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Old 09-28-2008, 02:54 PM   #4
squonker OP
Eat my shorts
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Joined: Dec 2006
Location: Yellowknife, NWT
Oddometer: 4,049
Thanks guys! I'm happy to help anyone who is travelling the same route - particularly the NWT 'cos that's the area I know the best - and don't worry, there are plenty (and I mean plenty!) of pics of the KLR loaded to the balls.

I was just checking my journal and another reason that I pulled into the Sombe Ke campground is that they were grading the road and had wetted it down, making it a little unpleasant to ride on. All through the trip, (a fair amount of which was off road) when talking to non-riders they'd talk about roads being graded being a good thing and I'd have to put them right. If you're in a four wheeler, sure, graders are a good thing, but on a bike they're a bitch and I learned to dread them. One more pic of the highway up there.

The next morning I woke up listening to the squirrells chirping, and one of them just kept jabbering away for about a minute straight. I figured he was trying to tell me something so I got up, and sure enough just then felt the first few drops of rain. Not wanting to pack up in the wet I forwent breakfast and loaded the bike asap. As it turns out it didn't really rain and I was only a couple of hours from Simpson anyway. The road between Checkpoint and Simpson was quite pretty, and on the ferry across the Liard River I spoke to a Scottish engineer who told me that the only good thing to come out of England was the road to Scotland - that had me chuckling to myself for several days afterwards. Lousy northern bastard!

I guess it's here that I should introduce the Liard Highway, which runs from Checkpoint on the Simpson Highway to Fort Liard, NWT and across the B.C. border to the Alaska Highway about 20 kms north of Fort Nelson, B.C. I had been hearing reports for the previous few days that the highway was closed, but had checked the GNWT (Govt of the NWT) website the morning I left Hay River, and it said that the road was indeed open. Not only that, the previous week I'd driven from Fort Smith to Yellowknife in my car, and at that time there had been signs at the beginning of the Simpson Highway saying that it was closed. When I went past on the bike, those signs were gone.

But the woman at the Sombe Ke campground also said that it was closed, and told me some horror stories about 4WD trucks being axle deep in mud - and she showed me the pics in the paper. Yikes. When I rode 'through' Checkoint there were indeed barriers up across the entrance to the Liard Hwy, and I was confused. There is another way around, but it would have been a 4 day detour on the Grande Prairie road, which is just about the most boring country I've ever driven through. Dead straight roads, nothing to look at other than fields for 1500 kms or so. I have a farming background, but that area just kills me. More on the Liard Hwy soon...

Anyway, so I wasn't happy about the possibility of having to turn around and retrace my steps as far as Enterprise, but at this stage I needed to get to Simpson anyway for gas, and Larry would have been expecting me the previous day so I hoped he wasn't concerned.

No need to worry, I grabbed a spot at the Campground, called Larry and spent the day sightseeing in Simpson, a place I hadn't been before. Ten minutes later I was done (!), and that evening Larry took me out for Chinese food, then pinned me to the floor and forced beer down my throat, despite my pleading for compassion and mercy. Heartless, Larry persisted and it's fair to say that that night, back in my tent, I slept pretty damn well.

Earlier in the day I'd gone to the RCMP station in Simpson to try and find out whether this damn Liard Hwy was open or not. The cops said that no, it wasn't, but they also said that they thought it was likely going to do so the following morning, that they'd be getting a fax on it's status from Highways at 9am, and I should check back then. In hindsight, that would have been a sensible thing to do...

You'll have noticed that I took very few pics to this point, and that doesn't bother me 'cos I know only too well what it looks like. But I do regret not having taken a pic of my bike on the other side of the 'Road Closed' barriers at the start of the Liard Hwy. I knew the problem had been a drainage one - all the snow had for some reason drained into, rather than to the side of, the road during break up, and this being a dirt road that caused problems. On a bike, I thought, I don't have to worry.

And so I didn't. I rode the first 100 kms wondering what all the fuss was about and congratulating myself on taking the chance. The road was great, the weather was great, my mood was great...all systems peachy. I stopped for lunch at the beautiful Blackstone Park where I lay in the grass in the sun and snoozed, as well as meditating for a while.

Blackstone Park:


Ride Report: Canada North to South 2008 here
Drive Report: Ice Road Trucking 2005-2014 here

squonker screwed with this post 09-29-2008 at 11:07 AM
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