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Old 07-24-2007, 11:37 AM   #31
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Thanks I'm really enjoying this report. What days were you on the Dempster?
I was there June 25/26/27
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Old 07-24-2007, 11:58 AM   #32
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WOW!! What a ride!! You guy's are Iron Butt's for sure!! Thank you for the post, Please keep it coming!!

Take Care Brothers. God Bless, Eric.
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Old 07-24-2007, 03:27 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Benjava
Thanks I'm really enjoying this report. What days were you on the Dempster?
I was there June 25/26/27
Glade you are enjoying it. We went up to Inuvik June 19 and returned the following day. What a ride.
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Old 07-24-2007, 03:30 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Jace
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.

Sorry to hear about you misfortune. Yes we were fortunate to make it back in one piece but not without some challenges.
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Old 07-24-2007, 03:34 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by tenbears
Groovy... really nice stuff.

I've decided to ride into Canada too, just makes sense.... having come up via Georgia and the infamous Deals Gap, and following the BRP & Skyline Drive up to Pennsylvania from Virginia it just made solid sense to cross into Canada at Niagra, ride the Great Lakes and drop back into the US via the Dakotas.
Enjoy it. I didn't do the plains in Canada on the return. I understand its much like the US...just plain, but if you are pushed for time its shorter.
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Old 07-24-2007, 03:37 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by dawggawn
I remember enjoying at least one other of your RRs H-Jay, this is a great one. Interesting take by the Australian guy to get a Harley. I've never pictured myself with one but after a friend just got one, it makes me ponder it a bit.

Carry on please.
Yeah, my reaction also but it was clear he enjoyes all kinds of experiences on 2 wheels. He had a lot of stories about taking his GS in to the ruff stuff.
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Old 07-24-2007, 03:39 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by kildala2000
Hey H-Jay,

How was Manley Springs? The ride was a good one & the town of 45 was very interesting (locals) We really needed a bath so the hot pools was great. We even gave the bikes a bath in the local river, really we washed the bike's at a boat launch in the river. Don't let the locals know just incase that was the drinking water.

Take Care,
Looks like we missed a good side trip. do have a swim suit on????
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Old 07-24-2007, 04:57 PM   #38
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Keep it coming. I need more, more and more. Please don't leave us hanging. Thanks for this great report and pics. I'm hooked
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Old 07-24-2007, 07:04 PM   #39
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Track II – Taking the Haul Road and Dumpster Challenge

The Going Gets Tough
Sorry, no pictures but here is the story. As we got off the ferry we again ran into heavy gravel. Fortunately the little bit of traffic put some ruts through the gravel maybe 9-12” wide. OK no problem. Stay in the rut and rock on. As we got out of town and the road straighten out and headed north. Just then the word of the “Lead Gesser” at McDonalds made sense. Earlier in the day the sun went crazy. It would be over head for a while then and hour later behind you. An hour later the sun was off to your right then off to your left, all while you are heading north.

Now the sun played its worst trick on us. It blinded us as it settled right in front of us with the bottom of the sun touching the road. No amount of helmet lowering, sunglass adjusting or sun blocker worked. The only way to see the useful ruts was to hold your left hand up in the air to block the sun. Imagine approaching 2 guys on these strange looking motorcycles riding down the road with their left arm raised … we surely looked like idiots.

So, the best we could do is 15-20 miles an hour with one hand in the air. But then the rut runs out, the violent wobble starts. Your immediate reaction is to lower your left arm and grab the handle bar, which immediate causes you to get blinded by the sun, run in to the thick gravel and resume the chicken dance. We had to then come to a complete stop, scout out the continuation of the rut, slowly motor over to it and resume the left hand in the air routing until the rut runs out. Then repeat. Well you can image how long it took us to go 60 miles using this routine.

We finally made it to Inuvik at 2:00AM without dropping our motorcycles. Funny it was still broad daylight and we didn’t realize how late it was.

We stayed at the Chuk Campground in the Pak park about a mile outside of Inuvik. It was a really nice campground with very clean facilities.

