Woke to a crisp, chilly, sunny morning. "You have got to be kidding me, the air mattress leaked and my left hip feels like I slept on ice", arg.
The river valley below us was full of fog and made for some nice scenery. We quickly packed up and hit the road.
That beautiful fog became a nightmare. Add in some dust and it wasn't long before everyone was pulled over wiping the insides and out of their visors. After a half hour to an hour the fog lifted and we were rewarded with perfect blue skies and rising temperatures. The road was in great condition and even had some straight stretches. Made some good time.
The last 50 km's or so were supposed to be only suitable for 4x4's. Unfortunately this wasnt the case although the road did get a bit rockier and narrower. John blew a fork seal and Chris lost a pannier. I came around a corner and Chris's bike was facing the wrong direction and gear was scatterred down the road. "All you alright?" he was and the pannier was alll bent up, nothing a rock couldnt fix. Dan had a huge cinch down strap that was used to re attach the pannier and off we go.
We ran into an inmate up there, Throttlemeister. A quick hello, how are ya. We had had a few messages back and forth and had planned to hook up for a day or two's riding together but the timing was off. John is heading down to South America on a year long ride, safe travels
Near the end of the road you come to a bunch of hunting lodges and what not. A few km's past there the dam's gate was open and we road the dam and side trails for about another 10 km to the end of the road. Nothing fancy after all that travelling, the road just stops.
We took some photos and had a drink from the lake. "Where the heck is John and Dan, they were right behnd us not too long ago" "Must be taking photos" "If they dont show up soon I'll go back and see where they are" "Hey here they are now, hey they look pissed off"
The last stretch of road.
Met these lads who are Americans, planes drop off the hunters kills of caribou and they clean the antlers, salt the meat then transport it back to the states, something about saving on duty at the border or something. He says the herd is about 400 km north and is 400 000 strong this year. They offer one way flights up there for free. the charge to come back is a few thousand bukcs though. The plane flies empty up there, me......a 400 km hike threw the tundra...no thanks.
Love this road, if you like fast smooth gravel this is the road for you. It is a classic!!!
More great riding on the way back to Mirage with the exception of the last 50 km. It would seem this graded section got even dustier and now we had the sun in our eyes to contend with. I come flying around this one corner at speed with both wheels sliding, yehaa, then oh man look at the size of that rock. Because I was sliding and its such loose gravel avoiding the rock was not an option. Heck I'll jump it, compress the forks and pull up at the right moment and yehaa...air time! Ah crap landing....made it but just barely, its hard to land in this loose stuff going so fast, eceptially going around a corner. After the next corner I slow down and stop to catch my breath. No I didnt shit myself but it must have been close. I did dent my front rim pretty good. Tire held the bead and the tube didnt get a pinch flat
Along comes Stephen screeching to ahalt "man you should have seen the rock I just squared!", same rock and he had the same dented rim as me
1350 km long road and we both dent our rims on the same rock, mystery of the north.
Well we got to Mirage and the sun was dropping, we were going to push on another 150 km and camp but the thought of a hot shower, real food and cold beer was to tempting for all of us.
Mirage isnt cheap but I would recommend it. $129 bucks gets ya a private room with shared bathrooms, a great all you can eat dinner, all you can eat breakfast and a bagged lunch for the next day. Excellent food, nice people and a nice place all around. A couple of cold beers and a whiskey and I couldnt keep my eyes open.
A challenging day for sure, dusty, slippery, bumpy and all around good fun. Total km for the day was about 580 km all gravel.