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Old 07-29-2013, 07:14 AM   #286
jdrocks OP
Gravel Runner
 
Joined: Jul 2007
Oddometer: 4,181
Day 8: Dezadeash Lake, Yukon to Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon (492 miles)

Nice and cool when I got up, maybe slept 5 hours, but I hadn’t been bothering to write it down, and my 57 stone featherbed didn’t seem to have done any damage either. Nothing like an extra firm mattress.



The bugs had gotten their butts frozen overnight, but were coming back to life quickly as the temp came up. I wasn’t going to wait around, no way, if they wanted a bite outta me, the damn things better be able to fly 80mph. A few raindrops as I was packing up, then it quit, and I was rolling north.



The road was elevated above the lake to the east, sun playing on the mountains from the opposite direction. The Kluane National Park and Reserve boundary was the highway itself, with the Park extending to the Alaska border west and southwest.





I wasn’t far from Haines Junction and the Alaska Highway now, a beautiful morning ride, scudding clouds, and on a straight stretch of highway I nearly hit a big porcupine that suddenly crossed the road.







I wasn’t making much time on this early morning run and gun, but it sure was pretty country, postcard pretty.





Haines Junction was still asleep when I got there, I was looking for the staples, fuel and food. No luck, the bakery/coffee bar was closed, and the place where I fueled before looked closed too. I could wait on the food, but I wanted the fuel. I rode around, hoping to find a local to ask about fuel, nothing, but I did find the old Catholic church built from a WW2 quonset hut.





Yeah, I took the photo of the most photographed church, then said a little prayer for fuel. I would have said a prayer for breakfast, but that would have been a stretch. I was about to ride east when an old Ford pickup came up the street, flagged the guy down, and it turned out that the place I thought was closed was actually a card lock, fuel 24/7, see, those prayers do work. Don’t forget that shiny St. Christopher.



I was bound for the Dempster, so I had to backtrack east on the Alaska Highway before turning north on the Klondike Highway, Yukon 2. Running east at a good clip, I saw animals on the right shoulder ahead, on the brakes, and I was almost on top of them before I realized it was a sow grizzly with two cubs. I was way too close as they crossed in front of me, and I thought I was in the clear until the sow suddenly whirled around and stood up, looking right at me from the left shoulder. Time to go, man, what a stupid freakin’ move, that bear could have been on me in about two seconds.

I found breakfast at Otter Falls Cutoff, located at the junction with the gravel road running along Canyon Creek about 25 miles north to Aishihik Lake, then on to the First Nation settlement of the same name at 75 miles. Another road for another day.



Only a couple customers in the café, and I had another $25 breakfast, it didn’t last long, cute waitress though, all delicious hotness…the breakfast I mean. I heard stories about travel on the Cassiar from one local guy who never once mentioned the word “scenic”, and was glad that new power line was being constructed, “We’re outta juice up here, eh”. The other patron was a truck driver, and we were in the middle of a good conversation about northern roads, when I asked him about that big ol’ Texas tattoo on his forearm, crude by any standard. The conversation was over as if a switch had been flipped, he stood up and left, hmmmm, no idea what that was about, but I wasn’t sorry to see him go, and he took that smell of unrestrained violence with him.

East towards Whitehorse, I was able to see the Coast Range from the opposite direction.



I decided to put the camera away for awhile and make some tracks east and then northwest on the Klondike. Of my trips that entailed crossing the Yukon, I had only been to Whitehorse once, and that was on a return leg from Alaska. Every other trip I had bypassed north or south, nothing against the place, but I had it lumped together with Prince George, Fairbanks, and Los Anchorage, in other words, of little interest to me. I had a Walmart nearby at home, and it was also a well known fact that the sight of a Walmart automatically pulls the plug on adventure. I was in the Yukon Territory, pull the plug, y’all got to be kiddin’.

(to be continued…)
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Old 07-31-2013, 08:34 AM   #287
jdrocks OP
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playing catchup at the office, so limited time to write, but more on the way soon.

stay tuned for the Dempster.
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Old 08-01-2013, 09:46 AM   #288
jdrocks OP
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The Klondike was not a bad bike road, and got better farther up. Because I had always come over from Watson Lake on the Campbell, I’d never been on this section between Carmacks and Whitehorse.

