Churchill MB by 'Road'?

Discussion in 'Canada' started by Wanderlust, Dec 6, 2004.

  1. Wanderlust

    Wanderlust Just another spoke.....

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    OK maybe 'road' was a bad choice of words; two track, single track, goat path, whatever. Yea, the tourist sites say you can't drive there, but there are some maps that seem to have a few small towns dotted along between Sundance and Curchill.... So that says to me that there may be something vaugely resembling a road there too.... I'm thinking late July next summer. Bugs should be bad, pavement ends in Thompson.... SOUNDS LIKE FUN TO ME.... if I can actually get there...

    Has anyone tried the run all the way up to Churchill with any luck?
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  2. Esteban

    Esteban Banned

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    I have always wondered the same thing. I heard vague mentions of riding along the tracks to Churchill. When do the polar bears congregate ?

    SG
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  3. configurationspace

    configurationspace delooper

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    There's a dirt/gravel road to Gillam Manitoba, that's about 170 miles south of Churchill. There are no roads from Gillam to Churchill.

    The train ride from Gillam to Churchill is something like $50 or $60 CDN. I suppose you could try to ride the train tracks the remaining distance but it's not clear how safe that would be (physically and from a legal point of view). If you seriously biff, you'll have to walk the remaining distance, if you can. There have been enough rescues of "adventurers" in-over-their-heads in the Canadian north for people to lose sympathy for such people. I would suggest getting one of those emergency locators with a big insurance policy to cover a rescue (which have deductibles that can cost more than a GS).

    IMO, Inuvik would be a more fun summer target, or going up the Quebec coast, or James Bay and the great whale project.

    Polar-bear season there is mid-august to mid-november.
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  4. Bendit

    Bendit Wannabe Adventurer

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    I just looked into the same thing. Apparently it gets bitterly cold even in the summer months so you would need a lot of camping gear to survive the nights between towns.

    How far a ride do you estimate it is without a road/path to Churchill?

    The area appears to be full of lakes and rivers so it might be dangerous to ride without knowing the area.
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  5. tango

    tango Adventurer

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    I think you would need expert local info to be really sure.I would also classify this as extreme adventure riding due to its extreme remote location,the legendary mosquitoes and certainty of no help.It would qualify as an expedition most likely.But anythings doable with enough prep.I would suggest that the obvious place to researchwould be the Gillam phone book if available and see if there is a local hunting/guiding outfit,even a general store and give them a call.Definitely qualifies as hard core adventuring.Makes on think eh?
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  6. Bendit

    Bendit Wannabe Adventurer

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    I am consistently surprised by the amounts of adventure to be had in our own country. I'd like to see a nice list of possible adventures with Toronto as a starting point. I am looking to get a Super Sherpa or a KLR650 in the spring and I'd like to know what kind of trips I can do in a couple of days from Toronto.
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  7. Wanderlust

    Wanderlust Just another spoke.....

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    I've done Inuvik and most of Dawson Highway, but I can't get that much time off next summer even though I'd go again in half a heart beat. I have had trouble with bears up that far already too, fortunately not a polar bear though. (The fact that Corbin seat cream smells like coconut oil becomming a problem didn't dawn on me as being a source of trouble until after the fact....BEAR SNACK, but fortunately he knocked the bike over and scared himself off before the seat was torn up too bad.)

    I have managed to identify a brown line from satelite photos that runs from Gillam to Churchill, but can't zoom in far enough to tell if there was an access road that ran along the tracks, sounds like the answer is no... or at least highly unadvisable (I can respect that). The train ride is supposed to be about 8 1/2 hrs to go 170mi (not bad for about $60CDN) and parking in Gillam is supposed to be secure. Even if I can't ride all the way up to Churchill, is there enough dirt roads in that general area that it could keep me busy for a few days after I got back off the train? The 200 or so miles from Thompson to Gillam are a nice start, but another few hundred without doubling back on myself too much would be a welcome addition. Most of the maps I have look like one way in and one way out with nothing but some short side roads that dead end in less than 20 miles spurring off at intervals.
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  8. TREE

    TREE Interloper

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    There is only one man who made it to Churchill by motorcycle.....

    and that was in 1932.

    ( he had permission from the railway and was listed as an " unscheduled freight train ".


    more photos here:

    http://www.geocities.com/jatojet/arctic.html

    [​IMG]
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  9. KL5A

    KL5A Bugs are the new black

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    Ridng the train tracks would be highly inadvisable. Every year, the Alaska RR takes out a few ATV's that the local bush rats run on those tracks between settlements. Consider being in the middle of a trestle when the train shows up...where are you going to hide? Off the sides is a river and in the middle is a locomotive that may take as long as a mile to stop. Either way is :grim .

    Will the train take a bike as frieght? There are vehicles in Churchill, right? They got there somehow.

    The lands of the north are supremely unforgiving of simple mistakes. Simply put, if a person has to ask, he or she is in over their heads already. I've managed to place myself into survival situations within 5 miles of the paved road, way the heck out in the trackless wasteland is a good way to find Jesus but not much else. Please don't take this as dismissive of your abilities, just pointing out that wandering offf the pizza delivery grid is not to be taken lightly.
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  10. TREE

    TREE Interloper

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    I was there in 2000 on a film and we had 2 tractor trailers full of lighting and grip gear delivered by train. Train has roll on end loading ramps for the flatcars. Should be no problem to take a bike there if you wanted to. There are lots of cars and trucks in Churchill.

