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Old 07-21-2007, 04:33 PM   #16
H-Jay OP
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Joined: Jan 2006
Location: Michiganland
Oddometer: 401
Track II – Taking the Haul Road and Dumpster Challenge

Track II – Taking the Haul Road and Dumpster Challenge

I can’t emphasize enough how much I appreciated The AdvRider ride reports as a resource to prepare for this trip. After reading everyone else’s ride reports I was finally going to see the Haul Road in person. And boy was it a blast!

The weather was mostly sunny with a few down pours to make it interesting. When the sun came out the road dried up quickly. Road construction, or resurrection, was in full swing. Our earlier off road excursions in Canada were good conditioning. I think I underestimated what it was like to travel 500 miles (from Fairbanks) mostly on dirt and gravel. The section above Atigun pass seemed to go on forever.

I suspected the knobbies would be a lot of fun but didn’t realize how much fun they were. I could have done OK with the Tourances (street tires). The knobbies allowed me to enjoy the scenery more and act a little like a hooligan in the deep stuff. The most challenging part the first day was a construction section where big boulders were being placed on the road and rolled over to make small boulders. That day riding over them was worse than the gravel, deep dirt or mud.

Here are some pictures of the first day

I stopped to take a picture of the Yukon Bridge and was immediately approached by security. It turned out to be a good thing because I didn’t recognize the odd looking collection of buildings across the highway included the only gas station on that section of the road. It doesn’t really look like a gas station but it is.

Gasing up

And check to make sure my back up back up gas is still there...

Here’s a surprise. This truck was a head of me at the gas pump. I happen to notice the Michigan Municiple license plates. Seems the driver and passengers were from Michigan State in Alaska doing environmental “research”.

Lots of views of the pipeline from the road. The zigzag feature is to allow for expansion, earthquakes, etc.

We stopped at the Hot Shot just north of the Yukon River crossing. Good food, and an entertaining stop.

Dining alfresco

Here’s the woman that runs the place and some other pictures.

GSNerd and I met 2 guys from Canada. It turned out they also hang out on the AdvRider site but in the Thumper section. Here is KLR Dave’s KLR and Rhindhold’s KTM. I didn’t know KTMs had glamour paint jobs??? It really sparkles in the sun …. although the fancy paint job didn’t help Rhindhold later with his gas mileage.

Back to the road. Rough? It looks like Your going off a cliff

Its amazing that wild flowers florish in this environment

Of course I had to get a picture of the famous finger rock. early bush pilots used it as guidance because it points to Fairbanks.

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Old 07-23-2007, 08:38 AM   #17
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Location: Michiganland
Oddometer: 401
Track II – Taking the Haul Road and Dumpster Challenge


Maybe this picture doesn't really highlight the drop off on either side of the haul road. In places its close to 30 feet on either side without much of a shoulder.

And of course the rain came

but it would dry out quickly when or we just rode right out of the rain

followed by magic....

Meeting the Famous Dr. Greg and the Aerostich Tour

Thats him on the left .

Much to our surprise we ran in to the second annual Aerostich Anchorage to Prudhoe Bay Motorcycle Tour was underway. They were at the Coldfoot stop for the night and eating on the outdoor deck. The party included Doctor Gregory Frazier, of the 4 times around the world on a motorcycle fame and author of the Alaska on a Motorcycle book and other books. Incidentally Coldfoot is another stop you can easily breeze by if not careful. The buildings are not visible from the road and the sign is a little vague on if you should immediately turn or look for it ahead.

Anyway we had a great conversation with Dr. Greg and the tour participants. Dr. Greg had some interesting stories. Good group of guys and gals on the tour all with interesting stories.

That night we stayed in Wiseman. Our plan was to do the Haul Road in 3 days with stops at Wiseman on the way up and back. Wiseman is a picturesque little town with a lot of Alaska history. We stayed at the Boreal Lodge cottage. The Boreal cottage has a loft bedroom, a second bedroom, complete kitchen, sat TV…all the comforts of home and way better than the converted crew camp trailer rooms in Coldfoot. Here’s some pictures of the Boreal Cottage and the other accommodations. I’d highly recommend it.

A small river runs behind the cottage. Nice setting to just sit or relax. It also was a good place to wash some of the road off my boots and ridering gear.

Here is the ajacent lodge.

Wiesman's International Airport

More shots from around town

Day 2 on the Haul Road was as much fun as the first. Lots of gravel, more rain storms and wildlife. Here’s some pictures.

Notice the trucks seem to use the guard rails as brakes in the winter time coming down the Atigun Pass.

During a rest stop on the Atigun Pass this little critter got real curious about us and got pretty close to the gathering.

GSNerd teasing the road evil doers.

Managed to dodge this down pour

But not this one

Yes... these are to show my sensitive side...

