|08-10-2007, 06:52 AM||#1|
Joined: Aug 2007
Location: Sunny Southern Utah
Utah to Alaska - 6100 Miles on a TW200 Solo (now with some pics!!)
I’ve checked in on this site from time to time but basically I’m new here. A couple of the guys on the TW200 forum suggested I post my trip report. So here’s a day-by-day run of my recent trip to Alaska on a TW200.
Hope you enjoy!!
Day 1: July 15, 2007
I awoke at 5:00AM showered and shaved, wanted to look good on the clean bike. After I did the final loading I setup a tripod for a pre-departure picture and the sun started coming up. An ominous overcast sky promised rain in the near future. I left home at 6:25 AM and stopped to fill up the gas tank. Within a half hour of leaving town the bike started to surge and sputter, auspicious beginnings. Immediately concerns overwhelmed me but I opted to continue driving to Cedar City. Going over the top of Cedar Mountain things got frigid and I had to stop and put the quilted liner in the Tourmaster mesh jacket I was wearing. When I filled up the tank in Cedar City I took the liner back out of the jacket.
After leaving Cedar City I experienced no further problems with the bike. I stopped and fished below the spillway at Minersville reservoir and caught two small brown trout, released them both and climbed back on the TW. It was already starting to get hot but as I came into Milford the smell of hay and the humidity from irrigation water cooled things off. I filled up again in Milford. Shortly after leaving Milford I turned off of Hwy 257 to the east and headed north on dirt roads. For a short distance I raced a train coming out of Milford. A little south of Delta, just before 10:25 AM, I passed by Blackrock, an oasis by anyone’s definition. Four antelope does were feeding with 4 fawns just off the blacktop. I got back on 257 and proceeded to Delta where I jumped on the old Topaz Road, a most dusty thoroughfare, and turned the bike northwest. Another doe antelope with a fawn, looks like they had a good year. At 130 miles on the tank I ran out of gas east of Callao, I put the one-gallon container in the tank, took a couple of photos, and continued north and west. Shortly after filling the tank the bike started surging again, apparently I had gotten bad gas in Kanab, ironically the only bad gas I got the whole trip came from my hometown.
Coming around a corner near Callao I almost ran into a herd of 5 cows. I was forced to lay the bike down and, in the process, bruised my ankle and my right hand. Thankfully the road at that point was deep dust and the bike and my equipment seemed fine. The positive aspects of traveling on a TW quickly became apparent as I extricated my leg from under the bike and simply picked the bike back up, hit the starter, and proceeded on my way. This trip was already turning into quite and adventure. Shortly after Callao, while on the Pony Express Trail, I ran out of gas again and I put the two 1.5L containers into the tank. Now I was really started to get worried, a wipeout and running out of gas in the middle of nowhere on the first day definitely was not in my plans. After going past Goshute I hit blacktop and headed south into Ibapah. I stopped a man on a quad with his daughter and asked for the nearest gas. I was informed that the Ibapah Trading Post sold gas. I turned around and drove to the trading post. No one was in the store so I waded through the debris and used diapers and knocked on the door of the nearest residence. A pleasant young lady talking on a cordless phone came out, traversed the minefield with experienced ease, and turned on the pump (an old Mobil pump with the flying horse emblem on it). I filled up the gas tank and the one-gallon container (I didn’t fill up the two 1.5L containers something I would later come to regret). If you ever get thru Ibapah stop at the Trading Post and give them your business, even if only as a favor for me. Without the Ibapah Trading Post I might still be wandering around, on foot, in the wilds of Utah’s west desert.
I then headed south and west along the Pony Express Route, a truly wonderful ride on a TW, thru Tippett and Tippett Pass until I hooked up with Hwy 93 north of Ely, NV. I headed north on 93 and stopped at the intersection of 93 and 93A hoping for gas. They were closed. I then got back on 93 and proceeded to Wells, NV. Very stiff headwind. About a mile south of Wells I ran out of gas. A gentleman driving a Ford F350 dually, with the title “Redneck Cadillac” on the side, towing a flatbed trailer stopped and gave me enough gas to get into Wells. First day out and I indeed did wipe-out and run out of gas, perhaps the trip will be more interesting than I anticipated. Filled up in Wells and called home. After filling up I headed north on 93 and filled up again at JackPot, NV. From Jackpot I drove a little further to just south of Rogerson, ID where I camped off a section road east of Hwy 93. It was 9:40 PM and I was dog-tired. I set up my tent, prepared my bunk, and slid into my sleeping bag without even eating. The last time I looked at my watch it was 11:20 PM, a very long day. According to the GPS unit I had come 584 miles. Unfortunately the location I had chosen was in an old seeding and the furrows and indentations in the soil left by the machinery made for the worse mattress I had ever experienced.
