Two sets of these signs, this one and on the other side of the road, go up here in Paxson each October. A matching set appears at the other end of the Denali Highway, in Cantwell. The last winter fatalities on our road occurred over a dozen years ago as the culmination of a series of Very Bad Decisions. Three crosses at mile 43 remind travelers that There But For the Retention of a Few Still-Synapsing Brain Cells Go I.
There are a number of circumstances that make the possibility of big problems on our road even more precarious this winter. First is the altered hunting regulations, which are encouraging significantly more caribou-seekers here than has been the case for decades. Second is that those mile-42 stalwarts, Alan and Susie Echols of Maclaren River Lodge, have folded their tents and gone to balmier climes….like Fairbanks….until at least the beginning of February. Alan has been responsible for many, many rescues over the past decade – AK State Troopers have been more than happy to pass on to him the burden of rescues.
Not this winter.