Saturday, September 7, 2013

Alaska Omnibus Part 5


We are in the wilderness of Alaska.
From Hyder we took Cassiar Highway and then Alaska Highway towards Anchorage.

Alaska Highway after Watson Lakes
We stopped at a café that we saw after 200 kilometers and then our car refused to start. Battery is almost dead.
It can be either towed to Watson Lakes that is more than 300 Kilometers or to Whitehorse that is more than 600 Kilometers. We want to give away our car and all the gear for free but there is no taker.

A lake in the wilderness
It is 11PM at night and sun is about to set.
We remove everything form our car trunk to get access to our tools. We remove carjack, ratchet set, screwdrivers and pliers. After-all I am an electro-mechanical engineer so I take matter in my own hands. No harm in trying. I unplug the batter cable and then crawl under the car. Underside of the car is full of black grease and oil and somehow I remove the starter, unplug the cables and bring this sucker on the flat rock by the roaring river. Now light is barely enough and it will die soon. I wipe off starter with some tissue papers and make an inspection of the exterior but cannot figure out anything wrong. Then I take it apart piece by piece for as far it is possible. Now there are several nuts and bolts, coil, solenoid, pinion etc etc. spread up on the rock.
Temperature is near freezing and my hand are full of black grease that is also frozen.
I fail to notice anything that could be wrong. Carefully I reassemble the starter and then in the little daylight somehow I put it back at its place under the car.
Now I am scared to start the car because we may have an almost last chance because battery is almost discharged.
I chant God’s name and turn the key and car starts.

We spent night in wilderness here. Wolves attacked us here.
However now my ears are sensitive, an odd sound I notice. Starter worked to start the car but its pinion is still engaged to the flywheel hence the sound. This means that engine is turning the starter forever because the spring mechanism is damaged. Well, we don’t take chance to stop the car.
My hands and clothes are very dirty and it is dark now. I take a soap to the river and try to wash my hands in crashing freezing waters but instead now all soap is also sticking on my hands. Rajan goes in the deserted café, lady is about to close the door and he requests the hot water and she brings us an empty 2 liter soda bottle full with hot water so I wash my hands and then change clothes. While our car stays running.

a pristine lake
I touch the starter and it is burning hot and now I figure it out that it cannot start when it is that hot because pinion gets stuck in the spindle of solenoid. It may or may not start when it is cold and it may take more than an hour of cooling for the pinion to reset. We leave the café and drive another hundred kilometers on Alaska Highway. We are in the mountains and permafrost ground. It is a big and speedy highway now, raised several feet high from the ground. It is dark so we are deprived off the views.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permafrost
In geology, permafrost or cryotic soil is soil at or below the freezing point of water 0 °C (32 °F) for two or more years. Most permafrost is located in high latitudes (i.e. land close to the North and South poles), but alpine permafrost may exist at high altitudes in much lower latitudes. Ice is not always present, as may be in the case of nonporous bedrock, but it frequently occurs and it may be in amounts exceeding the potential hydraulic saturation of the ground material. Permafrost accounts for 0.022% of total water and exists in 24% of exposed land in the Northern Hemisphere.

View from Alaska Highway
No designated campsite comes so we take off our car in a clearing in the wilderness where a small brook is flowing. We erect our tent and prepare to cook. A bear arrives and we make lots of noise with our pan and kadchi and it runs away. Then we bring water from the brook and mix some daal and rice and make khichdi in the simplest way because we have no light. I try to start our car but it does not start and now we are half kilometers away from the road that is not even visible. We eat our food and then wash the pots far away so bears may not come near us. Due to long driving and the ordeal with our car, we are tired so we don’t bring our pots to the car but leave these there and retreat to our tent.

A small RV on the go
Now just to make sure and to have a peaceful sleep we pour a bottle-ful of ice cold water on the starter and try to start the car and it starts. We shut down the engine again and sleep peacefully. Bear comes near our tent and growls, pushes our tent but now we are not scared of bears anymore. Rajan opens the window zip and sees that bear is sitting on the roof of our car, finally it goes away.
Bright sunlight at 7 am wakes us in the morning. We fetch water from the brook and I look into water; there are thousands of micro creatures are crawling and floating in it. Many many small things are violently shaking or crawling. In the horror I throw away the water then go and look at the brook to find better water but whole water is alive with small creatures. At the dark of night we used this same water for our cooking and drinking.
Well the done can not be undone and luckily we are still alive and healthy.

A glacier hanging over fjord.
We pack up everything in the car and now we have another problem. Our car’s tires are deep sunk in the ground. Since we parked our car on the permafrost and with the weight it sunk in the ground. It starts alright but front driving wheels are spinning free and all four wheels are a third sunk in the permanent ice.
Aasman sae gire aur khazoor mai atkee.
Road is far away on the high ground. Alaska Highway is built in such a way on the permafrost so it won’t sink. A lot of gravel is spread on the ground and highway is built over at least 30 feet high mound of these gravels. It took years for this highway to settle up and stabilize in the permafrost.
Well we are now stuck in the wildness full of Leopards, Bears, Muses, Foxes, Wolves and what not …..

Wolves playing with each other
We don’t know how to remove our one ton heavy car out of the ice.
A pack of wolves come and begins howling at us. We throw stones on them and they scatter up but again regroup. I think now I know wolves because we shared our food with 2 wolves near Hydra so I step forward and try to kick the one who is nearest. It catches my foot in his teeth and forcefully pulls it and I fell down. He drags me some feet on the ground. It’s teeth are piercing my shoes and digging into my flash. Now all other wolves also are ready to move on me. Rajan aims a rock at the wolf and wolf gives up my foot, he is howling and runs away in pain.

Alaska Highway by the lake
A red fox appears and they all run after it and disappear in the bush.
I take off my shoe and inspect the damage. Wolf’s teeth punctured my shoes and then punctured my right foot and blood is oozing. Rajan is worried about rabies but I doubt is these clean wilderness beasts are rabid and anyway the homeopathy medicine for rabies is Ledum that we are making our tea with.

A river on the way
So we are stranded; our goddamned car is sinking in the ice by each minute as the ground is warming up by sun.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...