The Takhini River valley holds a sizable elk herd, warning signs along the highway. The numbers of elk and moose have both increased once the wildlife people decided to control the wolf population.



I was watching the fuel gauge again, I hadn’t bothered with fuel near Whitehorse, don’t remember even passing a fuel stop, and other than my intended stop at Braeburn Lodge for a sticky bun at the pretrip insistence of Father Edward Copeman, the next stop was at Carmacks, if the tank wasn’t empty by then.

The Lodge had fuel pumps, all padlocked, three dual sport bikes in front, including an Africa Twin. Canucks are able to import the AT, a proven world traveler, if not somewhat dated, so it was not unusual to see them here. The riders were all D2D bound, it looked like attendance would be huge this year. Moto travel might just be the only growth area in tourism in the area now, an economical way to travel, plus the bikes don’t mind all the frost heaves that will beat a four wheeled vehicle to pieces.



I took the opportunity to talk with the owner while he cut my monster sticky bun in half, then wrapped the halves, sorry, ain’t going to eat the whole thing right now. The guy confirmed what I had been seeing on the highways up here, traffic was way off from previous years, the decline accelerating. Back outside, I sat there eating that huge bun, it was like consuming a loaf of bread dipped in caramelized sugar, had to be about 3000 calories, don’t start without a canister of hand wipes, or you’ll never get those riding gloves back on.

It was a good time to take inventory, the sun was out, the day relatively young in 24 hour daylight, and I was going up the Dempster, except I was going to run out of fuel first, the rear tire was bald, and the chain was shot. I was the one always preaching about the correct tires for northern gravel, I’ve been on most of it, forget all that, now I was going to ride the Dempster on slicks. Bike prep, preached that too, don’t go out there if the bike ain’t ready, but I was going out there with a chain that looked like a crinkled up black snake, no amount of lube would loosen it up. First, I had to get up to Carmacks and fuel.

I backed off the gas some, that was always good for some fuel economy, and at Twin Lake I met an old guy driving around in a Sprinter van, not one of those fancy conversions, just a regular commercial model that he had outfitted with a few basics. He had sold his home in LA and was “wandering” as he put it, and it sounded like the perfect term for someone without a destination, insular, a true lost soul, one of the few I had met in my travels.

Farther north, I rode up on an overturned car, the contents scattered around, status of the driver or passengers unknown. Unlike the States, where wrecks along well traveled roads are quickly collected, wrecks up here sit until someone has time to come get it, if ever.



I stopped at the first fuel in Carmacks, the fuel warning had been on since yesterday at least, damn light, I knew when I was outta freakin gas. Dumped in those liters, yup, I had rolled up to the pumps with about a thimble’s worth of fuel in the tank. If I hadn’t slowed for a handful of photos, I would have run out. I still hadn’t bothered to fill Mike’s gas can, I was treating it as decoration, but that was about to change a little farther up the road.

Now that I could run again, no more time to waste, and I was out of Carmacks like a shot, running northwest on a frost heaved road. Usually the frost heaves won’t bother a moto much, but this road was the exception, and my water bottles went flying off into the bush somewhere before Stewart Crossing, my fuel top off location. Stewart Crossing is at the intersection with 11, the Silver Trail, which takes you over to Mayo, and from there you can ride gravel up to Kino. I had been there several times, not on the route for this trip.

Stewart Crossing had become important by default when the Klondike River Lodge at Dempster Corner burned down, no fuel available there now, and if heading up the Dempster, the next fuel would be Eagle Plains at the 248 mile mark. I wasn’t riding that far north, but I still needed 200 miles of fuel to get back down to Dawson, and this stop was mandatory, heck, I even filled the gas can just for fun.



