To Alaska and the Dempster Hwy 2016 — Part IV

This next leg of the trip was back to Tok for one night.  But first, on the way out of town we had to stop in North Pole and check out Santa’s House!

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This would be the morning when we would have the only real injury of the trip.  I’m happy (I think) to report it didn’t happen on a bike, but it was due to wool socks on wood stairs.  Bad combo.  I missed, or slipped on the second stair from the top at Lori’s cabin and went down all 15 stairs on my left hip.  Lets just say, I wasn’t happy about sitting on anything for about 5 days, after that.

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This time we stayed at John’s parents cabin, it was just down the road from the Eagle’s Claw which was booked by the time I got around to trying to make a reservation there.  It worked out, this way we got showers in the morning before heading off.  Not to mention Jaime got to play around with putting some new farkles on her bike… There may or may not have been some cider consumed prior to this.

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The sights on the way to Tok as usual were nothing great to see.

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Lol.  We might not have seen many bears but we did find evidence of them.

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In the morning after leaving Tok we made our way to Chicken, I know, It’s hard to believe some of the names of these places, but they are great towns with very interesting histories.

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From here it was on to the Top of the World Highway, which was a very nice fun dirt road leading to Dawson City.  The views were amazing, Jaime and I ran it at different paces, she stopped to take more pictures than I did.   I kind of rode along just gazing at the sights. We did make a stop at one of the river crossings so John could show Jaime and I how to pan for gold.  It’s a very laborious process that did yield some “colors” but it wasn’t worth holding onto.  From there we worked our way toward the border.  IMG_20160616_115833746 IMG_20160616_143054711

Once past the border you work your way down toward the Yukon River.

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This is the first of our 6 ferry crossings on this trip.IMG_20160616_160049528 IMG_20160616_161132638 IMG_20160616_162237077 IMG_20160616_161137075

The next two days we spent in Dawson City for the D2D gathering… as it’s not a rally!  What can I say there arn’t  too many pictures of the signings as what happens at D2D stays at D2D.   But here are few to give you a few things to ponder….

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Jaime took part in the Poker run with John, she put him on the back of her bike.  The whole thing was on dirt roads around Dawson.  I took Lori out for parts of it on the back of my bike, but she wasn’t up do doing more than a two sections, which was fine by me since it was the first time I’ve had a passenger on dirt roads.  I didn’t tell her until we got back to the campground.  I spent the rest of the day cleaning the dirt off the bike so I could at least start the Dempster hwy the next day with a clean bike.  I knew it wasn’t going to stay that way, but it made me feel better.

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After the final night dinner with more than 320 other like minded ADV riders we prepped and packed the bikes to start up the Dempster hwy!!!!!

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It’s 269 miles from Dawson to Eagles Plains, which is the first gas stop on this road.  It’s roughly 950 miles of dirt road to Inuvick  which is the end of the road.  (at least for one more year, than it’s going to be extended out to Tuk.  And then I’m going to have to go back and ride it again!)   To say we were excited and nervous was an understatement.  We had tried to find others to ride with, but no one seemed interested in going with us.  I wasn’t too concerned since it seemed like there was going to be a large number of other bikers on the road for the next few days.  So I figured if we really got our selves into trouble we’d be able to find help.  Besides, if the boys didn’t want to play with us, that was fine, we’d just let them go off on their own.

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I have to agree with most everything I read about this road, it’s beautiful and the weather was rapidly changing from one minute to the next.  Sunny around one corner, raining and hailing around the next…

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Yeah, the bike didn’t stay clean for very long, this was our first stop along the road to check out a campground at Tombstone where they have a ranger station.

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From there it was a number of long hours until til we made it to Eagle Plains, we had to carry gas with us and we did have to use it.

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Just about 20 miles from Eagle Plains Jaime figured out that she had lost her phone, between there and the last time we’d stopped for pictures about 50 miles back.  She wanted to turn around right there to go back and look for it.  I wouldn’t let her, as I knew that the 1.4 gallons of gas we’d just dumped into her bike wasn’t enough to go the there and back.  So I got her to head the rest of the way to Eagle Plains, fill up with gas, then go back.

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I stayed behind to set up the campsite for both of us.  I also took advantage of the internet to track her on the spot which died before she got back to where we’d stopped for pictures.  I did some work while I waited for her to come back to the campgrounds.  Eagle Plains, isn’t a town, it’s just a gas station, hotel, campground, restaurant, and limited garage.  I wandered around talking to the other bikers there, waiting for her to get back, after a bit I gave up getting eaten by the mosquitoes and climbed into my tent to read while I waited.  I fell asleep after an hour or so to wake up to the sound of the triple pulling up to the tent followed by a crashing sound.  She was so tired and upset, that she didn’t get the side stand down all the way, so the bike rolled off and fell over as she walked to her tent.  Three guys that I had talked to earlier about all of it were still up and they ran over to pick up her bike for her.  Needless, to say, that she wasn’t quite herself the next few days without her phone.  I was glad that I had upgraded the international plan on mine as it got a lot of use over the next week. While she worked on getting a replacement phone sent to her, the big problem we ran into was where to have it sent.

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There was two more ferry crossings on the way up. IMG_20160619_153504311

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Now when we rolled into Inuvick I was NOT expecting to have temperatures in the 90s.  It really seems wrong to me to have it be that warm.  I wasn’t the only one who thought so, we asked around, they say it was becoming more common for that to happen over the past 5 years.  Scary.

