The Lure of the Dempster

Discussion in 'Photos' started by Alcan Rider, Jul 24, 2013.

  1. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil

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    This one probably won't get as many contributions as "The Lure of the Dalton", but when I finally got around to going north of Dawson City on the Dempster the views along the Dempster made a very favorable impression, with the scenic Tombstone Mts. beginning just 30 or so miles from the beginning of the Dempster at its intersection with the North Klondike Hwy.. A few of my own photos to get it started, and hopefully other Dempster travelers will contribute their own favorites. Best place to start is, usually, at the beginning.
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    Starting up Tombstone Pass, icy remnants of last winter's cold and snow still remain in a stream's flood plain.
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    A closer look, courtesy of a powerful zoom lens. (Saves a lot of hiking. :nod :D )
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    Much like the Canadian Rockies many miles to the south, these mountains appear to be gigantic mounds of fractured granite, nearly devoid of vegetation.
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    Nearby surface deposits of iron give this stream a rusty appearance.
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    The Ogilvie River runs right along the base of this mountain, and looks like it might create problems with the roadway in heavy run-off.
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    Some brush and a few dwarf spruce maintain a tenuous hold on the slopes.
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    A telephoto shot of one of the tiny islands of spruce trees atop the mountain.
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    A little farther downstream the Ogilvie makes a big bend beneath a craggy ridge. My riding partner and I spent over half an hour photographing the area, both up and downstream.
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    A stop on Ogilvie Ridge presented the opportunity to photograph over 100 square miles from one position. The climb to the ridge marked the north end of the most scenic portion of the Dempster.
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    An overnight stop had been planned for Eagle Plains Hotel, and despite seeing photos of the establishment posted by other travelers, we were very impressed with the accommodations, here in the virtual middle of nowhere.
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    The next morning we left as early as the Peel River ferry schedule would allow to be practical and had a cool ride while the sun slowly rose sufficiently to burn off some of the clouds.
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    The mountains separating the Yukon and Northwest Territories remained scenic and offered quite a opportunities for photo stops, most of which had to be passed up in order to make decent progress. This spot was just a few miles inside NWT.
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    Dark clouds on the northern horizon, along with scheduling concerns, convinced us to abort the ride all the way to Inuvik, so we turned around just 11 miles south of the Peel River ferry. The sun behind us on the way back to Eagle Plains provided good lighting for more photos, however.
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    Having spotted a grizzly just after crossing the border at Wright Pass, a careful watch was kept in hopes of getting photos on the way back south. Sure enough, the bear was still in the area. Not only that, but another, slightly darker, bear was there also. They appeared to be a pair of 2 1/2 year-old youngsters, still together after momma bear kicked them out to start another family. They looked well-fed and healthy, and were having a great time frolicking along the small stream bank.
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    Lowering, dark clouds created some interesting sights from near the top of Tombstone Pass, requiring another stop for a few more photos. After that, it was on back to Dawson City.
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    #1
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  2. Big Bamboo

    Big Bamboo Aircooled & Sunbaked

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    Great photos! Thanks for sharing.
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  3. scoutDad

    scoutDad IBA#203

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    Hey Jack,

    Great photos, as is normal for you. :clap
    Count me as subscribed. It is also very interesting to me that you have decided to place the Dempster in your camera sights at this time.

    My sons are currently talking about wanting to come up to AK for a visit in the summer of 2015 (we are planning a TAT trip for summer 2014) and ride the Dalton, hopefully with their favorite Alaskan tour guide pointing out all the history and scenic side trips along the way.

    As the preliminary planning gets underway, I have been toying with the idea of adding the Dempster to the Dalton trip plans. I will definitlely be showing them your awesome Dempster photos tonight.

