Day 7: Inuvik NT to Klondike River Campground, Dawson, YT
We were up early today, knowing that we'd have some ground to cover. The destination was Dawson, and more than 700km of gravel away. We did a quick go-over on the bikes, cleaning the chains, tightening bolts, and generally messing around until we felt that the noble steeds would get us through.
The ugly duckling looked ready,
and the Deerslayer sat quietly, eagerly anticipating the day.
Turns out one more moto party had showed up at the Nova Inn that night too: two Suzukis, one a Strom and one possibly a Bandit. They were a couple, plus a dog, according to Errol. Good on them.
The road to the first ferry was wholly uneventful. Lots of loose gravel, some freshly graded sections, and unpleasantly cold. For some reason, in the morning, the marine air came in and chilled Inuvik to the core. It wasn't bitterly cold, but enough to inhibit some motor functions. In any case, we made it to the ferry in good time.
Not only humans use it as a mode of transportation, we learned.
The first ferry took a bit of time. First, we had to wait for a tanker truck to get through the first section of the Dempster and join us on the ferry. When he showed up, they loaded him on the shore-side of the ferry. This caused the ferry to sink into the soft, sandy bank and get stuck. After five minutes of running the propeller to try to get us unstuck, the crew decided it would be wise to unload all the vehicles, put the tanker on the river side and the lighter vehicles on the shore side. We, being moto celebrities, didn't have to move around at all. They figured having the KLR on the river side of the ferry would probably be better. After all, it's a supertanker in its own right.
This got us moving, and soon enough, we were crossing over to the home side of the Mackenzie.
More straight roads greeted us between crossings.
I thought the reflection turned out well on this one.
We arrived at the Fort McPherson ferry, and waited on shore for a while. Turns out we (I)'d parked too far forward and the ferry wouldn't cross over to get us until we turned around and waited by the sign. Remember this, kids: wait by the sign if you want the ferry to come for you.
Southward we carried, with a quick look back over the Mackenzie Delta.
Onward through the construction zone and towards the mountain pass. It was still unpleasantly cold at this point in time, and we hoped our fortunes would soon change.
Like night turning to day, as soon as we made it through the pass, we were met with blue skies.
I was having a ball, taking on-the-fly pictures, when I came across a solemn funeral procession. About four o' them gopher-whatsits that were prone to wandering the gravel were gathered in a circle around a fallen comrade. It was quite the scene as I blasted by, shattering the tranqility of the service and sending gophers scampering in every which way. This was the best picture I could muster.
Life was good. At least I wasn't a squished rodent.
A quick tundra photo op,
and we were back on our way.
Into the Yukon once more,
bidding farewell to the Northwest Territories. It had been an experience I will not be soon to forget.
At the above photo stop, I wandered onto the hard-pack road, noticing the telltale signs of big GSes that had come through in soggier weather.
We were quite enjoying not having to deal with inclement weather or sloppy dirt roads.
Is that a freight train?
Naw, just an XS-Twin-equipped tractor.
We scampered by the Arctic Circle, having already gathered our must-have photos on the way up, and carried into Eagle Plains amid rough, rocky, uphill roads.
As we pulled in for fuel and food, we were met with two young dudes on Vstrom650s. They'd trucked their bikes from Ontario to Edmonton, and were on their riding leg of the journey. One of them rode his bike over, asking his buddy if the ol' Strom sounded right. His buddy affirmed his concerns and mentioned that it sounded a little off. Dad came to the rescue with the diagnosis: his starter was engaging constantly, which is never good for a starter motor nor a bike in general. After some poking around, it turned out to be a dust clog in the starter button, causing the button to stay on. A little compressed air solved that problem.
We went inside for lunch and had a good talk about riding, their experiences on the Trans-Lab Highway last summer, and we gave them road information on the northern section of the Dempster. Good guys, and glad to meet 'em. They were in their mid-20's, and were the only young guys we saw up there (other than myself). This moto travel thing sure seems to be an old fart's game.
Anyway, enough about old farts. It was time to ride.
Back once more to the epic viewpoint:
... And because no report of mine would be complete without knife content:
The day was getting on in hours, and we were nearing our destination.
Just north of Tombstone Mountain Campground is a pullout with a nice view. As I always strive for a pee with a view, I thought that it was only fitting.
As we decided on our final destination, a big Strom and an 800GS came up to the pullout as well. With their mirrored faceshields and fancy motorcycles, they were obviously far too hardcore to talk to such peasants. They scooted off in a spray of gravel without uttering a word. Weenies.
Anyway, we pressed forth, back to the junction, taking a photo that was much less ominous after conquering the distance.
After a fill-up at the junction, we carried on to just outside of Dawson, the Klondike River Campground. The fees were reasonable, the wood was dry, and the skeeters were manageable. Maybe it was the pickup campers blaring Dixie Chicks that scared 'em all away.
Anyway, that was a day, and quite a day it was.
Final mileage, July 3:
Yup, that's about Dempster distance +~20km.
The next day was a resupply day in Dawson, taking in some of the tourist sights, and tracking down the DOT knobby sent from Whitehorse that Dad may not need after all.