Ride North – Two photographers ride from San Francisco to Alaska! (KLR650 & GT1000)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by caliform, Jun 4, 2014.

  1. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile Supporter

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    Haha, much appreciated guys!

    Anyone in San Francisco today is welcome to come to our going-away party - 8:30 PM at Cease and Desist! See the bikes, get some stickers...

    Facebook event here.

    Thanks to the ensuing hangover I'll likely be updating this RR a bunch more over the weekend...
    #41
  2. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile Supporter

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    Smithers to... Alaska! Yup! Well, Stewart / Hyder.

    We woke up in Smithers crisp and early, the dew covering our tent and bikes. We cleaned up and packed up bright and early after cooking our leftover eggs -- which we marinated in some Peri-Peri sauce we'd picked up in Pemberton.

    I'm pretty sure we put that sauce on everything for the next week or two. Great stuff, really. Add some English-style sharp mustard (which they sell there) and you've got a good spicy kick.



    We ran into this cool contraption on the way:

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    It was a pretty sparse road up to the junction. The junction of the Highway of Tears and the Stewart-Cassiar at Kitwanga is somewhat famous here because it shows the first sign that references the Alaska Highway. We didn't stop... we just kind of kept riding. There's a nice bridge over the river here and then boom, you're on the Cassiar going directly North.

    About 20 miles in I was leading and hit a small bird with quite some speed. I was fine; the bird less so. Felt like a hell of a punch on my shoulder. Poor thing. Not too much later, Stuart was leading and he decapitated a vole that ran into his front tire. It was a day of bloodshed and violence.

    Overall, the 37 (Cassiar) was fairly well-trafficked. We ran into lots of trucks, RVs and cars here. Way more vehicles than we'd seen in a while.

    We were just short of the Mediadin Junction when Stuart lost his sweater. He wasn't very happy about this.



    (I should insert more of these videos -- I may take some time soon to go back and add these clips to the previous posts...)

    Stu mentioned there was gas at the junction... I assumed it was still under construction. I think I was wrong. I was a bit grumpy, too.



    We don't have much of a plan when it comes to this ride, and that led us to make a choice once we reached the Meziadin Junction; going up North or make a stop in Stewart / Hyder. The prospect of entering the little bit of Alaska that is Hyder was so exciting that we decided not to pass it up.

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    Very happy we chose to take this road: it's a stunning quick ride through gorgeous mountains with a beautiful glacier.



    We made it to the town pretty quick and gassed up. We ran into a group of 3 hardcore BMW riders that had just done the Alaska. They said it was pretty wet.

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    Hyder has a fun bar. We had a drink there, and bought some locally made fudge (good stuff) at the little shop opposite the bar. We were just about to make a huge mistake...

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    As we had some light left in the day we decided to see how far the road went into Alaska. We stopped at the Wildlife Observation station a bit down the road and were considering if it was worth it to go up the dirt road that headed further into the mountains.

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    In the end, we decided not to. It was insurmountably stupid - the road, which is pretty easy dirt, leads to one of the most beautiful glaciers you can visit on the continent.

    Feel free to call us the idiots we are...

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    We rode back into Canada and were stopped by a rather uppity border guard. He demanded to know why we were entering Canada

    'Well uh, to continue traveling', we said. Okay. What was our business in Canada. Why were we entering? How long were we staying? It was pretty hilarious how seriously he interrogated us while we just crossed that border maybe two and a half hours before. We did manage to enter, took a few pictures of the beautiful port of Stewart and stopped at the RV park on the edge of town.

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    I think we paid something like $25 for the two of us to take a spot, which was worth it as it had much-needed showers and some wifi we could use. Lovely park, and a nice manager. We got some firewood from him for free and made a nice warm fire before we turned in. It was a really nice, somewhat cold evening, and the feeling of not knowing what was ahead of us on the desolate Cassiar was incredible.



