I never intended to do a solo ride to Deadhorse, Alaska.
It all started with a dinner conversation with an old friend and mentor in Denver a few months ago. At 71 years old he was lamenting that he had always wanted to ride the Dalton Hwy but was now too old.
Nonsense (my mom might be reading this) I say. I will go with you and carry you on my back if need be. But we will get there.
A week before launch and I get the dreaded phone call.
No, you sick bastard. He didn't die. He couldn't go because his savings had gotten slammed with the stock market.
So, since the planning had done and I had days off all set, away I went.
Crossing the border at Sumas, Washington. I was the only customer.
Day 1 707 miles
The road runs up the Fraser River canyon and is scenic in an arid, get me out of here kind of way. I was on a mission to get North fast. A turn at Prince George and thankfully am starting to feel like I'm getting into the wilds of BC.
A camp at Burn Lake was a warning that I didn't notice right away.
1) Biting bugs
2) They build tent spaces out of pit run compacted gravel that a tent stake will not penetrate.
Day 2 573 miles
Up at 0330 and rolling soon after. A stop at Smithers BC for breakfast at the last motel/ cafe on the right. Get the Loggers Breakfast and loosen you belt. Pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, toast and a gallon of coffee. I would last me until camp that night.
On to the Cassier Hwy. The road starts out in beautiful condition and slowly deteriorates as you go North during the day.
One thing to consider. If it's wet, the bridge decks are wood.
It is a must that you detour the 40 miles into Stewart/ Hyder on the trip North. Hyder, Alaska is a muddy, dusty little ghost town with more for sale signs than people.
The ride in was cloudy and foggy so I didn't appreciate the scenery. But after the obligatory pic at Mile 0...
The sun came out and exposed Glaciers, hanging glaciers, and raging rivers right next to the road.
I could spend a week just in this valley.
Northbound again and a tent space at Waters Edge Camp at Dease Lake. A minimalist camp with no electricity to recharge your gadjets.No cell service and a one hole outhouse with a half door. But they have WiFi.
Day 3 836 miles. The punishment day
It was a tough day. First my Outdoor Reasearch air mattress went flat on the right half side. Leaving me balancing on a 12" wide bed. It never really gets dark this time of year so up and rolling again at 0300 in the morning gloom. The road is more gravel than pavement and posted at 60-70 kph (HA!) 36-42 mph. The 990 cruises at 65-70 mph just fine. That's the nice thing about Canada. No cops. I saw one total in 6,000 mile of riding.
Worse than cops on the road are the Northern Speed Bumps. Moose, Cariboo, and Bison will be everywhere you don't want them. Like standing in the road on a curve or just ambling in front of you when you turn to look up at a lake. FYYFF.
Breakfast at the intersection of the Cassier and Alaska Hwy at Patty's Cafe. All homemade food. That is one thing about being up here. Most everything is scratch made because of supply chain is so long. You will eat well.
Even though I didn't need to go, but to say I had ridden to whole length of the AlCan, I side tripped into Watson Lake. A 30 mile detour. While ther I added my sign to the forest. That's me in the middle.
Refuel and roll.
Whitehorse YT is a real honest to God town with a headshop and disenfranchised Goth teens walking the streets.
This is also the only real bike shop you will see before Fairbanks so if you need anything, get it now.
The last 200 miles of the Can side of the AlCan are as close to a paved MX track as I have ever seen. I was moving at 85mph most of the time by now to make camp before 10pm. The road surface, while paved, was so frost heaved that I would get air off the tops and bottom the suspension in the G outs. Really fun. Seriously. Real fun.
You gotta stop at Buckshot Betty's for a burger in Beaver Creek, YT. It is the farrthest west town in Canada and only 50 miles or so to the border. I shared a table with the only cop I would see for the ride. Nice guy.
Back on the MX track AlCan and moving fast.
There are thunderstorms ahead and that makes me go a bit faster. WooHoo!
I enter Alaska after holding the Canadian speed laws in contempt for being posted at 100kph (60mph) over these vast areas only to see that here the posted speeds are 55mph!
The Hell with that.
Back at 85mph and tooling towards Tok and a bed and right into a downpour from that Tstorm.
You have to camp at Thompson Eagle Claw motorcycle Camp
It was raining a little and all the tough guy riders were in motels. I had the place to myself and was rewarded by the owner with a sticker that says " I wasn't a pussy. I camped at Thompsons Eagle Claw.
Thompsons has a wood fired sauna /shower. So I sit in there sipping Irish whiskey and writing in my journal until I am totally relaxed and ready for bed.
Day 4 261 miles
Early up because it never gets dark. Note to all. Carry a sleep mask if you come up here.
The road between Tok and fairbanks has more homocidal Moose than anyplace along the route. You will have several max-braking events to avoid these FF's from trying to kill you.
Another Loggers Breakfast. This time in Delta Junction and then finish the day at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks at the dorm.
Before reaching Fairbanks though you will ride along the runway at Eilson AFB. Of course that's where the only moose that wasn't camera shy would be standing. Actually standing near the sign that says No stopping or standing. No photography for the next 2 miles.
The dorm room in Fairbanks was so small that the lens of my camera couldn't capture it. Lets just say it was sparse at 6' x 12'. Painted a featureless white with one window and no A/C. It honestly could have been confused for a prison cell except it was missing the Stainless Steel pot in the corner.The bathroom down the hall was decent except when I came out of the shower there was a girl washing her hands in the sink. A quick glance at the door just said Bathroom-no sex specified- so maybe this was a uni-sex bath???
I had to ask and the girl says, No, she just didn't want to go to the 1st floor where the girls bathroom was.
Oh. Well that's okay then?
Day 5 527 miles
Now the fun begins. The meat and potatos of the ride.
The Dalton Hwy
This kind of says it all
Away I go. Keep the gas tank full and watch for the potholes.
And the flowers. Freaking things were everywhere. For miles in every direction.
The bugs were swarming around my head so I couldn't take off my helmet. I did get in a shameless plug for Lynwood Motoplex, my local KTM dealer.
Lunch in Coldfoot Camp
Vast areas that get a little overwhelming
A stop to brew a cup of coffee at Atigun Pass. but the wind was blowing so hard I was worried my bike would tip over. I will try again and fail later for different reasons.
Like a hailstorm.
Right after I took this picture, the truck you can see approaching nailed me in the chest with a wall of slush. Thank you Sir! May I have another.
Finally, exhausted and hungry I ride past the Coldfoot Inn. It's the first "hotel" you pass on the way into town. Even with 40 knot winds blowing and the building being a hundred feet off the road I can smell the dinner cooking. A quick U turn and I am home.
This was my favorite place on the whole ride. The rooms were $200 but considering I was on the Moon, the price was reasonable. The dinner that night was all you can eat Prime Rib, Deep fried Prawns, Clam strips, Salmon, Fresh baked Croissants, rice, veggies, salad, 2 kinds of pie, 2 kinds of Ice Cream.
Again, the shared bath was down the hall.
There isn't a tree for 300 miles, so the boys at Halliburton made their own National Forest
Next up. The ride South.