I fell asleep as soon as I climbed in to the tent only to wake up in every couple of hours thinking I was still fighting the gravel.

The next morning we rolled in to Inuvik to take a look around before heading back. We ended up staying most of the day because Inuvik was so interesting. As we got into town I saw a 2007 GS Adventure with Michigan plates in front of the McKinsey Hotel. He was from the Grand Rapids area and immediately wanted to know if we were aware of any shipping company that could get his motorcycle 500 miles back down to Dawson City. As we were talking to him another guy came out of the hotel with the same request. He and his riding partner wanted to have their motorcycles shipped back to Whitehorse. We tried to convince them that they had done the hard part and the return trip would be easier. We even encouraged them to join us. Not sure what happen to them. Someone told me they thought they came across the GSA in Eagle Plains. Hope so.

Anyway here are some shots form the town.

Rode up into the neigborhood. All of the houses are built on pilings because of the permafrost.

And Inuvik is experiencing its own form of urban sprawl

Notice the silver tube that runs beteen the houses. Its a heated pipe that contains all of the utilities. They are also above ground because of the permafrost.

Who should we run in to again but Rhindhold. He had just got in to Inuvik. Seems he missed the last Ferry and had to camp by the side of the road. Sounded pretty miserable to me!

We found him sipping cofffee in this little sandwich shop.

The shop makes good sandwiched and muffins and the people behind the counter are great.

The CBC was sponsoring a picnic in the park. I’m not sure what they were celebrating but it was free food, music and a good opportunity for me to meet some of the locals. They were very welcoming.

Death grip on mom's hand

I don’t think Mom knows the significance of FUBU. Well maybe she does. They do have the internet.

Another Mom Daughter

This guy told me about driving up to Tuk on the frozen river in the winter time. He said he had a bush camp about half way to Tuk and encouraged me to take a flight or boat up to Tuk. Maybe next time.

Interesting license plate for the Northwest Territories (Wonder why its plural. Is there more than one?).

Living with that horn between your eyes has gotta be a challenge

Is It “All Night Long” when the Sun Never Sets?
We finally decided to hit the road and head back to Dawson City about 4:30PM.

The road was a lot better since traffic had spread the gravel to the side of the road.

More dust to look forward to

About an hour down the road we run in to a couple from Alberta on a Goldwing. He had to be a good rider to do 2 up on a Goldwing on the Dempster. They had a flat and his friend from Inuvik drove down to help him. We offered to help him plug his tire since we had everything needed.

He declined and said he’d just as soon take his motorcycle back to Inuvik and fix it there. We offered to help him load the motorcycle in to the back of the truck. He said he could drive it up the ramp…oh boy! We convinced him to at least let us get on either side and help guide him.

Well he got up as far as where the ramp met the bed of the truck and his Wing bottomed out. Before we could lift him in to the truck the rest of the way he gunned the big ole Wing. It leaped in to the back of the truck… to our collective inhale and amazement.

He then did the unexplained. I guess it was sort of the in-zone victory dance. He locked the front tire hard up against the truck bed and proceeded to do a burn out. As the rear tire broke lose those of us on the ground watching did a collective exhale as we all saw the fluids pouring out of the bottom of the injured Big Wing’s underbelly. Seems it came down hard on the angle iron that formed the edge of the truck’s bed.

I latter got a report that he made it back to Inuvik and was waiting for some parts to be shipped in.

GSNerd kicking up some dust

Seeing these signs iis getting old... not really when you remeber what this circle looks like on the globe

Eating more of GSNerd's dust

Maybe I'll just pass him!

We got to Eagle Plains, my mental halfway point, got a sandwich and gas and decided to push on to the next campground. That turned out to be a mistake. The campground at Engineers Creek was deserted and full of mosquitoes.

So we pushed on.

We finally got to the next campground but realized we were only 100 miles from Dawson City. So we pushed on.

The last 100 miles was the hardest and coldest. It was hard because we were sooo tired.

Here is what kept me going and...

