GrizzLee Stories from the North

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by GrizzLee, Mar 9, 2019.

  1. GrizzLee

    GrizzLee RubiKon Adventures

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    In the summer of 2018, I took a month long solo trip to the North. I left my home north of Seattle to ride and explore northern British Columbia, the Yukon, The North West Territories and Alaska. I rode alone on remote roads into remote places with fantastic vistas like the Salmon Glacier, many river crossings on the Northern Canol Road, through mud and snow as I made my way towards Prudhoe Bay on the Dalton Hwy. Along the way, I made many new friends, met exciting people, experienced wildlife on their terms and experienced "Larger Than Life" scenery. Although my original goal was to ride to Tuktoyuktuk and beyond, the northern weather can never be counted on to provide ideal riding conditions. This is what one calls a real adventure and one must either dive in head first or be prepared to make alternate plans. In the end, it's an experience that can only be described as priceless.

    This is the series intro.



    Enjoy. I will post more "episodes" as I finish them.

    Episode 1:


    Episode 2:


    Episode 3:


    Episode 4:


    Episode 5:


    Episode 6:


    Episode 7:
    #1
  2. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

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    Looks like another great one Lee. I'm in......again. Bring it on.
    #2
  3. GrizzLee

    GrizzLee RubiKon Adventures

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    Thanks for the encouragement. I'll try not to dissapoint.
    #3
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  4. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter

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    yes thanks Grizz---------been up North quite a bit----but never to Bella Coola---you put that on my radar.

    BigDog
    #4
  5. Mane

    Mane Been here awhile

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    I'll be following, thanks for sharing!
    #5
  6. GrizzLee

    GrizzLee RubiKon Adventures

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    “The best laid plans…”

    This would become the theme of sorts for this trip.


    So I am packed and ready to leave for my trip. Months of preparation, moved my planned vacation twice due to work and business travel... And then …. it begins to rain, rain and rain all through northern Washington State and up into Northern BC.

    I check the forecast daily and it isn’t any better.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind rain, in fact, I expect it on my trips. I just don’t want to start out the first 2-3 days riding in it.

    Two days later after stewing about the house it is decided to go for it. Hell or high water, I wasn’t going to wait. That combined with the fact that I was driving my wife crazy with all the anticipation and complaining.


    So I had rain all the way up to Sumas (the US-BC border crossing in northern Wa state). I got a temporary reprieve, but the forecast was not only for rain as I head farther north, it was supposed to get colder. Eek!!

    I headed up Hwy 97 to Lytton BC and then over to the Fountain Valley reserve. I was in and out of rain showers, even saw some sheep.

    [​IMG]
    Sheep on the Way to Fountain Valley


    [​IMG]
    Assume they are licking the salt from the de-icing activities of winter



    I really wanted to take side roads and dirt routes all the way up to Quesnel BC, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. I hit a wall of rain near Hat Creek Ranch and pulled into Clinton BC one wet and cold rider.

    I decided that I’d ride to 100 Mile House. If the rain wasn’t any better, I’d get a room. It was the Canadian Holiday though. I managed to get one of the last 2 rooms left in town. Everyone, it seemed, was dodging the rain.

    Day 2 of my trip began much the same way and my first day… only it was colder. Frost had formed overnight. This was July 1st, in country that had seen one of the worst fire seasons ever the year before. What the heck is going on here… So I got a late start and proceeded to Williams Lake for a quick breakfast. From there, the weather began to turn for the better. It quickly warmed up and soon I found that my heated riding jacket, along with my gloves were too much. I divested myself of those items and headed over to Soda creek with the intent of riding up towards Quesnel and out to Nazko and exit out onto the Yellowhead Highway and possibly camp at Fraser Lake. Oh, and the video I will post soon, will show a no-no and a warning that all riders should heed regarding extras keys and what not to do with your keys, no matter how convenient.

    [​IMG]
    Fraser Canyon just outside of Williams Lake

    [​IMG]


    Things were going pretty good. The Soda Creek area is amazing. As I got closer to Quesnel, thunderheads were beginning to form. Not only that, there was a country detour due to some bridge construction. I spent a bit of time getting lost out there. But, despite this fact, I was having fun exploring country roads that I have never been on. It was quite a treat.
    [​IMG]
    Soda Creek Bridge


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    View north up the Fraser River (Heaven on Earth)

    I eventually made out to Nazko and the rain came down in droves. Looking east, I could see blue skies, but it was dark, dark, dark here I was heading. SO I went back towards Quesnel and took the Backwater road out. Which, turned out to be another enjoyable ride. For the rest of the day I was skirting the black clouds, lightening and rain. I finally made it to the Yellowhead hwy, coming out a Vanderhoof. It was now near 9:00 pm. I made a beeline out to Fraser Lake. I experienced one of the most incredible sunsets ever. I took time lapse video, and unfortunately no pics.. so this is all I have to show from that.

