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  • Day49

    Day 49 Ends @ Paxson Lake Cg

    June 20, 2021 in the United States ⋅ ☁️ 55 °F

    We left Tok with a plan. A plan that failed.

    Our idea was to drive halfway down the Tok Cut-Off and then take the Nabesna Road to one of the primitive camping sites for our overnight stop. Preferably at one of the three sites that are described as having views worth the drive.

    Nabesna Road, 42 miles in total, is one of only two roads that goes into the Wrangell-St Elias National Park and Preserve. It’s all wilderness. The drive — as expected was slow ... the dirt/gravel/chipseal road — heavily potholed ... requiring quite a bit of fancy maneuvering. Luckily for us, we only had to drive to Mile 21.8 for the furthest of the three campsites.

    It wasn’t that we were disappointed by today’s overcast — sometimes drizzly conditions. It wasn’t that we were disappointed with the Wrangell Mountains cloaked by low-lying clouds. It wasn’t that we were disappointed that most of the views at the campsites were visible only by standing on the picnic table. No, it was the swarm of flying insects we found at each site that eventually had us deciding against camping along this road. Sure, we’ve got ways to keep the mosquitoes at bay, but nothing seems to work when it comes to black flies.

    So, we took the time to have lunch, and then drove the 21.8 miles back to the Tok Cut-Off ... managing to do the distance in 45 minutes instead of 1.5 hours as the case was on the way in.

    At the bottom off the Cut-Off, where the road junctions with the Richardson Highway, we turned north. We had not driven this section of the highway to Paxson before. In fact, it was going to be a daytrip from Glennallen later in the trip. So, we just moved it up a bit.

    OMG!!!! We’ve been told about frost heaves and potholes on Alaska Roads. And we have encountered some on practically every road. This section of the Richardson, however, was by far the worst we’ve encountered since we began our road trip on 19 May. Even some of the dirt/gravel roads we’ve driven were in better condition. Luckily, it being Sunday, at least we didn’t have to deal with construction delays ... just a light rain that pretty much accompanied us all the way.

    With the best turnouts taken over by road construction equipment, we ended up dry camping at the Paxson Lake BLM Campground, about 10 miles south of Paxson. Alas, no lakeshore sites for RVs, so we ended up in one of the woodland sites. The mosquitoes were swarming so bad that we lit the mosquito coils and placed them outside the door to clear a space before we attempted to go inside.

    As it was raining, no outside time for us. I even forgot to take a photo of our site ... perhaps somewhere deep in my psyche I didn’t want to remember this place.

    The day wasn’t all bad, though. We found a lovely lake on the Tok Cut-Off ... with mountain reflections on the still water. On the Richardson Highway, we came across a mama moose and her calf grazing in the wetlands. Ándate the Meier’s Lake Roadhouse, we had delicious hamburgers, which we washed down with Alaskan Brewing Company’s White beer.

    Every trip has a day or two like the one we had today. Fingers crossed it will be the only one. Now, I need to jiggle our plans to rearrange our upcoming days.
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    Such a bummer with the bugs. I thought it was always like that in Alaska, so I guess buggy times are a given unless you are lucky. that view from the picnic table is gorgeous

    Two to Travel

    Not always buggy and not everywhere. The wetlands, as might be expected, are the worst. We had no problems until late May on this trip, and even then it was mostly male mosquitoes or the non-biting that were simply irritating. Now the females are out. I killed one today and the amount of blood that came out was quite surprising, but that’s what they need to grow their babies apparently.


    Black flies and potholed roads...not fun. But still you find the beauty, you focus on the positive, and you are flexible about plans. Which is why you guys are such good travelers. (I also really appreciate your honesty about the bad will help us in planning.)

    Two to Travel

    No sense looking at things with rose-colored glasses. Flexibility is absolutely essential. The need for reservations for the 4th July has boxed us in a bit, but we’re finding ways around that, too.


    I despise black flies. They come out in force in July, so it must be close to July! On every trip, not everything works like you wish or hope for, but, as you say, just roll with it.