Glaciers, Deserts and meeting great people

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by jeckyll, Aug 22, 2019.

  1. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    742
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Day 10 - Teslin to Dease Lake (twice)

    As I was getting ready to head out I thought of something the couple from Spain / Brazil told me: The were at the sight of a collision between a black bear and a Goldwing the day before. The rider was OK, the bear was dead, the bike was wrecked. They had some video that I watched, pretty big mess made of the front end of the 'wing.

    Was going to keep that in mind today as I was heading South on the Cassiar :)

    Had breakfast at the hotel restaurant and filled up with plenty of coffee. Next to me was a guy wearing a fanny pack around his shoulder like a shoulder-holster. But we didn't chat.


    In the parking lot as I was getting gas I met a French-Canadian, Marco, who'd lived in the Yukon and Alaska for a while, riding a GS (how many Marco's would I meet on this trip?). He rode the Dempster the first year it was open all the way through and told me how there were motorcycle parts scattered all along the top most part. He said 55 riders were air-lifted out the first season it was open all the way to Tuk. He was heading into Alberta, trying to get over 750 km per day (though it could have been miles, he was switching back and forth between units). Either way, much too far for me :)

    Packed and ready to roll
    [​IMG]

    I passed him a bit further up the road, we were riding East, into the sun, and the edges of the roads were difficult to see with the interplay of light and shadows, easy for a moose to hide. I didn't go to quick.

    The previous night I'd gone back and forth about going into Watson Lake to see the signpost forest, it seemed such a manufactured tourist stop, but decided that it was only going to cost me 40 minutes or so and today would be a shorter day, since I was only doing a straight shot into Dease Lake.

    I had the music playing, the road was quite empty and I was feeling good on the bike. Stopped in the same place that I had when I first rode West on the Alcan and had a snack. How different it all seemed now. No longer so far away and remote, just a beautiful place along the highway.
    I didn't even take photos this time.

    Made good time getting to Watson Lake
    [​IMG]

    As I started looking around I thought about all those folks who carried signs here to put them up. What motivated them, how could it be so important? I saw large signs from Germany with town's names on them, they'd never fit into luggage. What drove people to show they'd been here, leave such a piece of where they were from as evidence given all the work that it took. Given the hassle to steal the bigger signs, then ship them, it had to have been very important to them.
    [​IMG]

    Some other guys on bikes were next to me, but didn't seem interested in saying hello. Very odd at this point :)
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    In the end, it was a very different experience than I had expected and really made me think.
    Then there was a woman talking loudly on her phone, using speakerphone, and I knew it was time to go.

    Gassed up, and back South on the Cassiar.

    Good bye Yukon, it was definitely an adventure!
    [​IMG]

    Hello BC, it was time to go see some of the places I passed by on the way up, namely Telegraph Creek and the glaciers around Stewart!
    [​IMG]

    As I was riding South I started having an uncomfortable feeling in my gut about riding out to Telegraph Creek on my own. How odd. It wasn't supposed to be a very difficult ride, but I couldn't shake the feeling that it'd be a bad idea to head out there solo.

    So, I decided that if I met someone to ride out there with, I'd go. Otherwise I'd just keep riding south from Dease Lake. I tend to listen when I have a hunch like this and it's proven to be a good idea.

    On the way up I passed by Jade City (just like everything else) as I was chasing the weather, so I decided to stop by now and see what it was all about. The 'Free Coffee' sign definitely helped ensure I stopped.
    [​IMG]

    I'd just gotten off the bike and pulled my helmet off when I saw another bike go past. I waved and he waved back, and then hammered the brakes and pulled into the other entrance of the parking lot. Damn, he must have thought I had a problem and wanted him to slow down to help...

    But then, something seemed awfully familiar... Oh, it was Paul, the guy with the KLR from the Netherlands who we met in Dawson City on the lookout 4 or 5 days before! He'd recognized me.
    [​IMG]

    We chatted and caught up a bit and I told him about the weather and now riding south and possibly skipping Telegraph Creek. He immediately said "I'll ride out there with you!".