    I hope you will plan another trip to Inuvik soon, when the weather is cooperating that is, and post more great pics!
    #3
  4. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil

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    John,
    Mighty good to hear from you! :nod Yeah, you'd better be doing some riding with those two boys. They'll be grown up and gone before you know it. 2015 sounds good to do some touring with you all. By that time I should have some free time again and would love to play tour guide. Lots of places to go up here, and things to experience. You can take the entire summer off, can't you? :lol3

    Too many jobs to get finished before winter returns for much more riding this season, but I intend to make it to Inuvik next spring and add many more photos to this thread. Doing the Dalton and Dempster in one trip up this way should be doable, if the weather cooperates at all. Came across two recently-repaired road washouts on this trip, so Mother Nature calls the shots on these roads. Just adds to the adventure. :D

    Stay in touch as time gets closer. We'll make it a good trip to remember.

    Jack
    #4
  5. Zrexrob

    Zrexrob Fla Mountains...yep!

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    Fooking Amazing pic!!!!
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  6. scoutDad

    scoutDad IBA#203

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    Jack,

    I will definitely stay in touch as we progress with our plans.

    I have a 30 day trip (+/-) roughed out on Streets and Trips. Basically putting three small dual sport bikes on my trailer and driving 1K days from Bama to AK.

    I am not ready to push my sons to do 1K days on small bikes and I may be too old to do them on anything other than my ST13. And droning across Flatistan is not something that would be fun on small dual sports, plus the SUV hauling a trailer is faster (required to fit into my off time) and uses not much more fuel than riding three bikes would.

    Then the idea is to spend a couple of weeks exploring AK and YT, then loading back up, driving and riding back through Hyder, Lake Louise, the Going to the Sun Road, Yellowstone, Beartooth Pass, then 1k day pace back to Bama.:huh

    Will see how this idea progress over the next several months. I will be looking forward to reading about your Spring trip...and seeing more great photos, of course!

    John
    #6
  7. PhotoMotoAdv

    PhotoMotoAdv PhotoGuy

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    I rode with Jack on the Dempster and all I can say is that I was impressed. By he road itself, which is one of the best rides you can dream of; and also by Alcan Rider's skills on a (rare) part of the Northwest he hadn't ride yet. It was a fun couple of days, but since we didn't make it all the way to Inuvik this time, we have a meeting scheduled for 2015 - rain or shine!

    Here are some of my photos to complement Jack's own great images.

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    #7
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  8. willys

    willys Long timer

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    Excellent thread, can't wait for the snow to leave so I can make my way back again this summer.....one of the few last true adventure rides in North America imho.....one that isn't paved and never will be....absolutley perfect.....a must do bucket list ride! For everyone who rides a bike!
    :deal:clap
    #8
  9. Bill 310

    Bill 310 Poser Emeritus

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  10. Nordo

    Nordo GS Geezer

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    Wow.... Outstanding photos!:clap

    The Dempster is on this geezer's bucket list of rides, thanks for the teaser!
    So many great rides in the Great White North!
    #10
  11. 01001010 01000011

    01001010 01000011 AKA-JC

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    Just wondering how much time you would allow for a reasonable round trip, Dawson to Inuvik? I was checking Google maps and they are showing 8+hr to EaglePlains and 7+hr
    from there to Inuvik. This sounds like a 4 day round trip in what they list as avg conditions,
    what is your take on that considering reasonably normal mostly dry conditions or at least what you call normal?
    #11
  12. Bill 310

    Bill 310 Poser Emeritus

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    When we went up we left Dawson reasonable early (around 6 am If i recall), we gassed up at Klondike River Crossing which is the start of the Dempster and where the gas station has since burned down. We had given ourselves a 7 day time window for the ride and took four days. In ideal conditions the right rider could do the ride in 2 days but why do that, it is simply amazing country you are seeing.

    We rode at a reasonable pace on decent road conditions and spent the night at Eagle Plans. The second day we rode to Inuvik and ran into heavy construction zero visibility at times for the dust, gravel berms in the road and some of the most horrific riding I have ever experienced . My wife's lowered 650 GS hi centred a few times on the skid pan and she would toboggan along till she fell over.

    We arrived in Inuvik later that day, had a nice meal washed the bikes and then did a day flight/tour to Tuk the next day.

    We left to very early in the morning of our fourth day from Inuvik to head south and timed it so we were first in line at the first Ferry crossing. We did this to get ahead of the traffic and dust. Two days later the roads was much less terrifying in spots and our third rider still got trapped in the deep ruts and went down, Tearing off one Happy trails bag and snapping the BMW bag mount.

