Alaska Highway

Arctic Adventure Day #9

After a long day of driving followed by dinner and itinerary replanning, I am beat. So, there won’t be a lot of words in this post, mostly pictures.

I do have a couple of quick things… Between this trip and my motorcycle trip in 2014, I have now been on the entire Alaska Highway. Also want to get in a quick critter count for the day: 2 deer, a golden eagle, 3 black bears, a bear with brown fur (couldn’t tell if it was a grizzly), a bunch of sheep, and some bison.

Lunch at summit lake.

The Alaska Highway.

Sheep

Baby sheep

Bison

First Yukon sign.

Room

Sunrise/sunset.

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Starting a new adventure!

This time up is an epic Arctic adventure. We’ve put a tent on up of our Jeep, and the goal is to take the new road up to Tuktoyaktuk, NWT and camp on the shore of the Arctic ocean…. Maybe even take a quick swim :).

This post is going to be a quick description of our route. We will be using an inReach to track our location – you can follow along at https://tinyurl.com/ybtpeqmk. I’ve preloaded our route on spotwalla (the link) and you can go there to drill into the route in detail. I’ve included some screenshots so you don’t have to jump back and forth.

Section 1: Reservations

This first section I am calling Reservations because it is happening during the first week of July and we made lots of reservations due to Canada Day and 4th of July… We figure it might be tough to get campsites or hotel rooms.

We’ll start off at our house and take the two Columbia River ferries to a campground in Eastern Washington. From there we’ll head over to Flathead Lake to hang out with relatives for the 4th. Then it will be north to Banff and Jasper.

Section 2: Head North!

At this point all of our reservations will be done… So, we’ll see how long we stick to our plan. From Jasper, we’ll head up to Dawson Creek (milepost 0 of the Alaska highway) and jump on the Alaska highway. We’ll follow until Watson Lake and turn onto the Campbell highway. At the end of the Campbell highway, we’ll head north on the Klondike loop toward the Dempster where we’ll head to Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk and the Arctic ocean (maybe the swimming should be skinny dipping).

Section 3: Time to go see the bears.

Once we’ve camped on the Arctic ocean, we’ll head back down the Dempster to Dawson City. From there, jump on the ferry across the Yukon River and on the Top of the World Highway to Alaska. Eventually that will intersect with the Alaska highway where we’ll head back to Watson Lake. At Watson Lake it will be time to head south on the Cassier highway down to Stewart/Hyder where we hope to see a couple of cool glaciers and watch the bears.

Section 4: Heading Home

We will do some fairly long days heading home from Stewart. We’ll drive through Prince George and then South through the Frasier River valley and on to home.

Full Route

I really only expect this plan to stay in tact through our reservations, after that we’ll play it by ear. The Dempster can get pretty nasty when it gets wet, so we may have to wait for a break in the weather, which will add time to our trip our make up shorten up the end of the drive.

Hopefully I’ll be writing from a campsite tomorrow!

Alaska Ride – June 14th – Day #20

It rained again last night, however that didn’t stop my dad from forgetting that we were in a new timezone. He was up at 5a breaking camp, around 6:30a or so he started banging on something, maybe he was splitting wood? I dunno, I had to yell at him to be quiet because he was waking up the entire campground.

Rain showers came and went while I was cleaning up my half of the camp. The rain stopped just in time for the ride. I have to say, we have been really lucky with the weather on this trip. Based on previous ride reports, we expected days of nonstop rain. So far, we have only had one day where we rode in the rain all day long. The second worst was probably the day my dad crashed. We’ve been hit by quick showers here and there, but mostly has been dry with a ton of sun. Hopefully I didn’t just jinx us 🙂

We stopped in Delta Junction for fuel. Delta Junction is significant because it is the official end of the Alaska Highway. Not sure why that is…the same road continues on to Fairbanks, it just isn’t called the Alaska Highway anymore.

Just outside Delta Junction a moose ran across the road in front of my dad. My video camera is always going in a rolling loop, so I got it on camera, but it looks pretty small because of the wide angle lens…can you find it in the picture?

Moose Screen Shot

I’ll help you out a bit…

moose zoom

Like I said, not that good. I thought it would come out ok because I could see it crossing the road while I was riding. The camera is mounted lower on the bike (than my head) and I was riding staggered so my dad’s bike blocked the view. I suppose this is a good reason to use a helmet mounted cam. Since my nice new helmet isn’t so nice and new anymore, I may play with that when I get home.

This was one of the shortest days of riding, but it seemed like the longest. I can’t really pin down why…my dad thought the same. I think we were expecting a really short day and it took us close to 2 1/2 hours to get to Fairbanks. The views were so-so today as we moved away from the mountains. The rivers you cross are kinda cool – a lot of them appear to be glacially fed, so they have gigantic gravel channels with small rivers randomly snaking through them.

Our plan for housing in Fairbanks was to stay at the University. They rent out dorm rooms to tourists. They are doing a bit of construction on campus so it took us a bit to find the office. Once we found it, we were presented with several options for rooms. Our first choice was $40 each for single rooms, but they were sold out. Then it was $80 for a double room, which seems kinda lame. $100 for a double suite, or $110 for a quad suite (don’t quote me on these prices, but they are close). So of course we went with the quad suite. The advantage of the quad suite – we end up with 2 different “bedrooms”, a common work area, and a private bathroom.

Sprawled out in my “bedroom”

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Common work area

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Also included in the price was laundry and showers. Laundry was the first order of business – I wanted clean clothes before I took a shower. The challenge – how do I wash all of my clothes without walking naked down to the laundry room? I put on my swimsuit (that I haven’t used at all yet) under my riding pants and wore my down jacket with no shirt on underneath. Not exactly comfortable, but got the job done.

