Dawson City

Arctic Adventure Days #16 & 17

We are on our way home now. We’ve had our first of dirt roads and bears, so we won’t be stopping by the Stewart/Hyder area.

On these two days, we are backtracking on roads that we’ve already been on, and the weather is kind of crappy. That means not a lot of stops with new and exciting pictures.

We did stop for fuel at the intersection with the Dempster Highway and it seems we made it back just in time.

We didn’t see any big wildlife between Dawson City and Whitehorse. We did have some awesome ribs, salmon, and sticky balls for dinner.

When we were getting ready for bed, Kim found this in the bottom of her bag.

The missing key! Well it turns out after Whitehorse, we went back to Watson Lake and stayed at the same hotel. So, we gave them their key back.

The weather forecast looks like rain almost all of the way home, so we booked a room at the Bell lodge on the Cassier Highway for tomorrow. The next night should be in Prince George, and then on to home on Saturday.

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Arctic Adventure Day #15

Tonight we celebrated my graduation as a bear whisperer by drinking much beer, but not so much that we did the sour toe cocktail (Google it). So, not a lot of words in today’s post.

We camped in tombstone last night and woke up to rain. We tried waiting it out in the tent, by eventually gave up and drove the end (beginning?) of the Dempster while it was wet. It was a short drive to Dawson City today… We stopped and washed the Jeep on the way into town and then played tourist for the rest of the day.

We stopped by the visitor center. They had higher moose horns on display. Sometimes their horns become locked and they can’t get apart. The animals eventually die that way.

Mammoth tooth

More Mammoth tooth.

Riverboat on the Yukon river.

Downtown hotel. Home if the famous sour toe cocktail. This is where we stayed.

Piano player in the lounge.

End of the Dempster celebration.

Grilled cheese for dinner.

And some dessert.

Walked past the old mortuary on the way back to the room.

After being on the road for two weeks, and our little bear encounter (little encounter with a bear?) yesterday, we’ve decided that it is time to set our sights on home. Should be there by Saturday if all goes well.

Ok, there were more words in this post than I expected…

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 9th – Day #15

It rained quite a bit last night, so we had to let our things dry out a bit before we start our trek back to more civilized, paved roads. Walked back up to the cooking shelter to grab some breakfast, and ended up with some good views on the way back to the campsite (lower right of the picture).

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We were all packed up and on the road by 10:30a or so…when we got to the road, it was a bit muddy. Now the mud on this section of the road is nothing like the grease-slick mud that we encountered near Eagle Plains, but we were a bit gun-shy, and pulled into the visitor center just down the road a bit to play it safe and let the road dry out.

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The visitor center is a nice place that talks about the park, but it seems pretty useless when it comes to giving out information on the current state of the road. The weather forecast was for clearing in the afternoon, and then changing back to rain for the next couple of days. So, we had a small “dry” window open to us. After waiting for 45 minutes, we start to head out to the parking lot, still unsure of which direction we wanted to go – back to the campground or 70km out to the pavement. As we were walking out to our bikes, we spoke with some people who had just come up the road and said it was fine. So, we went for it! Turns out the worst part of the road (and it wasn’t that bad), was right outside the visitor center. Within a mile, the road was totally dry (and gravel).

Once we made it back to the start of the Dempster, we pulled over so I could air up my tires. I had them aired down for better traction…I wanted them back up to normal again for better mileage and so the tires would last longer on the pavement.

We made our way to Dawson City and grabbed some lunch. Halibut and chips!IMG_0428

After lunch and fuel (there is premium at the shell station in Dawson City), it was time to give the bikes a bath to get the calcium chloride muck off. They really weren’t that dirty compared to some bikes I’ve seen come off the Dempster (or Dalton). The rain last night did take some of the muck off for us.  IMG_0438

Happy KTM!

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After the wash, we went just a bit down the road to the Klondike river campground. We have a nice spot in the woods and really can’t see anyone around us. 

We walked down to the river to try some fishing since went through the trouble of buying fishing licenses. We had access to a section of the river that was not ideal for fishing. Wide and shallow with fast moving water. But it was still fun to cast a line for a bit.IMG_0442

I’ve made the call that we are not doing any more unpaved roads this trip. That means no Top of the World Highway or Denali Highway – I’ll have to save them for a future trip. So, to get to Fairbanks, we are going to need to start to backtrack tomorrow and head toward the Alaska Highway.

Alaska Ride – June 5th – Day #11

Today was our first rest day. We did not ride the bikes at all today, just did some chores and walked around Dawson City. The first task of the day was to do laundry.

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I needed to get the laundry done so I could have clean clothes to put on after I took a shower. Of course the clothes I was wearing didn’t get washed, so I brought them in the shower with me and washed them by hand. Put another $1 in the drier and all my clothes were clean! I also managed to get some shampoo and ditch that other stuff that I was using.

