Back to the Arctic - Tuktoyaktuk

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Rollin', Jul 20, 2019.

  1. Rollin'

    Rollin' does it come in black? Supporter

    Joined:
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    I had started to add locations to rides that included the highest, lowest and southernmost and northernmost points. In 2012 I completed my first ride that crossed the Arctic Circle with a ride that included Key West, Florida and Deadhorse, Alaska. The southern and northernmost points in the USA.

    https://advrider.com/f/threads/top-of-the-world.827740/

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    In 2015 I did the Canada version of the ride, the northernmost point in Inuvik to the southernmost point, Point Pelee National Park.

    https://advrider.com/f/threads/back-to-the-arctic-circle-inuvik.1086309/

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    When I did the ride to Inuvik in 2015 I knew they where extending the road to Tuktoyaktuk so I had to decide to do the ride to Inuvik then or wait until the road was completed but that wait could be three years. I decided to do the ride then because you never know what will happen later.
    I completed the ride to Inuvik in June of 2015 and later that year I bought a different bike and this would be the bike I would use for the ride to Tuk. For two years I made changes to the bike to get it ready for the ride to the Arctic Ocean, the new northernmost point in Tuk. The road would be open in late 2017 so I would do the ride to Tuk in June of 2018.

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    By the end of 2017 our life started to change at home and in January of 2018 I retired to become a fulltime caregiver for my wife. I would not be riding to Tuk, I couldn't leave the house for more than an hour at a time. I was still adjusting to our new life and I thought seeing the bike sitting in the garage was adding to my stress so I sold the CTX. Now I had nothing, selling the bike had been a mistake.
    I decided to buy a different bike, I didn't want to spend a lot because the bike might never be anymore than a grocery getter but the bike had to be capable of making it to Tuk if I ever had a chance to go. When a local dealer had a sale on a 2018 DL650 I knew I had found my bike.

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    By the end of 2018 I decided to start planning and preparing for a ride I may never be able to take, a ride to Tuk in June of 2019. How would I do this? Who would take care of my wife?
    At the time it didn't matter, this was a distraction I needed.
    There was a lot to learn, support group meetings, worked with three different nursing homes, paperwork, doctor appointments, attorney's, trial stays, more paperwork and many setback's. While dealing with everything else her condition continued to get worse.
    Many times at night when I was tired I would think "just let it go" it would be so easy to just not do the ride and the next day I would start planning again. I hadn't left the house for more than an hour or two at most for almost a year and a half...I need this.
    This was the last ride on my to-do list and if it's my last I will be okay with that.
    May of 2019 and I'm packing for two trips, my wife's stay at the nursing home and the trip to Tuk.
    The DL is ready to go.

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    In the seat bag there are tools, tire repair equipment, one gallon of spare gasoline (REDA can) and a first aid kit. The top bag has the over-pants and the heated gear.
    I am all in. I had bought a new jacket, over-pants, (gained weight) ZUMO GPS, Spot Tracker GEN 3, boots and setup a bike and all for one ride and one that I'm still not sure I will get to do.
    I would know soon, early June 24th I'm moving her to respite care for 19 days, setting up her room and then going home to change and start the ride from S.E. Wisconsin to the Arctic Ocean.
    This will be an expensive trip, her care will cost more than the trip. How much would you pay to do a last ride?
    June 24th and ready to start the ride north. I will have one chance to do this.
    Hoping to complete an Iron Butt SS1000 on day one, this will bank some time for later in the trip.

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    It feels good to be on a long ride again!

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    The rain started just 20 miles from home and would continued for the first 400 miles of day one.

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    The rain stops and then later in the day I have another one of those "I should have put the rain gear on at the last exit" moments.

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    Sunrise after an all night ride.

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    I stop the clock for the IBA ride with another receipt in Regina, SK, Canada. Per the receipt it's 6:51 am (central time), with all of the rain it took a long time to ride about 1100 miles. When this ride is approved it will be my 30th Iron Butt ride.

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    I take a break but it's to early to stop riding and I keep going and stop for the day in North Battleford at 1:00 pm when it starts to rain again. (STOP RAINNING!!! :-) ). I've traveled a little over 1300 miles, its a good start. I slept well that night.