We spent some time researching Denali and how to go about the busses (we head there tomorrow) as well as various fishing trip options. We walked to a local restaurant for dinner and discussed our end game for the trip. We decided to spend two nights in what looks to be a fairly nice lodge in homer (Land’s End Resort) which is walking distance to a halibut charter. We are going to book our fishing trip for the 20th and start the long road home on the 21st.

Alaska Ride – June 10th – Day #16

More zipper failure! Last night my sleeping bag zipper died again, now it has a broken tooth as well. It is very near the top, I can probably zip it up 95% of the way, which should be good enough for the rest of this trip.

Our ride started around 9a this morning with beautiful blue skies! There was no rain last night and the roads were nice and dry. We are retracing our steps on the Klondike Highway to get back to the Alaska Highway and on to Alaska. This means we didn’t stop to take a whole lot of pictures today – we’ve been down this stretch of road before.

We stopped at Stewart Crossing to top off our fuel and a group of motorcycles arrived shortly after we did. A week or so ago I posted a picture of a bunch of BMWs with a Ducati – this was that group of guys. Since we saw them in that post, they had gone the entire length of the Dalton to Deadhorse, and were on their way home. We chatted about our rides for 45 minutes or so.

It has been several days since I’ve dropped my bike! To make sure my amazing string continues, I backed out the preload on the rear spring quite a bit, effectively lowering the bike. Now the balls of my feet are solidly on the ground and I can save some of the stupid drops.

My dad was getting a little drowsy, so we pulled over at a rest area along the Yukon River. This area was the western edge of the glaciers that covered North America in the last Ice Age. The river cut through the gravelly deposits left by the glaciers, forming the islands in the river in this picture.

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And while we are resting, I always need another picture of my motorcycle.

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We stopped at the coal mine campground (we stayed there just a few days ago!) for some lunch, and then moved on down the street to Carmacks to get some fuel. Not a super exciting ride today.

We are staying at Twin Lakes Government Camp. Out site has a great view overlooking the lake. When we first arrived, there were some threatening clouds, but no rain or thunder developed and it turned into a very nice evening.DSC03273

While we were relaxing, a float plane dropped in for a bit. He only stuck around for about 20 minutes, so he was either visiting a buddy, or delivering people.DSC03277

The view of our campsite.

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Tomorrow we are continuing south for a bit – going to stop for a giant cinnamon roll for breakfast, then swing by Whitehorse for fuel and supplies, and then on toward Alaska!

Going To Alaska – The Route

One week from today, I start an epic motorcycle ride to Inuvik and Alaska with my dad. We’ve been planning this ride for quite some time, I just haven’t blogged about it to this point. Now it is starting to sink in that we are actually going to do this, I figure it is a good time to get started. This particular entry will go through the route we are planning on using (thus the title).

We’ve divided the route into several stages that don’t totally make sense anymore due to changes in our plans, but I’m going to present them anyhow. We do not have a time limit for the trip, and likely after the first couple of days our plans will change. But at least we can say we thought about it before we left.

Stage 1: Getting There

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When looking at these maps, each color is a riding day. Our goal is to hit 250-300 miles a day, with plenty of stops for pictures, food, and butt rest.

Our original plan for stage 1 was to go to Dawson Creek to take a picture of MP 0 on the Alaska Hwy. Well, we may decide to take the ferry back from Alaska. Should we do this, a couple of our must do sites would be missed, so we re-routed to a western ride. Going this way will let us hit the Frasier River Valley, Bear and Salmon Glaciers near Stewart/Hyder, and the Cassier Hwy.

Stage 2: Staging for Inuvik

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This leg gets us to Dawson City – the location were we get ready to make 500 mile gravel/dirt run up to Inuvik. We’ll stop in Watson Lake to check out the signpost forest. We’ll have a decision on our route – the map above shows us taking the Campbell Highway, which is mostly gravel. We could loop around on the Alaska Highway if we want to keep on the pavement. Once we get to Dawson City, we’ll have to consider the sourtoe cocktail.

Stage 3: Inuvik

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Probably the most adventurous part of the trip. 500ish miles of gravel one way. 260ish mile stretch without fuel. This section of road is the main reason we will be carrying extra fuel containers with us. We will cross the arctic circle during this stage, and the sun will not set while we are up there.

Stage 4: Fairbanks

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This stage will take us over the Top of the World Highway and into Alaska. We will use Fairbanks as a hub for several rides, including a trip to Denali NP. We may decide to head up the Dalton Highway to Deadhorse if the weather looks ok. We’ll try staying in the dorms at the college, should be an interesting experience.

Stage 5: Homer

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Going to head down to Homer to see if we can get on a halibut charter. The ride down should be spectacular. We’ll hit the Denali Highway, which used to be the highway into the National Park. Also, the George Parks Highway will take us the rest of the way to Anchorage.

Stage 7: The Glenn Highway

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Those of you paying attention will notice that there is no stage 6…Our original plan had a stage 6 – Kodiak Island. Well, we didn’t want to be gone the entire summer, and due to having to deal with timing the ferries, we cut this from our list. Perhaps in a future trip.

This stage is the start of the trip home, we’ll backtrack over some ground to Anchorage, and then hit the Glenn Highway back to Tok and the Alaska Highway.

Stage 8: Getting back to the beginning

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This leg is entirely on the Alaska Highway, essentially back to Watson Lake and the Signpost Forest that we hit on the way up. Should we decide to take the ferry all the way back, we’ll drop down to Haines and hitch a ride.

Stage 9: Home

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Last stage! We could just repeat stage two in reverse, but more likely we’ll take the ferry from Prince Rupert to the north end of Vancouver Island. Then we are home!

So, this is our plan. Like I said above, it probably won’t survive the first week of the trip, and we may not do large chunks of it. But it should be fun.