    [​IMG]


    I will post a video soon of this leg along with the awesome sunset from my camp....
    #6
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  7. Bob Benton

    Bob Benton MotoBob

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    Can't wait for the series Lee. Thank you!
    #7
  8. GrizzLee

    GrizzLee RubiKon Adventures

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    Welcome to the first installment of my series. I hope you enjoy riding with me as much as I enjoy reliving it through video with you.

    Also note from my previos post
    "Oh, and the video I will post soon, will show a no-no and a warning that all riders should heed regarding extras keys and what not to do with your keys, no matter how convenient."

    So take heed.

    #8
  9. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

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    :thumb Great start Lee. Waiting for more.
    #9
  10. GrizzLee

    GrizzLee RubiKon Adventures

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    Hang tight. I'll post them as I finish them. Might be gaps. But I will do my best to keep the quality up with my limited skills.:-)
    #10
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  11. wvpc1

    wvpc1 Been here awhile

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    Along for the ride. Nice job on the videos. Thanks for sharing.
    #11
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  12. GrizzLee

    GrizzLee RubiKon Adventures

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    Spirits of the Forest & Bad Medicine


    What an adventure.


    So I wake up from one of the best evenings ever at Fraser Lake. I must admit that I dawdled a bit at camp. Soaking up the views out on the lake and the quietness of the morning. There was a loon calling out that just topped off the morning mood.
    [​IMG]
    Soon I was on my way towards Burns Lake, Topley and Houston. I took my time. The morning light and the temperature were just perfect.

    I made a side trip over to Francois Lake and was tempted by a local to take back roads (an all dirt route ) over to Houston from there. But, another local stepped and made mention of the road conditions. Soon they were discussing the possibility of it being under construction. Not wanting to have to back track, I went back to Burns Lake and continued my may along the Yellow Head Highway.

    I stopped and had a lazy lunch in Smither’s and did a light wash of my bike. It was already dirty from the rain and mud of the past 2 days. In particular, the smell of the bugs cooking on the engine made me a bit nauseous and I am not sure why. I then made my way over to Moricetown canyon were the Buckley river flows. It is here that one can see natives dip netting for salmon when they are running.
    [​IMG]


    I then went over the Hazelton Bridge and had a pretty clear view out towards the coastal mountains. It was wonderful out by this time.


    [​IMG]
    I stopped in the junction at Kitwanga to get a snack. Along the way I rode through a thunderstorm. But, it was short lived and I actually welcomed the cool down.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Church at the Kitwanga Village

    [​IMG]
    Spectacular Hazleton Mtns

    I made plans to head out towards Terrace. Saw a couple of bears along the way and the mountains were delicious. There were clouds and bits of rain along the way, but I mostly had nice sunshine. When I arrived in Terrace is was late afternoon, so I pulled into Ferry Island Campground just outside of town and camped along the Skeena River. I set up camp and went into town to get some Bar-B-Q and a beer to have at camp. I tucked in for the night and slept very well. I was dreaming about the Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park. I really wanted to spend some quality time out that way the next day.
    [​IMG]

    The next day, I awoke to very cool and humid conditions. I lazily packed my camp. But not quite fast enough as the rains came pretty quick and pretty heavy. Fortunately, my tent and my sleeping bag were already nestled in my dry bags, but my riding gear and boots… well that was a problem. I left camp soaking head to toe in wet riding gear. I gassed up in town and then went to a McDonalds for coffee and free internet to check on the weather. Damn it!! The forecast changed overnight from partly cloudy to 100% chance of showers.

    It looked like my visit to Nisga’a was going to be short lived today. Which is a shame, because the park sits in the Nass River valley in northwestern British Columbia, Canada, about 80 km north of Terrace, and near the Nisga'a Villages of Gitlakdamix and Gitwinksihlkw.

    [​IMG]

    The park has waterfalls, pools, cinder cones, tree moulds, lava tubes, spatter cones, a lava-dammed lake, caves and other features created by lava flows. The park contains protected moose, goats, marmots, bears and many other species of wildlife. It is believed that a volcanic eruption and lava flow killed an estimated 2,000 native people around 1700.

    I had no choice, other than turning back and heading back to Kitwanga. So I decided to see what I could and take the Nass River Valley cutoff road to the Cassiar hwy (Cranberry Junction). It is a rough gravel road and travelling it in the rain may pose a problem for a fully loaded bike and a solo traveler like me. But, that’s part of the adventure. So off I went.

    It rained heavy in the park and despite this, I made the best of it and hiked to a couple of waterfalls. The emerald colored water flowing over lava is something that I have never been able to capture on video. But rest assured, it is a beautiful place.
    [​IMG]
    So after doing a whirlwind tour of parts of the park in the rain, I decided to head back over to the Cassiar Hwy to what is called Crannberry Junction and get on the Cassiar. The rain gods decided to take revenge on me, perhaps punishing me for my past sins. As soon as I got on the gravel road, it was miserable. Lots of pots holes and large doses of rain, flooding the road faster than it could shed the water.

