How much planning needed for Alaska, really?

Discussion in 'Americas' started by NumberCruncher, Apr 2, 2016.

  1. NumberCruncher

    NumberCruncher Long timer

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    I have read many reports bout the Al-Can and know the route I'll take to Tok, to Fairbanks and likely to Anchorage and back to Tok. I think I know the route I'll take back which will be more inland.

    So I'll cross into Canada around Eastport and take 3 to 95 to 93 which will get me to Banff and Lake Louise. I'll then take 40 and 43 to Dawsons creek, 97 to Watson Lake and 1 to Whitehorse. I imagine I'll take 2 to Dawson, Chicken and Tok. Tok to Fairbanks, Fairbanks to Alaska stopping at Denali and Anchorage back to Tok via 1. I'll stay on 1 to Haines Junction and back to Whitehorse. At Waston lake I'll head down 37 to 16 to 5 and Kamloops. At that point I am basically home.

    So if my bike is in good shape and I have camping gear I am not afraid to use. What else do I really have to do? Please understand I am typically Mr. over-prepare so even if it sounds like I am jumping out of an airplane without a parachute I am really not. I just don't want to micromanage everything along the way. I'll spend the next month reading The Milepost to make certain of any stops along the way, spend May making sure my 2014 BMW F800GS is ready to go and head out in early June, depending on weather. I have no timetable and don't plan on more than 300 mile days to keep my shoulder from going out on my. By bike has a 4.5 gallon tank good for an easy 225 miles and can be stretched to 275 if I keep the speed at 55 mph or lower. I'll strap a 2 gallon rotopax on the bike giving me a 300 mile range.

    The only question I have is now far South of Prudhoe bay is the last gas stop? Part of me wants to get as close to the bay on my bike as I can. The Milepost will tell me that but maybe someone here knows. I keep reminding myself that people came up here 150 miles ago and made it; at least most of them did. I think the key is to ride safe and not push too hard and get in trouble. So if I have gas, food and camping gear, how can I possibly not have a massive and successful adventure?

    NC
    #1
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  2. Zubb

    Zubb he went that-a-way...

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    You've already done more planning than I like to. Don't spoil it by over planning. You are a free bird. Just go and take each mile as it comes. Who cares if you make "a mistake" and end up going 200 miles in the wrong direction. It's all an adventure.
    #2
  3. AKtiger

    AKtiger Been here awhile

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    D2D is the 16/17 th June will be over 300-350 riders in Dawson City Yukon territory. Don't know if it is in your plans but it's worth a look. Google it. Good way to meet folks from AK as .well as make some Canadian friends. Would not rule out a trip up the Dempster probably one of the most beautiful and isolated stretches of gravel road in the YT.

    Sent from my KFAPWI using Tapatalk
    #3
  4. Mastery

    Mastery Mr. Funny Man

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    I planned like crazy for last year's trip up there, to the point I was actually getting burnt out on taking away the feeling of the upcoming adventure. So I stopped planning. Turns out, there's lots of places to stay (expensive though), camp (just about anywhere), food (mom-and-pops and gas stations), fuel (some may or many not be open though so having an extra gallon saved us when we went), and people to chat with (at many stops). You need a lifetime to see everything no matter where you go, just point the bike and twist the throttle if something looks interesting.

    You have a basic route down. Good. Play the rest by ear and you'll have a great time.
    #4
  5. CommanderDave

    CommanderDave Kick Ass Adventure Rider

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    Hello Mr Crunch,

    First of June is perfect. Cold mornings but no bugs! We left one year May 22nd. As far as weather, forget about waiting for the "right" weather. From Spokane to Fairbanks is 2500 miles. You'll get it all no matter what time of year you go. Having said that our 5/22 to 7/4 trip had us rained on 3 days. On another trip with us going up the end of July we met a guy coming down who had the last 14 days of rain. Bring layers and foul weather gear you can count on. May and June have the least rain of the summer.

    Fairbanks to Deadhorse is approx 480 miles. Gas can be bought at Yukon crossing and Coldfoot. Coldfoot is almost exactly half way between Fairbanks and Deadhorse. We did it June 2 & 3. Temp was around 30f with low 20's on Antigun pass but haul road was frozen. Piece of cake compared to riders experience in the rain.

    When you come down the Cassier (37) look into going west to Prince Rupert. Take the Ferry from there to Port Hardy on the north end of Vancouver Island. It is an awesome boat ride. It leaves around 7am and you get to Port Hardy around 9pm.

