Unfinished Business - Dempster Highway / Tuktoyaktuk 2018 in pictures.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by DYNOBOB, Nov 2, 2018.

  1. DYNOBOB

    DYNOBOB lucky dog

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    Summary for those that don't read the story: You guys had to split up after the BMW RT rear wheel literally came off and was unrepairable. Resulting in a separate, costly adventure for your buddy.

    "Thomas still owes me a write up on his separate adventures down in Dawson City. From a brief conversation after the trip, I understand that he had to pay $1400 to have the bike brought down from Eagle Plains - cash. And the RBS Bank refused to cooperate, so he had to have a fake bar tab created and paid cash out from that to the driver. It seems that he was 'adopted' by the town for a few days, the Mounties stopped by to see him - he was invited to people's homes for dinner, there were reportedly dancing girls, perhaps additional tatoos and more. In the end, he flew back and had his beautiful RT shipped back motorfreight to Bob's BMW for repair near where he lives. And no, I don't know how much this misadventure cost him."

    And your scary encounter with flying debris on the Alcan...

    [​IMG] . [​IMG]

    As bad as that was it pales compared to this guy's story who made it to Tuk a month before us and had a bad spill on his way back, just south of Inuvik. Was helicoptered out and had no memory of the accident. Deals Gap sticker, aux fuel tank, Barkbuster handguards, proper tires, you know looking at the bike that this wasn't his first rodeo... Could happen to anyone. (he's on ADV, maybe he'll pop in)

    [​IMG]

    .
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  2. Har Dlyworkun

    Har Dlyworkun n00b

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  3. Har Dlyworkun

    Har Dlyworkun n00b

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  4. Har Dlyworkun

    Har Dlyworkun n00b

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    My yellow Dempster Kick Ass is visible in the Watson Lake Signpost forest second picture. The Dempster did kick my ass so ill be going back in 2019 to try again. great pics and narrative
    DYNOBOB likes this.
  5. DYNOBOB

    DYNOBOB lucky dog

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    Seems like we need the story...?

    .
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  6. rlbruski

    rlbruski Explorer

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    .....”The mesh-decked bridges make your bike weave back and forth. Don't fight it, nothing bad happens”

    That is definitely a weird feeling on a motorcycle!


    Great RR. Enjoying it!!
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  7. Bigbob1

    Bigbob1 Rain Rider Supporter

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    My First Adventure Ride

    It was the mid-summer of 1976 and my boss says you have a week’s worth of vacation, you need to use it by Labor Day or lose it. Well I guess I have to take a vacation … what to do? I could go hunting, deer season opens in August… no, I like waiting until snow for tracking… Well I have a new 1976 Honda CB750 I could go to Valdez, Alaska to see my older brother but I can’t go until a couple days before Labor Day weekend, might be chilly.

    It’s decided I am going to take my first motorcycle trip. I will take the Alaska ferry from Juneau to Haines, Alaska. Then I’ll ride the Haines Highway to the Alcan and follow it to Tok, then hang a left to Glenallen and finally to Valdez. What could go wrong … I am a 24 year old Army vet with a can-do attitude. I have a new bike.

    I started getting my travel gear together.
    Stock tool kit… check.
    My pump and tire patches off my 10 speed bicycle… check.
    My 3-4 person Northface tent… check.
    My 20 below Northface sleeping bag… check.
    My army mess kit and a POS stove… check.
    Juneau sneakers … looks like a good touring boot… check.
    upload_2018-12-16_13-30-54.png
    Down parka … check.
    Woolrich Malone hunting pants … check.
    Helly Hansen Highliner commercial fisherman rain gear … check.
    Waterproof Army stuff sack with electrical tape on the holes for all my touring gear … check.

    For trip planning I made a few copies of the map pages from the Milepost … check.

    Looks like I have all the required touring gear… check.

    I am ready to go on an Adventure Ride :-)
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  8. Bigbob1

    Bigbob1 Rain Rider Supporter

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    The day finally arrived and I arrived at the ferry terminal in the middle of the night at the appointed time, O dark-thirty. It was my first trip on the ferry and it was enjoyable. We docked in Haines after a five hour ferry ride and my adventure started. I topped off my gas tank in Haines. As I was riding out of town I noticed a man in a uniform running out of a shed yelling at me… what the heck? It appears I was trying to evade customs…. What, no sir I am just wanting to go see my brother in Valdez. Well after giving me crap and searching me, I was free to go on my Adventure Ride.

    For those of you that have driven in or out of Haines on what currently is a beautifully paved road, that isn’t how it was in 1976. The Haines Highway was dirt starting at the edge of town and was flooded from the river. I followed a pick-up truck for a mile with two inebriated guys in the back (including the driver), trolling for salmon with fishing poles. As the road started to climb to the summit it was wall-to-wall switchbacks and foggy. I couldn’t see anything. The guy at Customs had warned me about all the truck traffic on the road and to stay clear on switchbacks. Guess what I ran into on a switchback in the fog… I don’t think the semi even knew I was there. I ended up off the road in the brush. I was okay but pissed and scared. I could have died on that mountain side not 50 miles into the trip… what am I doing?!