We spent some time walking around the waterfront. You have to take a ferry to get across the river and continue on to Alaska, we watched it go back and forth for a bit.

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We checked back in at the info centers to get the latest updates on the Dempster. Everything sounds good. There is a card lock gas station at the start of the Dempster (there used to be a resort there that burned down). The lady at the info center called the owner and verified that our non-chipped credit cards will work. We did all of our fuel range planning from Dawson City, so being able to top off our tanks after 25 miles will add a bit more buffer to our calculations.

The weather is improving over the next week, so we are good to start for tomorrow. Although it is raining outside right now. We’ll make the final call in the morning based on the weather.

We purchased our fishing licenses, so now we can legally fish at all the streams we ride by and never stop at. Maybe we’ll have a bit more incentive to stop now, although I’m not sure how excited I am about getting fish smell on me while I’m tent camping in Grizzly country.

Stopped at the hardware store to pick up a screw to replace the one I busted yesterday. Fixed that up, and then opened my top box to find out that it leaked as well. Now my passport is all wet. I shouldn’t have to use it though, my passport card should be good enough. I need to figure out why the panniers are leaking – i may have them too full so I’m not getting a good seal around the top. I’m a bit disappointed since these cost double compared to the panniers I sold with my KLR.

For dinner we hit the downtown hotel. They had an awesome guy on the piano for entertainment while we ate. At 9p, they started serving up the sour toe cocktail. We watched for a bit, but I weenied out. Maybe on our way back through. I did get a picture of the official human toe though…

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This will probably be the last entry for a few days. I don’t think I’ll have an internet connection until we get back to Dawson City in four or five days. It’s going to be a little scary, but a lot of fun!

Alaska Ride – June 4th – Day #10

WooHoo! We made it to double digit days! Although I’ve got to say the last day or so has been tough because I keep breaking and losing things. The zipper on my sleeping bag broke in the middle of the “night” (it was still light at 12:30a) last night. Tried to fix it while laying there, but gave up, fortunately it wasn’t too cold. Then I couldn’t find the cover for my chair when we broke camp. My best guess is that it blew away in the wind while we set up camp the night before and neither of us noticed. On top of all that, I lost the lens cap to my camera at some point. Oh well.

We were off at 8:45a today…Based on the recommendation of a person at camp last night, our first stop was at the Five Finger Rapids Recreation Site. It was a neat little spot that educates about the steamers going up and down the Yukon river during the gold rush, and how they ended up blasting out one of the rapids to make it safer. There was a staircase going down toward the river but we elected to skip it.

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At Stewart Crossing, we stopped for gas and a snack. We went across the street to the visitor center where the lady tried really hard to get us to drive out to Mayo. Not today, we are on our way to Dawson City! We still haven’t seen a live moose, so I took a picture of the wall at our stop. I think this one might be a moose/elk cross-breed 🙂

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The old man was feeling a bit groggy, so we stopped at a rest area at Gravel Lake. There are tons of nutrients in the lake and lots of waterfowl use it as a resting spot during migration (both directions). Sure enough, there were a bunch of birds there :).

A quick pic of the bikes at the lake, and the old man playing dead.IMG_0330

Dawson City is a gold mining town (they still actively mine up here). It looks like something right out of an old western. I need to take more pictures, this is the only one I took today…

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We stopped by the Yukon and Northwest Territory visitor centers to get an update on the Dempster Highway. The ferries have only been running for about a week. The road conditions are good, and all the campgrounds are open (ie no bear issues yet). There are showers in the forecast for tomorrow and Friday – enough wet to keep the dust down, but not enough to turn it into a muddy mess. Right now, we are planning on taking a rest day tomorrow and then start the trek to Inuvik on Friday.

The Yukon visitor center had a cool display of two moose racks that were locked together. Apparently they were battling it out during mating season, and there best guess is the smaller moose was killed instantly and the larger one either starved to death or got taken down by a predator.

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Based on the recommendation of the lady at the NWT visitor center, we walked over to The Drunken Goat for some dinner. We split one of their sampler plates that had lamb, shrimp, ribs, and chicken. Also tossed back a couple of beers. Good thing I am on a diet.

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Back at camp I still needed to figure out the sleeping bag zipper issue. I’m not a tailor, so please forgive my non-technical zipper jargon. The “slider” had come off one side of the “teeth”. My plan was to bend open the gap wide enough to slide the teeth back in, and then clamp it down. It worked…almost I was fine tuning the fix and busted the slider.

The zipper was the kind with two sliders facing opposite directions. So, I removed the other slider and reversed it’s direction. Then I started zipping up the sleeping bag, and taped the bottom together to act as a stopper. Seems to be working for now!

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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.