Day 2: July 16, 2007
Woke up at 6:15AM to the sound of light rain falling on the rain fly of my tent. I was feeling pretty stiff so I went back to sleep hoping, through sheer will power, to outlast the rain. I drifted off and then re-awoke at 7:10AM. The rain had all but ceased so I rolled out of the bunk, got dressed, and got out of the tent. Before packing up I took a couple of photos of my first camp on the trip and then started packing up. By 8:00AM I had everything loaded and was swinging my leg into the saddle. The sky was about 90% overcast and it was very humid but it was wonderfully cool after yesterday’s desert ride. I made my way back out to the blacktop and turned north. I stopped in Rogerson and filled up the tank, something that I became religious at after my incident the night before in Wells, NV. I paid for a cup of coffee and roll that’s primary ingredient was some sort of preservative. As I left the convenience store it started raining so rather than take the time to drink the coffee and eat the roll I poured the coffee into a small thermos I brought along and stashed the roll in my tank bag. I figured I could drive out of the rain as the storm cells appeared to be moving from south to north.
As I headed north I drove in and out of spatterings of rain but encountered nothing significant. I passed through Twin Falls on a dead run, I hate cities. Just outside of Shoshone I stopped and filled up, drank my coffee, and I ate my preservatives for the day. It was still raining on and off but the temperature was gloriously cool (something that would be dramatically different the next time I was to pass through this country).
The coffee seemed to be working in overdrive and I was forced to stop at the turnoff for the Picaboo Desert Road and relieve the pressure that was building. I took a photo of the bike near a rock outcropping and once again turned north towards Sun Valley, ID. Traffic began building the closer I got to Ketchum and Sun Valley. I followed the pre-routed directions on my GPS unit to the eastern side of Sun Valley. I filled up the tank at a gas station where the attendant claimed I had the smallest fill-up of the week and that if everyone bought gas in that amount it wouldn’t be worth the electricity to run the pumps. From the gas station I headed up the Trail Creek Road. Just out of Sun Valley the road turned to dirt and stayed that way to just east of the 93 south of Challis. Another beautiful drive on a TW. Stopped twice along the way to take pictures. The temperatures remained cool and very enjoyable until I dropped into Challis. The bike was running great and everything was going well after the two minor incidents the day before. I stopped at Deep Creek and had a lunch of summer sausage, cheese, and crackers. As a result of no refrigeration the cheese had reduced itself to an orange, oily mush with a consistency somewhat thicker than yogurt but, after eating very little the day before, it was terrific. Still a little snow in the high country but starting to warm up significantly at 6900 ft. As I made my way thru Challis and Salmon, a route which was made for motorcycles, I stopped at various parts and motorcycle shops looking for full synthetic oil to do an oil change that night, no luck. I continued north to the Montana border, stopped at the border for a picture and a drink and then headed down-slope to the town of Darby. I was now in the epicenter of Holy trout waters in the west. I stopped briefly to fish near the confluence of the West Fork of the Bitterroot River and the Bitterroot. I caught no fish but felt good just laying a line out on such a beautiful stream. This was perhaps the only portion of the trip that I felt pressured, as I had promised a friend that I would be at his house in Columbia Falls that evening. So regretfully I packed up the fly rod and followed 93 North to Missoula. As a result of some map confusion with the GPS I ended up jumping on I-90 for a short length coming out of Missoula, something I would not do on the return trip. I again got on 93 and proceeded north to Polson, stopping for gas once along the way. I took Hwy 35 up the eastside of Flathead Lake, perhaps one of the most enjoyable stretches of blacktop for motorcycle riding that I had encountered thus far. I pulled into Columbia Falls at 9:30PM, enjoyed the first beer I’d had since I left, reminisced with my friend and his family for a short while and called it a night at about 10:30PM. The GPS says I went 515 miles today. So far 1101 miles in on the trip.
Day 3: July 17, 2007
Slept in to 7:30AM got up and had breakfast with my friend and his family. Matt had a raft and volunteered to take me on a float trip down the Flathead River for the day. We put in at about 10:00AM and had a phenomenal day of floating and fishing on a spectacularly beautiful river. I only caught a couple of whitefish but rolled two good trout who apparently knew more about trout fishing than I’ll ever know. After the float trip Matt ran me down to a Yamaha dealer to look for some oil. The guys at the counter were, lets say, intrigued at the idea of someone riding a TW from Utah to Alaska. I distinctly remember the statement, “Bill, you’ve got to hear this one…..”. They were effective salesmen however and I ended up with some sort of Swedish full synthetic oil that was almost as expensive as the beer in Canada. After picking up the oil Matt and I went to a micro-brewery in Whitefish where I felt compelled to buy the “sampler”. I found no product in that establishment that I didn’t enjoy. As a result we purchased a jug of scotch ale to enjoy with supper, but, if my memory serves me correctly, we finished it well before supper was ready. I changed my oil that evening at Matt’s house and slept like a rock.
Day 4: July 18, 2007
I left Matt’s house a 9:00AM on my way to Canada. I rolled into the Port of Entry at 10:40 after having to stop and put the liner in my jacket somewhere north of Columbia Falls. This was the part of the trip that I had built up in my mind as being the biggest potential negative, something I lived with each time I approached a customs gate. However, the gentleman at the Canadian Customs was pleasant and personable and I encountered absolutely no issues. This was also something that was to repeat itself with each and every customs official I dealt with. Apparently someone willing to drive a TW over 6,000 miles is not likely to be smart enough to be trafficking in anything illegal. As I drove north to Cranbrook the west slope of the Rockies became more and more prominent and I stopped to take a few photos. South of Cranbrook I stopped and visisted the Kootenay Trout Hatchery. This facility was very nicely done up as an educational stop for tourists and I thoroughly enjoyed the stop. This was where I discovered that none of my cell phone’s functions, such as sending photos or text messaging, were going to work in Canada.