...of course the spectacular views

At one point, the temperature got in to the 20s. Being cold and tired is a big PITA but we made it. I think we figured out we arrived in Dawson City 14 hour after we left Inuvik.

I later found out that the group of Goldwings we passed on the side of the road on the trip up were not so fortunate. They ran in to that same silt stretch and 3 of them went down. One of the guys on the busted his nose real well as he went down. Interestingly he later walked up to me in a gas station in Seward. He was also from Michigan and had just returned from a fishing trip with his local buddy. I told him he had become part of the June road horror stories getting passed around. He said he knew.

Here is an observation from both roads. It’s a waste of time trying to understand the road conditions in advance. It seems that the construction, weather and traffic patterns continuously change the road. Areas that were treacherous on the way up didn’t even register on the return trip and vice versa.

Dempster Victory and GSNerd heads Home
We never intended to do Inuvik in 2 days but we did. GSNerd and I had a victory breakfast at the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City having conquered the Dempster. After breakfast GSNerd pushed on toward Whitehorse, having to get back to work. After bidding GSNerd goodbye and safe travels, I returned to the Yukon campground and crashed with a big ole grin on my face.

Next stop was to backtrack to the Exxon station that had the car wash and get some of the bad stuff off before it could do any harm to the metal. As I inspected for damage I found that I unknowingly gave up my MSR gas bottle and holder to the Dempster. I hope who ever finds it needs the gas. I also found that the side case heat shield was down to being held on by only one remaining rivet.

After getting the bad stuff off it was time for some maintenance.

After building a fire to keep the mosquitoes away, it was time to replace the real brake pads and adjust the valves.

Its amazing how help seems to show up just when you need it. I’ve replaced plenty of disk brake pads but never on my GS. I got to the point of trying to knock the retaining pin out and started questioning if it really drives out, like most, because it wasn’t budging.

Just as I was about to scream, a cool looking 1150GS pulls up. Its Jan from Utah. He comes over, takes a look and assures me that you just have to pound it out hard. That is all I needed to finish the job. The valves only need a minor adjusting so we spent the rest of the evening BS’ing.

Fishbone, who showed up early for the Dust 2 Dawson was camping next door and joined the gathering. We had a good time and talked on in to the next day.

Next: I’m off to see an old copper mine and challenge the road to McCarthy to get there.
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Old 07-25-2007, 10:11 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by H-Jay
My hometown. Best report ever!
"You can make a lot of friends with bacon." - pineconeMN
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Old 08-06-2007, 03:09 PM   #41
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Track III – The Road to McCarthy and Kennecott Mine


On the way to McCarthy I stopped in Chicken Alaska. Chicken is …well Chicken. There ain’t much like it anywhere else in Alaska. It’s a little eclectic, mostly irreverent collection of restaurants, shops and drinking establishments. Not surprising I ran in to a number of folks headed to the Dust 2 Dawson “gathering – don’t call it a rally”. Here’s some pictures.

This is Jacqueline.

She quit her job I think in April, left Florida and has been on the road since then. She’s considering finding a job in Alaska and staying awhile. She has a GPS tracking device on the back of her Motorcycle so you can track her whereabouts. She is doing real time updates of her amazing journey. They can be found on this web site.

I was initially going to attend the D2D but I couldn’t handle hanging around Dawson City for 3 days waiting for it to start. Maybe next time.

I’m about to make my 3rd pass through Tok. If you look at a highway map of Alaska you will notice 2 things. One, for as big as Alaska is, it doesn’t have that many roads and two, you will go through Tok to get anywhere in Alaska.

I needed to do laundry and get a shower so I pulled in to one of the big commercial campgrounds in Tok.

While there I met a couple from Kitchener, Ontario, Siggi and his wife Elizabeth. They pulled in next to me with their pick up slide in camper set up. They had just returned from Inuvik and were chuckling about the RVers fretting about the Top of the World road. We instantly hit it off and had an entertaining evening around the campfire drinking beer and shots of, gee I forgot, while trading Alaska and Dempster Highway stories.