    I think for the first time it struck me that I'd ever felt as alive as I did in that moment, as we were traveling. Nothing but a direction for us to travel to, and an incredible thirst for exploration and new experiences. It was going to get better and better.
    #42
  3. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile Supporter

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    Phew, about time for us to start posting about our Ride South - we're leaving on Saturday! Thanks to the magic of Dropbox I may be able to finish the ride report over Thanksgiving in Santa Barbara / as we head South, but we'll see!



    This particular day I am about to write up on is a bit sad to look back on. I'll elaborate in a bit.

    Back to the RV park!



    We left the RV park in the morning after cooking up some coffee. The first order of business was getting some gas at the Bell 2 Lodge. It was pretty cool to hang around there, as we ran into another rider on a KLR and saw some helicopters that fly out of that area.

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    We weren't sure where we'd end the ride today, but we were in the mood to make some miles. Feeling pretty sharp and invigorated with the showers and good night's sleep, we made good time heading right North on the Cassiar.

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    The Cassiar was not too busy, but we did see a lot of stretches that were unpaved. Highway construction, most likely: either way, since my road tires were losing their profile a bit it was nice and squirrely on stretches of deep recently graded gravel. I'd be lying if I said I didn't get sweaty hands riding over 'em. Stuart took them in stride, though, the KLR seemed right at home :D


    It started becoming a game to get as much mileage out of my GT1000 as I could. Ducati saw fit to equip it with a 4 gallon tank, and I saw fit to find its exact limits. I think that particular day was the best mileage I got out of it: the last stretch to Dease Lake had me killing the engine on the downhills and keeping it in the highest gear possible. I rolled into the gas station at Dease on fumes, having gotten 165 miles out of the tank.

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    For a SportClassic, that's excellent!

    There's not a ton of people on the Cassiar, even in the Summer, but we did meet some interesting people in this spot. There's this guy, who had this fantastic restored old car that he used to drive around the area.

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    This guy was from Bolivia, I believe: heading down from Prudhoe Bay.

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    And lastly, after dipping into the one restaurant Dease Lake had ('the tavern has been shut down', one lady demurely told us when we asked for our options for food and drink), we decided to eschew the expensive dinner options and bought some supplies instead when we ran into a young guy from Australia. On his own way down from Prudhoe Bay, and now riding his KLR650 to South America, he was a nice guy.

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    We walked out, talked about riding for a bit and helped him service his chain a bit (it was rather tight) and then set up a little stove in the parking lot next to the restaurant to share some popcorn and beers together.



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    The guy's name was Alistair Farland. Late last year, when Stuart came home and posted his story online, we learned that he had passed away in a highway accident in North Carolina. Taken away before his time, Alistair was a really great guy. We didn't get to know him well, but hearing the news of his passing brought us immense grief. His website is here.

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    May he rest in peace.

    Alistair had informed us of our camping options way North, and recommended Boya Lake. He mentioned it might be about a 30 minute ride.



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    As we headed out of Dease Lake we saw a beautiful sunset. The light was absolutely stunning, and while we were amazed at how long it was light out the night before, now it was even more profoundly surprising how long the sunset seemed to stretch.

    We also saw our first moose:

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    More riding!

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    The roads were perfectly lonely, with not a single car passing or coming on. We rode through incredibly beautiful landscapes in a purple glow of the sunset reflecting off the shelf clouds off the mountain ridges far away. We stopped for some photos, and got completely mobbed by mosquitoes:



    But the photos were worth it.

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    On and on the dark, lonely roads went.

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    Gorgeous, insane colors and nature here.

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    We kept riding in the dark (bad idea) but eventually, finally made it to our campground after a good 120 or so miles.

    We made a good amount of miles that day.
    #43
  4. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile Supporter

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    Oh hey, I missed this.

    We don't use bracketing or HDR, but do manually set exposure most of the time - exposing for highlights and boosting shadows in post a bit.