After leaving the hatchery I stopped in Cranbrook to exchange American funds for Canadian. The exchange rate was substantially lower than I had hoped for and I got a whopping $306 Canadian for $300 American. Oh-Well. I then walked across the street from the bank to the beer store and promptly plopped down $12 for a six pack of beer that would have cost me $5.95 in the US. I guess I can’t move to Canada after all. I liked Cranbrook, it had that small town feeling although it was a little large for my tastes.
From Cranbrook I turned northwest and followed a blacktop road that turned to dirt up the St. Mary’s River drainage. I stopped a ways up the drainage and fished. I caught three west-slope cutthroat trout, hooked two others that gave me the slip, and kept one of the smaller ones for supper. I did catch what turned out to be the biggest fish for the trip, a fat 15” cutthroat that was too beautiful to keep. After supper I headed up and over Gray Creek Pass, another great drive on a TW, and dropped into the town of Gray Creek on the east shore of Kootenay Lake. On my way down into town from the top of the pass I met a young man named Phil from Montana who was tearing up the roads on an older Honda 350. He seemed genuinely impressed with the idea of touring on a small bike and asked a lot of questions. He stated that he was very interested in pursuing a similar adventure. I stopped in town and discovered I could purchase a shirt that said “I did Grey Creek Pass” but I opted not to purchase it. Apparently the Pass is something to be remembered in an automobile, no big deal for the TW. I set up camp on an abandoned two-track road just up from the ferry landing and was in bed by 9:00PM. I spent a little time updating my journal and called it a night. I did 225 miles today, a perfect day on the TW.
Day 5: July 19, 2007
I woke up at midnight to lightning and thunder and heavy rainfall. Fortunately, before I went to sleep, I had put on the rainfly and covered the bike with its tarp. It continued to rain the rest of the night but I was as snug as a bug. At 8:00AM it was still raining so I made a pot of coffee and listened to the drizzle and pitter patter of rainfall. I decided I was going to have to pack things up wet anyway so I took a photo of camp and started tearing things down. The rain let up while I was doing this. I finished packing things up, put on my Helly Hansen’s and drove down to the ferry.
I got in line with a bunch of other vehicles, including two log trucks, and waited for the ferry. I took a couple of photos of the lake, the line, and the ferry and then boarded the ship. During the ride one of the ferry attendants hunted me down and asked a few questions and then gave me a lot of information for the trip, a very nice fellow.
From the ferry drop off I drove down Hwy 3A to Shoreacres where I turned northwest once again. I hit dirt and headed towards Lower Arrow Lake. I drove through some spectacular British Columbia forest complete with hanging moss and a rainforest feel. I took a few pictures.
About midday I stopped at the first of the 6 Mile Lakes. It was getting hot out and I needed to shed my rain gear and quilted lining. I made the mistake of walking down to the shoreline. The bottom of the lake was covered in marl and the leftovers of years of logging were evident in the submerged carcasses of trees long ago left behind by the loggers. Among the submerged logs I spotted several small trout cruising and then, for the first time, noticed rising trout on the mirrored surface of the lake. Time to get the fishing gear out. On my first cast a 7” heavily spotted Kamloops rainbow engulfed the fly. I fished for about another hour in complete peace and caught 3 more fish, the biggest of which was a whopping 9 inches long. These fish were so incredibly beautiful that I didn’t have the wherewithal to keep any of them. At 2:10PM after a few photos I got back on the TW and continued on.
My route took me past several more small lakes that were incredibly beautiful and by all appearances rarely seen. I went up over a pass and dropped into a drainage that I believe was Slocam Creek and I fished again for supper. These trout appeared to be stockers, much less vibrant and beautiful (or maybe I was just hungry). I kept two of these fish for supper, ate, and continued on. This was a poor decision as I had eaten in a perfect camp spot and things were getting dark.
I headed west, following my trusty GPS route which, in this instance, I have to admit was a mistake. I had, during my pre-trip planning, routed several forays off the blacktop in order to see things the average traveler misses and to take advantage of the strengths of the TW. Unfortunately this route was somewhat beyond my skill level when riding a fully loaded TW in the dark.
The route took me up and over a pass near Sangrida Peak on a quad trail that had seen little maintenance in the 21st century. The trail was composed of a series of steep switchbacks that had drainage cuts across them every 15 feet or so. The areas between the incredibly deep drainage cuts were littered with rocks and boulders from grapefruit to bowling ball in size. In between the boulders was a dark gray shale-like soil that had the consistency of bear grease after three days of intermittent rain. Every time the front tire would hit a boulder it would pop off the ground and, as a result of the heavy load on the rear of the bike, it would not want to return. The constant threat of flipping over coupled with an inability to steer in the muck, along with the fact that to my left I could seen nothing but blackness that I assumed was a cliff-like hill side caused me no little amount of consternation. Still the TW continued to craw and scratch it’s way up the mountainside. That is until very near the top I finally lost control in a grease pit and tipped her over for the second time this trip. Once again there was no damage to the bike or equipment, just a wound to my pride. I got the bike upright again and rumbled over the pass to a moonlit view of mountain ranges extended as far as I could see. I could also see the lights on Lower Arrow Lake far below me. I put the bike in 1st gear and slide down the mountain into Farquier arriving at 12:30PM. I drove down to the ferry landing and checked the schedule, drove north of Farquier on the Hwy and found an old site that someone was going to put a house on but that was now overgrown, pulled off the hwy a short distance setup camp and went to sleep. The last time I looked at my watch it was 1:15AM, another long day.