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    The next day was nice and then...
    What an interesting cloud.

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    This is okay because the road goes to the left...

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    ...and damn! Rain again.

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    I reach Dawson Creek, BC.

    Where's the Alaska Highway?

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    Thank you!

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    When they put gravy on your fries you know you're in Canada.

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    I stopped for the night in Pink Mountain and I'm unloading in the rain again. Good thing I like a challenge. :lol3

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    I unload the bike and then run for fuel, I want to start early and if I don't get fuel now I will have to wait until they open. That would be hours later than I want to start. A lot of places don't have pay at the pump and if they do they turn off the pumps at night. I make it there with only minutes to spare before they close.
    This would be the normal end of the day. Get fuel, repack the gear and prepare for the next day, clean the helmet face and sun shield. Sleep ...go.
    Pink Mountain has everything I need, a room, food and fuel and to keep a promise I will also need to stop here again on the way home.

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    #1
  2. Rollin'

    Rollin' does it come in black? Supporter

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    I had set my alarm for 3am to leave Pink Mountain, todays goal is Whitehorse. I'm trying to stay on schedule because if there is time I would like to make a few stops in Alaska on the way back from Tuk.
    All of my rooms are "up the steps and down the hallway" I complain to myself at the time but the exercise is good for me. I'm packing the bike when one of the staff is just starting, he says he will make a pot of coffee if I have time before I leave. I have time for coffee.
    I tell him about my goal to ride to Tuk, after giving me many warnings "I don't want to scare you but..." he askes if I could stop on my way back and tell him about Tuk, he said it could help others.
    I'm ready to leave, it's not raining...there's no traffic.

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    I would have rain on and off on the rest of the Alaska Highway, photos of Muncho Lake and the Sign Post Forest will have to wait until the return trip.
    There is also a lot of construction on the Alaska Highway, it's good practice for the Dempster Highway.

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    The steel grate bridges do make the bike squirm!

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    Food and fuel stop. Teslin.

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    Spent the night in Whitehorse and rode to Dawson City.

    On the Klondike Highway.

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    There is a haze in the air. Smoke, there have been a lot of fires in the far north.

    Next stop is Dawson City. Dawson City is a very busy town, from Dawson City some people go to Alaska and others continue north on the Dempster Highway. I will need a room, food, fuel and supplies for the trek north.

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    Dawson City is busy!

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    First I need a room so I go to one of the larger hotels and they tell me they are full, its the start of the weekend and there is a large "boat event". They also tell me I won't find a room and recommend that I go to the visitor's center, I might find help there. This could be a problem, to save weight and space I didn't bring any camping gear.
    The visitor's center staff makes a few calls and the campground has one cabin left. Great, I'll take it! First I have to take the car ferry to cross the river to get to the campground and I get in line.

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    Someone walking by says "you're in the wrong line, that's for RV's"
    Thank you! I move over, that's better. :lol3

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    They find a space at the back of the ferry.

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    #2
  3. Swinefahrt

    Swinefahrt RooteR

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    Glad to see you are on the road again. i really enjoy your reports and I'm enjoying this one as well. Thanks
    #3
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  4. Rollin'

    Rollin' does it come in black? Supporter

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    The campground is … interesting.

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    I move into my cabin.

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    There are things to look at everywhere.

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    :hmmmmm

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    They have a great view of Dawson City!

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    There are fires on both sides of Dawson City and from the campground I can see helicopters carrying water.

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    I would need to take the ferry again to go back to Dawson City to get food, fuel and supplies for the ride on the 457 mile Dempster Highway to get to Inuvik and then on the ferry again to get back to the campground and again to leave the next morning.
    I want to leave early so I pack the bike the night before. The goal is to ride the full length of the Dempster Highway, if the weather is good I'll just keep going until I reach Inuvik.
    #4
  5. Rollin'

    Rollin' does it come in black? Supporter

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    Thank you! I do enjoy sharing the stories.
    #5
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  6. Rollin'

    Rollin' does it come in black? Supporter

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    From Dawson City it's 25 miles to the start of the Dempster Highway and there is fuel there. The Card Lock is working so I top off the tank.
    Next fuel stop is about 257 miles away in Eagle Plains.