    Some of the night shots are on a tripod, but rarely, really. :) we shoot with fast primes and that helps a ton!

    Hope that helps! Thanks for reading.
    #44
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  5. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile Supporter

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    A serious 400-ish mile day down, we woke up still somewhat tired of the ride. We were about to have a very long ride again, today heading to Whitehorse. We'd finally enter the Yukon and ride the Alaskan Highway!

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    In our campground, I found that my little Star Trek novella was really beginning to disintegrate. Fortunately, there was an incredibly coincidental find in this particular camp: a new pulp romance novel. Perfect for sidestand propping usage!

    Our bikes showed the sheer amount of insects here:

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    We admired the sheer coat of bugs now covering the front of our bikes, jackets, and panniers. I think my ‘highlights’ were several large dragonflies, a few wasps and bees and a solitary butterfly stuck on the grill of my front-facing horns.

    With the daylight I also noticed my rear Ventura Rack was ajar...



    We fixed it with paracord and some slamming with our axe in the end.


    Then, we rode off. We rode about an hour or two to the Junction with the Alaskan Highway. Right before this sign, we turned a blind corner going about 50 miles per hour and we both almost lost our bikes into a giant pothole about the half the size of a small car. Such is riding on the Cassiar – another rider had mentioned they’d stopped to help an Italian rider on a BMW HP4 sport bike, and found his entire front wheel rim was bent out of rideable shape from a big pothole. His trip was over.

    As for us: I was completely convinced I’d go down when I hit this particular horrendous hole in the road, but managed to keep the bike up. Hooray. I kicked it back into a higher gear and sped it up out of there, a big rooster tail of rocks dropping on the road as I threw them up with my rear tire. Stuart was ahead in a curve waiting to see if I’d show up, his face an expression of incredulity as I turned the bend. We were both okay. No damage so far.

    Lots of the upper Northern half of the Cassiar Highway was burn forest. Wildfires are integral to the boreal forests up here, which helps germinate new seeds and enables new growth. It was a bit of an apocalyptic view, though. We enjoyed it.

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    We made it to the Yukon!



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    Gas and a snack at Junction 37. You know, I kind of like Junction 37. The guy here is pretty nice, and I hit it up again on the way back. We gassed up and talked to a son and father that were driving through Alaska in some heavily modified overland vehicle. They had some mechanical issues and the helpful folks at the Junction were helping them out.

    Mandatory stop here, despite it being out of the way, was Watson Lake. We rode about 20 minutes East to do some lunch-shopping... there's a nice market there with a large assortment of sausages.

    Some people never grow up...

    Out here in the boreal wilderness, many people try to find some meaning in life. Ourselves too, we were hoping for some kind of sign. Any sign.

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    ... Watson Lake delivers!

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    I found some signs from my home country of the Netherlands...

    Cool stuff! Now, off West, to Whitehorse, on the Alaska Highway!

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    I absolutely kissed the solid, well-paved pavement of this route. It was lovely; some minor highway work but overall, completely well paved and not too challenging. It was a very long, winding road, with gorgeous views of increasingly Alaskan landscapes. The Yukon is vast -- larger than Texas, even, and has an incredibly low population for its size; less than 38,000 people!

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    As such, it's beautifully empty. Yet full of natural beauty.

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    The road shaping up and the scenery at times becoming just endless fields of pine trees, we started dancing and moving on the bikes again, or just exercising our manual-camera-use-while-riding skills.

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    A stop at Teslin, where we had some food and warmed up a bit. I ran out of fuel just about 5 miles before we got to the gas station and had to pour my Rotopax in the tank. Doh!

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    We saw the rain coming:

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    Heading off again in minor rain and we made it to Whitehorse, after 400+ miles today. The skies ablaze with incredible intensity. Such beautiful clouds in the sunset today.