Continuing northwest, I rode past the Moose Crossing outpost, my usual sticky bun stop when crossing to the Klondike via the Campbell, but I was surprised to find it closed, or at least it looked that way, not a single vehicle to be seen anywhere, times change. I was concerned with the weather, clouds had been building a little, and I finally got a peek through the haze, the threat of weather meant no Dempster on someone else’s bike wearing slicks.



I was stopped at Dempster Corner, camera out, and thinking about the other episodes in my Dempster history, lordy, the stories that come off this road, and I would add some more today, my third time here, with the fourth aborted by snowfall along the way.





The road was an enigma, wonderful beyond description at it’s best, a two faced back stabbing bitch at it’s worst, roll the dice and ride, but guess wrong and there’s a helicopter ride in your future…guess really wrong, you and the bike both go home on a freight ticket.



There was a bridge at the Klondike River, crossing it, then up to Tombstone, should be able to get that far on slicks and a bad chain, not that I hadn’t weighed the odds. If I wasn’t able to get this bike back outta there, I might as well check that list of countries without an extradition treaty, fly down to Honduras instead of Virginia. The SPOT was blasting away my track info, and I was about to make someone very nervous.



The Nahoni Range of the Ogilvie Mountains lies west of the road, and it didn’t take many miles to get into more scenic country. Three dusty southbound KLR riders stopped to check on me when I was parked on the side with the camera, that thoughtful mindset must be built into the guys aboard that model, it had happened before.







The road was in good shape, and I expected it would be all the way to the newly constructed interpretive center at Tombstone, finally complete after much delay. Yukon Tourism tries to promote the facility there, so the road was given additional attention by the DOT crews. The road surface is notoriously tough on tires, I had my fingers crossed.







There were many small creeks crossing the road, looked picturesque today, but they were the reason the road gets cut during periods of heavy rain. It was not unusual for travelers to be stuck on the road until it can be repaired, the worst case being when travelers get stopped on the wrong side of the halfway point for fuel.



If I had any concerns about the road conditions ahead, a southbound sportbike running about 75mph put them to rest, the rider blind to the realities of physics, doomed by Las Vegas odds, and a defective frontal lobe.







By the time I reached the territorial park it was early evening local time, the interpretive center closed, but plenty of activity around the campground, although only about half full. I cruised through, selected a site, and was standing next to the bike when a SUV pulled up to me, the dude in the passenger seat saying “I just paid for this one” with an unnecessary snarl showing pointy poodle teeth. Pleasantries are wasted on individuals likely to die in a hail of gunfire, hope he signed that organ donor form, and I was back on the bike, moving over a half dozen spots, but discovering a prepped 800 Tiger in the move.

I got my camp set up, then back over to talk with the Tiger guy, just down from Inuvik. This rider was Jeff Scofield from Oregon, slobinski on ADV, and it turned out that he was so underwelmed by Inuvik that he only spent an hour there, although he had covered the highlights pretty well and had seen many of the same things there that I had. He was on the street version of the 800, not the XC, and it had handled the Dempster very well, except an intermittent idle problem that would wait until he was back at his dealer in Oregon. So long my friend, safe travels.

On the way back to my tent, I stopped to talk with a young gal from Texas, on her way north with her boyfriend, enjoying an unusual road trip. When I asked if they’d had any adventure along the way, she said “Adventure, dontcha get me started, I’m riding with a cowboy”. Speaking of cowboys, she was Cowboy cheerleader cute, and had all the requirements to play the part…in spades. Tired as I was, I was now feelin’ much better, and understood why guys moved to Texas, it wasn’t just those jobs in oil and gas.

At my minimalist camp, I was dining on half a sticky bun, downed with Mike’s bourbon mixed with a touch of the local branch water, naturally cool, none better. Thunder in the distance at first, then working closer as I added some notes to the journal, and my thoughts turned to a possible ride on a muddy road with my slicks, oh boy. I had been asked about this road many times and had doled out plenty of advice, but as I sat there at Tombstone, I figured I should be more cautious about saying everyone should ride this road. In fact, these northern roads were not for everyone, the number of unknowns among riders and bikes imponderable, but I did know that these roads were still for me, and I would continue to ride, not ride on by.