    Somewhere along the way, I notice my backend getting a bit squirrely. I pulled over, thinking is that it was the mud. Darn it!! Flat tire. It was not the ideal conditions to be working on the bike but I dismantled my gear to get at my tools, my compressor and my tire plugs. Visual inspection of the tire yielded no apparent damage. So I aired it up and saw a leak. I promptly installed a plug. Upon airing up the tire, I see that it’s not holding air. I can’t quite figure out why until I put my rasping tool back in… that’s when I noticed that this was a big cut as if a razor blade had sliced my tire. To make things worse, when I first stopped and assessed the leak, a couple of guys stopped by breifly a BC Hydro truck to ask if I needed help. They offered to put my bike in the back and take me to Smithers BC. I declined, thinking that the tire plug would be enough to get me on my way. Darn it! Had I known that it was more than a puncture, I would have gladly taken them up on their offer. For what followed was a day of pain that I will never forget.

    As I struggled to install more plugs, a couple from England came up on me. The rain had now stopped and I was putting my bike back together. The 3 plugs seem to be holding. The couple offered to haul my gear to the Cassiar hwy to help take weight off the bike. I took them up on their offer. I rode the next 11 miles on the gravel road without problem. We arrived at the Cassair and parted ways. I put my boxes and my bags back on my bike. About 10 miles down the road, the rear went flat. The plugs came out came out and the tire wouldn’t hold air. I grabbed another 3 plugs and installed them and they held for about 5 miles. Now I was out of plugs, and faced with a 20 mile ride back to the Kitwanga Junction on a flat rear tire. Fortunately, one of the local road crew guys came by and followed me (there was no shoulder and traffic can be quite fast on this stretch of hwy). So, I was able to make 10-15 mph on the flat. Thank god for Heidenaus. They are so stiff and the tire didn’t roll off the rim.
    [​IMG]

    Arriving at the Kitwanga Jct store yielded more problems, I was hoping for some help in the way of towing. I was referred to call a local guy about towing and he had no flat bed truck, furthermore, he stated that he didn’t want to use his lift on my bike, because it would mark up the bike and he didn’t want to deal with that. I tried to buy more plugs, but the store didn’t have any, but rather they had green slime. A couple of bikers came by and gave me their tire plugs. That and the slime seem to hold air as I rolled around the parking lot. SOO I took off towards Smithers at 30 MPH. My joy was short lived as less than 10 miles down the road, the plugs came out again. It was now about 8:00 am in the evening and it was raining off and on. Lori (my support back at RubiKon Headquarters in Wa) made a room reservation in Smithers, so I moved on, even at 10 miles an hr. My hope was to make it to Smithers without the tire coming off the rim. Being the cautious person, I kept stopping to air up the tire to ensure that it stay seated on the rim. I estimated that I must have ridden nearly 90 miles on that flat. A testament to the Heidenau K60s. I rolled into Smithers at 1:00 am. I was one tired dude. I didn’t have dinner that day, took a quick shower after unloading my bike and went to bed. Fortunately, the power sports shop had a tire for my bike. So I would be good to go.

    I spent the next day getting a new tire installed (it was a bit costly) and cleaned up myself, my clothes and the bike. I stayed one more night in Smithers before heading north. It was a set back, but it was still early in my journey. I had many more days of fun ahead.


    Stay tuned... Video coming up next....
    #12
  13. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

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    Lee; strange isn't it, but you never hear of anyone getting a flat front tire. How is it that fronts don't seem to hit sharp objects?
    #13
  14. GrizzLee

    GrizzLee RubiKon Adventures

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    I suspect it has to do with weight and power distribution. Front flats happen, but at much lower rate than rear.
    #14
  15. GrizzLee

    GrizzLee RubiKon Adventures

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    Spirits of the Forest & Bad Medicine ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Sunshine, Bears, Bugs, Waterfalls, Rain, Flat Tire, Pulling into town at 1:00 am in the morning. Some minor setbacks, but it was still early in my journey.

    Enjoy.

    #15
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  16. BMWs2Dave

    BMWs2Dave Been here awhile

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    it is my theory that front flats rarely happen because the nail in the road is laying flat when the front tire runs over it. After the front tire passes over the nail or sharp object it flips it up in the air and if the point is up, it then punctures the back tire when the back tire runs over it.
    #16
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  17. GrizzLee

    GrizzLee RubiKon Adventures

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    I heard that as well. Good theory.

    This was not my 1st flat on this trip. Later on I have another, but not as severe. A puncture rather than a big cut. Also on the rear. In the arctic....

    Stay tuned...
    #17
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  18. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

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    I love your ride reports, looking forward to reading more :thumb
    #18
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  19. GrizzLee

    GrizzLee RubiKon Adventures

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    Thanks buddy.
    #19
  20. BMWs2Dave

    BMWs2Dave Been here awhile

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    a friend of mine once got a rear flat tire from a standard door lock key. I can assure you the key was not laying on edge on the road pointing up. It got flipped up by the front tire and then due to bad luck, was pointing up when the back tire made contact with it.
    #20