Columbia River

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!

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NWP/IDBDR Day #4

Miles Total: 514
Miles Today: 64

Up at 6a again today and had the same old breakfast before packing up to leave. I charged my InReach last night and noticed that the mount was loose when I put it back on the bike. So I opened up my fancy red tool tube, grabbed my tools and fixed it up. Unfortunately, this would not be the only time it was opened today…

There was a bit of mist on the lake this morning…grabbed a quick pic before we took off.

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We continued on dirt for a bit, passing through some active logging areas. There were a couple of spots where machinery had to pull over to let us by. Everyone was very nice about it.

Our first stop of the day was in the town of Northport. They had a very nice park along the Columbia river. They restrooms were well maintained and heated! There was nice grassy picnic area and a boat launch. We actually had cell phone service, so I gave my wife a quick call.

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After I hung up, a train came by…Later on, we caught up to this train again and I got some pretty cool 360 videos going along side.

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After the park, we grabbed some gas and started off toward Boundary Dam. Just after we passed the train, off in the distance, something big moved across the road in front of us. I’m 95% sure it was a bear – I tried to get some 360 video, but when I reviewed it on my phone I couldn’t make it out. Perhaps when I get home on a big monitor I’ll be able to tell. Not 5 minutes after that, there was a big grouse standing on the side of the road.

Eventually, we moved from pavement on to gravel again. The terrain was pretty straightforward and not very difficult at all. I was leading the way and came through a hairpin turn that was a little bit loose. I called back to my Dad on the intercom to see if he made it ok, just as he said he crashed. He wasn’t going very fast and was not hurt at all. I found a good spot to turn around and go help him lift the bike up. I had to take a picture before I helped lift…

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Well it turns out this was a blessing in disguise. After getting the bike up and resting for a bit, we tried to continue on our way. Immediately my dad started freaking out – his handlebars wouldn’t turn in one direction.  The issue – a couple of fasteners on his steering stabilizer had vibrated loose (it was a miracle he didn’t lose the fasteners). The crash had finally pushed it to the point of failure.

If you look at the picture below, the red piece moves with the handlebars, the black rods behind had shifted up to prevent things from rotating. If you look at the close one, you can actually see that the top is scuffed up. If this had happened at the wrong time, really bad things would result.

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Now the problem became tightening those fasteners. Normally they are tightened before the stabilizer is installed on the bike. There was no clearance to get a tool in on either side. After quite a bit of finagling, he got one side tightened up – the other side was just impossible, and was basically not threaded at all. There was so little clearance, the the fastener couldn’t even come out. So, we added a zip tie for insurance, and started toward the Boundary Dam campground. We figured at that point, I could run for tools to do a better fix, or call for extraction if needed.

Here is a pic of him on the side of the trail fighting with the fastener.

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We went very slow through the rest of the dirt section, which gave us an opportunity to chat about our options. We didn’t have the tools to do a proper fix (or did we…) for the stabilizer. The obvious solution – you can actually remove the red piece in the picture above, which essentially returns things to the stock configuration of the bike (my Dad added the stabilizer after his crash on the Dempster a few years ago).

We arrived at the campground and nailed down a spot in case we needed to spend the night. Then it was time to start taking apart the bike. Below, you can see the handlebars off and the stabilizer out.

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With the handlebars off, he tried to get access to the fastener that was still loose. After a long battle, he gave up and put everything back together. To fix the problem, you need to remove the large nut in the steering column – go back and look at the close-up picture of the dampener. The issue was that we didn’t have a tool big enough to take it off. Then it hit me – that nut looks like the same size as the axle nut on my bike, and I have a wrench to take the tires off with me. Sure enough, we gave it a try and it worked.

He really, really, really, really wants that stabilizer installed on the bike. He has had issues with head shake on the freeway when trucks pass by, and the dampener solves the problem. We decided to head into Sandpoint tomorrow and get a hotel room. We’ll take Sunday as a “rest” day, go to a store and get some loctite, and reinstall the stabilizer. It should also give us the opportunity to watch the Seahawks game.

It is about 100 miles to Sandpoint from our current location (at least following the path we are taking, we will complete the Northwest Passage). At this point it is getting to be later in the day, so we decide to camp here for the night.

I haven’t had a shower in 4 days, and my current clothes needed to be washed. So I decided it was a good time to jump in the lake and go swimming. On the way down, I noticed this sign.

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I’m not sure if I should be happy that there hasn’t been a cougar sighting in a couple of weeks, or worried because they have a semi-permanent sign to update the sightings.

Here I am in the lake.

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Here is our campsite.

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That’s about it for today!