    Well, that got settled fast, didn't it?!

    After some coffee I wandered around and got a few photos. They set these blades up to cut the stone and just let them run. The water is on and I guess it acts to 'lube' the blades and a guy comes around to check on them now and then
    [​IMG]

    Fish swimming down the rock, front view (tough to get it well photographed :) )
    [​IMG]

    I waved Paul to the front as the KLR only has so much power. I've put around 90,000 km on KLR's and am somewhat familiar with the power (or lack thereof ;) ).

    But eventually I had to pass and get him to pull over as the coffee was only rented and had to be returned to the environment. I did wait until we got to a nice pullout though.
    [​IMG]

    Paul had some time to think about the ride and said he really wanted to try and get towards Telegraph tonight, even if we had to camp along the way. I had enough food and thought that was OK, though it would make for a bit longer day.

    When we stopped in Dease Lake to fill up he talked to some 'Overlanders' in a big truck who had just come back from Telegraph and they had a camping spot suggestion along the river. I saw a game warden walk out of the store and quickly asked if they had any problem bears along the way and he hadn't heard anything. So we were good to go.


    Continued in next post.




    #21
    wilfred likes this.
  2. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    742
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Continued:



    The road starts out easy, but dropping down to this river the slope hits 20 degrees between the switchbacks. No guardrail, on gravel, don't **** up or it's high-consequence. :)
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We passed by the 'camping' spot to head through to Telegraph in one shot. About 115 km one way. Took more photos along the way.
    [​IMG]

    Paul was pushing harder than I was comfortable on the fully loaded SuperT especially after having already done 500+ km that day. So he'd scoot ahead and I'd catch up. Overall the road was in good shape as long as you watched the drop offs :)

    By the time we hit the "Welcome to Telegraph Creek" sign, my blood sugar must have been getting a bit low, I was starting to get the shakes a bit and felt really wrung out.
    [​IMG]

    On the ride into town some people were working in their yards or on houses and everyone waved back when we waved. We rode right to the very center of town
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Some of what you see was cloud, some was smoke from the forest fires. One fire we could see from the road on the way in, too close for comfort really. Paul and I chatted and both agreed that we wanted to get back closer to the highway for the night. Good thing I had chocolate bars with me to get some energy back. The temperature had spiked as we headed West, and was now around 30 C (86 F).

    Felt a bit better on the ride out, but also slowed down a touch more. This was one of the wider sports so we pulled over to get a couple of pictures
    [​IMG]

    And again here:
    [​IMG]

    Then we got back to a spot where there is a 80 or 100 meter drop off on either side of the road going to a river. So cool :) Just after there was a place to pull out and we stopped. On the edge
    [​IMG]

    The road is on the left on the ride at the top as well, same drop off on the other side as what you see here. Knarly!
    [​IMG]

    I'd planned to stop at the sign warning of 20% grades but was much too wiped out. I think Paul was a bit annoyed that I wasn't quite doing the same speed, but he did stop now and then and made sure I was still there.

    I started watching the kilometers, had to get to 220 to be back on pavement. Luckily the temperature dropped back down and riding became more comfortable. Good thing we'd filled up with water at the gas station, I kept sipping to stay hydrated.

    Eventually we made it back. The hotel was fully booked, so I wanted to head North for 10 additional km to get to Waters Edge Campground. Paul wanted to camp 'wild' and I offered him a free stay in the site I would get, but he wanted to ride another hour or so.

    We split up and I wished him a safe trip.

    Got to the campsite and a scruffy looking guy with a beard walked up to me and said "How's your back?" We were going to get along just fine! His name is Larry, and I swear we took a photo together, but I can't find it. So, both times I was super tired I'm missing a photo (remember Jonathan who gave me some gas on the Dempster?). I'm sure I just screwed up.