(to be continued…)
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Old 08-01-2013, 03:46 PM   #289
fasteddiecopeman
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Considerin' that you and Mike's bike had been up at least PART of the Dempster when I met you in Dawson (next day to this report...) , I have to say that you certainly AVOIDED the mud this year . I'd NEVER have guessed....
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Old 08-01-2013, 05:56 PM   #290
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The Dempster got even later...
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Old 08-01-2013, 08:33 PM   #291
jdrocks OP
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I have to say that you certainlyAVOIDED the mud this year . I'd NEVER have guessed....
my slicks aren't out of there yet.
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Old 08-01-2013, 08:39 PM   #292
jdrocks OP
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The Dempster got even later...
so i heard. since it wasn't my moto, better you than me. i wouldn't have been happy in Honduras.
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Old 08-04-2013, 09:20 AM   #293
jdrocks OP
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Day 9: Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon to Chicken, Alaska (249 miles)

Dawson was calling, and I was padding around my campsite packing up, piece of cake, everything had found it’s place by now, making the chore very fast and efficient. As usual, nobody else up, so you know it’s the wee hours, I never looked at my watch, unnecessary since certain nerve endings were jangling to a familiar baaada baaada boom boom beat, time to go, get my butt down the road. Once again, I took a minute to turn the bike around before punching the starter button, ya know, in case some of the campers had pacemakers with a low battery alarm flashing, cardiac arrest eminent when that LV started to bellow at 4AM, or whatever the heck time it was. “Burning daylight” had an entirely new meaning when there’s 23.5 hours of it a day, if I lived here in the summer, I’d never find time to sleep.



Partly cloudy, but another glorious day, the road surface wet from a short rain after midnight, then a chloride tanker truck, but more for dust control than consolidating aggregate, I sure didn’t want the latter on slicks. The interpretive center was closed, wood smoke rising from the chimney at the building, and I was wondering if this new facility relied on wood heat, odd.





The road was full of rabbits, maybe after a taste of chloride dietary supplement, and evidence of moose, crossing roads must scare the poop out of those animals, either that, or they were just having a little fun.

The early sun gave otherwise rugged country an almost delicate appearance, one of the reasons I liked riding early.







The only vehicle on the road was the Yukon DOT tank truck passing northbound, so I was able to just use the road, stop and start as I pleased.



Yeah, had the lights on, if the bike had auxiliary lights, those would have been on too.



In this case, 90 meant 90, my slicks were doubtful.



Hmmm, something big crossed here.



I wasn’t sure what this sign was about, the park itself was way up the road, and confined to the area around the expanded campground plus interpretive center.



There was a reason to love these northern roads, and I owned this one right now.





Down to the bottom of the road, then the short run over to Dawson, I had made the whole run on the main tank, goes to show the miles the motor will deliver if ya slow down, forget it, I’ll buy the fuel. I stopped at the quickmart before town, topped up the fuel, I needed some loonies for the spray wash too. Dropped a twenty on the floor when I was fumbling around, and the woman behind me picked it up, “You Yanks sure like to throw money around” with a smile. If in the States, Mr. Jackson would have been about two blocks away by then.

The spray wash was next door behind the RV park, a necessary stop to get all the chloride mud off the bike, that and 4000 miles of road grime. It’s easy to use up five of those loonies to wash a bike, no big coincidence on the slang for that coin because ya sure feel stupid dropping that many of the freakin’ things down the slot.



I backtracked a little to the Dome Road which climbs the hilly terrain overlooking Dawson and the Yukon River, passing an expedition vehicle built around the massive Man 4x4 truck chassis, an impressive vehicle, and not the first I had seen above 49N. Most Dawson visitors get up to the overlook, so I found a crowd there today, no bikes though. The last time I was on top, a small group of teens raced each other in a scramble up the face from town, better be in shape for that one, boy first, girl second, no fat on any of them. I was surprised to find another van load of Euros, a little older group than the last time, traveling the northwest for a little adventure, a very enthusiastic group just done with a canoe segment on the Yukon River. One of the girls offered to take my photo, heavily accented English, any time sweetheart, and she was exactly that.



