Tennessee to Alaska

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by tellicotom, Feb 26, 2021.

  1. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    The ride into Fairbanks was uneventful.. We followed the Nenana River for a good ways and saw a lot of rafters, as it was the height of summer and the Nenana River is a very popular rafting destination.

    We had reserved a dorm room at the University in Fairbanks for a couple of nights and were looking forward to some R and R after our travels. If they still do it, it was a good value and had comfortable beds, showers and I think laundry....

    We toured a wildlife ranch that had muskox while we were in the area..

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    We went to Dan's place, Adventure Cycleworks, and got fresh rear tires and the proper O-Ring chain and sprockets for Kim's bike and changed the oil... If you need maintenance work done while Fairbanks, Dan is your man...

    Then we went shopping to get more stove-top stuffing, a couple of cans of chili, and other essentials for our ride north....

    The next morning, we headed north to the legendary Dalton Highway!! We didn't plan to ride all the way to Prudhoe Bay...we had our sights set on at least reaching the Arctic Circle...and then in our usual style...just take it as it goes and keep it fun!

    The Dalton Highway, or Haul Road, was changing from the industrial trucking route that created it, to a scenic byway with more informative exhibits, visitor centers, and other amenities for the traveler..

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    We crossed the Yukon River...

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    and we rode through the high latitude tundra on the way to the Arctic Circle. A lot of the road was rough chip seal back then...

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    and we reached the Arctic Circle!! Whoo-Hoo!


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    Well ...that was pretty easy.....!! We camped at the Circle for the night and the last pic was actually taken the next morning. It was such a beautiful day and since we didn't have anywhere else to be...we decided to ride to Coldfoot for gas and lunch ....it's only like 50 miles or so north........!
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  2. mark2wheeler

    mark2wheeler Adventurer

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    I'm really enjoying this.Thanks for the effort.
  3. Samspade

    Samspade Been here awhile

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    Great trip and great ride report!
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  4. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    • Thanks guys, I'm glad you are enjoying i! I'm really enjoying putting it together and hopefully it will inspire others to make memories also..! Posts like this really inspired me to make the journey...
    Ok...picking up from the Arctic Circle. We camped there overnight at a little campground, I think we were the only ones there, on a sunny hillside in a grove of birch trees. The mosquitoes were only troublesome around dusk and dawn. We of course had our bear spray at the ready, but we didn't see or hear any bears...thankfully! We saw a mounted grizz at the Museum of the West in Cody, WY and I told Kim if we had one attacking us I would probably just die of fright...

    Anyway...we decided to ride to Coldfoot, which is primarily a truck stop and fueling station. Along the way we saw our next Alaskan moose with calf...

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    We had a lunch of burgers and fries on the deck and talked with a lady trucker that said she only works during the summer and then goes to Hawaii or Mexico for the winter....that perked Kim's ears up and got her thinking....

    A lot of interesting travelers there....here's some pics of Coldfoot.

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    They have a new Visitor Center there that was quite interesting...

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    While we were at the Visitor Center someone asked..."have you been to Wiseman yet?" Our reply was.."I don't think I've heard of Wiseman.." "Well, you gotta go, it's only like 30 miles further north!" Like I said, we didn't have anywhere else to be on this fine summer afternoon, so off we went to Wiseman!


    This turned out to be a very memorable and totally unexpected experience...Don't you just love those kind of days??!! Wiseman is this little hamlet along the Middle Fork of the Koyukuk River that used to be a gold mining camp. The first person we met called himself "Clutch" and was the self-proclaimed curator of the community mining museum.

    Here's a pic of Kim and Clutch..

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    There was a lot of old mining equipment and old vehicles to look at...


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    Clutch invited us in to set down and have coffee while the stories continued...

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    Then we walked around "town" to see the rest of the place.....

    We met this nice lady that was the local "pastor". The "Church" was donated to become the church when a local lady passed away early in life as I recall.
    The lady was 1 of 3 people to winter over in Wiseman during the previous winter... tough as nails no doubt.

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    We saw this nice bush plane that a fledgling bed and breakfast owner bought and flies...he is working on getting a pilot's license he said....