    Larry even had a fridge so I could chill my beer and in the end just gave me one of his while mine were cooling off. I sat with him and his daughter for a while, drank the beer, and he showed me a video them taking a helicopter tour of the Stikine Rive. Amazing! He rides as well and has quite the history. We shared stories for quite a while.

    Super chill people.

    I had to get some dinner though. Dinner was Chef Boy and another beer. I think it was past 9 pm at this point. I did send Michelle a longer message on the InReach as I'd sent some updates along the way and she was probably wondering what was going on with all the back and forth.

    Gorgeous camp site
    [​IMG]

    With a trail right behind that goes down to the water
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And what a day! Longest day of the trip. 730 km, 220 of it was gravel. I was absolutely bushed!

    Next: Someone wants to meet me, Glaciers, and BEARS!

    #22
    wilfred and bomose like this.
  3. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    742
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Just reading about your DR trip, forgot you'd mentioned how badly butchered it was. Man, those are some serious missing pieces!
    #23
  4. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    742
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Day 11 - Dease Lake to Stewart

    I slept OK, but probably not quite enough. The campground was nice and quiet, but it always gets light a bit early for me. I use a toque and pull it over my eyes, but that only works so-so.

    Started the day with coffee and oatmeal and realized that no matter where I stopped tonight it would need proper laundry facilities. It was time to wash things properly, especially my warmer layers which were overdue.

    I met my neighbour, George, as he was pulling up the supports on his camper and got to chatting. He and his wife were up from Oregon and ended up talking for quite a while. Somehow we got onto the topic of hunting, how fun it is to go hunting with dogs and how he still goes out to Eastern Oregon to go Chukar hunting. Then he said "You should come down the first week of October." Well now, that was unexpected. So he gave me his email address. When his wife came out I double checked and just about everything about it had been wrong, so she corrected it. We all had a good laugh :)
    [​IMG]
    He doesn't look that happy here, which is odd because I remember him smiling almost the entire time. :D

    At the gas station in Dease there was a guy in front of me on an 800 GS who jumped off when he saw me and came over smiling broadly. He said "I've seen your bike for 3 days and have been trying to meet you". So, I met Ra from Singapore. He was the guy with the fanny pack around his shoulder whom I'd sat next to at breakfast in Teslin.

    We chatted a bit and agreed to meet outside of town to catch up, the gas station isn't exactly a good place to hang out. I told him about Gnatt lake and he said he'd just go slow and let me lead to it.

    Ra is riding for a good cause "Free food for all" freefood.org.sg. https://www.instagram.com/rahimresad/

    [​IMG]

    He took a bunch of photos as well and wanted to record my re-telling of the Dempster experience. He's on his way south and was sad that he hadn't really seen any bears yet. I grabbed the binoculars I keep on the bike and had a look around the lake, but didn't spot any.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I suggested we ride South together for a ways, but Ra mentioned that he was going to take it easy as he was worried about the length between oil changes and the fact that his bike needed service, but LiquiMoly, who he's sponsored by, needed samples so he had to wait till Vancouver. So I scooted ahead.

    The conditions were good, I felt good and was making good time. I guess everything was good ;)

    Eventually I got too hungry and stopped at a pullout and had a chocolate bar for lunch.
    [​IMG]

    It's funny seeing this photo, because I remember thinking how 'urban' it seemed when the Cassiar had a centerline again, instead of being just a piece of chipsealed, non marked road. ;)

    In Bell II we met up again as I was getting gas, and then Ra caught me again at a construction spot where I must have waited for 15 minutes.
    [​IMG]

    The longest construction delay of the trip. On the way out of Bell II I'd seen a good sized black bear right by the road and hoped Ra had seen it as well.

    As we got through the construction first, we scooted ahead of all the cars. And then saw 12 bears total in a 120 km stretch! I was leading and kept pointing at them, hoping Ra would get his camera on them for his trip video.

    After a while it got a bit old, but bears are so much more predictable than deer, so it really wasn't a big deal. I'd slow down to something reasonable (which in the end wasn't all that slow) and looked to see if they made a move to cross the road. Typically they just waited, saw what was coming, then scooted off into the bushes in a straight line.

