The BBC’s new Sunday night series looks to be quite an entertaining way to pass an hour for the next few weeks. Last Sunday saw the first in the programme where Sue Perkins and Charley Boorman headed off to cross the state of Alaska from the southern coast up to the northern coast.
Despite the length of the road they travelled most of the programme revolved around that magnificent dirt track the Dalton Highway. It’s the route that has become famous in this country because of the Channel 5 series Ice Road Truckers. And speaking of that series, I’m fairly confident that the trucker who came to the rescue of Sue and Charley when they ended up in the ditch was Ice Road Trucker star Jack Jesse. Anyone who watches Ice Road Truckers would know that pulling over to help people in distress is just the sort of thing that Jack would do.
But back to the Worlds Most Dangerous Roads – Alaska programme. The early part of the programme did feature the one lane tunnel through the mountains to take you into the vast wilderness of Alaska but apart from a quick mention of Mount Mckinley there was no mention at all about the amazing scenery and wildlife that you find in the Denali National Park through which they passed.
The bulk of the programme revolved around the Dalton Highway from Fairbanks to Deadhorse mainly I guess because that is where all the action is really. The Dalton Highway has only recently been opened up to the public having previously been restricted to the hauling companies supplying the oil and gas fields. The truckers still have priority on the road and tourists take second place.
Sue and Charley was sent on the task of crossing Alaska during Spring so although they would probably miss the bulk of the bad winter weather they still managed to get caught in a storm and hand a ‘white-out’ barely able to see the delineators that mark the edge of the roads. A little panic set in on the CB and the truckers advised the adventurous duo to calm down a bit. Calming down is probably something the Charley especially needed to do as I’m sure there was no reason for the rudeness to Sue when they changed over the task of driving. There was clear frustration with both people though.
Sue and Charley managed to catch a glimpse of the wildlife that abounds in the region. Lynx, moose, caribou and arctic fox were among those spotted. Sue spent some time chatting to one of the locals who is concerned over the way that hunting licences are now being issued allowing far great shooting of the caribou herd. Within the space of just one year tourist hunting licences have increased from being permitted to shot just one caribou to the current level of 5 caribou. The local subsistence hunter is concerned that the local herd will not be able to sustain such large scale shooting.
The programme put a different light on to the Dalton Highway especially as it was during a different season than Ice Road Truckers which concentrates on the winter season when the ice roads are much more stable. But I can not help but think that the two presenters would have enjoyed their journey more and seen much more wildlife if they had left their trip for an extra month or two.
This programme was broadcast just as I started to get some feedback from our own Dalton Highways tour. Our tip went out last month during the summer and there’s some great feedback coming back. I’m currently waiting on our suppliers to see if we can run it again next year.
The Dalton Highway really is a road that goes through one of the last remaining wilderness on Earth. The World’s Most Dangerous Roads series on BBC really did demonstrate just how wild the road can be when the weather turns.