Friday, April 29, 2011

Heading back down

This morning was freezing! All 4 of us were waiting for someone else to make the first move and get the day going, the temp was near freezing and the wind was blowing, I decided to get the ball rolling and started a cup of coffee. Soon Keith appeared, then Rob and Dennis. There was a low fog over the area, hiding the world around us under a blanket of silky white. The odd thing is that the wind was blowing but the fog stayed put. We quickly packed up and started the long trip back down the Dalton. Keith and I had to make it to Delta Junction by the end of the day to keep on schedule. We are going to visit friends in the Anchorage area for the weekend and didn't want to roll in too late. We are going to take the long way round to anchorage via the Denali Highway, a state road through the Denali Nat. forest. We will get up close with Mt. McKinley and absorb the beautiful scenery it has to behold before we continue down south to the warmth of the lower 48.
I climbed into my tent without my cords to download my pictures, and I'm really not going to get back out and get it. I have a few I will post with my iPhone which you should have already seen. The rest will come tomorrow,

The trip down was long and tiring. We drove over 600 miles, nearly 500 was dirt. The concentration needed to travel on loose gravel really wears on the body. Or hands, shoulders, ands back are sore and my butt did a lot of clenching around some of the turns with loose rocks. All said and done....we made it here safe!

We found a dry river bed where we set up camp. Now for some quick sleep....another 400 miler tomorrow. Then a couple days rest!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A day of rest

Today Keith and I took a day off and kicked back and relaxed....

My friend Jon-Marc took us out four wheeling to a beautiful glacier. We drove 22 miles one way along a riverbed, fording streams and climbing sand dunes.

Here is a little clip of the fun creek bed
Then we played around a little and all of us got stuck at one point.

Luckily all the machines had winches and we easily pulled them out

After we got home, the real fun came..

What great fun we had today. Reminded me of the good ole days of working at summer camp, and "borrowing" the boys directors four wheeler and taking off for a while...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Stuck in anchorage

On the way back down the Dalton Keith had some issues with his thing let to another and he had to order another chain and both sprockets. Sand and dirt really reek havoc to moving parts. We ordered the parts today and were told they would be here tomorrow by noon. If that's true, we should be able to head out of here sometime in the mid afternoon.
Thanks to great friends we have a warm dry place to stay for another night

today was spent tweaking the bikes and fiddling around. The weather is 68 degrees and rather pleasant.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kinda headed home, but not really yet

Today Keith got his parts in and we tried to work hard together and get them on. Time just wouldn't be our friend but after a few challenges we got everything finished and we were headed off....At 6:15pm. Despite the late exodus, we needed to get a few hundred miles down the road to keep on schedule. We pretty much used all of our "sick" days in Anchorage.

It was a dreary cool misty day as we throttled toward Tok Junction. It was 300 miles away so we settled in and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the gorge we were riding along. The river flowed along like a long snake nestled between 2 rocky cliffs. The road wound along the side of it dipping down ever so often then climbing back up giving us spectacular views of the valley and glaciers we passed

The rain started an hour into our ride and wouldn't stop for the rest of the night. It got heavy at times but with our super waterproof gear we stayed warm and comfortable. We stopped for a few minutes for Keith to refill the gas tank since every station we passed was closed. I ate a few fruit rollups and a granola bar which would eventually count as supper.
As we approached Tok, we found a grassy field where w pitched camp and climbed in our dry tents.

As I am typing this the rain is gently tapping on may rain fly and the mosquitoes are swarming and breeding under it.

For some unknown reason my iPad isn't tethering to my iPhone, so I will have to wait and upload this some other time.

Tomorrow we will ride up the Dempster Highway. It is just over a 1000 round trip miles of dirt road that passes the arctic circle and endes in the town in Inavik. It is the farthest north one can drive in all of Canada. Prudhoe Bay is the farthest north one can drive on the North American Continent....but we already did that!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bye Bye Alaska

Today was our last day in the great state of Alaska. We awoke at 5:40 to a little kid yelling and screaming. Evidently they had blown a tire and were waiting for a AAA guy to change it. Well...up and at it I guess.
Come to find out we camped at an old run down airport with a wide but short gravel runway. We ate and packed up pretty quickly an were on enroute to the Dempster

The day was comfortable with a cool touch. A thin layer of clouds drifted in the sky while the sun peaked between them. We topped off the scooters and aux tanks because service stations would be few and far between.

