Day 9 7/15/12 5079 miles today. Goodbye Arctic.
Woke up with the sun shining and the air warming up, much better than the previous day's start. The tent actually started getting hot at 9am! Not bad for being in at the arctic circle. For its location out in the middle of nowhere, the Arctic Circle campground is really a good campground to use. The closest vehicle to me in the campground was a jeep from Washington state pulling a custom trailer about the size of a pickup box. It had 35 inch tires on it and a fold out tent that set up about 4-5 feet off the ground on the top of the storage compartments. The driver and his brother were heading up to Prudhoe Bay to see the Arctic and then back to Oregon. I liked their setup, that small storage trailer with a popup tent on top for two people would come in handy if i ever started touring in a suv or pickup.
I talked to them as they packed up their tent and other items they had out before they departed. I think they were going to try and make it up the rest of the way the same day. When they left i went back to my campsite and started packing up my tent and sleeping bag while i snacked on some munchies. The other vehicle there drove down to the trash bin, which wasnt too far away from me. I noticed it was the same woman that was on the arctic tour the previous day, and i ran into her at the gas station in Coldfoot, so i went over to say hi. She was from prince George, BC, so i wanted to know if she had been on the Cassiar highway because i was looking to hit that up on the way back. Unfortunately she hadnt, but recommended stopping in Hyder for some hyderizing. She was just out touring Alaska by herself, sleeping in her SUV (rav4 maybe?), with a mountain bike on the back. The Dalton was so muddy all vehicles had a generous coating of mud on the back, including her mountain bike. I dont know if it would have even been ridable with mud everywhere on it. I think she was planning on powerwashing it when she got to a town with a car wash. I talked to her about life for some time. Evidently she had worked in the Canadian forest service for 6 years before funding went down the toilet. Then she got into the Immigration service, which consisted of a lot of deskwork, but also included some midnight doorbusting to apprehend illegal immigrants. Sounds like fun to me. Originally i had wanted to bring a revolver on the trip, bear spray didnt seem like the safest thing to have with grizzlies around, but had heard conflicting accounts of Canada's firearms policies. So i asked her what the real deal was. She told me you can bring a handgun into canada, but its a real hassle, it would be better to mail it to Alaska and then mail it back before i left. That would be fine if i knew someone up there with an FFL, but since i didnt, paying $30 or more each time to transfer it wasnt worth it. However, shotguns with 18.5inch barrels and folding stocks were perfectly legal, you just have to fill out a form and pay $25 to get it through Canada. Which could fit quite nicely in a small case under the tailbag. Might have to do that next time. Anyway, she had one of those as well, plus a Beretta 9mm. We talked guns and travelling for a while before she had to leave. I ran down to the Arctic circle sign so we trade pics in front of the sign.
Nobody was there when we got down to the sign, but after a while a Subaru with some Germans in it showed up. They took some pics and drove up to the campground. The gal from BC headed out, i think she wanted to get to Chino hot springs before too late for some ice glass martinis. I went back to the camprground and finished packing. When i drove down to the acrtic circle sign, there was a couple, who also happened to be interpretive rangers and they were giving official copies of "I've been to the Arctic Cirlce on xx day" with a picture of the map on them as well. Also there was a gentleman from Ohio on an 08 klr. He had an aftermarket windshield that was far larger than mine. He told me the company that made it, but i dont remember it. I want to get one for 2013 trips on my klr. Also, there were some other dual sport riders there, but i didnt talk very long and left for Fairbanks.
Before going too far i came across a flipped bushwacker on the east side on the road in the ditch. the guy had gotten a little too far over when he was cutting brush in the ditch. he was okay, so i kept going. The Arctic Circle Cafe served large burgers that i felt would be better placed in my stomach. After filling up on food, i walked around the place. They had some cool stuff in the giftshop, but i didnt really have a lot of extra room. I drove on to the Yukon river bridge for a quick stop at the visitor center for a few minutes. A few people were browsing in there. Nothing too interesting going on so i left for Fairbanks. The rest of the Dalton flew by pretty quickly. I passed 5 motorcycles on the way to PB, and 11 on the way back down. All dual sports with the exception of a Road Star 1700? in Coldfoot. I hope he wasnt going further north, i know i would have dumped my Electraglide had i been on it.
I said goodbye to the Dalton, with its long stretches of no traffic, fireweed patches in abundance along the highway, all the trucks rumbling down the road, and just incredibly beautiful scenery. This was definitely the most scenic part of the trip. I will never forget this. If you want to go on a beautiful ride, this is it.
On my way to Fairbanks i had to stop for a semi that was hauling something massive down the highway, but that was only like 5 minutes. In Fairbanks i wanted to go see a Musk Ox because i didnt see any in the arctic. The guide at the visitor center at the yukon river bridge informed me the college in Fairbanks had a little farm in town you could visit. Upon stopping by, i found out they were closed on sunday at 5pm. But i did get some shots at 80 yards of them walking around.
My bike had approximately 1/4 inch of mud all over the front including the radiator. I was really surprised it didnt overheat. The car wash only took $1 coins, so i got like 20 of them for kicks since they are hard to find in normal circulation. I had to wash it twice ($6!) to get all the mud off, but it sure looked better afterwards. Another fellow rider was there on a GS1200 from New Zealand. He had his bike shipped over to LA and took off from there to Florida and a long list of other places over a 10 week period. He was staying at the college and recommended it to me as a cheap place to saty. I wanted to keep going so i decline. Before leaving he gave me his card, i guess he and his wife run a farm on the north island of New Zealand. Might have to look him up if i ever make it out there. I drove around town for fun afterwards to see the area. The same guy came up behind me while i was riding by the college, so i pulled in and bs-ed for a bit. Eventually his beer dropped a few degrees so he had to take his leave. I swung by walmart on the way out of town to get supplies and subways. I also called Ryan(the guy who told me about advrider.com) because i couldnt remember what the website was called. I
left town shortly thereafter.
It had sprinkled lightly the last hour before i got to Fairbanks, and it continued to rain off and on the rest of the day. I rode down to Denali NP next. I was planning on camping, but the first campground was full and the visitor center and campground office were both closed. There wasnt even a map of all the available campgrounds either. Im getting really tired of these. State parks i have stayed at before have a sign with all the campgrounds and which sites are taken and which are available. The ones like Denalis that dont just make me want to go camp in the woods for free, which i do later! I guess i should try and get there before 11pm next time. I rode down to the other site 10 miles into the park or so and found a open site. Had to push my bike in because it was after midnight and its really loud. Set up my tent in the rain and threw my tarp over it to keep some of the moisture out. Placed my food in a provided bearproof container and off to sleep i went.
ok, these were from yesterday. i was in a hurry.
mud mud mud mud
On Top of the world.
the arctic circle camprgound.
What can i eat to survive in this harsh climate?
Arctic hotspot cafe.
Musk Ox ranch in fairbanks.
Mr Musk Ox.
All clean now.
The fair city by the banks.
356 miles today.