    Oh....your bike is fine. I did it on a Goldwing and my riding buddy was on a Road King.

    The trip to Alaska is a "bucket list" worthy adventure. I would say 5 weeks would get you all over the state. More time would be better.

    Have fun....dave
    #5
  6. Mastery

    Mastery Mr. Funny Man

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    Coldfoot Camp is about 246 miles away from Prudhoe I believe and has fuel.
    #6
  7. Rollin'

    Rollin' does it come in black? Supporter

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    Coldfoot. Next stop, Deadhorse.

    [​IMG]
    #7
  8. scarysharkface

    scarysharkface Faking it/Making it

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    Not much planning is necessary, except for the extra gas on the haul road.

    Have a great trip.

    John
    #8
  9. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil Supporter

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    Yep! You really don't have to do much more planning to ride to Alaska than you would to ride from New York to Los Angeles on secondary roads. There are cities and towns the entire route - albeit a little farther apart than in most parts of the South 48. There are stores with just about everything you might have forgotten to pack. There are gas stops close enough together (as long as you have at least 150 mile range and don't let your tank get too near the bottom), and plenty of places to get meals. Plus - if you need help, people are more likely to stop and offer assistance than on interstate highways.

    Just make sure your bike is mechanically sound before you start your trip, and you have sufficient rubber on your tires to make the round trip, or at least to a motorcycle shop that will have your size.

    Canada's highways are, for the most part, as good as you'll find in the South 48 and, as I've been telling folks for many years - it ain't yer grandad's Alcan.

    Just don't get in a big hurry, ride within your limits, and you should end up with a great, memorable trip.
    #9
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  10. NumberCruncher

    NumberCruncher Long timer

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    Thanks for the feedback. I am getting better at being spontaneous and motorcycle trips really help with that. I always find it remarkable that in a car or truck I have to have the temperature set just so, bluetooth for the phone, iPod for music, ice chests and snacks for the road, etc. But on a bike, I just get up and go. Eat when I get hungry, stop when I get tired.

    Looking forward to the trip. With fuel at Deadhorse it looks like the longest stretch with no gas will be 240 miles. That is normally outside my comfort zone but with a 300 mile range I should be fine. It will be interesting to just let the bike run dry and see if I can get there as 240 miles is about the bikes max range. Then just top off with the rotopax.

    NC
    #10
  11. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil Supporter

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    While the sign at Coldfoot says "240 miles to services", that's before you even get to the airstrip. By GPS it's 250 miles from either of the pumps at Deadhorse to the pumps at Coldfoot. More than likely, as most riders experience, you'll get better mileage on the Dalton due to running at more moderate speeds.
    #11
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  12. XXMe

    XXMe Not my picture

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    Hey NumberCruncher,

    If you haven't done it yet you should read the stuff in Alcan Riders sig.... Just sayin... :thumb
    #12
  13. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b Supporter

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    Why are you going?

    Most of the planning I did was focused on identifying:
    some scenic camping around areas I might pass through
    some entertaining unpaved roads, particularly in AK, YT, and NWT​

    Then there are a couple of long stretches between fuel and I knew where some of those were.
    #13
  14. boatpuller

    boatpuller Long timer

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    Grinnin: Care to share the info you identified? Tks.
    #14
  15. AllSeasonRider

    AllSeasonRider Wandering, maybe a little lost...

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    I have not made the trip yet, but I've been reading a lot and read the threads in Alcan Rider's sig. My impression now is not too far removed from before I did any research: gas can be an issue if you go Deadhorse, there's plenty of stops and services otherwise, and bring really good rain gear.

    Probably the most useful info I've gotten is regarding the coastal ferries, which I plan on taking for a portion of the return leg, and on the best time of year to go - earlier than I was expecting. I'm aiming for May or June 2017. I'll start planning in April 2017, probably. And by planning, I mean that I'll figure out how to strap and extra 3 1/2 gallons of fuel to my bike.
    #15
  16. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b Supporter

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    There are also long legs without fuel on the Dempster and the Richardson Highway. There may be others that I haven't looked for.
    #16
  17. Switchglide12

    Switchglide12 Long timer

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    Don't over plan. I did cross country trip in early 90's NYC to San Fransisco and back. My packing list include following items.
    Tooth brush and toothpaste
    Change of clothing
    All packed in shopping bag and I had 1 blanket incase I got cold. Took off for 3 weeks. I stayed in hotel 3 night in 3 weeks, rest of the time I slept on park bench. Granted I was young and stupid back then. Point is don't over plan it. I have trip plans for late July my packing list is bit longer but that is about it.
    #17
  18. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b Supporter

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    It gets back to the question at the top of that post: "Why are you going?" I like sliding around on gravel roads and riding in mountains. I wanted to see the sun go around instead of setting. I wanted to rub shoulders a little with people who live in the area. I had to revisit Glacier NP in Montana.