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    The start.

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    There is still a haze from all of the smoke.

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    The ride is going well, time for a fuel and food stop in Dawson City and then continue on to Inuvik.

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    #6
  7. Little Bike

    Little Bike Air/Clutz Sue Supporter

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    Great report. It’s so important for caregivers to take good care of themselves and take time out. How do you like the windscreen? Did it solve the vstrom buffeting?
    #7
  8. thirsty 1

    thirsty 1 Rider Supporter

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    You’re bringing back fond memories! Good luck and stay safe!
    #8
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  9. Rollin'

    Rollin' does it come in black? Supporter

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    I have a good meal and get fuel. With the lower speeds the DL650 is getting great fuel mileage and I don't need my extra gasoline, I still wouldn't do this trip without it.
    From Eagle Plains it's only 25 miles to the Arctic Circle sign, I'm getting excited.
    I start heading north again.

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    And the road turns to deep, sticky mud and the tires load up. What is going on? It's not raining.
    There are a lot of hills on the way to the Arctic Circle sign and I can't find a good line up or down, feels like there is no gravel.

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    I had made it 18 miles and after a few "moments" I decide to turnback to Eagle Plains, I'm not even sure that I will make it back.

    Back at Eagle Plains. I ask a guy from the road crew "what happened to the road north?"
    He said that there was a lot of rain the night before, he also said the forecast had said no rain so they graded it and that made it worse when it did rain.

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    They have a room and the forecast showed no rain so I will wait and let things dry and try again. This will cost me a day.

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    I'm bored so I walk around the building and find this.

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    The next morning I set my alarm for 4:00 am to get an early start and … it's pouring!
    I walk out to the road and look north.

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    :lol3:bluduh

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    And then they close the road. I will be stuck in Eagle Plains for another night and this time they don't have a room. The forecast for tomorrow is more rain, I might be stuck here for two more days.

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    The road is listed as impassable in 5 locations, the road is closed at Eagle Plains and Fort McPherson.

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    I'm trapped in Eagle Plains and there isn't much to do. Eagle Plains has a motel and a repair shop. Population 14, and that's the staff.
    They do have good food!

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    #9
  10. Rollin'

    Rollin' does it come in black? Supporter

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    Thank you!
    The windshield worked as hoped, I liked the adjustability and I will probably buy another one … but that's another story.
    #10
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  11. Gordon

    Gordon MC Rider Supporter

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    Loving the RR. That mud is the worst stuff ever. Rain and mud is what turned me back in 2018. I made it to within 40 miles of Tuk and had to turn around. Made it to Tuk in 2019 will do that ride again if given the opportunity. GL to you Rollin’
    #11
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  12. Starstruck

    Starstruck Been here awhile Supporter

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    Chin up! There are worse places to be stuck on the Dempster than Eagle Plains (they do have decent food). Try and have a beer this evening with the guy who runs the gas station.....
    #12
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  13. Rollin'

    Rollin' does it come in black? Supporter

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    The mud does add to the challenge and the memories. :-)
    #13
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  14. Gordon

    Gordon MC Rider Supporter

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    Indeed
    #14
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  15. Rollin'

    Rollin' does it come in black? Supporter

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    There are other riders trapped in Eagle Plains and they are deciding what to do next. First a rider and his son decide to head south, they don't have a room and can't wait for conditions to improve. The son is very disappointed. There is a group of three riders, two decide that riding to the Arctic Circle is enough and turn back after that, the third rides to Inuvik and then rides south.
    There are two more that are thinking of heading south because they also have other destinations to go to and this is burning time.
    I still have another problem, I don't have a room and no camping gear. Hopefully they will have a room if I'm stuck another night.

    Hmmm....

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    I will try to get some sleep on one of the lobby sofa's.

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    First the office closes, then the kitchen and then the lounge and now I can get some sleep … nope, now the cleaning crew comes so I get to see the midnight and 1 am sun.

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    I sit on the sofa at 1 am and fall asleep but I'm up at 3:30. I look out the window, it's not raining so I decide to leave. I don't want to stay here another night.
    The bike is already loaded, I just need to put on my riding gear. I lower the rear tire pressure and head north. The road is drier. It's still a slow ride up some of the hills but I make it to the Arctic Circle sign.