I spoke with the California surfer dude who was leading the trip “That river looks like 8mph flow”, and he replied “Naw, it’s more like 10, so you can move the canoe 12mph if you actually paddle”. I asked how he liked leading these trips “Man, I love my job, got to laugh when I remember I get paid real well to do this all summer”. When I asked about all the good lookin’ young ladies I always see on these trips “Yeah, there’s that too, never seen more uninhibited skinny dippers, any kind of water, the clothes come off, like right now”. Tough job, and they were on their way up to Tombstone to hike the trails located around the campground.

I was headed back down to Dawson for breakfast, my dining schedule was all screwed up, such was life on the road, ain’t complaining. I stopped at the first café I could find, might have done better, this one was overrun with hippies, anarchists, or whatever grungy folks want to call themselves in the Yukon. I was ambivalent about the lifestyle, their choice, but I wasn’t keen on the dirt. Along with their other anti leanings, they must be anti soap, both body and laundry. Another thing, that freakin’ holistic home remedy deodorant ya cooked up from that internet recipe, guess what, it ain’t workin’, I could smell you before you crossed the street.

The D2D festivities were centered on the Downtown Hotel, and I rode over there, a growing lineup of bikes as more riders arrived in town. It was a good place to check out different makes and models of bikes, plus accessories, designed for adventure travel, everything was here.



The Downtown Hotel was a moto friendly place I’d been to on previous trips, Dick the owner, now ex owner, a rider himself.



The last time I was here Dick wasn’t at the Hotel, but as I was fiddling around with the bike, he came over for a look. We spoke about the new pending sale of the hotel to a Whitehorse group, the festival, this and that, and he finally noticed the Colorado plate “Where did you say you were from?”, and I replied “Eastern Virginia”, and explained the trip. He said “Well, well, there’s been a bunch of guys at the hotel looking for you”, huh, looking for me? Hotel or no hotel, Dick said he would be in Dawson, look him up next time through, will do.

Enough with Dawson, my thoughts had turned back to the road ahead, conditions unknown, could be good, or something else. I was still considering some options, tightening straps, cinching everything down, prep for the jump west to Chicken, when I felt a tap on my shoulder “Hello David, it’s Fast Eddie Copeman”. How ‘bout dat, Father Edward, in person no less, and the rumors circulating around northwestern Canuckistan turned out to be true, he was really old, a good 50 years older than I was.



Glad I was able to finally meet him while he still had all his faculties…more or less.

(to be continued…)
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Old 08-04-2013, 01:17 PM   #294
fasteddiecopeman
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Dave - it's no wonder I didn't figure you'd been up the Dempster...

you had ACTUALLY washed Mike's ride !
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Old 08-04-2013, 07:58 PM   #295
jdrocks OP
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Dave - it's no wonder I didn't figure you'd been up the Dempster...
you saying i would tell a big fat fib to Father Edward, man, i'd have to go to confession, and who has time for that.

yup, washed the chloride off the bike before it turned to concrete, and made way for some divine intervention on the chain.
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Old 08-05-2013, 03:05 PM   #296
CharlestonADV
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Don't know what those KLR riders did to their bikes that would have restricted them to 45 mph...even with a very strong headwind. I just completed a 3,500 mile ride in CO, UT, ID, OR, WA, MT, and WY and (with exception for very high elevations) my stock 2012 KLR handled high winds just fin!e. FWIW, I did a 6,300 ride in 2011 on a Versys. IMO, the KLR is much more capable in varied conditions.
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Old 08-05-2013, 04:28 PM   #297
jdrocks OP
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Don't know what those KLR riders did to their bikes that would have restricted them to 45 mph...even with a very strong headwind. I just completed a 3,500 mile ride in CO, UT, ID, OR, WA, MT, and WY and (with exception for very high elevations) my stock 2012 KLR handled high winds just fin!e. FWIW, I did a 6,300 ride in 2011 on a Versys. IMO, the KLR is much more capable in varied conditions.
pretty unusual wind conditions the day i met the KLR riders below Browning, and one rider may have been nursing his KLR because of that unexplained oil loss problem, plus they had a heavy load strapped on the back. that said, it would have been tough to ask a KLR to stay with me at the speeds i was running, exactly the sustained speeds that have been repeatedly documented to cause problems with those thumper motors. the Versys in this report could run 80 into those winds if you didn't mind the bike bouncing around a little, and i didn't, although i admit to being tired of it after 500 miles.