    It of course made me think of the couple that mentioned they'd seen 30 bears in 300 km and now I believed them ;)

    At Meziadin Jct we split, I headed to Stewart, Ra was turning South. There was a chance we'd meet up in Vancouver if the timing worked, he was going to shoot me a WhatsApp message when he got to town.

    The weather was beautiful, though the wind picked up as I headed towards the coast. I was having fun, railing some corners, finally a road with real twisties!

    I stopped at the first glacier I spotted and got a photo, though the light was tough.
    [​IMG]

    Then I got to the Stewart Glacier!
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    You can't see the big smile inside my helmet, so you'll have to take my word for it ;)
    [​IMG]

    In Stewart I stopped at the Info Centre but the woman was not very useful. Turns out she was filling in for someone (several people left frustrated).

    Someone waiting to speak with her suggested I go next door to the Ripley Creek Inn, but it seemed spendy. The King Edward had clean rooms and laundry on-site and they suggested I pull my bike right up on the sidewalk.

    Sold.

    I lugged my stuff up 2 stories, which wasn't ideal, but the room was clean, the WiFi worked and there was ice just down the hall. I popped the laundry in, got that sorted and went for a walk around.

    [​IMG]

    The mountains just seem to 'sprout' from the landscape
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Not that many food options, but I did OK with this burger :)
    [​IMG]

    As I sat enjoying my burger, a KLR went by outside. Yup, it was Paul, coming from the direction of Hyder Alaska. He was gone in a flash and that was the last time I saw him on this trip.

    When I checked in at the hotel I had asked if they had rooms for two nights, but when I checked the weather again after dinner the forecast had changed yet again and now it looked iffy for the next 4 days. Damn. It had been flip flopping for the last few days and now it looked once again like I'd get some wet days on the way home. Oh well.

    I really needed a rest day, but staying in Stewart if the weather was poor wasn't an option I felt great about either. I called my dad but didn't reach anyone, so sent an email to see if they'd be around when I was expecting to be in the area.

    Riding to Smithers would make a nice short day if I decided to go up to the glacier the next day. Though whether or not I'd be able to even see the Salmon Glacier was by no means guaranteed.

    Guess I'd just have to go and see for myself :)
    #24
  5. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    742
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Day 12 - Stewart and Hyder to Smithers

    The morning was grey, as predicted. I went to a cafe and had a bagel and some coffee and asked the woman working there if she thought the glacier would be completely obscured. She said that it was hard to tell, but the foot of it would likely be visible either way.

    That was something at least.

    I took my time, had a couple of cups of coffee and updated some notes about the ride, then went back to the hotel. I kept going back and forth between trying to leave my stuff there until I got off the gravel or taking it with me. The decision was made when they didn't have a good place to keep it.

    So I packed up, and got ready to ride out.
    [​IMG]

    Easiest border crossing ever crossing into Hyder (for those that haven't been, there isn't one ;) )
    [​IMG]

    Given that I now had all my stuff on the bike, I skipped the boardwalk to see the bears feed on salmon.

    The road turned to gravel and I was heading up, though I didn't know exactly how far to go. Eventually I stopped where a couple was having a break and asked. They said not much further, but the clouds were pretty thick at the top and visibility was poor.

    Well, I rode until the clouds were so think that it was hard to see where the road was, and then pulled back to the closest spot where I could safely pull over and which had a view.
    [​IMG]

    Pretty awesome!
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Panorama
    [​IMG]

    I stopped in a couple of places and took photos. The road was good ...
    [​IMG]

    ... but when the clouds moved though, you had to be careful.
    [​IMG]

    Wouldn't want to miss a turn ;)

    I got back to where I'd asked the couple about the road, and the glacier, and stopped. They were still there and we chatted for a while.