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    Fun facts: Whitehorse has the highest per-capita alcohol consumption of the North Americas (or so we were told while there)! This led to our being rather laughed at when we asked at a bar if that particular bar was the only one in town. No, the girls laughed- “there’s quite a few.”

    They were real hospitable, and we agreed to spend the night at theirs. :D

    Tomorrow: an unexpected turn for an 'abandoned mining town' leads to some of the most beautiful and dangerous riding yet.
    #45
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  6. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile Supporter

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    Having seen that part of Whitehorse, we rode the next day for what I presumed to be the long-abandoned mining town of Skagway. In my wisdom I’d somehow ended up mixing it up with Kennicott, a truly abandoned mining town with a glacier further up into South-Central Alaska. It wouldn’t matter much – our suitably low expectations were exceeded with one of the best adventures on our trip so far.

    But first, oil changes. We had some of the only Vietnamese food (Pho!) around and did necessary maintenance in the Walmart of Whitehorse parking lot. Yup, Canada has Walmarts...


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    So, we did motorcycle chain cleaning and lubrication, a full oil change (with diesel engine 15W-40 oil, we are on a budget after all) and I re-fitted a new 12V socket to my bike after my old one got waterlogged in Portland (I only found out about this in Seattle, when the iPhone charger stopped working. I pulled the charger out of the 12V socket and found an inch of rusty, dark brown water in it. Yuck). The new one from Cycle Gear lacked a fuse or SAE hookup to my Battery Tender quick hookup, but that was easily remedied with some cable stripping and fitting the end of my old 12V socket to the new unit.

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    Soon thereafter: the road! Ahead of us on our trip lay the Klondike Highway directly North of Whitehorse, which would take us into Alaska proper from the Yukon Territory. Taken South to its terminus, however, it goes to Skagway. It seemed only proper that we’d camp for a night and check out the entire Yukon Highway 2 — or Klondike Highway — for ourselves.

    The route:

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    And what a ride it was. This isn’t one you typically find in the ‘recommended rides’ section for Alaska, for some reason, and it was one of the most incredible ones of our lives.

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    Radiolab keeps us company!

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    We stopped often. We already left late after the oil change, but Carcross had some great views, and so did the lakes along the way.

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    Here's one of the lakes:

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    And a look behind the scenes:



    Then, when we rounded yet another beautiful mountain bend when we stood face to face with the unreal sight of huge, ragged mountain peaks being fogged in with a big cloud front. This was the legendary White Pass, a passageway to Alaska and a well known pass from the Gold Rush. Right now, we’d already been told that it was holding thick fog and rain on the seaside from entering the Yukon.

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    And we were about to ride right into it.

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    It wasn’t pretty. Cloud fronts that strike the White Pass usually come from the Pacific Ocean, where the big fjords of Skagway and Haines channel them inland and onto the mountain slopes. The ride into Skagway is usually beautiful, but our visibility was about a bike’s length. Stuart’s taillight would occasionally vanish into a thick bank of fog or fade back in when the road got wetter.

    My visor completely fogged up on the inside, and our visibility that was already piss-poor (think a bike length and a half or so) was even worse with my visor up, when the cold rain pelted my eyes. Stu gave me some of his sunglasses, which helped.

    Either way, we got real wet, and cold, and slowly ascended the pass.

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    Incredibly cool scenery up there. It looks like another planet.

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    We reached the border wet as a bunch of dogs. The US border agent was his usual brand of unfriendly, this time asking some strange questions on my previous marriage before letting me in with an utterly bored expression.

    Then it was upon us to brave the fog and wet down the pass. Again, near-zero visibility...

    We rolled into Skagway -- imagine my surprise actually finding a town, not the abandoned mine of Kennicott which I thought it would be -- not more than a few buildings of it visible and stopped next to the Red Onion, which looked like a bar that had just closed.

    It was 30 minutes past midnight. We were screwed. It was incredibly foggy, wet, and cold.