remember, this was a paved road route except for about 300 miles of gravel, so any advantage held by the KLR on gravel never came into play. the Versys crossed the first gravel section on street tires, then bald street tires for the rest, no problem.

i came back from the trip even more convinced about the kind of bike i wanted for western/northern trips that are routed with a significant number a graded gravel miles, and until something comes along that is reasonably priced and fills all my criteria, i'm stuck with what i've got...my Versys.


jdrocks screwed with this post 08-05-2013 at 06:43 PM
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Old 08-06-2013, 05:59 AM   #298
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I believe I saw photos of your bike on the Versys forum when you were building it. :
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Old 08-06-2013, 08:31 AM   #299
jdrocks OP
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I believe I saw photos of your bike on the Versys forum when you were building it. :
the route would have been very different if on my own bike, but i couldn't take a chance with Mike's bike on 2000 miles of gravel, it wasn't part of this ride program and i was completely ok with that.

some of the problems i see in bike selection for long range trips involve riders making a poor match to both known road conditions and personal riding style.
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Old 08-06-2013, 09:11 AM   #300
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I found out Father Edward and his riding buddy had been in town for a couple days, had seen all the sights twice over, drank up enough Yukon Brewing Company beer to float themselves into the river, and I knew they were getting bored silly when I saw them both lock up the radar on that 300# hippie girl walking along the other side of the street, drapery fabric roughly fashioned into a moomoo, made her look much slimmer, sure it did. Her legs were exposed below the knee, heck, I saw a black bear the other day that was only slightly more furry, and if she had walked into one of those Brazilian Wax salons, they woulda called the cops.

Father Edward Fast was in a sort of hangover induced trance, but I took a chance “Do ya happen to have a set of axle wrenches handy, I need to do something with this stupid chain?”, and the saintly Father Edward replied “Sure David, follow us back to camp”, they had the tents set three blocks away. By the time I got over there the good Father had all the tools out and ready to go, including his custom fabbed trail jack, perfect, and I set about removing some slack, that 100 miles of chloride mud had been the near death sentence for an already bad chain.



Before letting the bike down off the stand, Father Edward applied a liberal amount of his special holy water to the chain, industrial strength WD40, not the garden variety grade available over the counter. Father never goes anywhere without at least a gallon of the stuff in case he has to soak his left foot to the ankle, claimed it worked real good for that odd case of sore shifter toe. I got Father Edward to say a little prayer over the bike, and a sign of the cross using his trail jack as a substitute scepter, good, I felt blessed too, Anchorage looked closer now.



FEC and I might have ridden the Forestry Trunk together in 2011, now we met up in Dawson in 2013, I was riding west, he was riding east, it had been a pleasure…’til we meet again, my friend, and I was gone to the Yukon River.

The wait here was usually short, the main variables involving current and wind. Hot in the sun while in line, the ferry landings up here always have a stockpile of crushed aggregate or bank run material to replenish the landing as fast as the river washes material downstream.



The view downriver looked serene today, you don’t want to be around when the winter ice breaks up on the Yukon, ain’t serene then.



There were some native fish traps stored on the far bank, the same basic design as I had seen down near Haines.



Fish traps, ok, but not anywhere near as interesting as what I saw once while crossing the river here…

When we get to the other side of the river there aren’t any cars waiting for the trip back to Dawson. Just a lone walk on passenger was waiting for the ferry and the whole thing started a slight list to port when all the deck hands came over to get a look. A statuesque blond, she was wearing about 40% of her entire body weight up high on her chest. Not only that, but she was making some casual “adjustments” to her night-on-the-town attire, oblivious to her audience. I’m betting that as a child she left the underwear off her Barbie doll. Good Lordy! “Hey Beemer, maybe we should go back to Dawson and see what happens.” That girl could find herself the object of a couple good fist fights wherever she went, maybe even gunfire if she set her mind to it.

