Climbing won't ruin my body, but the Cassiar will. The trip hurts more each time, like I lifted weights using only my back muscles, then re-hydrated with a tall glass of lactic acid. Each time I swear never again.
Eight times I've driven from Anchorage to the lower 48 to Anchorage or vice versa. I typically take the Alaska Highway combined with the Cassiar Highway in northern British Columbia. The route is a about 2500 miles and 46 hours of driving. I like the Cassiar because it's quiet and peaceful. A narrow road that winds through black spruce forest and mountains. It's all paved and there's plenty of gas. The Cassiar is just lonely enough to deter people that are already intimidated by the north.
My favorite section is between Bell II and the Alaska Highway. When I don't see a single car for hours and my eyes are watching the roadside for large animals. When a Radiolab podcast is broadcasting on the two functional speakers, talking about an entomologist raising a bott fly on his forehead. The Cassiar is dramatic, but please, never again.
Last July I drove down the Alaska/Cassiar. Here's my first night, 11:30 pm on Kluane Lake, Yukon Territories, 14 hours from Anchorage. The ride is a 1994 Honda Civic DX that got 48 miles per gallon on the drive.
Then I drove back from Portland, where I was visiting my sister Kate. Here's Kate and her son Oliver.
The sign says: "Check your fuel. Next Services 65 km Stewart, 93 km Bell II."
A Kermode spirit bear near Terrace.
Two hours from Anchorage, I stopped at the Matanuska Glacier for a day of film safety work for Glacier Productions and the Weather Channel. The Mat Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in Alaska. Here, the talent plunges through an ice-coated glacial lake to self-induce hypothermia. He jumped in three times, then he began mumbling about hamburgers and cocoa.