    Barb and Dennis are on a road trip, camping where they feel like it and both used to ride (some bikes, some trikes). Nice folks
    [​IMG]

    She spoke very highly of the camp ground in Stewart and I told them about staying at the lake north of Dease. They were going to stop by there :)

    I stopped before the boarder crossing (my 4th that morning, given that the Salmon Glacier was in Canada but you have to go through Alaska to get to it), but the first one that required a passport. Very weird. A guy was on the other side of the road taking photos, and he came over.

    [​IMG]

    Jason had just arrived at his destination, which was Hyder. How cool is that! I got to meet him right at his furthest point, the whole reason he was riding was that he wanted to get _here_.
    [​IMG]

    We chatted a bit about the road to the glacier, he was on a cruiser with a car tire in the back, but had left his trailer behind. Not my kind of riding, but I figured he'd be OK as long as the washboard didn't drive him crazy.

    The border crossing was the most relaxed one I've had (outside of Nexus lanes) I chatted with the border guard for a bit as he was very familiar with the crossing along the Alcan where there's a 20 km gap between the US & Canadian customs. Then someone was behind me yelling, it was Barb and Dennis :D

    I got some gas in Steward and man, the sky looked black up ahead. To be 'safe' I had called ahead to the Guesthouse in Smithers and left a message that I was looking for a room. Had a call back, but no message. And when I called, back to voicemail. But, I figured it might be OK as I had stayed there just a week or so before.

    Barb and Dennis must have passed me, because I caught up to their truck right before the twisties bit of road. They saw me and waved me through, and I scooted through the canyon while the rain was coming down. But when I popped out the other side, the Stewart glacier looked amazing!

    [​IMG]

    The way the light was hitting it was very difficult to capture, but I waved at Barb and Dennis when they caught up so they'd get a photo as well. When they pulled in Barb accused me of following them! I told that since I was in _front_ she had this all backwards ;)

    [​IMG]



    This is what I had just ridden through, always looks a bit brighter in photos, but you definitely get the idea.
    [​IMG]

    After this it brightened up significantly.

    From the Junction down to Kitwanga at highway 16 it got quite blustery and there were a few more drops, but nothing serious. The bears were not on the road like they had been yesterday, probably hunkered down trying to stay out of the weather.

    What a different feeling being at this sign again and reflecting back on my time up North
    [​IMG]

    I look like a dork, partially because I was watching the screen to make sure I captured everything :D

    [​IMG]

    A couple of his & hers sparkling clean BMW's were just outside the shot. We chatted for a bit, they were going to Prince Rupert and they were the furthest North that they'd ever been. After a I talked about Stewart they thought it may make for a nice day excursion. Hopefully they went and saw the glaciers :)

    I geared up with my heated vest and my rain jacket, it looked pretty miserable ahead. But it held off and I got into Smithers with no problems and no downpours.

    When I pulled in at the guesthouse I learned that they had in fact reserved their last room for me, despite the fact that they weren't exactly sure which motorcycle guy I was, but "You'd been here before, so we knew it was OK." Good people. https://smithersguesthouse.com/

    I grabbed a shower and walked down to Subway, I needed some non-pub-food. Loaded that sandwich up with all kinds of vegetables and man, it was so fresh and good. Then picked up some bananas, chocolate bars and beer on the walk back, and hopped in the hot-tub.

    View from the tub, the clouds kept playing around the top of the mountain
    [​IMG]

    I got to bed at a reasonable hour, but woke up at 3 am and spent a fair bit of time thinking about my trip. I was 2 days from home. Which felt really strange at this point. But I was also ready to spend some days not being on the bike. And the next two days were big, long, boring highway days, with potentially a fair bit of rain on Sunday (the last day).

    Next: Back in familiar surroundings with at my Dads :)

    #25
    bomose and chudzikb like this.
  6. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    742
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Correction: Not "Stewart Glacier" but "Bear Glacier" :)
    #26
  7. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    742
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Short break getting to the final couple of days as I was on another road trip :)

    Day 13 - Smithers to outside of Horsefly

    I'd not been looking forward to the last couple of days as they were mostly highway riding. But the weather looked OK, at least for today.