    We had lunch at Eagle Plains and made the now burned out Motel at Klondike River Crossing in time for dinner.

    The big problem we didn't have to deal with was fuel. My KTM 990 had the large Safari tanks and with the tank growth was able to carry over 12 gallons (US) gas, The 650 GS had a 1.5 gallon fuel cell and the 1150 GS was running 5 gallon cell. All of us had adequate gas and we had a total of a little over 27 US gallons of fuel between the three bikes. We had a siphon hose.

    I am convinced that my having a steering stabilizer and a 21" front wheel helped keep me from dumping the KTM in the hundreds of kilometres of roadwork.

    When we rode to Prudhoe the next summer we took everything off the bikes that we didn't need to ride in or repair the bikes with and stored our excess luggage in Fairbanks. I would do this for Inuvik as well.

    Always allow for extra travel days so you don't have to push the ride in bad conditions that gets people hurt and killed
    #12
  13. Roadracer_Al

    Roadracer_Al louder, louder, louder!

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    Lovely photos! Looks like you had great weather.

    RacerWife on her Versys and myself on my VStrom made a half-hearted attempt. Wife was quite sick, and earned a ton of respect for even trying in her condition.

    We got to the foot of the Tombstones, and it began to rain. I suggested abandoning the trip, since it was basically belt-notching. Wisdom the better part of valor, etc. There is always the next time. We'll be back: we really enjoyed the trip.
    #13
  14. Fatallybitten

    Fatallybitten Slow but Sure

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    A few from last summer's ride on the Dempster during our Yukon trip. We only got as far as Tombstone due to the unbelievably good weather which caused us to camp and hike for a few days. I will be going back!

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    Cheers, David
    #14
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  15. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b

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    Great photos Alcan R. Good idea for a thread too. The Dempster was by far my favorite road in the area.

    This might not be exactly the begining, but it's close. And the last blue sky I saw for a while.
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    I was there the same year, but it looks like just a bit earlier than your trip. Sparse leaf cover for one.
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    Like you I also had great accommodations at Eagle Plains. It's high enough for wind to make the mosquitoes disappear. While I could have cooked comfortably outside, I enjoyed the restaurant while I was there.
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    Sun the next day.
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    Midnight in Inuvik.
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    More sun the next day for heading south.
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    Then hazy.
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    Then cloudy.
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    Another night at Eagle Plains, and an almost-dry start to the next day.
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    Not too long after that, rain convinced me to put the camera somewhere safe.
    #15
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  16. kneeslider

    kneeslider Long timer

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    Well done!:clap
    #16
  17. BikerBill

    BikerBill Motorcycle Addict

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    Alcan Rider,

    Thanks for starting another great thread! Thanks to everyone that shared their stories and photos. I've spent the last several weeks reading and learning a lot about riding in Alaska, and the Yukon.

    I've put off riding to Alaska for so many years because of scheduling or other excuses. But this year I've committed to a trip to Alaska. The Haul Road has been on my bucket list since I learned it existed. If that's all I get to do it'll be a great adventure. But I've got more than the original 24 days to ride from Kentucky to Alaska and back. Five weeks now I think. Adding the Dempster to trip planning. If the weather is bad, I'm sure I can find someplace interesting to ride to.

    I'll camp when I can but will get a room occasionally too. It's 4100+ miles from my home to Fairbanks and I think that will take 8-10 days each way. I don't want to burn thru everything in between and miss meeting new people and seeing the sights, but Alaska is the goal and I think more time spent there will provide the best experience. I'm spending more time preparing and less time on detailed plans. I'm a fair mechanic but I'm new to the Beemer. July 10 is departure and home on August 13.
    #17
  18. kneeslider

    kneeslider Long timer

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    Excellent!:clap
    #18
  19. slideways

    slideways permanent ex-pat

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    The Dempster is an epic ride.

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    #19
  20. sark

    sark Been here awhile

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    I thought this was a Dempster.

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    #20