In the small world category they camped at Happy Valley in Inuvik next to the 5 Germans in the rental RV that rescued Reinhold after he ran out of gas on the Dempster. Siggi said they were still drunk and never left the campground while they were there.

Stopping at the Richardson Highway Tok Cut Off Junction for lunch at Jeannie’s Java. Jeannie makes some really good sandwiches.

In addition to good food and a warm welcome, Jeannie offered some interesting insights about living in Alaska. One such insight was that she felt the Glenallen, Elias–St Wrangell, Valdez area was just as pretty as Denali, had the same wildlife but was free and not nearly as crowded. I’m sure Jeannie was a little bias but she made a good point.

Seems Alaskan’s have airplanes like the folks from the lower 48 have second cars. They are everywhere, mostly in people’s side yards with a little grassy laneand a wind sock.

I heard a statistic about the number of airplanes per person in Alaska. I refuse to believe there are that many Airplanes but you sure see a lot of them from the highways. Some are fancy, some not so fancy.

At one point I happened to look down a driveway off the main highway and noticed they even have airplane bone yards like the lower 48 has car junk yards. I suspect they call them something clever with recycle in the title.

Ok, so I get to the beginning of the road to McCarty and the Kennicott Mine. It seems fairly tame. Actually nothing like the horror stories I heard. Then I got to the little burg of Chitina and the pavement runs out.

The woman at the gas station at Chitina warned me about the high winds and the idiots that fly up and down the road. Well she was right on both accounts.

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Old 08-06-2007, 04:17 PM   #42
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Track III – The Road to McCarthy and Kennecott Mine

About the Road
The road follows the Copper and Kennicott Rivers. It was constructed over the rail bed that was built in 1908 to get the Copper out of the area. The road is very narrow, mostly gravel and rock with sandy spots. In places, the road hugs the edge of a canyon wall overlooking a river. Because of the narrowness, its difficult to get out of the way of on coming traffic. Only 60+ miles but mentally draining because of the concentration required to negotiate the road. The road is roughly 3 different roads. The first 3rd is probably the most difficult because of the gravel, winds, elevation changes, annoying ripples and narrowness. The middle 3rd was not challenging at all. The last 3rd was a little hilly in places, dusty and some sand traps. In short, it was a blast to run.

Here are some pictures from the road.

I saw the difficult art of dip net fishing being demonstrated

And the labor intensive high maintenance art of Fish Wheel fishing

Here is a complete fish wheel dry docked and ready to be put back in the river.

About the Mine and Town
In early 1900, near the Kennicott Glacier, prospectors discovered large surface copper deposits. The prospectors had found one of the riches deposits in the world. In 1907, J.P. Morgan and the Guggenheim family set up a company to build the railroad and develop the mine. They named the mine Kennecott after the glacier but incorrectly spelled it with an “E” rather than “I”.

The town at the end of the road is called McCarty. The town sprung up because of the mine to provide commerce and “entertainment” to the miners. The road, the town and mine are completely inside the largest National Park in the US called Wrangell-St. Elias.

The mine closed down in 1938 and the Kennecott Corporation gave the mine and rail right away to Alaska. In 1998 the National Park System took over the mine site and recently as put a lot of money in to arresting the deterioration of the buildings and restoring some. Today the area has about 50 year round residence. In the summer time it’s a lot more to handle the tourist. McCarthy, because its so hard to get to is not overly touristy which gives it a nice relaxed feel. Here’s some shots from my little walk around. The nice thing about going to McCarthy on a motorcycle is you can ride across the pedestrian bride that keeps all the tourist cars about 5 miles out of town.

Here's some shots from around McCarty starting with their little museum. Worth stopping in.

I overheard him saying he was going bear hunting tonite. Well armed and prepared to stay hydrated.

One of the recommendations I got off the AdvRider site was to stay at the Ma Johnson Hotel. Local lore claims it was a brothel for the miners, back in the day. I also recommend it.

The sign on the door said it was featured in the 1000 places to see before you die. Now I have 999 to go. More shots from inside the hotel. It was like a step back in time.

The lobby. Sorry a little low lite fuzzy.

