To Alaska and the Dempster Hwy 2016 — Part VI

This will be the last part.  I think.  Maybe.

So as it turns out Jaime’s phone wasn’t waiting in PG for her.  She needed to wait for it, I needed to get moving so I could make it back to …. ick… work…. on July 5th.  They really frown on it if you don’t make it back from vacation on time.  Esp if you’ve been gone as long as I have.  I also needed to get back into the US by the 31st so that I could get some work done via remote.  I was running low on data on my international plan, overages are expensive.  So it was get back in the next two days and get the work done.   So I left PG without Jaime… It felt a bit odd too, to be riding off and not have her in my mirrors after riding together for close to a month.

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From PG I headed straight over to Jasper where I was promptly rewarded with wildlife sightings…

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There was also a black bear and a grizzly bear, but both were way too close to the road for my comfort and I didn’t want stop and hang out taking pictures.   It’s a whole other thing on a bike and your much more exposed to the elements and hazards like teeth and claws.  Or like a few days later in Yellowstone, with the Bison, exposed to herds of animals with pea brains that weigh a ton and have horns and hooves.  I’m just not going to hang out and wait to see what might happen.    Unlike, that fool in the above pictures on the right side….

I ended up camping in Banff that night.  I got lucky and found a spot in a park, it was crowded, the sign said the grounds were full but the one spot was empty and the ranger, I guess they are still rangers in Canada, said take it.  Since it was late and there hadn’t been anyone in it for over 24 hours.  I spent the next day wondering around Jasper and Banff.  I worked my way down to Canmore I let the GPS take me down some dirt roads that lead me to Spray Lakes where I camped the next night.  Wow! I it really was one of the best camping spots I had for the whole trip.

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I woke up the next morning to this lil thing trying to climb on my tent.  It freaked me out a bit.  I guess I was just too close to one of his escape tunnels.  At one point when I was prepping my breakfast he tried to take my oatmeal from me.  Bold little sucker.

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I continued down the dirt road for quite some ways until I saw this fella.

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Just beyond him was short stretch of pavement then it was back onto dirt again.  There was a great stream running along the dirt road until I started to climb up some hills. At that point I was starting to wonder about the wisdom of going out on dirt roads alone, when there was signs saying no vehicles with trailers beyond this point,  steep grades for the next 10 Km, and rough roads… hum.  No really the best judgement on my part.  I also hadn’t seen another vehicle for some time.  I just kept hoping I didn’t fall over.

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I got lucky and the road wasn’t too bad, I wasn’t able to stop and take pictures.  It did level off and smooth out once I got to the bottom.  The views were great too.

I made it down to Waterton I cruised through the town, made a quick stop for some stickers, hoped back on the bike and beelined it for the border.  This boarder crossing went really smooth, and quick there wasn’t anyone in front of me or behind me that I saw.   I think the two guys working were rather chatty, they both rode Harleys so they didn’t give me grief about being on a bike.

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I had a great deal of ground to cover since I was down to 4 days to get home.  I really wanted to make sure I hit a few places on the way.  First up was Glacier National Park and Going to the Sun Hwy.

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I don’t think I need to say much about these pictures….

I spent the night in Browning MT, now was interesting… I found a decent campground to stay at but with all the gunshots and fireworks going off I decided to sleep with the bear spray and the knife again that night and not because of the wildlife.

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The ride across MT to Red Lodge was mostly flat, with some interesting points here and there. I missed some of the better roads, in my hurry to get home.  I’ll have to go back to try it again.

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I hit Beartooth pass later in the day, okay it was actually early evening when I was riding up the pass, but it was quiet and there was almost no traffic.  Just like the day before I was actually able to stop in the middle of the road to take a couple of the pictures.

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I camped that night at Beartooth Lake, it was also a great campsite.  I had the entire loop to myself!

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Well okay this guy was around most of the evening, but he was quiet so I didn’t mind.IMG_20160630_210206743

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The lake was stunning in the morning light!

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From here it was onward toward Yellowstone!   I hadn’t been in the park since I moved to NM from Alaska in 1993, so I was really looking forward to seeing the changes.

I planned on riding as much of the loop as I could take, since I figured the traffic might be an issue.  I was able to ride straight up the the gate no waiting in line at all!  Nice!  A parks pass is really worth it.  Right away there were herds of Bison off to the sides of the road.

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This one was an example of one of the times I rode up the center of the road to avoid being caught by bison crossing the  road. I wasn’t going to sit there to wait and see if they came across where I was….  I was surprised at how light the traffic was really, there was only a few times where it got backed up.

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From Yellowstone it was down to the Grand Tetons, then on to Jackson Hole.  It was in Jackson hole where I finally found a replacement bladder for my camelbak that been leaking for the past 3 days.  For the most part I didn’t mind it too much as it was hot and it running down my back kept me a bit cooler,  but it was making it harder to drink enough water when you could only fill it half full each time.

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Now from here I had been thinking of heading east toward CO then down to NM, I wasn’t planning on heading to toward SLC, UT, but I stopped at a campground around Bondurant, WY I found a decent little spot, but I had some guy walk up to me as I was unpacking.  The more he talked the more creeped out I got and the more I felt the need to leave there in a hurry, like the hair on the back of my neck was standing up and I felt sick to my stomach..  I can’t say that I’ve had that kind of reaction to a person before, and it’s rather scary.  This was really a first for me.  Most of the time when someone makes me uncomfortable I just brush it off and stop talking to them and ignore it, but this time I chose to leave, and leave quickly.

It was kind of late, so I started to punch places into the GPS to see how far they were and just for grins I put SLC in.  Turns out it was “only” 210 miles, I figured I could make it there that night.  Besides, I still felt sick and knew there was no way I was going to be calm enough to sleep in strange place that night.  So the idea of heading to Mike’s house was comforting.  Once I made out of the mountains and I had a signal on my phone again, I called Mike to let him know I was on my way to his place and I’d be there in just under  3 hours.  True to form, he didn’t ask questions and just said they’d be waiting up for me.  I pulled into the drive about 12:30 Mike met me and put my bike into the garage for me.   Being there is kind of like being home, it should be I’m there at least one a year.  After a quick chat it was off to bed.

I spent the next night there too, it was good to see a few people I hadn’t gotten to see when we came through on the way to Alaska.  The next day I headed home a day early so I’d have one day at home to unpack the bike, wash the bike again, since it was still filthy, do laundry and just relax.  It’s great to sleep in your own bed after being gone for so many days.

All said and done…   I had 39 days of vacation I rode roughly 10,750 miles in ~30 days of riding, (Non riding days = 4 days in Anchorage, 2 days in Fairbanks, 2 days in Dawson, & 1 day in Salt Lake City) with 1,800 miles of that being dirt roads.  The longest day was 614 miles, the shortest was 169 miles. We camped 18 of the nights on the road, the rest were with hotels, friends, family or ADV inmates along the way.