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    and we picked fresh blueberries that afternoon..........TBC....! The real interesting part is coming up!!
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  5. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    Then we returned to "Clutch's Place", which was the last stop leaving town or the first stop coming into town....figuring we may head out...as it only about 4 or 5 o'clock maybe.... As we were talking to Clutch, I think I know the reason they call him "Clutch" by the way, coming toward us is this group!!


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    They had gear in garbage bags, fresh beans and carrots soaking in a ziplock bag tied to their back...man...what a crew!! Of course I have to go over and say "Hi, where you guys from?" The reply came back with a heavy Latino accent..."Argentiina Maan!" ... "and you rode the whole way?" I ask. "Yeaaah, yeaah!" "How long have you been on the road", I query... It was obviously something he hadn't thought about very much...and probably a bit of a language barrier.... so after scratching his head for a bit and with a very perplexed look on his face, he kind of shrugged and said "ehhh, maybe 2 and a 1/2 years maybe... ?" !!!

    The 2 guys were music teachers and the young lady was an Argentine actress... They were doing a Eco Awareness ride to shed light on the various environmental challenges faced by various parts of the Americas.. They were fine young folk and we enjoyed talking with them so much we all ended up camping at Clutch's place. Being musicians, they started playing the washboards, wash pans and all other sorts of things making music until well after dark...which wasn't until like midnight or something!! What a great evening!!

    The next morning Clutch made us all pancakes with the fresh blueberries we picked the day before..and then it was time to head out. The bicyclists plan to ride to Prudhoe Bay, from where the lady planned to fly home and the 2 guys were going to ride back to Argentina!!

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    While we were talking to Clutch, he asked..."have you been to Atigin Pass yet, it's only about 30 miles or so north?"" Are we starting to see a pattern here??
    I replied, "No, not yet..." Of course his reply was "Ohh it's beautiful...you gotta go!!"" So, off we go to Atigun Pass at the top of the Brook's Range at about 4,700 feet......

    TBC... a little Technical Difficulty...I'm going to restart ...
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  6. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    Ok....here we go!

    The ride to Atigun Pass was definitely worth the ride.... here's some pics...

    You can see the road is a little wet and "greasy"...especially with loaded heavy bikes on essentially street tires....at least for us....

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    Just about beyond the treeline at this point...


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    Right when you start up toward the pass, there was a road grader and a water truck "improving" the road...which resulted in what seemed to be 3 inches of slippery mud.. We saw some guys coming south and asked them how it was...we should have been able to tell as their KLRs with full knobbies and the riders were about completely covered in mud... Their reply, "it's not too bad to the pass, but you guys DON"T want to be on the North Slope with THOSE bikes!"

    After a little hand wringing and allowing a south-bound semi to pass we made our attempt at the pass. As I recall, t was pretty slippery and the bikes definitely fishtailed multiple times, but we were able to keep it together and made the pass!!

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    We walked over and peered down the north side....maybe someday!...and then turned south and cautiously made our way back down...

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    These were the most rugged mountains we saw on the Dalton..

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    We saw our Argentine friends peddling north..

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    and we saw them "paving paradise..."

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    We camped that night at Marion Creek Campground 5 miles north of Coldfoot. As I recall, we put the tent on a wooden platform to keep it out of the bog....
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  7. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    It was a very warm night and the bugs weren't too bad as I recall... The next morning we continued south...as the day got very warm and we hadn't had a bath since Fairbanks...we started to look for a place to swim... We turned to the west or right off the Dalton on a side road and found this quaint little pond...that should do nicely....!


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    Now everyone would love to swim with a couple of beavers....right?!

    Well..maybe a little apprehension....!


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    These guys just kept coming closer and closer...!

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    At 1 point there were 4 or 5 swimming back and forth parallel to the shore....but working their way close with each turn, They would take turns slapping their tail and diving under. Then when they came back up they would look directly at us as if to say.... "are you guys still in OUR pond?" It was hilarious!!


    They got within arm's reach, at which point I encouraged Kim to "get out of THEIR pond!"

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    What an amazing experience....!