    We were debating our plans in the cold and wet when a voice shouted out of the fog: “Nice bike!”. “Thanks!” I yelled back.

    Which immediately was responded with “Not you, jackass, *his* bike!”.

    Two somewhat drunk fellow KLR riders from Victoria walked up and struck up a conversation, shared their bottle of liquor and guided us to the bar that was still open. The Station.

    What I thought was an abandoned mining town was in reality a fairly booming small town, rich with tourists in the day but quiet in the evenings when the cruise ships would depart from the harbor. As soon as they did, the small town had nothing but young folk our age, working there for the summer, with a penchant for drinking and fun. Basically, we found a beautifully scenic, boozy paradise with cute girls and cool dudes.

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    Nice meeting you guys! (this was the next day...)

    The Station is a bit of a phenomenon in Skagway. Not only is it the bar the locals seem to go to the most, it is also open until or past 4 AM — something I hadn’t seen in the US since I’d left the Netherlands — and it has a few rooms for rent above the bar, which is nicely named the Morning Wood Hotel. Our newfound friends bought us a few rounds and we started socializing with the rest of the bar. Lodging was an issue, but fortunately, we happened turn into a place with a room; the Station doubles as a hotel, with a few rooms for hire above the bar. We paid the bartender for the room and turned in around 5 AM or so, feeling drunk and welcomed.



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    We met several locals there and spent the next few days hiking and exploring the area.
    #46
  7. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile Supporter

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    Oh, and lest I forget: on the way to Skagway, Stu shot this rather perfect shot of me giving the ADVRider salute:

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    #47
  8. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile Supporter

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    Quiet here. A few days until we ride South to warmer climates.

    Where were we. Ah yes, Skagway. Skagway is a very historic town. It used to be one of the major port towns where people would land with little but their possessions on their backs, hoping to strike gold and make it big.

    Today, tourism largely focuses on this aspect of its past. You see a lot of jewelry stores, a typical 'old west' storefront street and even a maintained trail through the Chilkoot mountains that the old gold pioneers used to hike to the Yukon.

    There's also the old railroad, now mostly used for tourist reasons. We didn't get tickets.

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    Skagway was our second entry to Alaska. Much like Hyder, the border checkpoint here is basically only giving you access to the one town, but a notable difference is that Skagway has a real port with cruise ships and Alaskan Marine Highway ferries alike. Thus, the more strict entry control.

    Our 'hotel'


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    Lots of excellent salmon here. Stuart quite liked the salmon jerky...

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    We were in no particular rush so we stuck around for a few days, and quickly made friends with locals that showed us around.

    We took a ferry to Haines, checked out Yakutania Point as well as Dyea (which is not pronounced like this), the old settlement that supported Skagway in the booming gold rush times.

    Hiking on a foggy day:

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    Going to Haines:

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    We had our first 'shot ski' in Haines. Fascinating stuff.

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    Ridiculously picturesque place, Haines. Much less touristy.

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    On Instagram







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    People here are highly self-sustaining. It was incredibly inspiring to meet Hillery’s (a girl we met at the local bar) family, who have a homestead in Dyea that is entirely built by them. When we toured their property, they were building numerous beautiful small wooden cabins.

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    When it was time to leave, we were blessed by the weather gods with an actual view of the White Pass on the way out. Breathtaking and impossible to truly capture in photos, the views go on forever.

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    One of the girls (thanks Sarah!) was nice enough to shoot us from the car on the way out:

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    On Instagram



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    Small lakes and marshes form the colorful valley between the beautiful peaks, where we cross the border back into the Yukon.

    Got treated with an unreal view and rainbow on the way out.

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    Stuart met some wildlife. On this road we saw a giant moose, a bobcat, some foxes, and this little brown bear.

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    We spent a night camping on the lake near Carcross with the girls we met in Skagway – a difficult goodbye, given the quality of the company and the scenery.