Day 6: July 20, 2007
I was up and rarin’ to go at 7:00AM. I brewed a pot of coffee, took a few pictures of camp, and lubed the chain on the bike. I packed things up and headed into Farquier. The gentleman running the gas station was somewhat incredulous when I told him that I had come over the powerline late the night before on my motorcycle. He called over one of the older gentlemen that was sitting at what appeared to be a morning coffee get together. Apparently middle-aged folks from southern Utah did not commonly come into Farquier from that direction at any time of the day let alone midnight. After filling up I pulled away from the pump to discover that I didn’t have my sunglasses. I turned around and went back and the station owner met me at the door, took a moment to clean my glasses on his shirt, and handed them back to me. He will have my business every time I’m in Farquier BC from now on. I was at the ferry at 9:00AM for a 9:35 crossing.
After the previous nights adventure I opted out of two dirt road side trips I had planned for the day. As the rain continued to fall I decided that I had had enough mud for one day. I proceeded up Hwy 6 to Hwy 97A to Hwy 97B and into Squilax. North of Squilax I found myself on dirt again this time however the road was incredibly well packed. I guess that is what high speed logging trucks will do to a gravel surface. As I dodged logging trucks for the next million miles I seriously began to wonder about the logic of these little short cuts and side adventures. Finally I came back out to blacktop east of Barriere’. I turned north on Hwy 5. Near Little Ford I took advantage of a break in the rain to fish Lemieux Creek where I caught and kept 1 small rainbow for lunch. After lunch I took Hwy 24 across to Hwy 97 and into 100 Mile House. The ride across the 24 at relatively high elevation in a continuous rain sapped me so I cheated, pulled into a Motel 8, and got a room. I ordered a pizza, took a hot bath, and slept the sleep of the dead. I did 290 miles today, that’s a lot in the rain.
Day 7: July 21, 2007
Today I slept in until 7:00AM, got out of a most comfortable bed, brewed some in-room coffee, took another hot bath, put on some fresh clothes, loaded up the bike, did a little internet work, and was back on the road at bout 9:45AM. I headed up 97 to Williams Lake. In Williams Lake I stopped at the Honda and Yamaha dealerships with no luck finding the synthetic oil I was looking for, not an emergency yet. I did meet a guy who road from BC to South America he was running a shop called New Life Cycle and was a very nice guy. From there I drove to Quesnel. In Quesnel I did a little shopping, bought some milk (only good for a day or two but I really missed milk), some and a banana for breakfast, and a package of noodles. I also broke down and spent another $11.00 for a 6 pack. From Quesnel I decided to take another side trip and left 97 to go to Nazko. Unexpectedly the road into Nazko was paved, recently as indicated by the road construction signs. I filled up the tank at the Nazko trading post from a pump hooked to a tank off a truck. I saw caribou anlters on several of the “houses” in Nazko. From Nazko up through the Blackwater River country the road was gravel. I stopped at an unnamed stream and fished, caught two small Dolly Varden that I released. Cooked up the noodles I had purchased in Quesnel and drank the milk. I then continued north thru the Blackwater country until I came into Beaverley west of Prince George, this was also an excellent ride on the TW.
I headed west of Beaverly and setup camp off the highway under a set of power lines. This was the first stop where the mosquitoes became a big issue. I was forced to wear my head net and put on bug dope for the first time. I contemplated the difficulty of going to the bathroom in these conditions but tried not to think about it. I climbed in the bunk, did some journaling, and went to sleep. The last time I checked my watch it was 10:00PM with enough light to read by. I had done 330 miles today.
TheMule screwed with this post 09-28-2009 at 11:19 AM Reason: Title Change
|08-10-2007, 06:53 AM||#2|
Joined: Aug 2007
Location: Sunny Southern Utah
Here's Days 8-16
Day 8: July 22, 2007
I got up early but forgot to record the time. Fought the bloodsuckers to tear down camp and decided that I would leave and try to find someplace else to have breakfast and make coffee. Stopped at a rest area and made coffee and had some crackers for breakfast. Saw float- planes tethered to docks on the side of the highway today as well as Moose antlers on barns. At Burns Lake I decided to get back on the dirt and headed south to Francois Lake (I guess in the US we would call it Frank Lake). At Francois Lake I turned west along the north shore, a beautiful drive. I turned off the lakeshore drive on a dirt forest service road. I went several miles but ran into deep slippery mud that forced my third wreck of the trip (and my last I might add). At this point I decided to back track and stick to the blacktop or developed gravel roads until things dried out. Except for construction zones this was pretty much the end of my back-road adventures for the trip. Fortunately, the Stewart-Cassier Highway qualifies as a back-road by most definitions of the word.
After spending two hours and 70 miles on my little side excursion I was once again northwest bound. I stopped in Smither’s for gas and some more groceries (just noodles and milk) and had my hydration pack stolen off my bike. This was perhaps the only truly negative incident of the whole trip.