    Then we came to one of the steepest hills on the Dalton....Beaver Slide Hill, I believe. We waited for the opposing semi coming down the far hill (see the glimmer?) to pass us before we proceeded.

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    On our way south we saw a few guys fly fishing for grayling, and I tried my ultra-light with no success.. Then we noticed.....Blueberry bushes...full of ripe berries!!

    We foraged the hill like a couple of bears...while keeping an eye out for the bears.....! Just laying back on the tundra, eating fresh blueberries is one of the fond memories of the trip that we still talk about....

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    Nice bowel of berries for the morning pancakes...

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    We camped that night on the north side of the Yukon River...where there was a small tourist stop and a ragged bare bones campground...no showers!

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    The Yukon is the highway of the north....

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    We completed our ride on the Dalton in the early afternoon.....on a fine summer day....

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    and pointed the bikes West....to Manley Hot Springs.....!
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  8. Firenailer

    Firenailer Still Ridin'

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    Great RR! I’m enjoying this SO much, thanks for taking us along!
  9. glittleman

    glittleman Adventurer

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    I hope that the bowel gets spread somewhere other than the pancakes.
  10. jeepman63

    jeepman63 daplumber

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    "wow" bring back alot of memories, my wife n i didnt the exact same trip in 2015. was very hot up there.
  11. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    "Hmmm.....a Wise Guy...ehhh?!"

    ....as the Stooges would say...!!!!
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  12. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    The creeks are up in Tennessee! !

    This RR is interrupted for a few days of kayaking...!!

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  13. Al-Rider

    Al-Rider Adventurer

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    Just got finished reading thru this great ride report. Thanks for taking the time to do this. Your writing and photography are fantastic. Looking foward to the rest of it.
  14. JuddS

    JuddS Been here awhile Supporter

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    Could I do this ride on a harley road glide? I have a tiger also which would be better but it's currently out of the country.
  15. jathkajoe

    jathkajoe Been here awhile

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    JuddS,
    Go to the Regions sub forum, Alaska section, find the threads Alaska Primer and Haul Road Primer.
    Loads of info there.

    About any kind of moto has made the trip to Alaska.
    JuddS likes this.
  16. LewisNClark

    LewisNClark Long timer Supporter

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    Thanks for all the work in sharing a great RR report....brings back many memories from 15 yrs ago. Always find it interesting that most of the moose photo’s are in the same lakes when we passed through. You and your wife are definitely troopers.
    :clap

    Judd - definitely take your Tiger. Any bike with a rubber drive belt , depending on how much rain, will have a hard time doing a lot of the fake chert asphalt and mud.
  17. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    A few whitewater pics, then back to the regularly scheduled ride report...!

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  18. Al-Rider

    Al-Rider Adventurer

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    Guess we're going to have come up there and dam those creeks up to get you back on the ride report.
    Looks like a lot of fun though.
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  19. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

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    Ok....back to Alaska! As you'll recall, we had just got back to the start of the Dalton Highway in mid-afternoon and pointed the wheels West...to Manley Hot Springs.. As recall, the ride wasn't anything spectacular (for Alaska that is!) and there was a bit of roadwork and mud.. I recall mentioning that it reminded me of the Appalachians back home...Here's a few pics of the ride to Manley...

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    It does resemble NC/TN/North GA I think...

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    Anyway...we made it to the Manley Roadhouse that is written up in the book...

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    We got a nice camp right along the river for like $5...

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    And of course we went to Manley Hot Springs..!!

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    A nice greenhouse setting...and we had the whole place to ourselves for like $5/hr back then......!

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    The soaking sure felt great after spending 4 nights up on the Dalton....and swimming with beavers....
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    The water was really hot...Thankfully, they provided these pictures to pour cold water over our heads to cool down...

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    There wasn't much happening in town...so we spent a peaceful evening in camp next to the river. The next morning we went to the end of the road...for us at least, as there is a rugged 4x4 / dirt bike trail that heads north out of town...

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    Then we headed back the way we came.....Heading for the Steese Highway and hopefully Circle and the Circle Hot Springs....!!
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  20. Al-Rider

    Al-Rider Adventurer

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    Your right about that area looking like the Appalachian mtns.