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    We camped out on the beach of the lake there, grilled up fresh-caugh salmon, strung up a hammock... life wasn't too bad.

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    We'd return to Skagway later on this trip. For now, though, crossing the Yukon was ahead – and properly entering the large landmass that is Alaska proper and reaching the top of the continent. All of that coming up!

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    #48
  9. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile Supporter

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    Leaving Alaska again, it was time to explore the top part of the Yukon. This particular part is even more sparse than the Southern areas we'd previously seen.

    We passed through Whitehorse again, without stopping, and turned off at the intersection with the Klondike Highway. We'd done the Southern Stretch, and now we'd be completing the Northern half too, to Dawson City. From Dawson City we'd take the Top of the World Highway to Tok, and then on to Fairbanks... probably.

    Tires were getting a bit thin, but I decided to keep my road tires on for a bit. The set of Pirelli Scorpion Trails (the default tires on Multistradas, I think) wore OK but were now definitely getting pretty flat in the middle. The thread was shallow, but it seemed it would last.

    So, I made arrangements to ship tires to Fairbanks -- new, dirt-oriented tires, which in the Sportclassic's unique tire size only exist in the form of an oversized TKC80 (170 rear). That'll do!

    We departed Skagway with our route planned to take us from Whitehorse, Yukon up to Dawson City, Yukon. A quaint gold-rush era town with mud streets, we’d heard a few good things about Dawson City but apparently not everything, as we were about to find out.

    Our route for the day:

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    Gassing up at Whitehorse, we ran into Mike Saunders. Mike was riding from Florida to Prudhoe Bay on his 50cc scooter, plated with the hilarious words '99 MPG'.

    "How fast does that go?" we asked.

    "Oh, about 40, downhill :D" Mike grinned.

    Godspeed, Mike!

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    As opposed to the stunning bottom half of the Klondike Highway, the road from Whitehorse to Carmacks -- a town roughly in between Dawson City and Whitehorse -- was rather uneventful. There were once again serious roadworks going on, so we saw our share of mud and gravel, but overall it was fairly straightforward riding.

    We got rewarded with a nice rainbow, though! Must be gold nearby. (indeed, Dawson City used to be a gold mining town)

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    We stopped at Carmacks for some food and fuel. We were still rather beat from our streak of debauchery in Skagway and sat outside the gas station smoking a cigarette when a small car rolled up.

    The hatchback parked near the gas station, teenagers spewing out of it like it was some sort of clown car. “Yo, sweet bikes, where you guys headed?” one asked us. Stuart and I answered simultaneously “Dawson City!”, to which the guy answered rather excited, “Oh cool, for the music festival?”



    We didn’t even know about the music festival! It was supposed to be kicked off that day (Friday) and we had no clue.


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    Riding on, we got tired fast, and we were losing the light, so about 150 miles before Dawson and set up a camp off a telephone pole access road near a small airport North of Stewart Crossing, Yukon.

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    Our little camp under merrily buzzing power lines.



    Not too many pics on this update, mostly due to little scenery and making good time North.
    #49
  10. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile Supporter

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    Damnit, I forgot the maps again! I added them to the previous posts. :D
    #50
  11. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

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    Don't sweat the maps, it's not like there's an abundance of options, you've reached the area where route choices are rather limited. :lol3
    Gorgeous pic of the rainbow, follow that road!
    #51
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  12. Noshir

    Noshir Been here awhile

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    Love the pics. Keep them coming. Great trip. Am subscribed :-)
    #52
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  13. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile Supporter

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    Oh hey thanks fellows. I talk about maps and I summon a MapMaster. :D

    I figured it'd be nice anyway for those that don't know the layout as well as some of us do. Indeed, not that many roads out there...

    We packed up camp bright and early to avoid any angry powerline owners stirring us awake and rode to Dawson City. It wasn't very far from there, but I am nevertheless glad we didn't push on to reach it in the night.