    After some breakfast at McDonald's I headed East on 16 and it was pretty much what I had expected. A fairly boring highway ride, with the music playing the whole time.

    Outside of Prince George I passed a couple of cruisers and we were around each other till I split off to get some gas.

    Stopped south of PG to grab a bite and for a bit had the highway rest stop all to myself :)

    [​IMG]

    There were plenty of dark clouds around, and several times I thought "damn, I'm going to get hit with that", but then the highway would turn just enough that I'd once again scoot by the rain. So I didn't linger anywhere too long and figured I'd spend the last day of the trip getting properly wet... but hell, it was what it was.


    Originally I was going to gas up right by the Mountain House turn off, but that gas station was closed. As was the next one... so into Williams lake I went.

    The run out to Horsefly was again bordered by clouds and once a little shower started, but nothing lasted.

    When I got back to my dad's I had managed to stay dry and didn't need the rain gear after all.

    Had a nice relaxing evening and some more good food and drinks, but didn't take a whole lot of photos this day.


    Day 14 - Horsefly to Home!

    Got a mellow start in the morning, chatted more over coffee, had a great breakfast and took a stroll out to the horses. The weather was still looking decent, though there were definitely darker clouds on the horizon. I was just happy to start the day dry.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Scooted out to the pavement at Horsefly and that would be the last gravel of the trip. It was smooth and easy riding (like previous years as seen in the following photo)

    [​IMG]

    On Hwy97 south of 150 mile I had to jump on the brakes as a badger was running across the road as fast as his little legs would carry him! Never seen a badger in the wild before, it was pretty cool!

    Normally I stop in 100 mile at the Timmy's for coffee but was well caffeinated and went all the way through to Clinton. Got damn hot outside of Cache Creek so I stopped to take some layers off.

    [​IMG]

    In Spences Bridge a few people were pulled over and I did as well. Should have shut off the bike, sorry about he blurry sheep pictures :)

    [​IMG]

    (All the white spots are sheep butts ;) )
    [​IMG]

    I was in a less than ideal spot at the side of the highway, so I didn't hang out for too long.


    The bike was running well, but the wind was picking up and some weather seemed to be ahead. In the Fraser Canyon the wind had gotten to the point where the gusts would blow me just about across my lane if I didn't react quickly to counter. Passed another cruiser down by the twisty bits of the Fraser south of Spences Bridge.

    This cruiser didn't seem any more friendly than the guys I'd been around yesterday. Maybe those guys don't like getting passed by a fully loaded adventure bike with knobbies while they're struggling with corners and passing?

    We were around each other for a while, with me pulling away in the turns and him catching up in the straights where I'd roll off, until he pulled ahead in some of the straighter stretches North of Alexandra Bridge.

    I caught up to him again outside of hope and decided whichever way he turned, I'd take the other highway. Sometimes I like to let the universe decide. He went into Hope, I turned off onto Hwy 7 which was a great choice because the clouds that were hanging over Hwy 1 to the South of me looked nasty and wet.


    In Deroche I got some gas for the last time and kept scooting West on roads I ride so regularly it always seems strange to ride them with luggage on.

    Earlier in the day I'd messaged Michelle and let her know roughly when I'd be home. As I pulled into New West part of me wondered if she'd be there when I pulled into the parking lot. As I did, there she was sitting in the back of her Outback reading a book. Could you come home a better way?!?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Next - some thoughts about the trip.
    #27
    RedDogAlberta and bomose like this.
  8. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    742
    Location:
    Vancouver
    It's the Remembrance Day long weekend (at lest for us Canadians) and I'd purposely left the 'summary' post for a while to allow me to get a bit of distance and reflect as it was such a different tip from what I normally do.

    You may say "So why this weekend Bjorn?" And that's a fair question since it's been several months since I've returned from the North.

    First, the insurance is off all the bikes now and I miss riding already.

