Lexi duPont left home with a truck full of Costco, two jerry cans and 48 hours to cover 2,238 miles of lonely road to Haines, Alaska. Her motivation came in the form of blue skies, deep pow and a seat in the SEABA Heli—if she and photographer Will Wissman could get there before the weather window shut down. She made it in time for lift off and this is her story from behind the wheel. -EB Editor
Words by Lexi duPont, photos by Will Wissman
A few days ago, I told my parents that I was heading to Alaska. They were more than surprised when I told them that this time—for the first time—I would be driving 2,238 miles through the Yukon to get there.
The journey started with a stop at Costco to load up on the necessities, such as fuel and food. Our friend and fellow First Ascent athlete Chris Coulter warned us of long stretches of highway with severe winds, frost heaves and snow-packed surfaces, but no gas stations.
Once the truck was packed and ready to go we called Haines for the weather report, which read like perfection with blue skies and blower snow predicted for the next few days. We instantly made a group decision to drive to Alaska as quickly as possible, attempting to complete the drive in 48 hours or less. This would mandate stopping only for gas and coffee and driving straight through in a “pin it to win it” charge. So we hit the gas and it was on.
Unlike hopping a plane north, driving to Alaska gives you a perspective on space and place. When I started the drive in Sun Valley, Idaho the snow banks were small, the hills were brown and the sun had been shining for weeks, a familiar scene for most people living in ski towns in the lower 48 this season. But as morning turned to afternoon on the road, we slowly started to see the scenery and geography change. Snow was accumulating, snow banks were growing and as we finally crossed into Canada winter had finally returned. Yet, our drive had barley begun and the reality hit that we were only 24 hours in with twelve still to go.
The biggest piece of advice I would give to anyone crazy enough to drive from Idaho to Alaska is to stock some extra fuel, which is exactly what Coulter suggested. He couldn’t have been more correct. Not a single gas station was open or took credit cards once the sun went down, instead utilizing a Card Lock system that prevents a road warrior from driving nonstop through the darkness. We, however, drove prepared with two five-gallon jerry cans that kept us rolling north to the goods in Haines.
Our timing was perfect. Once we completed our second border crossing into the Alaskan mountains, stoke was at an all time high. After 48 hours straight of driving, snow-caked mountains welcomed us and blue skies stretched as far as the eye could see. A sense of accomplishment washed over us all as we arrived at our destination, Haines Alaska, the most beautiful place on earth and only 2,238 miles from home.
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