    Riding at night is something I never do on these trips, particularly on such remote roads and especially on roads we don't know. We rode through a night exactly once on this trip, on the way back; I knew it was stupid, and it didn't end well. We'll get to that when we get to it...

    For now, Dawson City!

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    The aforementioned 'DCMF' (Dawson City Music Festival) was in full swing and that meant the town was full of young folk, cute girls and good music. It's generally folksy music, no oomph-oomphs of EDM out here. We got in town and assessed our options: expensive hotels in town, and two campgrounds that were now entirely packed full.

    Anarchists, the lot of them:

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    The local information center was great and helpful, with not just an exposé on the history of the town but also boasting free Wi-Fi and good advice.

    They advised us to check out the hostel and state campgrounds across the Yukon River. Dawson City is right on this wide, fast-flowing and beautiful river, and since there's no bridge across there's a 24/7 ferry operated for free. Excellent!

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    We loaded up the bikes along with two other Harley riding dudes and in about 5 or so minutes we made it across.

    Beautiful sunsets here.

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    The ranger at the state campsite informed us that there was indeed one -- one! -- last spot available and we could have it for $10 a day. We jumped on the opportunity. I think he directed us to the motorcycle corner or something, because we were camping next to two DRZ-400 riders that were also out adventuring.

    Eric was a super cool dude who'd just come back from Prudhoe Bay. He met a gal here in Dawson City on the way up and was reuniting with her. Super cool dude.

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    The weather was good enough to break out my hammock. This guy didn't get a lot of use this trip.

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    We'd originally planned to make it over the Top of the World Highway, but we didn't have time to do that tonight and wanted to check out the music festival anyway.

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    The next day (Saturday), we realized this weekend would see some serious rain on the highway which would turn it into a mucky, slippery mess. We stuck around for a few days.

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    I'm as much of a pussy magnet as I ever was:



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    Dawson City is an excellent town. It's not as touristy as Skagway, and still has the classic mud streets of yore. People here were a pleasant bunch of drinkers and gold-diggers.

    Also some riders! These people were doing an RTW trip on custom-rally faired KTMs.

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    We met some excellent characters and hung out with Eric a bunch, who told us about his route North. Stu asked to take this guy's portrait:

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    (this is Duke. He mines for gold)

    I found a rare Dutch treat: Poffertjes! These Dutch mini-pancakes are impossible to find anywhere in the Americas but somehow, in Dawson City, there was a stand for the festival selling them. Delicious!

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    I treated Stu and this musician girl who we met and was in town for the festival, to play her songs. Cool chick! Winters here, too.

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    The last day we met some nice girls that live in Dawson City for work in the Summer, much like the girls we met in Skagway. They got us some free passes to the old-timey Diamond Tooth Gertie's casino and bar, where we watched a show and had some drinks.

    After which they were nice enough to test the quality of the armor in my jacket:

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    It was our last night in Dawson City and we walked around with them a bit when the light faded. We ended up drinking whiskey by a campfire next to the Yukon River until late.

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    The next day, I had a bunch of logistical stuff and work to do on my laptop -- the local hotel was kind enough to host me, cool people -- and Stu decided to join our newly made friends on a trip to Tombstone, a beautiful mountain range just up the Dempster Highway. I'll let him do a post on that if he ever feels like it...

    My workstation:

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    He came back in the late afternoon the next day, seemingly exhausted from hiking and fun, and we turned our bikes West, towards the Top of the World Highway.

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    And towards our third and still-not-final time entering Alaska!
    #53
    squidchief likes this.
  14. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe BSN, RN, CEN, TCRN, MICN

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,640
    Location:
    Concord, CA
    Enjoying your RR! Keep the updates coming!!