After Smithers, where I had a cheeseburger, I made for New Hazelton and filled up there. Just out of New Hazelton I stopped to take a panoramic photo of a mountain that was simply spectacular. After New Hazelton the next stop was Kitwanga at the entrance to the Stewart-Cassier Highway, the point at which I always thought the adventure would begin. I stopped at Kitwanga and filled up, just as I was topping off the tank a young man pulled in on a low-slung street bike. He had been in Stewart BC that morning and came south, killing a marmot and a bird with his bike on the way. He informed me that the Stewart-Cassier was closed as a result of a washout and wouldn’t be open again until late that evening or early the next morning.
From Kitwanga I made for Stewart BC as I would be needing gas before I could go further north (Meziadin Junction did not have gas at the time). Shortly after leaving Kitwanga I saw my first bear for the trip. I came around a corner and it was standing in the ditch. Apparently bears do not like screaming 200cc Yamaha engines. He looked at me, saw that I was looking at him, and left like a large black blur.
Right after I saw the bear it started to rain, hard! I already had my Helly’s on but quickly became cold. After about an hour of this I decided I would get a room in Stewart. I drove into Stewart through some of the most spectacular country I had yet seen socked in the clouds, cold, and wet. I got a room at the King Edward Hotel, turned up the heat, and got all my stuff out to dry. I made a batch of noodles in the room for supper. It was 11:00PM when I crawled into bed and you could still read by the daylight. I had driven 464 miles that day (including my 70 mile trip to Francois Lake).
Day 9: July 23, 2007
When I awoke I took a hot bath, put on fresh clothes (only one set of fresh underwear left), packed up all my stuff, and loaded the bike. I filled up the tank in Stewart and headed out on what I considered the real adventure part of the trip. Driving out of Stewart that morning, with the clouds having lifted somewhat I was able to see the beauty of the place. It was very cold but I stopped several places to take photos.
Everything was incredibly stark, the vegetation a vibrant green, the rocks, snow, and glacier seemed new and fresh in the wet morning sunlight.
Once I had turned north on the Stewart-Cassier (S-C) once again I stopped whenever it wasn’t raining and tried to capture some of the incredible scenery. Much of the scenery on the lower section of the S-C was wrapped in cloud cover, it would have been an unbelievable drive in the sun. I managed to stop in a few places and take a few photos. I also stopped and fished a small creek and caught nothing but mosquito bites.
I stopped at Bell II for gas, on this highway you stop at every gas station and top off the tank. I met a couple of new age hippies who were relocating from Anchorage to Washington state. They had camped the night before at Kisanka Lake and had seen a lot of trout from a small dock at the provincial park there. This prompted me to stop at the lake and do a little fishing. I caught 6 trout on damselfly nymphs and kept two 12” fish for lunch. They were fantastic.
At about 3:00PM the rain set into a heavy and constant downpour. I ran into construction that had the road pretty churned up. I decided to call it a night near Dease Lake. About 3 miles out of Dease Lake a guy named Andrew on a Suzuki V-Strom was parked on the side of the road out of gas. I lent him some gas and we headed into Dease Lake together. We filled up our tanks, and I bought some beer. Andrew and I camped just off the side of the S-C that night after having a couple of beers we were camp by 7:30PM, a record for me I think. Andrew had quit his job in Minnesota as a printing press operator and was touring North America on his V-Strom, a true adventure. In the morning Andrew left early, I don’t think he wanted to be held up chasing a TW. I had done 252 miles that day, just about right.
Day 10: July 24, 2007
After packing up in the morning I drove to Watson Lake in the rain, there was no gas at the junction of Hwy 37 and the AlCan. In Watson Lake I stopped and walked through the Sign Post Forest and took a couple of photos. I went to the bank and exchanged another $150 US for about the same in Canadian. I filled up with gas and bought a donut and some coffee and called home. The valves were clattering on the bike and I had finally found some fully synthetic oil back in Quesnel at the Canadian Tire store so I thought I’d do a little maintenance. It was still raining so I made up a tarp garage west of Wastson Lake to work in. The mosquitoes were terrible. I drained my oil into a milk container that I had fished out of the garbage in Watson Lake, put in fresh oil, did a valve adjustment, and cleaned out the oil filter with white gas and a branch off a fir tree. Put everything back together and drove back into Watson Lake to drop off my oil at the Fast Gas garage. I filled up again and turned west on the AlCan for Skagway.
As I headed west out of Watson Lake the rain subsided but the wind became ferocious. I experienced the worst tank of gas and became really fatigued by the time I pulled into the Continental Divide Lodge. I seriously contemplated turning back and just working my way south on the AlCan but then the sun started shining. The rest of the ride into Carcross was a pure joy. I saw a single bear west of Teslin, the largest black bear I saw on the trip. From Carcross into Skagway it became bitter cold. I stopped several times to take pictures but had a hard time enjoying it as I was freezing.
