The top of the world highway
by Daniel Zvereff
Photographs taken on a journey through Denali, Alaska, the Top of the World Highway, and Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon, Canada.
A heavy wind knocks me over and pins me to the ground, bringing me eye to eye with a small, striped chipmunk who scurries by uninterested. When the wind decides to briefly let up, I quickly scramble over a ridge, and there, below me, Denali stretches out into the distance. On a far-away road, I can make out lazy elks being stalked by hordes of photographers with telescopic lenses that resemble rifles. The clouds can’t decide if they want to hide the sun or not, which results in a valley polka-dotted with shadow and sun. The knowledge that I will never be able to convey how breathtaking everything around me is simplifies the moment, and I just enjoy it as it is.
From Fairbanks, it is a 14-hour journey along the Top of the World Highway towards carefully curated and manicured Dawson City, Canada. The weather blesses me with a dry day to explore Tombstone Territorial Park, where sharp rocks and scores of small lakes line the horizon. Trees of fiery orange and red fall colors grow increasingly sparse, and then, at an almost invisible line, the flora transforms into an arctic tundra. The air is cold, but the wind is warm, quiet and pure. Tonight, the Aurora gently dances, moving faster than I imagined it to, like the underside of a jellyfish bouncing around, molding into shapes and then growing tired and stretching across the night sky like a string. It is my first time seeing it.