Monday August 9, 2010 – Day 4 – “The Road Less Travelled”
I slept well, and woke up the next morning with most of my gear dry. I packed and got ready to load the bike. I saw these two bikes in the parking lot and had to take a picture for my friends back in Glendive.
I fueled up the bike decided to hit the road and get breakfast further down the road. It was still raining.
The clouds and fog definitely changed the views of the mountains. Here is another view of the Alcan as I start the climb into the Northern Rockies National Park.
The road narrowed a bit as it climbed up to Summit Pass.
Here on the west side of Summit Pass, I stopped to take pictures of the rocks and streams beside the road.
Here, I start to make one of those chance encounters along the highway. Three bikes go by while I’m taking pictures and I don’t think too much about it. It looked like two full dress tourers and a Honda ST1300.
As chance would have it, I also started noticing my bike was having problems idling. It would run at full throttle, but idled rough and would die while I was shifting gears. An annoying problem.
Another thing that you will see along the Alcan, are these road patches. They will vary in length from a 50 feet to a ¼ mile. It appears that when they first put it down it is a road mix of sorts with lots of loose gravel, but then over time they sweep the gravel off the top and viola a perfectly hard patch. It looks rougher than the rest of the pavement but they paint stripes right over it.
Like I said about these three riders, they passed me while I was taking pictures and then I caught up with them on one of these sections. Obviously a full dress bike will slow down for something like this, but they were really slow. So when opportunity presented itself I passed them.
I stopped to take some more pictures and my bike is acting worse at idle. I really didn’t want to troubleshoot a problem in the rain. On one of the internet forums, some folks had posted about a problem with the location of the charcoal canister vent line. I looked at my vent line, and when the engine was turned off water was running out of the vent line. I looked at the vent line for a bit, and then worked it into a loop on top of the transmission. Problem solved.
Of course the three wise men pass me while I’m working on the bike.
|Toad River is one of the small stops along the Alcan. There is an outbuilding of sorts to the right of this with the gas pump in front. You still have to pay at the cash register in the café. There were some outbuildings behind the stores and a couple of cabins.|
While I was fueling up, a couple from Wyoming stopped and the guy came over and kidded me about my “orange” bike. (KTM riders think the only good motorcycles come in KTM orange.) They were driving south, and mentioned that they heard the Taylor highway was closed. This was a road I was planning to ride on, it offered a short cut from Dawson City YT to Fairbanks. Before I left, I had seen that AK DOT was having problems with this road but had opened it up again.
Since it was so wet, I decided to take a break here and have some breakfast. The three bikes were outside, so I was expecting to see the three wise men inside. Sure enough there they were.
About the time I sat down, a young woman and her mother got up and said goodbye to the three wise men. The one guy sitting next to me, said she was travelling south from Fairbanks to Minot ND as she was in the Air Force. One thing that impressed me, was the fact that guys thanked her repeatedly for her service in the military. They also joked and said that she shouldn’t expect better winters at Minot.
Any way the three wise men consisted of two gentleman from California and the one guys nephew from Minnesota. They were all retired and enjoyed riding on trips together. The guy from Minnesota knew right where Glendive was as he met often with his uncle, and Glendive was one of the places he wanted to stop and camp, but he couldn’t find the campground. The two older gents recollected about their first trip up the Alcan. Apparently it was a while ago as they tented with a pup tent.
With a full belly of very good breakfast, I head out. The wise men and I would pass each other often until we reached Watson Lake.
Once past Toad River the road widens out again.
I think this is in Mucho Lake Park. Also, if you have more time than I did, you should stop by Laird Hot Springs.
As I got closer to Watson Lake, the clouds broke up a little and I was able to put away my rain gloves.
I stopped and talked with two guys on the opposite side of the road. They had a KLR tore apart, trouble shooting why the spark plug quit. With a wiring diagram and a multi-meter they were stepping through the problems. As I didn’t have anything to help them out, I continued onto Watson Lake.
Here is the signpost forest in Watson Lake. The visitor center is right there so I stopped in to see what I could find. It was well equipped and the staff was helpful. The staff thought the Taylor highway was open, but they recommended checking further along the route. They gave me a highway, gas stop and campground guide for the Campbell Highway. However, next time I would ask them for a phone number to the Alaska DOT road reports.
I stopped at a little café for a burger and fries. Watson lake is a nice little town to stop at. With a full tank and belly, I got back on the motorcycle to head up the Campbell Highway.
There were several side routes that I wanted to travel on, and the Campbell Highway was one of them. The road starts at Watson Lake YT and travels northwesterly to Carmacks YT. The first place to buy gas along this road is at Ross River, about 225 miles from Watson Lake. It is primarily gravel surfaced.
Here the road has been improved and is a wide four track road.
I was enjoying the sunny skies this afternoon after rain for most of the morning.
This is more of what I was expecting. It is well maintained, but just a three track road. Also the trees are right on the edge of the road and tall enough that its like driving through a tunnel.
Occasionally the road would open up, either because of a lake or a cut over the top of a hill. Then you could see the rolling hills covered with trees.
I ended up camping at Frances Lake Provincial Park. Some of the campsites opened up onto the lake and a couple boats were pulled up on the shore. The sunset cast its warm glow over the trees on the opposite lake shore.
It was a good day of travelling. The temperatures were cool, 45-75F with rain for the first 350 miles.
Stats for Day 4: 429 miles, 9.3 gallons of fuel, 12.0 hours