    The bears come ashore when the ice melts (June?), eat very little until freeze up (sept?) when they can go back out for seals. Approx 1200 polar bears within 50 miles of Churchill. If I was riding 2 wheels ( ATV is machine of choice after skidoos ) I would have company on a 2nd machine and a good 12 gauge with bear bangers loaded plus some slug ammo .

    We had 24 hr bear security guys with us (locals with rifles or shotguns) and you definitely need them up there in the summer. There are a lot of hungry bears roaming around......... occasionally in the town too.

    No one locks their cars or houses.......... you use them if you need refuge.
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  11. XtreemLEE

    XtreemLEE insignificant being...

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    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=703

    I am considering going up the Quebec side to Chisabibi, stopping at Wemindji and Eastman. I don't know if we will be able to do that round trip from southeast Wisconsin or not in eight days (all we get).

    When are you thinking of doing this?
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  12. Wanderlust

    Wanderlust Just another spoke.....

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    When are you thinking of doing this?

    A lot of that depends on work, but I'm hoping to be able to go in late July or early August. I wanted to go last summer, but started a new job and the bike wasn't ready anyhow.

    Leaving the bike in Gillam and taking the train the last leg up is sounding like the only realistic solution, I'm just pondering the logistics of how to bring a frame pack or some other way to carry my gear around once I'm in Churchill (anything I can't lock up in the hard bags that I don't want to disapear). It looks like the main town is only a few miles from end to end, so walking should cover most of the places I'd likely go. Spend a few days whale watching and enjoying the rest of the wild life with a local guide, then the train back to Gillam. How bad of an idea is camping while I'm up there? Sounds like there are enough hungry bears that it may not be advisable, but some northern towns have camp sites close enough to town that it isn't too big of a concern.
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  13. XtreemLEE

    XtreemLEE insignificant being...

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    If we can get our bikes on the train no need to pack anything. Our dates are July 10th through the 17th. The east side is a shorter ride for us. With my wife on her own easier is better.
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  14. ZZR_Ron

    ZZR_Ron Looking up

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    I lived in Leaf Rapids , MB for 3 years many years ago.
    The road from Thompson to Lynn Lake might keep you fairly entertained,
    and from there there's a mule track into Saskatchewan, so you don't have to ride the same road twice.
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  15. TREE

    TREE Interloper

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    You can drive east a fair distance past the airport to the old missile testing facility, maybe 20 mins. There are tracks that go further east, the tundra buggies take tourists out on the land for polar bear watching.

    As you head east you get closer to the large bear concentrations, the west edge of town is the shore of the huge river.

    Tenting is not a route I would go myself, but sleeping in a vehicle might work. Not sure if you can rent cars there, a few taxis do most of the trade.
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  16. trailuser

    trailuser take the backroads

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    I enjoyed reading this thread!

    I wondered the same thing myself about riding to Churchill. I went out on the net (last year) and found a site which told all about the tours,train ride and tundra buggy's.

    I plan on riding to Alaska or Newfoundland in the next couple of years though.
    #16
  17. mjk736

    mjk736 Adventurer

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    I am just researching this too. I was wondering about the rail tracks as well, also found on a topo map, powerlines leading there, starting apx. at Split Lake to Cromarty (may be off a bit as I did not purchase this map) so wondering if that path would be rideable? It looks like apx. 120 miles from Fox Lake to Churchill. Also wondering if fuel would be availible in any of the small towns? MJK
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  18. Pig-Pen

    Pig-Pen (Formerly KTMike)

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    Churchill can definitely be done. Moto North did it with some others in 2008 but I'm not sure if they ever got around to doing a proper ride report. Part of the trip did involve riding on the tracks. PM him for more details.
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  19. BackRoader

    BackRoader Life Is A Hiway, Ride It.

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    Speedracer had tried last year to make it to Churchill bike..

    The road ends just north of Gilam... I believe they went up the track about a 100 miles before their bikes gave them trouble. Steering issues and multiple flats.

    I have been to Churchill twice by riding in a "railway motor car" on the tracks.... I would not attempt it personally as there are no fuel stops or any significant population for 250 miles. The topography is such that on either side of the tracks there is muskeg and swamps.

    Send Speedracer a PM for greater details
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  20. speedracer

    speedracer The Lucky One

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    Hahaha.......Bitterly cold?? NO. LOL It is a tough ride though. I've made it to about 60 miles north of Gillam on the tracks. Forgot to locktight my steering head nut and crashed when it came loose. My brother and I tried last summer to be the first to make it. I may try again next summer if I can find someone to join me though. The trains only go about 10 miles per hour so they are not a problem. The tracks have one small turn in them and then it is a straight line the rest of the way so nothing is going to sneak up on you other than a bear when you get close to churchill. It is an amazign place in the summer with lots to see and do when you get there. You will need to take a gun for safety though for when you get close to churchill.
    Send me a PM if you like. I've done all the research you need. You don't have to worry about anyone caring that you are on the tracks. We actually ran into a repair crew and they just thought it was cool. LOL



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