Only a few tree's remain of the once heavily wooded Prudhoe Bay National Forest </joke>
Only a few tree's remain of the once heavily wooded Prudhoe Bay National Forest

Day 14

I woke up this morning realizing it has now been 2 weeks since I left Washington on this trip, and today would mark the completion of one of the great adventures I have dreamed of completing for many years.

With being in Prudhoe Bay, the last thing to do is take the tour to get to the Ocean, to step foot in it, and say “I’ve Done That”.

Now, we went to bed a bit early the night before, and luckily we have darkening shades to our room that keeps the sun out. Being that the sun stays high in the sky here, it is hard to tell what time it is outside, and inside you depend on a clock.

The only clock I have is my phone, and while I keep it around me most the time, I seldom check the time on it.

So it was no surprise when I woke up, feeling rather refreshed from a nights sleep.

I put on some clothes and walked down to the cafeteria to grab some coffee before heading back to the room to get on my netbook and surf around until Geoff woke.

As I was leaving, I noted the time on the clock that was on the wall leaving.

2:30…

It was 2:30 in the morning…

I kind of looked at my coffee, not yet actually drinking it, and looked down the hall at the bright sunlight through the doors.

I kinda shook my head and walked back to the room, dumping my coffee in the bathroom sink along the way and went back to bed.

I awoke again at around 5:30am to the sound of a loud diesel engine outside my window I decided to just stay up this time, and headed down for a coffee, my second this morning.

Our tour was to start at 8, so that gave me plenty of time to get ready, have some breakfast, and get on our way.

Geoff was already up when I came in from coffee and washing up, and so we both headed down to the cafeteria for some breakfast.

What an amazing selection of breakfast foods.

There was bacon, eggs, sausage links and patties. Breads, French Toast, and Pancakes.

There was biscuits and gravy and all types of hot oatmeal, various brands of cereal and tons of fresh fruit. They really know how to feed their people here.

So I loaded up on some bacon, eggs, and sausage, along with a couple pancakes, and a biscuit with gravy.

After breakfast, we grabbed our identification, camera’s and set off to the Arctic Caribou for our tour.

The tour started off with orientation, discussing what and what you cannot do, such as plunging into the ocean. Boo

Next, we watched a 15 minute informative video on the discovery of oil in Prudhoe Bay, and the construction and how it has transformed over the years, including drilling practices and other safety and environmental precautions they take here. Basically a huge BP Infomercial with the message “We are not completely evil”.

Next it was time to verify Identification and load the bus.

Taking a seat right at the front so we could hear our driver (which didn’t matter, as he had a PA that he spoke in to), the tour began.

He explained each of the buildings, how they get water, and how they do exploration.

It was interesting to hear how they do it all. They do not disturb the tundra in the summer at all. Instead, they wait until everything freezes, which means all exploration and drilling actually happens in the winter.

He showed us around Prudhoe Bay, pointing out various pieces of equipment, and what they did.

Such as a funny looking transportation vehicle that they use to drive on the tundra.

It has several large balloon tires on it, each with less than 3psi.

Not only is the psi in these slick tires low, but the actual vehicle footprint is less than 3psi!

Telling us of a story of a guy who had parked one, thinking it was in park, he got out, and started to walk away, when it had dislodged and rolled over him.

He got up, and chased down after it, unharmed.

Next he showed us the various contractors, some names I recognized, others were new to me. He explained the functions of each company and each contractor at the base camp.

In front of the Halliburton Office was a few large cutouts of pine trees with a sign that states “Prudhoe Bay National Forest”. Our driver, jokingly said that at one time the whole area was covered in tree’s, but that it gets so cold they had to cut them all down to make a big fire and stay warm.

Everyone kind of gave a chuckle, except for one woman who exclaimed “That’s Terrible”. Not understanding he was joking, nor the fact that the treeline is some 150 or so miles inland due to the severe cold, preventing tree’s to grow.

Finally, we came to the checkpoint, passed through, and we were on our way towards the ocean. The whole time he pointed out area’s such as the first drill site, where the power is generated, how they transfer the oil down the pipeline, etc.

We finally came to the Arctic Dunes, an area of Sand Dunes before the ocean.

The Tundra does receive very little rainfall each year, enough to classify it as a desert, and this small, possibly ¼ mile swath is all that resembles desert. The rest of the tundra is a swampy marsh with a peat moss like vegetation growing on top of it.

The causeway to the Arctic Ocean at East Dock
The causeway to the Arctic Ocean at East Dock

Finally we came to a stop, the door opened, and outside us was the shore of the Arctic Ocean.

The fog was extremely thick here, and they call it Ice Fog.

He said that Prudhoe Bay only see’s a few days of sunshine each year, due to the thick fog that covers it.

Even the airport is setup with the latest in landing and takeoff systems for modern aircraft so that the planes can land and takeoff without the need of a pilot navigating it.

As we made our way towards the ocean, and the shore came into better focus, you could hear the birds in the distant fog.

We walked down the long causeway of rock and sand before finally coming to a stop at the edge of our northern most ocean.

I had arrived, I had made it. With that, I took off my boots, socks and rolled up my jeans, and walked out into the ocean, to feel for about 30 seconds the cold surround me feet, before they finally went numb.

I am pretty sure North is somewhere that direction
I am pretty sure North is somewhere that direction

At that point, I just walked around, keeping an eye on the pristine crystal clear water for any metal objects that may have found their way to the shores.

My journey North was now complete, and as I hopped on the bus I realized that my journey had brought me to the furthest northerly point I could travel on this trip, and the rest of it would be heading home to the south, starting with the bus ride back into Deadhorse.

The rest of the day was spent just hanging out in our room, surfing the net, researching, etc.

About 2pm, I decided to go outside to walk around a bit, and to my surprise the sun was out.

SOB, I thought to myself, we should have taken the 5pm tour!

I went back in, grabbed my camera, and begun to take some photo’s of Lake Coleen. Mainly just for the hell of it.

Not long after, I hopped on my KLR, and went and fueled it up, and brought it back to the hotel where I saw Geoff talking to another biker who had just shown up on a KLR.

After talking for awhile, Geoff and I walked around front, and we found 2 people who had just come in.

After a couple minutes, another couple bikers came in (Popular place) and to our surprise one of them was Carl, one of the guys who stayed at the Hostel in Dawson.

We talked to Carl for awhile, then he went and filled up, came back and grabbed some lunch, before he took back off.

It was only a “To and From” Trip from Coldfoot, no sticking around, just a picture in front of the Hotel, and that was it.

It was around Dinner Time by the time everything settled, so we grabbed some dinner, and begun to go through our things to repack for the ride out in the morning.

I also decided to head out back and go over my bike.

The fog lifted and everything turned blue - Lake Coleen
The fog lifted and everything turned blue - Lake Coleen

So far, everything on the bike is good except the exhaust, which seems to be getting much worse, as a huge chunk is now missing. I just hope that the chunk does not get hit by an weary traveler and it causes a problem. That would make me feel terrible.

I went over it checking all of the fasteners and made sure they were all still snug, and also lubed the chain, and checked the oil level.

The level was down a bit, but not terrible. I added a little just to top it off, and went back inside to take a shower.

After a shower, I finally sat back down on my bed, and surfed some more, just looking at weather, and planning my route home.

As it stands now, It looks like we may do a full day trip to Fairbanks, at which point I will pick up my exhaust, install it, and be on my way to Whitehorse Saturday.

If all goes well, I’ll be in Lake Watson Sunday, then take a few more days to get home before the following weekend around Thursday or Friday.

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Arctic Expedition: Day 15

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