    I decided that the the gravel highways most likely to entertain me were the Denali, Richardson, and Top of World. I chose the Dempster since it goes to towns instead of the Dalton which goes to an industrial installation. Most of these road choices were made from reading ride reports here. I also found gravel roads in nearly every state and province which were all marked on the maps published by those states and provinces.

    For scenic camping, I don't recall the places now. Mostly I wanted the maps for midwestern and plains states and provinces marked for parks with camping since several use the same icon for day-use-only parks and parks with camping. I dislike stopping in the afternoon and not knowing which parks around me have camping and which have just a monument to F Troop. I knew I would stay at Glacier, would try to stay at Liard Hot Springs, and might stay at Sleeping Giant if I was close in the afternoon.

    For me, planning means identifying a lot of options then choosing from them (plus new options) on the road.
    #18
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  19. Mastery

    Mastery Mr. Funny Man

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    On the backwards "L" of the ride from Delta Junction (down the Richardson) to Cantwell (by way of the Denali Highway), there's no gas in Paxson. We had to go to our emergency gas because we were assured there was gas in Paxson so we didn't bother topping off at Delta Junction after we had left Fairbanks.

    All part of the adventure. Adventure is more fun when you have emergency gas to use :D
    #19
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  20. Ol Man

    Ol Man Long timer Supporter

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    OK, I am a retired engineer and love to do a little Excel planning. For grins, here is my list for my planned six week trip:

    Clothes
    Klim jacket
    Klim pants
    Klim mid layer pants
    2 pair levis
    2 pair wool socks
    2 wool long john
    1 LD comfort shorts
    1 LD comfort long sleeve shirt
    1 Zip up sweat shirt (no hood)
    1 pull over sweat shirt
    3 pair underwear
    5 t shirts
    2 pair athletic socks
    1 pair sneakers
    Bathing suit
    Shorts
    Jacket (light)
    Down vest
    Heated vest/pants
    Flip flops
    Mosquito shirt
    Mosquito face net
    Gloves-light, med and rain
    Balaclava and neck warmer
    Kidney belt (buy?)
    Tools
    KTM tool bag
    misc bag (ratchet, etc for special bolts, etc)
    Tire repair kit
    Tire pump
    Rags
    Multimeter (Fluke)
    Chain lube
    Jumper cable (?)
    Spare bolts (in particular skid plate)
    Small tarp to lay on
    Brake clean/Gunk/Simple green
    Siphon hose
    Some safety wire
    Duct tape
    WD40 small can
    Lighter
    Personal
    Travel kit (brushes, etc)
    Towel
    Chargers
    Computer
    Tablet
    Medications
    MP3 player - both
    2 Ear buds
    Ear plugs?
    Umbrella?
    Spare glasses
    Sunglasses
    Beard trimmer
    Thermos
    Coffee mug
    Carry water
    Spot tracker(buy?)
    Wet wipes
    Misc
    Bike cover (1/2 Cover)
    Dry bag
    Micro towels
    Spare batteries (AA) and charger
    12v usb adapter
    H02 spray
    Milepost
    Maps (Alaska, Yukon, BC and US)
    Toilet paper/shovel (from Jeep)
    Spare motorcycle key (put in medical pocket in jacket)
    LED headlamp
    Flashlight (small LED)
    DEET
    2 Tie down straps
    What to do about cell phone? Call 611 to activate for Canada
    Bear spray? Or air horn from the boat?
    Knife from Jeep
    2 road flares
    Zip ties
    First aid kit
    Foldable water container
    Brake caliper lock
    Travel papers
    Passport
    Insurance
    Registration
    Title copy
    Add to bike still
    Windshield ?
    Mirror extender ?
    Satellite phone/SPOT/In-Reach
    A little camping gear?
    Borrow jet boil from John for coffee? Use Starbucks little coffee things?
    Pot
    Sleeping bag

    I am doing motels the whole trip. I have my panniers, top box and a dry bag.
    #20