Bonkoski's Alaskan Trip Journal 2008 travel blog

Just into the beginning of our Jeep Road

Few little puddles

A family with a little Indian native camping on Stampede Road near...

A little bit deeper

At least the water was not coming in through the floor boards...

Arriving at the end of Stampede Road for the "luncheon" deep in...

The other Jeep folks at the campsite for homemade Beef Stew

Rob, Bob, and the camp cook, Scott

Bob, talking with the camp cook, Scott

Monkswood...extremely dangerous plant; could be fatal if eaten. All along side the...

Along side Stampede Road

Scotts escape from beers

The line up of all four Jeeps while pulled off on Stampede...

"Stampede Road"

Ptramigan...Alaska's state bird. Nearby the camp cooks site; along the edge of...

T SIZE=3>August 4th…Monday. Woke up to rain! One more day of adventure in the area of Denali; a 4x4 Jeep Wrangler self driving tour on Stampede Road. This 10 mile trek along the edge of Denali, and up the famously named trail road, was our next Alaskan experience.

It had rained through the night, and was still misty, damp and drizzling. We were directed to a silver Jeep for this journey, which we chose to name, “Moose” Our young guide was in the first Jeep, with his passengers and driver. While seated in the rear seat, Nick narrated the entire 3 ½ hour trip over the CB radio, which all of the Jeeps were equipped with.

As we turned onto Stampede Road, off the Parks Highway, Nick our guide began to tell us about the true story, “Into the Wild”. The story takes place in 1992, along this same road. A young and determined man, in his 20’s yearned for an adventurous wilderness experience; living off the land and needing only what he could carry into the brush. Mostly inexperienced, he hiked an additional 18 miles from where Stampede Road ended, to where he would spend the last 3 ½ months of his life. Crossing over the Savage and Teklanika Rivers while the waters were very low, he managed to find a old city transit bus that was hauled out to a far and remote location of the wilderness. Sometimes trappers or hunters would use the bus temporarily to shelter themselves from certain weather conditions. The young man, Chris McCandless, found the bus and used it for his home. He would eventually die in the bus, from starvation. Hunters soon discovered his body 2 weeks afterwards, and his family would ultimately be told of his whereabouts and his tragic death. Rob had already read the book, “Into the Wild” and all of us and watched the DVD while on this trip.

Stampede Road was comprised of very large chuck holes, small ponds of brownish colored rain waters, and tree branches that met the windshields of the Jeep. We watched the Jeep in front of us cautiously maneuver through the waters until his license plate was not visible and submerged. It was a one way road, and we were headed in; hopefully no one was headed out!

I don’t think we reached over 10 mph during the rougher sections of Stampede Road, while we slowing ventured on the 10 mile trek; which eventually took us 1 ½ hours. I kept thinking…”why are we doing this”. I do have to say that the Jeep adventure was flavored with a interesting ending…we were all treated to homemade stew with fried bread and coffee as we reached the end of the road. The camp cook was a 45 year old man, name Scott. He camps here in the wilderness with stories to tell, stew to brew and coffee to serve. He doesn’t posses a drivers’ license, or owns a car. He is a trapper, a hunter and fisherman and spends his adult life in the wilderness of this rugged land. He carries 3 bear repellent canisters on his belt, sleeps in an army type canvas tent, and bathes with the nearby creek waters. He states he loves it, and I believe him. There are many grizzly’s and black bears in the area, and Scott is constantly aware of the danger that his chosen surroundings offer him. He was pleasant to talk with during our brief lunch break, plus a gracious host.

We soon crawled back into the muddy Jeeps, turned them around, and headed back out on Stampede Road for another adventurous ride through the mud holes and in the rain!

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