At the US Customs checkpoint on the way into Skagway the customs officer was very personable and was in the process of buying a TW so we talked about a half hour. I was still freezing and was dead set on getting a room in Skagway but the prices were out of my reach so I set up camp on the west end of town in what appeared to be an abandoned parking lot that was being overtaken by aspen trees (elevation 71 ft.). As I was setting up camp I received a text message from my daughter, apparently the Alltel Nationwide plan was really nationwide. She brought tears to my eyes, I became instantly aware of how much I missed my family. As I slid into the sleeping bag I checked the GPS, I had come 427 miles that day and had 3228 in for the trip. I went to sleep with the midnight sun in my eyes.
Day 11: July 25, 2007
Today I decided I would bum around Skagway and see the sites. A friend had suggested before I left that I take the ride out to Dyea and the Chilkoot Trailhead. I went down to the ferry dock to check on the cost of passage south thinking this might be a great way to head home but the total was too rich for my blood. I then drove out to Dyea and took a bunch of photographs of the scenery and the seals in Dyea Bay.
It was a spectacular sunny day in Skagway, something I can’t help but believe is a rarity. After my tour of Dyea I went to a pizza shop in Skagway and had a $25.00 dollar pizza, but it was good! I purchased a couple of shirts for my wife and girls and ran out of things to do. The next thing I knew camp was packed up and I was at the gas station buying gas by the gallon, and getting ready to head out. The trip out of Skagway was quite simply one of the most beautiful drives of my life. The speed limit was 40 MILES per hour and I took my time soaking up the sun and the sights and taking a lot of photographs.
After hitting Carcross the scenery became slightly less spectacular so I headed at high speed for Morley Creek, a river I had noted the night before that looked like a great place to fish. I arrived there an hour or so before dark and promptly started catching grayling off the surface with an irresistible adams. I caught more of these fish from 7” to 14” than I could count. I let everyone of them go, they are truly too beautiful to keep.
As the sun started to set on Morley Creek I packed things up to make a few more miles that evening. I ended up camping just east of Rancheria on the edge of an old gravel pit.
When I laid down for the night it was 11:00PM and I had driven 262 miles that day, took some great photos, caught some beautiful fish, and was headed home.
Day 12: July 26, 2007
I slept in until 8:00AM, must be getting lazy. I putted around and tried to dry out my tent, fixed a broken weld on my “touring rack”, and brewed a pot of coffee. I finally got back on the road at 10:30AM. I made it to Watson Lake and filled up the tank. After a little more coffee from my thermos and a roll from the gas station it was time to hit some new highway again. I left Watson Lake headed south and east for the first time in 12 days.
A little east of Watson Lake I started noticing big brown piles in the roadway. These along with the dreaded LGP’s (Loose Gravel Patches for those of you who haven’t been to northern BC or the Yukon Territories) created quite a road hazard, but not quite the road hazard I soon discovered. Wood Bison, in the road, time to slow down.
After dodging Wood Bison, Wood Bison Doo-Doo, and LGP’s all day I decided that I would treat myself to a nice relaxing soak at the world famous Liard Hot Springs. I dutifully paid my $5.00 entrance fee, left my bike at the entrance with the attendant, and walked into the springs. About 1 nanosecond after immersing myself in the soothing waters the thunder started to roll. Looking southwest I could see thunderclouds building and see lightning. I was willing to risk a direct hit by lighting but I was flat tired of driving in the rain so I a packed up my stuff and took off like the proverbial bat out of hell east bound and down, loaded up and truckin’. And I beat the rain! My brief soak in the spring did feel good though.
The drive from Muncho Lake thru Summit Lake was the most wildlife loaded portion of the trip. I saw Moose, Caribou, Sheep, and deer.
I had a cow caribou and a calf attempt to kill me near Summit Lake and I had to lock up the breaks but all it did was bring a smile to my face, the sun was shining and I was really having fun. I kept driving into Fort Nelson where I filled up and got another cheeseburger. I then followed a trucker out of town at dusk and continued driving to Buckinghorse. As I pulled into Buckinghorse I saw two guys on BMW GS’s at a the gas pump, apparently the store was closed for the day (it was only 10:00PM for cripes sake). The two guys were a father and son. The father was a great guy, volunteering info, asking questions, very personable. The son however did nothing but whine about his rashes, the bugs, the rain, etc. etc. I told the two of them I was going to head back up the hill to camp and then get gas in the morning. The father wanted to come camp with me but the son was not going anywhere there wasn’t a shower. Oh-Well. I set up camp and slept like a baby after a 515 mile day.
Day 13: July 27, 2007
I woke to the sound of road crew trucks flying past my camp. It was 6:00AM. I brewed a pot of coffee, loaded up the bike and was filling up the tank in Buckinghorse shortly after 7:00AM. I had a big day planned. I drove from Buckinghorse to Dawson Creek, the official start of the AlCan Hwy.
I filled up in Dawson Creek and made for Grande Prairie. Another big town. I zipped into town, filled up and turned due south for Hinton. As I was coming into Hinton traffic became almost intolerable. I fought my way to a gas station and filled up, washed the bugs off my face shield, and drank a diet coke. I checked my map and entered Friday night traffic on its way to a weekend in Jasper. The RV towing crowd was in full force so the speed of traffic making its way into the park was something the TW could handle. I stopped in Jasper and filled up again and started my way down the IcePack Highway.
I filled up twice in Jasper and Banff, once at Lake Louise. It was an incredible drive, I had the highway to myself, a full moon, and some of the most beautiful scenery in North America to gaze at. I had been feeling a little fatigued but the environment gave me a real boost (along with the diet coke). And I stopped several times for photo ops.
