t want to blaze through Haines in the dark so found a spot just down from the ferry terminal off the highway. Next morning I drove around the small town, stopped at a park to walk with Pup and decided to roll out. Well, apparently I was on the wrong road out. I came to a dead end which would lead to a trail head for Chilkat State Park. Signs, Signs everywhere a sign…haha. Let’s hike!​

The beautiful trail meanders a long and finally opens up to the bay. Pup takes the lead and goes all the way down to the opening. That’s when I meet Shaun from Colorado! Pup does his normal routine of going up to people with assumptions they want him to or not. Shaun and I begin to talk about Alaska and where we are from. As we talk I see a spout of water come up from the bay just behind Shaun. Is that a whale? Sure enough it was! We hopped the rocks down to the bay to watch for the whale. We continue to talk about our travels as we both sit with our cameras out waiting for the whale to put on a show.

Shaun is from technically from Colorado but he also travels and lives in a Toyota Dolphin. He’s looking at maybe getting a seasonal job up here in Alaska. This is his first visit up north so the location is still undetermined. Hanging out with him has made me contemplating how to prolong my own travels with odd jobs.

Skagway, Alaska and Soapy Smith

First official Alaska sign!

No thanks Soapy, I mean Jefferson, I don’t want to send a telegram back home to my family!

Visited my first National Park in Alaska, hiked to Dewey Lakes with Pup, Ran to AB Mountain, boondocked in an amazing spot in Dyea and took the van on its first Ferry ride out of Skagway!

I took a Ranger led walk through Klondike Gold Rush National Historical builds of downtown Skagway. The Jefferson “Soapy” Smith story was probably my favorite. Jefferson was a con man of his day. He grew up in a well to do home in Georgia but some how he became one of the greatest criminal bosses of his time. This guy got his nickname Soapy for his scheme of selling bars soap. He would supposedly wrapped a select few bars with money ranging from $1 to $100 and sell each for an insane amount of money for the late 1870s. Of course people would actually buy a bar of soap with cash wrapped around it but it was his buddies. Another scandal Soapy ran was the telegrams. He’d charge the stampeders to send telegrams but the only thing was the “line” only went to the bay and no farther. The Park Rangers tell the stories better then I can write it but I’ll leave a link if you want check it out (https://www.nps.gov/klgo/learn/historyculture/jeffsmithsparlor.htm).

Crazy to think that all those people were coming through Skagway for good that was another 800+ miles away in the Yukon. They had to hike supplies up Chilkoot Pass, over glaciers and snow fields. If I were coming for the Klondike Gold Rush I would have stayed right in Skagway and enjoyed the views…and that’s exactly what I did!

Jesse – 22 – Nomad Bicyclist

I pull into the Nairn Falls Provincial Park parking lot outside of Whistler, B.C. and go to the end that is shaded. As I park I see a young scraggly bearded kid sitting at a picnic table eating. Leaning on the table is an older red road bicycle loaded with what looks like everything he owns.

What’s his story?

The path through the picnic area leads to the short 1.5K trail to the falls. Pup being Pup, runs up to the kid thinking he will get butt pets or food. I apologize for Pups pushiness and ask if he is riding cross the country? He replied that he started in Las Vegas and was only going as far as Whitehorse, Yukon right now. He put a lid on his rice, grabbed an apple and banana and asked if he could hike with us (us being me and the Pup).

Our story swapping led us to the waterfall before we officially introduced ourselves. His name is Jesse. Being from Wisconsin his lust for living simple was just that, simple. At the age of 22 he has biked a lot of the lower United States. Returns home, saves up some money, regroups and hits the road on his bike. Sure wish when I was his age I wasn’t driven by money and material things.

We say our safe travels farewell and I take off for Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. I enjoy a crazy snow packed trail run/hike to upper Joffre Lake and Mt. Matier Glacier. After bombing the snowy down hill, with intermittent ski sessions, back to the van I hear someone say my name. It’s none other then Jesse!

“Dang kid! I was just thinking of where you were…how did you make it this far so fast!”, I yelled at him. The drive is only 22 miles from where we met but the whole way is straight up (13% grade)! We were both going to setup camp at the trailhead for the night. Jesse though, he was sleeping under the night sky in a sleeping bag on the lower lake view point. Total dirtbag!
I wake up to Jesse’s bike leaning up against the front of my van. I see him drying out his sleeping bag from the morning dew in the sun. He is usually up extremely early in the mornings. Sleeping under the night sky comes with the early morning sun waking you up. We exchange contact info before saying farewells again. I have a strong feeling our paths may cross again!

Joffre Lake Provincial Park

Pictures don’t do Joffre Lakes any justice.

There was a semi narrow snow packed trail leading the way, but do not step off the path or you’ll sink waist deep. I learned this quickly when I stepped off to let a couple pass in only the first 100 meters to the lower lake view point. I decided then to run the short distance back to the van to get my slip on cleats. The trail is a short 5K/3.1 miles to the upper lake with 1300+ feet of climbing, 10K round trip hike.


I’ve never tried to run up a mountain on a super narrow trail with snow and ice. Some parts of the trail were also slushy so coming down was almost like skiing. I’ve seen some glacier in the Lower 48 as I traveled but nothing like the one like Mt. Matier’s with the beautiful light blue glow in the middle. I have video of the run/hike too so I’ll post that once I get it clipped together.

Between the middle lake and upper lake there is an amazing waterfall. This cascade made the pain of climbing much more worth it! So hard to show the true experience in photographs but it’s always worth a try!

They Let Pup and I in to Canada!

They let Pup and I in to Canada!

Not much different from the states when it comes to cities. Although the measuring system is taking some adjustment but lucky for me time is on my side! My trail running experience is coming in handy with distances. A few people I have met that have recommended trails mention how many “K” the trail would be. I have a good guesstimation of what I’ll get myself into for distance.

My first day in Vancouver was rainy so I took a drive tour of the city. Cruising through downtown my first stop was Stanley Park. In between heavy rains I would jump out get some photos. Great views of Vancouver can be had all through the park. During the rain and cloudiness the downtown skyline was visible but not the mountains on the other side of the park.

After roaming the park I decided to go check out a recommendation from a Instagram friend. Of course it’s still raining when I got to Lynn Canyon but noticed the Park Rangers office was open so I stopped by to check on the weather. Not having data service is kind of a nagging thorn as I travel! The Rangers on duty were awesome. We chatted about vanlife, travel and then the weather. Tomorrow is suppose to clear by the afternoon!

Over the last two years my eye has become accustom to seeing good spots I can possibly park for the night. So along Mt. Seymour Pkwy I noticed a spot I would come back to for the night. A quick walk with Pup at Cates Park and linking to Starbucks wifi from my van it was time to call it a day.

Heck yeah only a lite rain! Sitting at Lynn Canyon I debated if I wanted to run first or take Pup for a hike and get some photos. Not long into my debate a handful of mini vans pulled up, loaded with kids. They all walked into the nature center so that was my que for the photo-op. When I got to the bridge no one was there but a girl who asked if I’d take her picture. As I waited for her to cross I snapped a few photos of Pup on the empty bridge.

About the time I finished a guy with a bushy red beard wearing bright running clothes began to cross. I chatted Marcus up about running and local races. After crossing the bridge I met up with Oleisha again. Pup was off leash and ran up to her as she was getting some video of the creek. She was from the part of Canada I didn’t get to see since I didn’t have my passport, Ontario. Our conversation turned into hiking all of Lynn Canyon together.

By the end of the trail the sky was blue and the clouds were puffy white! As I was leaving I ran into the three Park Rangers again. They asked where I was headed next? North to Alaska of course!