The only foot traffic passenger today was an old hippie on the downhill side of fifty, shrunken inside soup chicken skin, probably headed over to anarchist headquarters at the Yukon government park across the river. I thought he was going to puke over the starboard rail, nope, but he sure as heck was about to hack up a hairball any second. I was glad to be off the ferry and up the hill onto the Top of the World Highway, a fast run to the border ahead, WTF, the Yukon authorities had changed Yukon 9 back to gravel, it used to be chip.



The surface was in decent shape, well graded, but with a few soft spots, always something to watch for up here, and a little ongoing road repair work. The road offered up great views in more than one direction, even through the haze, with sun and clouds adding contrast. The Ogilvie Mountains were to the north, the Glacier Mountains to the northwest.







No guardrails between the road surface and a steep drop, a lapse in concentration or an exercise in bad judgment means you die, an easy to grasp concept.





The road was snaking out ahead, not enough traffic today to raise a cloud of dust.





I was working my way west towards the border, plenty to look at to the horizon.





Still some snow along the road at the higher elevations.



A person might consider sneaking across the border here, but there are probably better alternatives.



Ordinarily, I’d be scootin’ on the sections that were in good shape, but my tire concerns were restraining me again.



Beautiful rolling country, now I was at the border, my sales pitch ready, hoping I wouldn’t need it.



Poker Creek might be the most northern, but this small post is not the most remote, interesting as it may be, and I didn’t have any problem crossing, never was even asked about the bike. I was betting that the agent could see multiple recent border crossings when he scanned my passport. Got my passport stamped too, and I was back in the USA, hoorah.



The road on the Alaska side had always been gravel, although usually rougher than the Canuckistan portion, no change there. Basically, the Alaska side was a mess and would get even worse.



I was just going over to Chicken, find a place to camp, not very far, but I would find adventure along the way.



The 40 Mile Mining District was named for the Forty Mile River, hmmm, wonder what’s back in there, ya hear all kinds of rumors, especially when gold jumped to $1800.



I was welcome in the Forty Mile, kinda said so on the sign, unless there were some misplaced modifiers in the language known only to the native Alaskans, lost on flatlander come heres, so I decided to make a little detour on the Taylor and ride over to the Forty Mile River bridge, not like I was testing those slicks, nuthin’ like that. Connecting the Top of the World and Taylor highways was the Boundary Spur, although most using the road think of the TOW running all the way to the Eagle turnoff at Jack Wade Junction.





Only 4 miles south was Boundary, one of the old road houses still standing, and also the start of some of the most oddly neglected road construction zones I’d had the misfortune to ride through.



No crews were working, and had left the road surface graded to bare minimum standards, large exposed rocks and loose material everywhere. I was standing on the pegs picking a line through, it was that bad. Even a modest rain would turn the road to a muddy mess, then wash the whole works away. I took the Jack Wade turnoff, there was some road work here too, then rode north towards Eagle, the river should only be about 14 miles in.



Another lonely road, no traffic today, the gravel ribbon winding on through the hills before dropping down some steep grades towards the river.



I could see the bridge and stopped in the road where I thought I could get a good frame, got the camera out, and at that point a new pickup pulled up next to me, woman driver wearing a hardhat…

“Where you headed?”
“Chicken.”
“You’re on the wrong road.”
“I just came in here as far as the river, now I’m going to Chicken.”
“If you don’t have business at the campground or in Eagle, you need to leave.”
“Why?”
“Road work and truck traffic, it’s not safe”
“Nobody’s working today”
“How do you know who’s working, you need to leave, trucks are coming.”

A few raindrops bounced off my helmet, I was wondering if she was armed, but it was the thought of rain that turned me quickly around and away from this nonsense, forget the photos. So long, Butch, sorry about those razor nicks on your chin.

(to be continued…)
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