    Second, because it's the kind of foggy, soggy November day you think of when you think "We(s)t coast in November".
    [​IMG]

    And finally, Michelle asked me the other day "So are you riding to the Arctic Ocean next summer?" as I started a new contract for work that is scheduled to end early in July 2020.

    Which makes a guy think, you know?! But I don't think I'll be heading North again next year. Not because I didn't enjoy it, but because it wouldn't be anything like this trip, and I'd always be comparing it and the second time is never as amazing and new. It's pales in comparison. I'm less driven by the need to reach the 'target location' than by the desire to have new and memorable experiences.

    So what would I do the same or what would I do different (in case someone's stumbled across this post and is thinking of heading North):

    What worked / didn't work:

    - The bike: Having a comfortable, reliable bike that's suitable for 90% of the conditions you'll encounter on this trip is important. I know people do it on 250's and for the last few hundred kilometers that would probably be great, but the other 8,000 km it wouldn't. The SuperT was great except for the deep slimy mud, and frankly I'm not sure anything would have done much better given the amount of riding I've done in those conditions.
    Heated grips are a major plus, wouldn't want to go without on this kind of trip
    Comfortable seat (mine's aftermarket) is a plus.
    Tires: I ran the Heidenau K60 up front and would pick it again for pretty much any trip, paired with a Motoz Tractionator GPS. Which did very well and for trips with significant offroad I would pick it again. And I'd choose it over the Mitas E07 as well (I've had 4 of them in different version FWIW).
    A note on tire pressure: I ran the front as recommended (36 psi I think) and the rear I started at 42 psi, which is the recommended max by Yamaha for a loaded bike. I found the Tractionator to ride a bit too stiff even with all the gear on the bike. So I let it drop a bit, 38 - 39 psi seemed to be a sweet spot.
    Spare gas: I picked up a canister off AliExpress that performed perfect. Except for the day on the Dempster it was empty, the bike has plenty of range for most kind of riding. For trips in the lower 48 I'm not sure I'd bother bringing it.
    Aside: A friend of mine did the Dempster in his Dodge Ram a month or so later and the stories he told were ... well it was a rough year for the road at times :)


    - The gear: First, heated vest / jacket. I was wearing my heated vest most of the time and ran it some portion most days. And the days I didn't I was too cold and would have been better off having it :)
    Next, my Khatmandu suit by First Gear: besides the pant-cuff being to open and causing me to drop the bike, the suit did great. No problems with it. Note that I carried a separate rain-suit and wore the rain jacket over-top of my suit during the downpour on the Dempster. Definitely worth bringing. Though I never used the pants.
    Protection: On 'real' offroad type rides I typically wear a 661 pressure suite, but it doesn't work well with a heated vest. Instead I purchased the D3O back protector that first into the suit and while it's heavy it allows good airflow and layering underneath.
    I need better gloves, the ones I bought before the trip didn't fit perfectly. So lesson there: Don't bring brand new items on a trip :)
    My rain gloves ended up leaking after 5 hours of rain, which isn't bad, but they probably need to be replaced.
    Helmet - having a comfortable helmet is key. It ended up fogging up pretty badly during the Dempster ride, but otherwise the Shoei RF-SR did great.
    Tent - Mountainsmith Morrison 2 person - easy to setup and tear down with enough space inside to store key gear at night. Super happy with it and I may buy the new version with an improved fly ... though likely I'll use this until it wears out. It packs reasonably small.
    Sleeping Pad - Klymit Insulated Static V Luxe - it doesn't pack up nearly as small as my other Klumit pad, but man, having a large and warm pad makes camping work. Not for mid-summer trips where it's warm, but when it gets to just above freezing at night, highly recommend a warm pad.
    Non-cotton layers - most of what I had on the trip was wool, polar fleece, microfiber, including underwear. Nothing is changing there on future trips.
    Rear bag - I used a fairly cheap 65 liter bag purchased off Amazon (DryTek?) which has a re-enforced base and was one of the best luggage buys I've made in a while. Never leaked and has been on the back for multiple trips.

