January 14, 2011: The Trail to Whitehorse, YT

We passed through the Alaska-Canada border without issues and entered the mighty Yukon Territory. Driving conditions are good and apart from some chatter bumps and frost heaves in the road surface caused by the extreme seasonal weather changes, the highway on the Canadian side is in great shape.

We looked out over the St. Elias Range, which were snow-capped and home to Mt. Logan, the highest point in Canada (19,520 ft).  Frosted spruce trees line much of the winding two-lane highway that splits the steep mountain slopes. We are mostly alone on the road except for a few passenger vehicles and the occasional 18-wheeler truck. Dom has enjoyed superior cell-phone coverage for most of the journey (thanks to his Alaskan provider- ACS) but there have been stretches when even he looses phone coverage and we are in a cellular dead-zone.

We encountered our first unexpected challenge about 200 miles outside of Whitehorse, YT when we noticed that the Jeep continued accelerating on level ground and without a foot on the gas pedal. The brakes worked to slow the Jepp but the tachometer refused to budge below 2000 rpm's. The engine appeared to be stuck in "go" mode --probably due to the -30 F temp outside. Our attempts to unfreeze the stuck throttle by revving the engine were unsuccessful.  We manage our speed with the brakes and allow the Jeep to self-propel us over the next 60 miles to Haines Junction, YT (mile post 1016).  We used the brakes to slow down to 30mph and cut the engine in an effort to stop the vehicle. Thankfully it was late at night and we did not have to deal with traffic lights, stop signs or patrol cars. When we attempted to restart the engine- the tachometer raced uncontrollably.

With time on our hands, we found the only open business establishment in sight--the Alcan Motor Inn--and sought input on how to correct and prevent our cold-weather-associated car malfunction. Six seasoned residents that were perched at the bar shared their thoughts:
  • "Sit down and have a drink, gas up and in a couple hours you'll be back on the road---it will all be good."
  • "It's warmed up. Be thankful it's not that cold outside."
Encouraged, we added a can of HEET fuel-line antifreeze and emptied a jerrycan's of gas into our fuel tank. It was so cold outside, we both had difficulty breathing. Jumped in the rig, used some instant heat pouches to warm up our frozen fingers, cranked up the engine.... and voila.....the engine purred at its normal low rpm. Problem resolved!! We happily drove the next 100 miles into Whitehorse to the beat of Turkish hip-hop. Lessons learned: respect the cold, respect the road, listen to the locals.


  1. Great description of your adventures Shatomi...the good and the bad! You're right about showing respect to the cold/road. The conditions can be cruel to body/machinery and change quickly. Laura and I never had any car problems while in Alaska, but we never had to drive in -30 F either! :) I wish you all the best, and I look forward to future blog posts.
    Tana :)

  2. Hey, Dominick & Shatomi, Glad U are doing very well to date with your sojourn to the North and now the South. Sharmella + I are up for the safe return of both of you chaps. We are praying and wondering which routes you are actually taking since it's a challenge to read your beautiful but small blog map. We've got our huge home atlas out and it's a work in art to match your map with this atlas. I like the challenge. We wish you a bon voyage in your days and nights behind the steering column. Certainly you'll both collaborate on a book about this journey. It'll stand well when each of you will tell the story to your children and grandkids. Please email Ammi for she is a bit tensed about the journey. I look forward to meeting you, Dominick, and to soon see your dual sets of slides, pics and journals. They'll be real history in action. May God bless and protect you gentlemen and give you safe speed and guidance along the way. It's a journey of a lifetime, no?!! Enjoy the experiences at every mile marker and more. Sharmella & Thomas Kerbawy