Not Much Goin’on Deadhorse
As we approached Deadhorse we could tell we were getting near the Arctic Ocean. The temperature must have dropped 15 degrees and the winds picked up. As we got in to the city I can attest that its just as industrial as has been reported. Everything there is there for a specific purpose without any regard for aesthetics. We found some gas. Interesting experience once you figure out the actual pumps and self service pay station are inside the little building to keep them from freezing. On the topic of gas, I was able to make up to Deadhorse without having to rely on my reserve gas. I was surprised how far I could get on a tank of gas when I keep the speeds down. It was still comforting having the backup gas and would not suggest anyone forgo carrying extra gas unless they clearly have the range and a decent margin.

4800 miles later from Michigan we arrive at Prudoebay in the town of Deadhorse

The Caribou Resort -- trailers!

Gas is about the same price here as when I left Michigan

More of the Aerostich Tour guys at the Caribou Resort

Next order of things was, of course, food. No tourist restaurants. You basically had to eat at one of the hotel restaurants. The one we stopped in also doubled as the cafeteria to feed the oil field workers. We got in to Deadhorse around 3:00PM and discovered the food service didn’t start till 5:00PM anywhere in town. So we grabbed some sandwiches from the cooler, soup, chips and free coffee, scarf it down and hit the road feeling a sense of guarded accomplishment. Of course getting to Prudhoe Bay is a big deal but getting back to Fairbanks is a bigger deal.

Heres is Dr. Greg taking a photograph of the of the road art on my GS

But wait, we need a picture. Someone recalled that the post office has the famous sign. We finally found the post office, got our pictures and were off for Wiseman.

Rhindhold posing on his sparkly KTM

Notice that red minivan. It was at the same Campground in Fairbanks and we passed each other for 2 days heading up the haul road. I think the family was from Alabama. Must have been 6 or 7 of them in total all staying in one big tent. ….a real family experience I’m sure.

I think I read somewhere that Ford was doing cold weather testing on the oilfield. Sure looks like it.

Well enough of Deadhorse...time to head south for warmer weather.
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Old 07-23-2007, 09:29 AM   #18
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Location: Michiganland
Oddometer: 401
Track II – Taking the Haul Road and Dumpster Challenge


Here’s some pictures of the return trip.

The sun shining on one of the many Pipeline Pump Stations

On the way up through the tundra plains I noticed the Caribou herds would scatter when they the motorcycle engine as they did here in this picture.

One the way back I spotted a herd, turned the engine off and coasted closer to them. I was bound and determined to get a picture. As I was sitting there in silence watching the herd I noticed the lead buck started trotting straight at me. I switched on the key, shifted in to 1st gear but didn’t hit the starter. As the buck and the herd approached closer I reached for the starter but before I hit it the herd turned and crossed the highway right in front of me. What an experience. I almost forgot to take pictures.

We stopped at Coldfoot for breakfast and again ran into KLRDave and Rhindhold.

If you kamke reservations at the Coldfoot Camp that's it in the background...trailers!

Here is Rhindhold and his sparkly KTM...

did I mention its sparkly? Especially in the sun.

Here is KLR Dave and his faster than a KTM KLR

We also heard about a guy that cut a caribou in half with his, I think, KLR. Fortunately he only suffered a blackeye. Several others went down without injury or serious damage to their motorcycles.

One of the Road Evil Doers resting up before making the road challenging again.

Some of the Evil Doer's war chest started out as a part of the mountain then...

.... big bolders then big rocks

At a construction delay GSNerd's GS decides to take a nap and lay down...

More bicyclist on the Haul Road. The Construction crews pull them through the thick stuff with ropes to keep them from holding up traffic.

Crossing the Arctic Circle again

We met this couple on 3 wheel bikes at the Hot Shot. They flew in to Prudhoe Bay with their bikes from Australia and were headed south. I can’t believe the number of bicyclist that were going end to end Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to the road end in Argentina below the Antarctic Circle. They had previously spent 5 years circumnavigating Australia on the Bicycles. What courage and determination!

I think I brought about 30 pounds of mud, calcium, gravel and insects back to Fairbanks. We found a car wash to get some of the bad stuff off before it could do any damage. With things all cleaned up I could check for any damage, please to find none.

Later we grabbed dinner at Subway with KLR Dave and Rhindhold them. Over dinner we discovered they were also headed to Dawson City and Rhindhold was planning to also do the Dempster. Rhindhold thought he had seen the last of the 2 yanks.
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Old 07-23-2007, 11:57 AM   #19
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Great trip report! Keep it coming.
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Old 07-23-2007, 02:26 PM   #20
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I like the mix of pics you are showing,which gives a good feel about your trip. Keep it coming!
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Old 07-23-2007, 05:09 PM   #21
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Track II – Taking the Haul Road and Dumpster Challenge


All clean again

GSNerd and I returned to the Rivers Edge campground and celebrated conquering the Haul Road with a six pack before heading off to do the Dempster Highway.

Here is a beaver in the river at the campground

That same little red mini van we saw in Deadhorse beat us back to Fairbanks

While in a Fairbanks McDonalds for breakfast I got entertained by the Gesser Club as they were reminiscing about the old Alaska days. The ring leader (the big guy) drove a rig on the haul road in the early days of building the pipeline.

