Beyond the Arctic Circle in Canada and Alaska

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Venturer, Apr 3, 2019.

  1. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    I promised my family and friends that I would find a riding partner as I hit the more remote areas of the trip. (I wasn't sure how this was going to happen but it is all part of the adventure.) In Whitehorse Yukon Territory, I was incredibly fortunate to meet a fellow solo rider at a gas station who was headed up the Dempster and on to Tuktoyaktuk. Jim was riding a big GS, and had some local knowledge and complimentary skills. Jim is a retired Canadian helicopter pilot for the forest service in Northern Ontario, so his mechanical and navigation skills are superb. The Southerner on a KTM 1190R and the Northern Canadian on a BMW GS became good friends in the coming days.

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    #21
  2. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

    Joined:
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    #22
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  3. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    After one night in Dawson, YT, Jim and I headed to the Dempster "Highway". We made the mandatory fuel stop at the unmanned "Cardlock" gas pump at the beginning of the Dempster. The next gas is approximately 250 miles later at Eagle Plains. Our goal was to ride from Dawson City to Inuvik in one day ... 478 miles. Keep in mind that the Dempster is 100% dirt and gravel. I do not recommend riding to Inuvik in one day.

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    #23
  4. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

    Joined:
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    The Dempster has the reputation of being tough and remote compared to Alaska's Haul Road/Dalton Hwy. It has less vehicle traffic and tends to be quite difficult in rainy and snowy weather. If the weather is nice, then the Dempster is just your average 478 mile dirt/gravel road. However, the weather is unpredictable year-round and the Calcium Chloride road surface turns to an unbelievably slippery, gooey mess when wet. On the other hand, the Dempster has a true wild and remote vibe that can be exciting to adventure riders. We loved it, despite some hardship along the way.

    Extra fuel and critical spare parts (brake pads, tire repair tools, etc.) are mandatory on a trip anywhere in the Arctic region. I used this fuel bag, and like its versatility (it rolls up to the size of a big burrito when empty). Note my winter gloves picked up at the snow machine dealer in Whitecourt Alberta.

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    We also carried camping gear (lightweight, fairly minimalist stuff), fire-making supplies, and the bear spray.

    Attached Files:

    #24
  5. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    A "typical" stretch on the Dempster.

    #25
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  6. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

    Joined:
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    Yes, that is a grizzly. BTW, Jim explained that it is never a good idea to stop near a grizzly to take a photo.

    Jim also provided a nice roadside lesson in Bear encounter protocol: His first question when we stopped about 100 yards away from the grizzly, was ”which way is the wind blowing?” We were downwind; Jim liked this. Next, to my surprise, he said we were still too close. Wow. Then, Jim said we were probably OK because the bear was eating grass. He explained that when bears emerge from hibernation, they eat grass and roughage in order to stimulate their digestion and purge their “fecal plug” (the fecal plug develops in hibernation to keep the den clean). Therefore, if you see a grizzly eating grass and leaves in the Spring, it probably hasn’t passed its fecal plug yet, and it isn’t ready for meat in its diet. Once the fecal plug is eliminated, you become part of the food chain again... This was one of the many times I was thankful for Jim’s local knowledge. It was kind of like having a nature guide as a riding partner. I loved the fecal plug story.



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    #26
  7. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

    Joined:
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    We saw several bikes along the Dempster which were left behind when the rider had to be evacuated due to injury.

    #27
  8. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Eagle Plains: first gas stop on the Dempster at nearly 240 miles. I limped in without using my spare gas. The low fuel light had been on for about an hour... I usually can't get more than 200 miles out of a tank, but we tended to run about 45-50 mph in a high gear which allowed for about 48 MPG. In sloppier conditions, I found my mpg dropped sharply.

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    #28
  9. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Only about 25 miles north of Eagle Plains, we reached the Arctic Circle point. A lot of people travel from Dawson City to the Arctic Circle sign and return to Eagle Plains to spend the night. A good option since Eagle Plains has a little restaurant, motel, basic garage, and camping. For some reason, we planned to keep going to Inuvik... over 200 more miles... with darkening clouds developing in a late afternoon sky.

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    #29
  10. JoeBiker25

    JoeBiker25 Been here awhile

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    Superb! Love the short vids!
    #30
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  11. gtdsrider

    gtdsrider Adventurer

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    Nice ride report Venturer, thanks for taking us along for the trip!
    #31
  12. ThirtyOne

    ThirtyOne I got my wings back. Supporter

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    Nice ride report. Great photos too.
    #32
  13. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

    Joined:
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    We stopped briefly at the border of Yukon and Northwest Territories, and happened upon Tom, a fellow rider from Georgia. He was returning from his ride to Tuktoyaktuk. Tom had good weather and the final road to Tuktoyaktuk was relatively straightforward. As we found later, timing is EVERYTHING on the final stretch.

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    #33
  14. Gordon

    Gordon MC Rider Supporter

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    This RR has potential. Thanks for taking us along for the ride.
    #34
  15. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    The gas pumps at the small hamlet of Fort McPherson were closed by the time we got there. So, once again, I started sweating gas consumption as we had two mandatory ferry crossings and a lot of riding still ahead to arrive a Inuvik later in the evening. This is the Peel River Ferry -- no paperwork or monetary charge. Just ride on and ride off, courtesy of the Canadian government. Note that this ferry is cable driven; the Mackenzie Ferry is diesel.

    #35
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  16. GP640

    GP640 Long timer

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    Errr, by the picture I'd say that's a trophy (if you're into that) size Black Bear. Black Bears come in a multitude of colours. I've got a hide a shade darker than that one hanging in my basement. I say not a Grizzly due to the shape of the face and shape of body. But, given a better pic, I may be incorrect.
    #36
  17. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    We arrived in Inuvik near midnight, dog-tired. The final section coming into Inuvik had a deep, fresh layer of gravel which was challenging after almost 500 miles on the Dempster. Once again my low fuel light had been on for about an hour. We found a local campsite and set up camp in the early morning hours. The good news about riding north of the Arctic Circle in June, is it is daylight for 24 hours. The bad news is it is daylight for 24 hours...

    Approximately 2AM:
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    #37
  18. Venturer

    Venturer AKA klakeman Supporter

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    You may be correct. My Canadian buddy, Jim, said it was a Grizzly, and he tends to be expert on such things. Regardless, it was big... and close.
    #38
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  19. Gordon

    Gordon MC Rider Supporter

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    This is awesome enjoying it immensely.
    #39
  20. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Look at the hump behind his neck....grizzly
    #40
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