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Alaska Treasure Trek - High-Stakes Wheeling Adventure

Posted in Events on February 3, 2014
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Lots of us enjoy wheeling just for fun, but many use 4-wheel drive in their everyday work. Loggers, linesmen, construction workers, and of course miners. When you can combine the work and the play of wheeling, that’s when you’ve struck gold. And that’s why we decided to head to Alaska to strike it rich, not in gold, but in other minerals now in short supply. While gold is what most people think of when they think of Alaska (the Gold Rush really made the state), the abundance of rare earth minerals is heading the new mining boom. When you can wheel and dig in the dirt, you can truly be a modern-day miner.

"Be a modern-day miner"

We started out with a plan: Land in Anchorage and buy supplies for two weeks. That would mean food, drinks, water, bug spray, ammo, and anything else we forgot to ship north. The head geologist and trail guide on our 2012 Ultimate Adventure, John Mears, had his nephew drive his F-250 Super Duty up from Washington, and bought a V-10 F-250 from a local guy off Craigslist. Two trucks, four guys, and 2,000 miles in just over a week, and working and wheeling the whole time.

Our treasure trek started in Anchorage, where we stocked up on supplies. Then we headed out to Tonsina, 300 miles into the Alaskan interior. Our faithful steeds consisted of Betsy’s Revenge, a ’13 F-250 Super Duty loaded for bear and equipped with ARB Air Lockers and a freezer/fridge, and full-length sliders from Hazzard Fabworks in Washington. The V-10 F-250 was bought in Alaska off of Craigslist, and it worked great.

Wheeling for work? Yep, when you’re a field geologist, it goes with the territory. And when it’s in Alaska, it’s even better. Most people think of Alaska as cold and inhospitable, with glaciers and snow year-round. Fortunately that is only partly true; some places never see snow even in the dead of winter, and summers can be downright pleasant.

For two weeks we lived out of our trucks, camped, got stuck, got unstuck, used Jet A in our diesel truck, poured some mineral stuff in the other truck to fix the radiator, and had a great time. We hiked, scared off bears with shotgun slugs and a .44 Mag, and also beat on rocks for a week. A helicopter ferried us to the most inaccessible regions in our mineral quest, and we even staked a claim at one location.

Was this trip overlanding or truck camping? For us it didn’t matter, and we just called it true adventure. This is the type of trip that keeps us wheeling and honing our extraction skills should we need them again. We’re sure they will be!

A classic old Alaska tundra buggy still sits at Gracious House in central Alaska. Built on a WWII Dodge Army truck with a Ford body plopped on it, the truck saw many years of faithful service in the boonies before the current crop of side-by-sides took over outback duties.
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