Wednesday August 11, 2010 – Day 6 – “Detour”
I slept well and got up and ready for the day. The Bunkhouse has community showers, so getting up early put me at the head of the line. In fact I didn’t see anyone else. I drove the bike over to Front Street to see if the restaurant was open and I was a little early. I decided to take a walk along the boardwalk and do a little window shopping. During this walk I found an internet café that would be open about 8 am, so I figured I would have a good way to get some official information.
Across the street they had this river boat on display. It had some interesting construction that I would like to explore more sometime.
Tied up on the river were two working boats. I personally would like to see how far the twin hull boat would go on the river. During the gold rush days, heavy freight could be brought up the river from the Pacific Ocean port in Alaska. Also, a fair amount of trade went upstream from Dawson to Whitehorse.
Anyway, Riverwest Bistro was opening up and breakfast was calling my name.
A quick review of the Alaska DOT site, confirmed what I had been hearing. The Taylor highway had gotten some more rain, and a major slide had closed the road from Chicken to the turn off to the border. In their report, they projected its opening on Friday.
So, what to do? I had the appointments for the motorcycle shop, dinner with a friend, and the Dalton Highway all planned out for the next couple of days. I figured I would get on my bike and push and see how far I could get today; if I could get to Fairbanks that would be great, but I could also camp along the road as well.
So I loaded up the bike, adjusted the chain which was also becoming a problem, and headed out. I wasn’t going to take many pictures today, it was just going to be a long drone.
One of the best ways to get a number of miles completed is to not stop. Thus I only took a picture if I was already stopped for something. At least it was a nice day for this trip.
One of the chance meetings for this day happened at Whitehorse. I was riding along to the junction of the Klondike highway and the Alcan, which was west of Whitehorse. Two bikes pull out of a gas station and head out along the road ahead of me. I can see that they are a BMW R12GS and a KTM 990ADV and that they are kitted with extra fuel and spare tires. I try to keep up with them for awhile, but they are going 130+ kph (80 mph) which is a bit much for the pace I was trying to set. I finally back off and they disappear over the horizon.
At Haines Junction, I stopped for gas and took this picture of the mountain behind the gas station. The mountains were beautiful and I wish I was taking pictures.
The road from Haines Junction got worse as I headed for Alaska. The road was sinking in spots and the pavement would be very uneven, worse than anything I’ve seen in Montana. You drove along and watched for the orange flags and tried to steer through the worst of the damage. Most of it was patched as best as they could, but there is only so much you can do with a 12” change in elevation.
At Beaver Creek, the last gas stop before the Alaska border, I picked up a homemade sandwich and Coke. While I was eating the sandwich this woman pulls up on this scooter to fill up with gas. She was travelling from California and seeing the world for six weeks. Her blog is at this address:http://scooterwanderlust.blogspot.com/
For some reason I was really worried about this border crossing. I must have figured that with the time constraints I was under and my tired state, I would mess up on some of the questions and they would want to search the bike. However everything went well, and now I had another hour in my day for this trip. Also, I could change my GPS over to US units and I could stop converting mileage in my head. Another thing to remember, is the US and Canadian guard shacks are separated by about 20 miles.
The worst construction on the Alcan was the section by border that had been torn up. Other than some loose gravel for fill, it was pretty easy.
It was getting late and I pushed on to Tok. To add to the insult, the clouds were starting to get thicker and it was sprinkling occasionally. I fuelled up at Tok and figured that I probably better stop at Delta Jct, if nothing else I would need to take a break.
Being tired I thought I would try to count something along the road, when all of a sudden I see a moose up against the trees. Moose counting added a little bit of entertainment to this late night push. I was expecting the sun to set and darkness set in, but it stayed at the level of dusk. I never depended on my headlights to see the road or the moose. Most of the moose were considerate and stayed in the ditch or up next to the trees. However I finally counted moose #8 and #9 as they crossed the road in front of me. Of course with each encounter, I would slow up and get ready to set the brakes, it was a stressful last 100 miles.
Anyway, I made it to Fairbanks and the Pikes Landing Hotel at midnight. I was glad to fall into bed.
Stats for Day 6: 905 miles, 18.2 gallons of fuel, 16 hours