Waiting and Hoping in Coldfoot

Coldfoot Travel Blog

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All our tents lined up in a row.

After our late night/early morning of the previous evening, camp was slow in coming to life this morning.  But come to life we did for breakfast and another day in Alaska.  Today was going to prove a challenge.  Jody needed to take the van back in to Coldfoot for a while for some more "work" and the easy trail to hike (i.e., the trail to hike with the least risk of getting lost) had a moose carcass and a foraging grizzly not far off the path.  Now one could run into a bear anywhere in Alaska, but the idea of going right into the territory of a fresh kill was not all that exciting to me or many of the other members of our little group.  After a bit of discussion and some thoughts from Jody we all headed down to Coldfoot proper (that teeming metropolis of activity that it is).

This was the second notice at the campground about a moose kill that occurred two days before we arrived in camp. (actually posted on July 24th, but I'm including in the entry for the 23rd).
  So after breakfast, packing some lunches, and cleaning up camp (don't need any bears scrounging around while we are gone) we made the short five mile journey down to Coldfoot.

Across the highway/road from the truckstop in Coldfoot is a BLM Visitor/Interpretive Center that is pretty impressive for its location.  Lots of interesting exhibits and information available for travelers transitting the Dalton Highway.  Jody dropped us off to explore the center which also included some short trails in and around the area of old Coldfoot town from 100 years ago (there really isn't anything left).  After exploring the center, I headed out along the trails.  Passed the old cemetary.  This was nothing more than the location as stipulated on some old maps, as there were no grave markers or other evidence that anyone had been buried here.

Middle Fork Koyukuk River
  Passed the airstrip and down to explore the Left Fork of the North Branch of the West Finger of the Koyukuk River.  OK, OK, really just the Middle Fork of the Koyukuk River.  We had crossed the South Fork yesterday on the Dalton Highway and we would see the North Fork tomorrow, so today was the day to explore the Middle Fork.  Our first attempt only brought us to a small, fast flowing stream that we would later learn was Slate Creek.  Dianna thought about trying to cross but the water was darn cold and on some quick looks we couldn't find a spot that would not require at least a thigh-deep fording of the stream.  Possible if one had to do it, not recommended if not necessary.

Moving downstream we  finally found the Koyukuk a wide and elegant branch of swift moving water.

Ginny, Lenny, Amy, at our Lunch spot. Guess I should have gone by Danny to fit in today.
  The river meanders back and forth in the wide valley from year to year giving some interesting areas to traverse and photograph as we explored.  We found an area where some people had built a campfire and brought out some old plastic chairs, so a small group of us sat down and ate our lunches at this picturesque spot.  After lunch and just some contemplative relaxation in this glorious location we finally decided to return back to the Truckstop and see how the van was coming along

The rough plan was to have a new plug flown up from Fairbanks on one of the standard runs that are made up to this location daily.  Originally thought to come on the 3:00 PM flight, it ended up not showing up until the 5:00 PM flight.

Cloud Reflection in some standing water along the Middle Fork Koyukuk River
  While we waited we tried to plan the next couple of days.  Things had sort of gotten a bit messed up with the chaos so tomorrow would be the hike and flight and we would eat dinner down here at the restaurant in Coldfoot.  Tonight we would go back up to camp and bring stuff back down to the truckstop for the opportunity to take a shower and do some laundry.  Finally on Friday we would stop in Wiseman before breaking camp and proceeding further north through Atigun Pass to the North Slope.  That's if there was nothing else wrong with the van.

Returned to camp for our stuff and returned to Coldfoot.  I had packed pretty light so laundry was a must for me to make it through the second half of the trip.

Middle Fork Koyukuk River
  Laundry was a relative bargain after combining items with others to fill several loads.  A shower on the other hand was a bit more expensive.  For those not staying in the truckstop motel, the use of a shower was $10.  An absolute rip off, but since it had been 4 days since my last real shower (not counting the hot springs in Manley) and would be 4 more days until the next opportunity for a shower in Deadhorse, it was worth the $10 to be clean for at least a little while.  While waiting for clothes to dry, there was a chess set in the laundry room, so it was set up outside for a few games.  I ended up in a game with Emma and finally managed a victory, although not without some degree of difficulty in setting up the final checkmate.
Chicken and Red Peppers and Onions... we're having fajitas in Alaska.

Back in camp it was Mexican night in Alaska for dinner.  Chicken fajitas, chips and salsa, and margaritas.  We passed the evening around a campfire happy that we weren't stranded in the Alaskan wilderness looking for lost car parts.  But it wasn't all good news.  The van was still leaking coolant.  Not a flush like yesterday, but there was definitely still a problem.  But that wouldn't get resolved until tomorrow.

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All our tents lined up in a row.
All our tents lined up in a row.
This was the second notice at the …
This was the second notice at the…
Middle Fork Koyukuk River
Middle Fork Koyukuk River
Ginny, Lenny, Amy, at our Lunch sp…
Ginny, Lenny, Amy, at our Lunch s…
Cloud Reflection in some standing …
Cloud Reflection in some standing…
Middle Fork Koyukuk River
Middle Fork Koyukuk River
Chicken and Red Peppers and Onions…
Chicken and Red Peppers and Onion…
Coldfoot Cemetary.  No evidence of…
Coldfoot Cemetary. No evidence o…
A plane comes in for a landing at …
A plane comes in for a landing at…
Driftwood along the Middle Fork Ko…
Driftwood along the Middle Fork K…
Our intrepid cooks preparing the e…
Our intrepid cooks preparing the …
Coldfoot Sights & Attractions review
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The Arctic Interagency Visitor Center in Coldfoot is pretty much the only "stop" to make on the journey up the Dalton Highway. Its located at MP 175 … read entire review
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This review covers the general info for the flight we would take tomorrow in Gates of the Arctic NP. I wanted the review associated with Coldfoot so … read entire review
Coldfoot
photo by: Kramerdude