We washed the bike after we found a place to camp for the night, we then went into the main part of town to find dinner, since it was just too hot and there was too many mosquitoes to want to cook.  There was also the signs about the three types of bears being found around the campgrounds,  that made me not want to have food out. Go figure.

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At dinner we ran into all the same groups that we’d talked about riding with, it was funny how now that we’d spent the day leap frogging all of them that they were all so much nicer and willing to talk with us more tonight then they had been in Dawson…..  It still comes as a surprise to me that it’s assumed that because your female that you can’t really ride very well or that you are going to need some one to take care of you or wait for you or whatever other reason it is that they just are so stand offish until they see you can ride.  Oh well, some things just aren’t worth worrying about.

In the am, we went in search of stickers, I mean we had to have stickers to prove we’d been there and done that, right?  During the search we ran into two guys from Calgary who had been having tire issues with one of their bikes.  They were looking for a place to fix the flat rear tire so they could make it back to Dawson.   After we consulted a couple more cute Mounties, who told us where to find the stickers, we headed off to find some food and then hit the road.  They went to find the tire repair garage, we figured we’d all be meeting along the road or down at Eagle Plains, since there was only one way back to Dawson.

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On the way back it was more Ferries, and leap frog with the other riders, at the first ferry we all met and it was a bit of a race when we all got off the ferry to see who could get to the next gas stop first…. I of course would never take part in such things…IMG_20160620_131001767 IMG_20160620_131010156 IMG_20160620_131753288

We all stopped for lunch at second ferry for a bit and talked about bike, tires, tire pressures, racing and the routes we were taking home.  None of us there were from Canada or Alaska and had a great deal of miles left to ride.  It was all riders from MI, IN, NM and a guy from England.  Gotta love the motorcycles and the cross sections it brings together.

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Now see those two behind Jaime?  They are twins, you aren’t seeing things, they were one of the highlights of this trip.  How often do you meet 74 year old identical twins who are riding this road for the 4th time???  They were so delightful, funny and one of them wanted me to audition to be his next girlfriend.  LOL! Too cute.

The sights on the way back were just as amazing as on the way up. It was almost like you hadn’t seen any of it before.

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The Arctic Circle is about 30 miles up the road from Eagle Plains.  Somehow on the way up we missed this, but on the way back we did see the signs.  The really big sign had been blown off in the storm a couple of months ago according to the road workers we talked to.

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Back Eagle Plains it was…. what a shock.  Time for a campfire to keep the mosquitoes down and watch the midnight sun of the solstices

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DCIM100GOPROG0131665.

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The next day it was breakfast and more riding back to Dawson, this was the section of road that Jaime had lost her phone on, she’d been doing everything she could to be any and everyone one to be on the lookout for her phone.  So when we hit that 50 miles stretch of road we went really slow looking for her phone.  Given that it was white and grey I wasn’t holding out much hope for finding it, but it doesn’t hurt to look.  I felt a sinking feeling when we got out there and I realized they had been grading that section of road.  I felt horrible for her, as I knew then that we were never going to find that phone. Maybe she knew then too, as she seemed to come to terms with it around that point.  Up until than, it had been she’d been more about keeping up the search, once there she actually said that I shouldn’t be looking that hard for it.  Once past that section the tension lifted a bit more and she started to enjoy herself some more.  How could you not looking at stuff like this? IMG_20160621_141728903_HDR IMG_20160621_150255904 IMG_20160621_162215714_HDR IMG_20160621_162440326 IMG_20160621_180323769IMG_20160621_180603037_HDR

Well we made it back to the end of the road!!!!  No injuries, flats, or falls.  No way you can tell those bikes were clean a couple days ago, eh?

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We headed back to Dawson, to get a room after we washed the bikes.

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I was up for camping again, but Jaime really wanted a room with shower and for that I really owe her big time.   I didn’t realize it until after 12 of us went to dinner, just how tired I was. I slept 10 hours that night, we had to get a late check out the next day so that we had enough time to get laundry done, along with getting the bikes washed again for the third time.  The quick washes on the way into town just didn’t cut it.

We could already see the damage the Calcium Chloride (CaCl2) was doing to the bikes.   The CaCl2 is used to stabilze dirt roads and control the dust.  It makes a side effect of making the roads super slippery when they are wet and it requires the roads to be wet  to in order for the road crews to work on them.  So when they are working on sections of the roads they are also watering those sections heavily, it really makes those parts interesting to ride.   It’s like riding on snot.  Or what I imagine riding on snot  to be like… we came through one section where they were redoing the CaCl2 and when they spread that stuff out it’s even slicker.  I was doing every thing I could to find the very edge of the road to stay as far away from it as I could.  My poor lil’ bike is never going to be the same after that road.

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The cleaning and reorganizing of everything in Dawson at the Triple J hotel.  Again Bless Jaime for insisting on getting a room that night!    We ended up leaving Dawson the next day at 5pm. Okay, it was day, it was evening, but you couldn’t tell, look at the pictures, it looks like day time.

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We stop to camp for the night around 11pm.  We had the best luck on this trip for finding cute camping spots.  I wasn’t too sure about Jaime’s tent set up, but hey it’s her tent and bike, not mine…

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