It was, without a doubt, the greatest night ride I have ever been on or ever will be on. Truly inspiring, and then it got dark. As I mentioned I filled up at Lake Louise and dropped off the west slope of the Rockies into Radium Hot Springs. I stopped at a gas station where the pump took my card but wouldn’t pump gas, I canceled the transaction and headed down the highway. I camped at the site of a burned down building just north of Fairmont Hot Springs. It was so late that I just layed down a tarp and threw the sleeping bag on it. I drew up the draw string in the bag and plugged the hole with a jacket to keep out the bugs and slept hard for about 4 hours. It was 2:00AM when I crawled in the bag and I had traveled 750.3 miles that day according to the GPS. That was enough.
Day 14: July 28, 2007
I woke up at 6:00AM, brewed some coffee and heated some water to shave with, I wanted to look good for my last visit with Customs. I brushed my teeth, packed up what little stuff I had unpacked and drove into Fairmont Hot Springs and filled up the tank. I then drove into Cranbrook and filled up again. In trying to leave Cranbrook the GPS unit made roads where no roads existed and I got tied up for about 45 minutes before I got free of town.
I stopped a small station south of Elko BC and filled up again, trying to spend as much of my Canadian money as I could. I hit the US Customs at Roosville where the Customs Agent was decidedly business like, the first one I’d come across with absolutely no personality. He did however basically wave me through and my self-induced terror with Customs stops was suddenly at an end.
I stopped just south of the border and took the liner out of my jacket. It was getting hot! I drove to my friend Matt’s place in Columbia Falls arriving about 12:00PM. I changed the oil and lubed the chain and adjusted the valves. I took a shower and then met Matt and his wife at the Lutheran Church in Columbia Falls for a hot dogs following a parade. After lunch Matt and I watched most of “The Long Way Around” and went to the micro-brewery in Whitefish with Matt’s wife to have a beer. We had a great supper of Italian sausage and I slept like a rock. An easy day at 215 miles.
Day 15: July 29, 2007
I woke up about 6:30. Shaved again, brushed my teeth, had a breakfast with Matt, and hit the road at about 8:00AM. It was going to be a very hot day. I retraced the trip I had made northward except that I stayed on 93 and didn’t take the Trail Creek route into Sun Valley. Instead I went through Craters of the Moon National Monument were the temperatures soared to 113 degrees. Too Hot!! By the time I reached Shoshone, as a result of a waning sun and irrigation, the temperatures had dropped. The trip was totally uneventful and I made it too Wells NV where I called my wife and pretended to be in Fort Nelson. I wanted to surprise her by coming home early. I decided to push on and filled up in Ely NV at about 11:30PM. I drove south to the Cave Lake turnoff and camped on a hill overlooking Comins Lake. Once again I simply thru out a tarp and laid the sleeping bag on it. I slept like a rock after 769 miles in the saddle, my longest day to date.
Day 16: July 30, 2007
I was on the road at 8:30AM after hastily throwing my stuff together. I hadn’t gone 5 miles when the engine suddenly started clattering in a horrific manner. I pulled off immediately, sure that the TW had given up the ghost. I got off the highway a little way and tore the bike down. I removed the cover for the intake valve and immediately noted that the retaining nut was gone. I located it with a flashlight and mirror sitting in the bottom of the compartment that contains the valve adjustment apparatus. I spent about 30 minutes attempting to fish it out with a piece of wire. No Luck! I then decided to just tip the bike over upside down. This worked like a charm (something you’re not going to do with a BMW or a Harley). After retrieving the nut I adjusted the timing and put everything back together. Sounded good. I left for Baker NV where I filled up again. Just out of Garrison I met very stiff headwinds and thunderstorm cells. Next I ran into construction where they were chip sealing the road. Pulling into Cedar City the wind was so bad it was blowing debris in my face. I filled up in Cedar City, put the waterproof and quilted liners in my jacket and headed over Cedar Mountain. I hit heavy rain and by legs got soaked and I became very cold. I filled up again at Tod’s Junction and made the last run for home. As I headed south it became warmer and warmer. I dried out. I pulled into Kanab at 5:00PM. I called my wife on her cell phone and asked her if she was working late again, I told her I would call when I set up camp. She was surprised when she got home. I drove 275 miles on the last day. The trip total was 6110 give or take. I was gone 16 days and had a great time but it was good to be home.
|08-10-2007, 06:54 AM||#3|
Joined: May 2005
Location: Chalfont, PA
Amazing report! You might want to edit it and change the font color to white. I'd love to hear your thoughts on using a TW200 for a long trip, always been interested in touring on a small CC bike, what did you like, what didn't you like? DId you miss not being able to take highways, ect.
|08-10-2007, 09:28 AM||#4|
Joined: Jun 2005
Great report Todd. Thanks for contributing. Hope to see more of your adventures on here. The YouTube was well done.
|08-10-2007, 09:38 AM||#5|
Joined: Mar 2006
Location: Riverside County, California.
Welcome to ADV Todd
Nice report. Enjoyed reading your story. Look forward to more.