The Taylor Highway AKA "Top Of The World Highway" runs from Tetlin Junction to Glenboyia where it turns into the Klondike Highway. The Dempster Highway turns off at Glenboyia and runs 456 miles north to the town of Inuvik, which is the farthest north one can drive in Canada. The road is all gravel and dirt and can be cautiously ridden when dry...

as we wound our way up towards the Canadian border the clouds lifted, letting us see how vast the area truly was. Mile upon hundred mile was laden with hills and valleys full of green trees and vegetation.

Eventually we came to the town of Chicken. Chicken got it's name by the early miners who wanted to name the town Ptarmigan, but didn't know how to spell it, so they settled for Chicken, the a common name in the north for ptarmigan.

We stopped for a break and a cup of coffee while wandering through the gift shop. The place was quite busy with other motorcycle's and rv's. As Keith was walking inside a Harley pulled up beside him, hit the front brake in the gravel and SMACKED down on its side, pinning the stunned ashamed rider beneath it. Keith helped the poor soul to his feet lifted the bike upright and gave the fellow a smile, hoping to somewhat ease the humiliation.

After a small purchase of some stickers and a tee shirt, we pressed on.
The border was located on top of a mountain at roughly 4000 feet. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, the agents come for 4 a month stent, working a week on week off. They gave us no trouble at all and we were through in minutes. Alaska was now just a good memory and would no longer be part of our trip.
As we descended out of the mountains we looked to the northwest and saw an interesting rain cloud which we would later learn would be our demise.

Down we went to the town of Dawson Creek, the home of the famous "Dusk to Dawson" motorcycle rally. We crossed a small ferry into town just as the rain started falling.

The rain continued to fall in torrents as we looked for a place to eat. We found a nice cafe and ducked inside out of the rain.
After a nice lunch that consisted of 5 egg salad sandwiches... 2 for Keith, 3 for me, we took a look outside. Te rain was still falling but showing signs of blue sky. We walked around from store to store looking for stickers to stick to the side cases until the sun was out.
I was pretty sure our Dempster dream had just ended due to the rain. We would still drive by and see if anyone had any first hand information for us.

As we mounted the bikes I noticed I was a little low on oil, so we stopped by the Napa Autoparts store. As we parked our bikes, 2 KTM Adventures pulled up behind us. Two gentlemen asked us if we were heading north or south. I told them we were headed up the Dempster. He asked us if we checked on the road conditions and I said we had not yet, but assumed that it was muddy since it just rained. They said that they talked to the guy at the gas station and were advised not to go on the road due to very bad road conditions. They were going to wait until tomorrow and give it a try. We decided to head over to the beginning of the highway and check the conditions and see how they looked before making our decision.
As we headed that way, I knew this might happen to us. The road can be a trip-ender if not taken seriously. We stopped at the corner and talked with a man that had clearly just returned off the road with his white travel trailer

He said the road was good for about 200 km but then turned into a 4-5 inch mud slush. He had a hard time with his 4x4 truck, so he turned around. He Recommended we head up to the tombstone mountains at least and see if it dried out tomorrow. We thanked him and decided to cautiously ride up. The road was undoubtedly wet and slick, but our dirt tires helped tremendously.

After about 40 miles our necks and backs ached from the tension and hard concentration. We decided to turn around and head back to where we saw a stream and camp there for the night, as we headed back we were delighted to see a brown bear walking up the road right by us.

At one point he was less than 25 feet from where we were stopped. He just walked past not giving us any attention.
We continued just down the road where we would camp for the night...
As we cooked supper we were well prepared for any kind of attack!

Don't let the head nets fool you! A shotgun and bear mace goes a long way out here!

We Rinsed off the bikes with stream water trying to keep the brakes as clean as possible

With a nice fire going I sit with my net on and a swarm of rat-like mosquitoes around me.

Due to the rain and muddy conditions, we will sadly leave the Dempster Highway behind us for another time. We don't want to wait until it dries enough then get stuck on the other end after more rain falls. We have driven over a thousand miles of dirt road already with no incidents and will not take any chances just to check another box off. The Dempster will always be around for another trip in the future. I have reached my dream and goal of riding the Dalton which came true last week! Now it's time to head back to the family in one piece.

We still have a lot to see and thousands of miles to ride until we are home. What a great trip this continues to be!