Eagle Plains

Arctic Adventure Day #12

Lots of milestones today. We made it to the Arctic Circle, Northwest Territories, and Inuvik. It is really hard to describe the landscape up here, particularly when we were in the mountains. You could see forever – the landscape seems larger than life.

The road was fairly mucky up to the Arctic circle, and slowly improved as we moved north. The last 100 miles, dist was more of an issue than the mucky roads. And the last few miles into Inuvik are actually paved!

Here is the Arctic circle sign.

Selfie

We really haven’t seen too many animals the last few days. On this leg of the trip we saw a bunch of rabbits, a grouse (or some kind of game bird on the road), and tons of Ravens (they are really loud). We also saw this guy begging for food at the Arctic circle.

360 at the Arctic circle

Northwest Territories

Selfie

360 view

Peel River ferry

Fort MacPherson visitor center

MacKenzie River ferry

Dirty Jeep in Inuvik

(Mostly) clean Jeep in Inuvik

There is either 12 hours or an instant of darkness here… My bet is that it just stays light all the time. Don’t think I’ll stay up all night to verify.

Advertisements

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).

DSC03262

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.

IMG_0427

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!

IMG_0436

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 8th – Day #14

Two weeks on the road! Today we are heading back down the Dempster and continuing our journey toward Alaska. We got out of bed a 7a and went on over to the hotel restaurant for a quick breakfast. Then it was time to pack our bikes and begin our journey.

Right before we left, I grabbed a shot of the two BMWs that are heading back down on a truck tonight. They didn’t have the greatest tires on for the conditions.IMG_0411

We took it slow to get some confidence back after the crash the other day. My dad was pretty tentative yesterday on the whole trip to the Arctic Circle and back. We stopped at the first two rest areas, got off the bikes, and assessed our situation. The road was in good shape, although we could see some showers forming to the south (our direction of travel).

We stopped for lunch at Engineer Creek again. The black muck that was there last time had dried up, although i don’t know that I would want to stay there except in an emergency.

The road is pretty dusty to this point, and there seems to be more traffic in both directions. I was letting my dad set the pace – I stayed quite a ways back to stay out of the dust. Eventually, the rains did come. Just enough to keep the dust down on the road, but not make the road too slick.

The scenery heading southbound into the Tombstone area was much more interesting than on the way up. The mountains were in front of you the whole time. We didn’t stop to take any more pictures though.

We stopped at the Tombstone campground for a quick rest and to put some fuel in the bikes. It was such a nice place we decided to spend the night here. We have a very nice spot that has plenty of room for both our tents and tarps.

DSC03228

It is right on a creek.

DSC03238!

And has great mountain views!

 DSC03241

We got rained on a bit as we set up our tarps, but nothing too serious. Once everything was squared away, we went up to the cooking shelter to make dinner – they have a shelter set up away from the campsites so you don’t attract bears to your tent 🙂

IMG_0420

They also had a food locker right next to the shelter, so we left our food and stoves. We’ll just walk up in the morning and make our breakfast.

Alaska Ride – June 7th – Day #13

Never, ever, ever take two Advil PM at midnight if you want to get up at reasonable hour the next day. I learned that from experience when I didn’t wake up till 11a this morning. While I was sleeping away, my dad went over to the shop and fixed his dented up pannier. Almost as good as new!

We arranged for a late checkout since checkout time was 11a, and loaded up the bikes. The old man is in good spirits after his crash yesterday, but his ribs are really bugging him. The plan for today is to slowly head north and see how it goes. One of the major goals for the trip is to get to the arctic circle and we are soooo close.

We checked out of the hotel and topped of our tanks. I aired down my tires a bit – my front didn’t grip as well as I would have liked in the mud yesterday. Then we were off!

This section of road had tons of very loose gravel on it…they either just added some or recently graded the road. Airing down my tires didn’t seem to help any here, it felt like I was going down a loose gravel road. Nothing too scary. I let my dad set the pace, and we went pretty slow. He was riding way too tentatively and I was worried about another crash. We finally made it to the Arctic Circle without incident.

A picture with the bike…

DSC03211

A picture with the me…

DSC03221

Panorama of the landscape…

DSC03226

I took a picture of my GPS with the Sunrise and Sunset time since this was the farthest north we’ll be coming. Not quite sunny 24hrs a day…only happens here on the longest day of the year.IMG_0406

The weather at the Arctic Circle was starting to worsen, particularly to the north (we saw some lightning on the ride up). My dad is riding too tentatively and I think he may have cracked a rib in the fall yesterday. I’m worried if he takes another spill on that rib, something very bad could happen. So, I made the call that we would not be going any further north – time to get him back to some pavement. At this point, I’m assuming we are done with unpaved roads for the trip. We’ll see how much confidence he gets on the way back to Dawson City…

We made our way back to Eagle Plains to get another hotel room for the night. They give people this nifty little certificate if they make it to the Arctic Circle.

IMG_0407

Now we get to the part of the blog where young children need to look away – it is time to have a discussion about my motorcycle boots. At one point in time, very long ago, my motorcycle boots were waterproof. They are no longer. In fact, they have been waterlogged many times. On top of that, I have pretty sweaty feet. The net result – my boots smell really, really bad. So bad, that you really don’t want them in the hotel room because the room is filled with the smell. I’ve been shutting them in the bathroom and turning the fan on. Now, my feet have been in these boots for the majority of the day for the last two weeks. I feel like the smell has been permanently infused into my feet. They now feel like the smell smells (does that make sense?). So I decided to soak in the bathtub. I’m not normally a bath kinda guy, but it was really worth it this time around. Unfortunately I have to stick my feet back into those boots tomorrow…

Once I was all clean and my feet don’t stink anymore (at least to me). We head of to the lounge for some dinner. We grab a couple of beers and order a plate of nachos. After another beer we decide that the nachos were enough for dinner.

IMG_0409

There have been a few bikers coming through. I spoke with a couple of guys yesterday that were returning from Inuvik and were on their way to Deadhorse before heading to South America. Makes my little adventure seem, well, little. He fell at 100kph (so he claimed), and just slid with the bike for a long ways. There is another nice couple who rode up on BMWs with street tires on them – they barely made it here the day my dad crashed, and are waiting for a truck to haul their bikes back. This is not the easiest of roads to ride.

We are going to try for an early start tomorrow. The rain seems to develop in the afternoons, and the road isn’t bad while it is dry. I’ll let my dad lead the way again, so we can go at comfortable pace for him. We also may stop and fish along the way, so it could be a couple of days before we get back to Dawson City.