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    Ready to head north. Will that be a problem? Yes it will.
    The rain will start shortly after the Arctic Circle sign and it will rain all the way to Inuvik. Per the Spot Tracker data it took me 12 hours from leaving Eagle Plains to get to the hotel in Inuvik. 12 hours to travel 225 miles. Some sections of the road were done in 1st and 2nd gear. Getting on and off the two car ferry's was exciting!!

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    Stop for a minute and they find you.

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    Not bad considering.

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    Made it to Inuvik. :happayI have a lot to do to get ready for the ride to Tuk.
    I found a motel and made a reservation for two nights, still need food, the bike needs to be washed and fueled.
    Gear is repacked and it will be another early start, will ride to Tuk for the day and return to Inuvik. It's July 1st, happy Canada Day!!

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    #15
  16. Rollin'

    Rollin' does it come in black? Supporter

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    The last 90 miles to Tuk!
    Early July 2nd and its not raining, this would be the first day on the trip that had no rain.

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    The beginning of new Highway 10, ITH still had some soft spots because of the rain the day before. There are also a lot of water filled washboard areas.

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    The fog would lift and the sun would break through. Would be a prefect day.

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    Flower sniffin' part of the ride. :D

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    Must be getting close to Tuktoyaktuk.

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    and all the effort is worth it.

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    #16
  17. Rollin'

    Rollin' does it come in black? Supporter

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    Next on the to-do list is a ride to the Arctic Ocean sign.
    It's about 50 degrees and windy.



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    #17
  18. AwDang

    AwDang Long timer

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    Well done!
    #18
  19. Gordon

    Gordon MC Rider Supporter

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    Nice
    #19
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  20. Rollin'

    Rollin' does it come in black? Supporter

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    The Jeep owner in the video came over and took a picture of the DL and me. My to-do list is done, anything else is just extra.
    Also in the video, under the pavilion is a KLR and it's owner. I had also met him in Eagle Plains, when others were turning back I asked him what he was going to do and he said he was going to Tuk even if he had to push his bike there. I think he did.
    He had left after they opened the road and didn't make it to the first ferry crossing in time so he camped on the side of the Dempster. Said he put up his tent in the rain and everything was wet.
    He had four goals on his list, ride a motorcycle to Tuk, camp every night, camp on the Arctic Ocean coast and skinny dip in the ocean.
    Skinny dipping in the Arctic Ocean was not on my list. We talked for a while and shared ride stories.

    There was a rock and gravel breakwater and I walked to the end. You kind of feel like you are standing in the ocean.

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    Good view of town from the tip of the breakwater.

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    I'm hungry, still haven't eaten anything. I'm so hungry I could eat an ox. :D

    On the ride to the sign I had seen a sign for a place called Grandma's Kitchen, sounds like a good place for breakfast but when I get there it's just a house.
    I walk around the back of the house and they had added a walkup window to their house.

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    I'm there to soon, they don't start serving until noon and it's only 10:30. I start to leave and a guy (John) opens the window and says they will start serving food at noon. I say I will be back and then he says "I you have time I can make coffee and you can sit in the patio.
    I have time for coffee and this is perfect, a lifetime resident that can answer every question I have and it feels good to not be moving.
    I'm sitting in the patio and it's right on the coast.

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    He tells me stories about hunting whales, the town, the highway and the Northern Lights reflecting on the ocean.
    Time flies by and grandma is ready to open the kitchen. More people arrive including the KLR rider. I ordered a Muskox burger and an order of Muktuk Bites - Beluga Whale.

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    Muktuk Bites.

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    The Muskox burger was great and they also had the best fries I ever had.

    The KLR rider (can't remember his name) still has one more item to complete on his list and is trying to talk himself out of doing it.
    I asked "did you write skinny dip in the Arctic Ocean on a list?"
    He say "yes".
    We all look at him and he says "so I have to do this?"
    Yep!
    And he did, I'm sure he's happy that he completed his list.

    Also did some shoppin' in Tuk, they were ready.

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    Small dark brown building on the right is the information center.

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    #20