04 HONDA CRF 230 F
06 BMW F650 GS DAKAR
08 KTM 450 EXC (R)
09 BMW R1200GS ADVENTURE
"We are all going to die of something if we live long enough!." My Father
|08-10-2007, 10:36 AM||#6|
Joined: Jan 2007
Location: Sparkle City
Awesome report! I've done Alaska and the Yukon twice now with a big GS, but it sounds like you could really take me to school on organizing and packing - I need to check out the pictures of the way your bike was set up! You're just a young stud though and can probably get by with less than I can!
|08-10-2007, 11:46 PM||#8|
Joined: Aug 2005
Location: Harrisville, Utah
Holy crap.......6100 miles on a TW. I'm from Utah and I also own a TW. I love that little bike. I've always wanted to do a real adventure ride on this thing and now you give me hope. I'd really love to see more pictures and details of your bike setup.
|08-11-2007, 04:31 AM||#9|
Joined: Mar 2003
Location: Jennings, Louisiana
Great trip report on a small bike trip. My hat is off to you. My last "small bike" trip was about 1400 or so miles in 3 days on a DR350 with full camping load. That was in '99. After that trip I bought another KLR 650 which I still have today.
Thanks for sharing.
A '00 KLR 650 39,000 miles, A '07 1250S 77,000 actual, A '03 5.3L Chevy Truck 76,000 + '43 style dude , Simper Fi ;-)
|08-11-2007, 06:19 AM||#10|
Middle aged git
Joined: May 2007
Location: Can'tberra, Australia
That's a great report. I cant really comprehend what it would be like doing 6100miles on a 200cc bike (thats 9,760km in my money!). There must be more to them than meets the eye. Amazing.
Why stand when you can sit down..
Why sit when you can lie down..
|08-11-2007, 07:36 AM||#12|
Krusty Olde Pharte™
Joined: Aug 2006
Location: The Thumb of Michigan
Great Ride Report.
"It was 2:00AM when I crawled in the bag and I had traveled 750.3 miles that day according to the GPS. That was enough."
"I slept like a rock after 769 miles in the saddle"
Those are fair to long days on a big road bike, amazing on a TW.
99 Shadow Spirit 1100
"Non Illegitimi Carborundum"
|08-11-2007, 08:29 AM||#13|
Joined: Aug 2007
Location: Sunny Southern Utah
What I Packed with photos
By popular demand here's a list of the modifications I made to the bike and a list of pretty much everything I took along as well as a photo of it laid out on a tarp.
Bike Modifications and Additions
Headlight Cover (CepeK)
O-Ring Chain (DID)
45 Tooth Rear Sprocket (JT)
Headlight Bag (Lowepro Utility)
Tank Bag (Wolfman Enduro)
Tank Panniers (American Trails ATV)
Cabela’s Boundary Waters II waterproof duffel
12V plug in (Bell Water-resistant)
Hardwire Kit for Garmin 76C GPS unit (With Mapsource Maps of US and Canada)
PVC Tubes for 1.5L MSR Fuel Bottles (1 w/white gas, 1 w/unleaded)
Baja Designs Rear Turn Signals
Homemade rear rack with support for saddlebags and rack for 1.5 gallon gas tank
Equipment – Bike
Extra Master Links (3)
Tire Tubes (1 Front and 1 Rear)
Tube patch kit
Cruz Tools Kit w/tire tools (DMX2)
Extra Fuel Filters (2)
Extra Headlight Bulbs (2)
Chain Tool (Motion Pro)
Extra Oil Filters (3)
Extra Fuses (3)
Extra Spark Plugs (2)
Spare nuts and bolts
Large Adjustable Wrench for Rear Wheel
2 part epoxy
Hose clamps (4 large)
TW200 Bike Crutch (ala mrgizmow)
Equipment – Camping
Walrus Zoid 2.0 Ultralight tent w/ground cloth
Kelty Sleeping Bag (0 degrees rated)
Cabelas Sleeping Pad (self inflating)
Coleman Peak 1 backpackers Stove (Whitegas)
8X10 Poly Tarp
Backpacker’s Water Purification Pump
LED Headlamp and flashlight
2 Rolls TP
Med kit (Adventure Medical .7)
Gransfors Hatchet ?? (need to check with customs)
Pepper Spray?? (check w/customs)
Road Flares?? (check w/customs)
Lots of Matches in waterproof containers
Knives (check w/customs)
MSR Cook Kit with Silverware
Salt and Pepper
Flour and Cornmeal
Food bought daily (or thereabouts)
Hard Copies of Maps
Camelbak 70 oz. Hydration pack
Water bottles (2)
Equipment – Personal
Camera (Canon 350D) w/ 2 lenses/2GB card/extra battery w/charger
Cell Phone w/charger
Drivers Lic., Passport, Insurance card, Registration, Fishing Lic.
Fly Rods and Reel (4wt and 6 wt)
Fly vest w/ flies, equipment, and net
Ultralight waders and boots w/patch kit
Helly Hansen Raingear
TheMule screwed with this post 08-11-2007 at 08:39 AM
|08-11-2007, 08:32 AM||#14|
Joined: Aug 2007
Location: Sunny Southern Utah
Photo of "touring" rack I made up for the bike
Here's the rack made out of 1/4" ID schedule 40 steel pipe and connected to the rear peg mounts and the existing factory rack.
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