    Tahoe
    #54
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  15. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    707
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Apologies guys, we're just starting our ride to Patagonia! Two days in, we made it to Santa Barbara and I'll do some updating here. Soon!
    #55
  16. Carsten01

    Carsten01 Carsten Rueppel

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2015
    Oddometer:
    101
    Location:
    Phoenix
    Beautiful photos. They do a great job of capturing mood and atmosphere. And the seemingly good spirits you guys were in. Excellent.
    #56
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  17. Backcountryboy

    Backcountryboy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2005
    Oddometer:
    220
    Location:
    Vancouver BC
    Great RR. Looking forward to the rest.
    #57
    caliform likes this.
  18. caliform

    caliform Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    707
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Thanks for the kind words, everyone! Slowly updating this as we are doing a lot of prep work in Santa Barbara before we head into Mexico. Gotta make a second thread for that (current!) ride. Is that allowed? Can I update two ride reports at once?

    After a solid weekend in Dawson City it was finally time to move on. The Top of the World Highway was dry enough, for sure. My balding road tires made me a bit nervous -- being a noob on dirt didn't help -- but we went off anyway.

    No regrets. Beautiful views.

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    Aptly named, the Top of the World Highway has incredible panoramic views of the Alaska / Yukon mountain ranges and rolling hills.

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    I ripped over the pothole-riddled, gravely and muddy roads with no problems. No punctures or flats, thankfully.

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    What views we were treated to!

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    My overloaded lil' Duc.

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    Stuart took off a bit ahead of me in some of these sections where the gravel got very loose. His KLR had much better tires and suspension to handle the loose, deeper gravel and I wasn’t going to push my luck. Besides, the scenery was too beautiful to rush through.

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    We went through the tiny border checkpoint in record time and got to our first true Welcome to Alaska sign. We made it! Alaska proper!

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    Is that our THIRD time entering Alaska? You bet! This is the real, big, proper Alaska, though, no more dipping into Canada from here.

    After passing by this sign, the gravel road got a bit nicer, with even better views, and then…

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    The very best pavement we had on the whole trip. Not anywhere else have we ever seen such beautiful, perfectly unmarked and smooth pavement.

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    It was a joy to ride, although the sheer pleasure was maybe slightly lost to Stu on his giant dirt bike, I momentarily relished in the feeling of sheer traction and speed.

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    Which was quickly overtaken by the thrill of riding dusty dirt roads again all the way to the quirky town of Chicken, Alaska. Both ways of riding are fun!

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    The sun was out all day and made riding a real pleasure.

    Stuart had a bit of a letdown at the end of the day as we were coming down the mountains. He was still rather tired from the Tombstone trip, and we were following an Italian overland-RV-esque vehicle which suddenly, upon seeing the sign for 'Chicken' jumped on the brakes abruptly. Stuart hit the brakes and had a little lowside.

    He was -- thank god -- absolutely fine, and his crash bars ate most of the impact. His aftermarket throttle lock, however, somehow managed to destroy the starter switch on his handlebar. Uh oh.

    Fortunately I managed to find all the pieces and springs (!) on the dirt road. We rode the bikes down to Chicken proper and managed to tape the whole thing back together and it somehow worked. KLRs, man. That dirt road was probably hurt more than the bike.

    After all that, we needed a few beers.

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    Chicken has a bar, a liquor store, and a restaurant — which offers some free camping in the back we used. We left our sticker prominently at the bar and hung out all night with the girl working there.

    Later on right before bed we snuck into the restaurant's showers that are usually for pay but the girl was OK with giving us the code. Showers felt great. Alaska felt awesome, despite the little crash. We walked back to our tents and slept the night away.
    #58
  19. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,442
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    'Is it allowed?' Yes. 'Can you?' That remains to be seen. :lol3
    I'm still enjoying this one, but given the photo skills on exhibit, I'm sure I'll appreciate another set. Post up a link and have a great trip.
    #59
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  20. DYNOBOB

    DYNOBOB lucky dog

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,035
    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    Really enjoying your report, thanks for taking the time to share!!

    .
    #60
    caliform likes this.