A nice deck off the second floor of the hotel for relaxing.

Someone is having a good time on a GS Adventure. Its been sitting out there since I pulled in to town.

The next morning I got up early and went up to the mine. Its about 4 miles further up the canyon. No one else was around so it was easy to let your imagination run wild while walking around. I could not help imagining the flurry of activity when the mine was in full production mode.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Seems the creek flooded recently and took out some of the structures

This is where they dumped the mining byproduct.

Work progresses on the restoration

On the way back in to town for breakfast I ran in to Mike, the rider on the GS Adventure from Alaska Rider rentals. Mike, from California, has taken several trips to Alaska. On one of his trips he rode up to Prudhoe Bay so we shared notes. Amazingly, Mike does not own a motorcycle but is obviously well skilled in riding and knows a lot about various motorcycles.

Here's a picture of Mike in Valdez where we ran in to each other again and had dinner at this burger joint.

Next: stop is Valdez and a ferry ride across the Prince William Sound to tour the Kenai Peninsula.
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Old 08-06-2007, 06:54 PM   #43
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Track IV Valdez and the Kenai Peninsula

My next destination is coastal town of Valdez, the pipeline termination point and the departure point for the infamous Exxon Valdez. From Valdez the plan is to take a ferry across the Prince William Sound to Whittier and tour the Kenai Peninsula.

I crossed the magnificent Thompson Pass on the way to Valdez. What a spectacular road. Visually it lives up to all that has been said about on this site.

On the way in to town, I rode down to the original site of the city of Valdez.

The pilings are essentially what's left.

This is where the original city stood until it was wiped out from the 1964 earthquake tidal wave.

In the campground I talked to a couple that lived thru the 64 earthquake. I heard some incredible stories. They unfortunately some of their friends perished on the Valdez docks as the tidal wave reached shore without any warning.

..... More later. Smugmug is acting up....
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Old 08-07-2007, 03:45 AM   #44
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Jay, great writing & pics ( worthy of National Geographic! ). Many thanks for coming back with more for your RR.
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Old 08-07-2007, 12:48 PM   #45
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Track IV Valdez and the Kenai Peninsula


The victims list from the Good Friday Earthquake and Tide Wave.

Valdez is has a picturesque harbor. The low clouds and threatening rain add to its drama.

Hey, maybe a kayak ride is in order?

The rain wasn’t going to let up anytime soon so I decide to move on and catch the ferry to Whittier.

Not much of a line to get on the ferry

The ferry was a 5 1/2 hour ride, just right for my short attention span.

The National Park Service put a Park Ranger on board the ship as a nature interpreter. She was interesting as she pointed out geological features of the shoreline and, of course, the wildlife in the sound.

We passed close, about 15 miles, to the Columbia Glacier. To help with the perspective the iceburg in the forgroung is about 25 feet high.

It is one of the popular tourist boat destinations on Prince William Sound. In Alaska, you can’t help but see a lot of glaciers of varying sizes. This one is massive. The Park Ranger said its about the size of Los Angeles, according to the NPS person.

She told us why the iceburgs are blue but I gorgot. I think something to do with the age of the ice.

On the ferry I met 2 Canadians on Suzuki thumpers and Jerry (?) from Baltimore on a loaded down Goldwing. We shared road stories and recommendations.

As we arrived in Whittier we found Motorcycles are at the end of the line for going through the 5 mile car/train tunnel. More rain!

Looks like until this tunnel was built Whittier was only accessible by water.


It stopped raining as I arrived in Seward in the evening. Great, I can do some exploring, maybe a sightseeing boat ride and rent a kayak tomorrow.

Found a place to camp in the public campground a little south of downtown right on the waterfront. It was OK but a little too close to the public roads and private homes. As I rode around I found another campground south of Seward, I think its name was Miller Campground. It looked like a better place to stay.

But the following morning the rain returned.

Checked the weather and saw rain over the next 3 days for the entire peninsula, Anchorage and Denali. The peninsula is pretty but not very entertaining in the rain.

So its time to head north.

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