The couple had a son that works on the oil field, 3 weeks on and 3 weeks off. She proudly told me about his home in Phoenix were he spends is down time and the new Porsche Cayman he just bought with cash. The husband chimed in that it was the “S” version. The ring leader later said something I didn’t comprehend. When he heard our plans to go to Inuvik he said truckers hate to go to Inuvik in June. I asked him why he said because the sun sits on the road. GSNerd and I later painfully found out what he meant.

On to Inuvik
You have to go back to Tok and take the Top of the World highway over to Dawson City to get to the Dempster (the highway in the Yukon and Northwest Territory that takes you up to Inuvik)

While in Tok we ran in to none other than GusGus and Friar Mike. We also stopped at Fast eddies again.

Here’s some pictures from the Top of The World highway. It was a fun road with great scenery. You can see where it gets its name. At one point I was amazed at how much forest fire damage was in the area. We must have rode over an hour and while on either side as far as you can see, fire damage.

Here’s some pictures heading in to Dawson City. Dawson City is interesting. Bid tourist draw and gambling to boot.

That night we stayed at the Yukon Campground located across the Yukon river from the city. I think this is also where my GS decided to lay down on its side and rest as I pulled up and stopped on the gravel.

This picture was taken at midnight as we were waiting for the ferry.

In the morning I discovered this critter in the adjacent campsite looking for leftovers.

After getting all packed up it was off to Inuvik. We kept all our gear with us for this trip because we were not sure where we were going to stay and we got a recommendation for a good place to camp in Inuvik. Here’s some pictures from the road.

More of Road Evil Doer's friends at work making things slippery

The road was initially pretty civilized.

At one point we stopped to take pictures and GSNerd asked me why I was sweating so much. Discovered that my second Home Depot gas can also leaked and had drenched the back of my ‘Stitch and the bike with gas. I beat it back to a campground we just passed and was able to dilute the gas on my jacket and get it off the motorcycle.

About 10 mile short of Eagle Plains we got a little too complacent and the road jumped up and bit us. Seems we hit a stretch on what I’ll call silt.

We were going about 60 MPH and the front wheel just sank. Whoa … do the chicken dance….throw the out riggers out (bad habit/reaction that leads to broken legs)… and hold on for dear life. Fortunately we both made it through without going down.

We stopped at Eagle Plains to get gas and eat. As we were leaving guess who walks up. Its Rhindhold. Seems his KTM’s tank crossover pipe came lose and left him on the road without enough gas to make it to Eagle Plains. As he was trying to figure out what to do next a Rental RV pulled up. In the RV was 5 guys from Germany on holiday. As they opened the door for Rhindhold they handed him 2 cold Buds and off they went to Eagle Plains where we met up with him. This is the second time Rhindhold had issues with gas. Rhindhold managed to get a ride back to his Motorcycle and continue his trip to Inuvik.

Rhindhold telling GSNerd about his problems at the gas pump...

After getting something to eat and gassing up GSNerd and I decided we should keep going. Besides it wasn’t going to get dark and the ferries run late.

Things were going Ok on the road. An occasional spot of gravel or soft dirt but nothing outrageous. We made it to the first Ferry in plenty of time to make the second Ferry before they shut down for the night.

At that point every thing changed. On the ferry they mentioned some construction between the ferries for about 40 miles. As we got off the ferry we ran in to what must have been 6 inches of fresh gravel dumped on the road. Back to the chicken dance as the front wheel had a mind of its own and the rear had a hard time getting traction. Normally you can accelerate out of the deep stuff but the traction issue made it difficult. Long story short we made it to the last Ferry just in time.


We thought the worst was over since we were only about 60 miles from Inuvik after getting off the second ferry

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Old 07-23-2007, 05:17 PM   #22
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Excellent report!!!!!!! Thanks for taking the time to post....keep it coming.
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Old 07-23-2007, 05:24 PM   #23
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Good stuff - keep it coming.
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Old 07-23-2007, 05:40 PM   #24
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Nice report. Looking forward to more!!
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Old 07-23-2007, 06:36 PM   #25
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Awesome report

Absolutely fantastic trip report, except for two things....I was not part of the trip and you have not finished it! I'm waiting here with envy for the rest of the trip report! I can't wait to try it next summer!
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Old 07-23-2007, 09:17 PM   #26
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great report and pictures, keep 'em coming!
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Old 07-23-2007, 10:19 PM   #27
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Old 07-24-2007, 06:29 AM   #28
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I hope you made the last stretch to Inuvik without breaking anything....literally...I highsided on that stretch in 2004...shattered my collarbone and cracked a couple ribs.

I am really enjoying your posts.

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life. Enjoy it.
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Old 07-24-2007, 09:40 AM   #29
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Incredible journey!!!!!

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Old 07-24-2007, 10:15 AM   #30
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Thumb Great Job

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