    - Camping vs. Hoteling:
    Having camping gear is key. If I'd truly gotten stuck on the Dempster for a few days (like other people did) it would have made the difference between only being miserable and being in real trouble.
    I always struggle with the camping vs hotel decisions, when I'm riding and the days are long and very hot or very cold, I often want a real bed, so I drag camping gear along and don't use it as much as "I think I should". For me, being rested is more important than money.
    Having data was great as in places like Whitehorse and Smithers I hopped on google maps and searched hotels and found B&B's / Guesthouses that worked great and cost less than a regular hotel... and which lead to meeting interesting people :)

    - Solo vs. with other riders:
    The highlight of my trip were the people I met along the way, some of which I ended up riding with. If I was riding alone the entire time it would have been OK, but nowhere near as fun. A lot of people think having someone else along makes you safer, but it can also make things much worse if you need to bail someone out after they do something stupid. And in most truly remote locations, I find people look out for each other much more than in urban centers. YMMV.


    - Satellite communications (InReach for me)
    Being able to message Michelle, even just to send a pre-formatted message with location and the fact that I was OK made a big difference for both her and I. I wouldn't want to be carrying a Sat-phone, but this was a good investment and I'll be using it on future solo trips where I will be outside of cell coverage.


    - Dealing with long boring stretches
    Let's be honest, much of the riding up North is dull, even it it can be amazing scenery. No fun twisties to be had for days. So I listen to music or podcasts to help me stay alert and make the kilometers drag on less.
    Cel with Spotify premium - so I can download music and podcasts
    Airplane mode - so I use less battery, I often went 2 days between charging
    Noise blocking comfortable headphones - Shure 215's for me, YMMV. No bluetooth or other things that use battery when I don't want it.

    - Not having premium gas (i.e. octane booster)
    "Ain't nobody got time for that!" A.K.A. I ran 91 Oct when I could, and when it wasn't available whatever was at the pump. My bike didn't explode. Yours might, so make sure you have a plan for what to do when you can only get 87 Oct

    - Mental attitude
    I think it's important to figure out up front how you want to approach being bored, sore, tired or not being able to reach that destination you wanted to. But man, I had an amazing trip without getting to my "top 2 goals" and probably have a better story to tell because of it :)


    One of the podcasts I listened to a fair bit on my travels is Steve Rinella's Meateater and he talks about two kinds of fun, the kind where you immediately get what you want ... and then promptly forget about it, and the kind where you are miserable in the moment, but it becomes fun upon reflection. That's the kind you hang onto for a long time.

    This morning I was reading the latest National Geographic Travel magazine - Adventure Edition and the words of the editor struck a cord, so I'm going to close with them:

    Adventure is about what comes next. It's about starting something new and not worrying so much about how it will end. In travel, adventure summons some of our finest qualities: courage, craftiness, dogged determination. It also calls forth those magical traits - optimism, humor, a flair for improvisation - that are indispensable in the face of the unknown and unknowable thing that hasn't yet happened.
    -- George W. Stone, Editor in Chief, Nat Geo Travel
    #28
    bomose likes this.
  9. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    23,583
    Location:
    Burbank CA
    wow, tons of nice pics....I'm IN
    #29
  10. bomose

    bomose Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,539
    Location:
    Dixie
    Thanks for taking the time to do this report. I'm thinking about doing Alaska next year and your report has some good info and pics.
    #30
    jeckyll likes this.
  11. jeckyll

    jeckyll Kneedragger

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    742
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Thanks for the kind words and good luck on your trip.

    Check out DYNOBOB's thread on riding to Tuk and read his summary post (down a ways at the end of the thread, he has excellent tips, mine probably mirror many of his. Great read and he has amazing photos as well.

    :)
    #31
    bomose likes this.
  12. PsammonOfDoubt

    PsammonOfDoubt Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    91
    Location:
    Tennessee
    thanks for an enjoyable read & great pics
    #32
    jeckyll likes this.