    I got my bike out of the ditch and continued on. Eventually I crested the summit, and a short while later rode out of the fog. The view stunned me - it was amazing and terrifying at the same time.
    upload_2018-12-16_13-35-6.png

    As the day wore on it started raining… mud, mud, mud. I stopped and ate some trail mix a couple times, but I was getting hungry. As I approached Dezadeash Lake I could smell food! I pulled into an old roadhouse at the south end of the lake. I walked in with mud from my boots to the top of my helmet and asked the lady if she would serve me. She grimaced and said yes, but sit at the table closest to the door. I said thanks and asked if I could use the washroom to wash my visor, again she grimaced and said yes. I had a hamburger and a Coke so I had a new lease on life and hit the road again.

    Just as I neared Haines Junction, the rain stopped and the scenery of the St. Elias Mountains and Kluane Lake was wonderful. It was on this day that I fell in love with the Yukon.
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  9. Bigbob1

    Bigbob1 Rain Rider Supporter

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    While stopping for gas in Haines Junction I asked the attendant about camping up the road. He mentioned a campsite around Destruction Bay, and another one I had seen in the Milepost near Beaver Creek. It was here that I joined the Alcan highway for the first of my 29 motorcycle trips on this amazing road. The Alcan in this area followed the terrain of the rolling hills (unlike the flat road it is today). The section had been freshly graded so the gravel was loose and rocks were flying as vehicles passed. It was here that I learned to slow down and stop for approaching traffic. I was scooting along at 55-60 mph and met a semi heading south, which threw a rock that hit me on the shinbone … OMG that hurt!

    Some miles up the road I crested one of the high spots. I thought I saw something a few rolling hills ahead. Due to the fresh grading I had to stay in the packed tire tracks and could run about 60 mph. As I crested a rise I found out what was in the road. A big grizzly bear was standing on its hind legs in my tire track and I was going fast. I was weighing my options: If I stopped to turn around the bear would eat me. If I got out of the tire track I’d crash in the loose gravel and the bear would eat me. If I stayed in the tire track I would hit the bear and the bear would eat me. Do you see a theme here?

    As I approached the bear I pulled the clutch and revved the engine, honked the horn and screamed as if my life depended on it. The bear dropped to all fours and stepped out of my tire track. We passed each other by a few feet OMG I am still alive! What a first day it’s been but it’s not over yet. I need to find a campsite for the night.

    As I passed Destruction Bay I gassed the bike up but did not see a campsite, so I kept going to the one noted in the Milepost and found it late that afternoon. It had been a long day with having to check-in at the ferry in Juneau at midnight the night before, but my day wasn’t over yet.

    As I pulled into the campground I didn’t see anyone. That’s odd, maybe it’s due to it being later in the year? Nope, I figured out why it was empty. Bears! One grizzly charged at me from an overturned trash bin and three others were closing in. I was thankful I grew up riding dirt bikes because I was racing through campsites and bushes, trying to get out of there with a string of pissed off bears chasing me.

    I kept riding and soon passed Beaver Creek, then decided I would keep going as long as I could get gas. Soon I was across the US border and onto a patch of pavement. I turned the wick up to near 100 mph but it was short lived. I suddenly came upon a little rise and instantly was at US customs. I skidded to a stop and the agent immediately said “pull over there”. Oh crap. They searched me, they searched my belongings and they took my bike apart. They pulled my seat off, they pulled my gas tank off, they pulled side covers off, they pulled my hand grips off. After an hour they said I was free to go but to slow down. I stood there looking at my bike and gear scattered around the parking lot. I spent another hour putting my bike back together and packing my gear up. What a first day it’s been.
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  10. Bigbob1

    Bigbob1 Rain Rider Supporter

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    I crossed the Tanana River and pushed on to Tok.

    upload_2018-12-16_13-45-3.png

    I decided to call it a day in Tok. As I pulled into Young’s Chevron to gas up I pulled off my rain slicker, pants and parka so I could use the rest room. I was swarmed with bugs. When I came back to the bike the bugs were even worse. I changed my mind about camping here and pushed on, hoping to find a place to stop with less bugs!

    I turned onto the Tok Cutoff (the Glenn hwy) and the pavement ended. It was rough construction with grapefruit sized layers of rock most of the way to Glennallen. A few miles in I rode up behind an old station wagon with their load stacked on top like the Beverly Hillbillies. They had three kids in the back window waving like little kids do when they see a motorcycle. As I started to pass, their gas tank fell onto the ground. We all stopped to check it out. It hadn’t leaked and the fuel line was still there, but the mounting straps had rusted through and the rough road had taken its toll. I asked him if he had some wire or rope to tie it back up. He said they didn’t have anything and kept saying he had a pipeline job starting on Monday he could not turn back. I dug in my gear and pulled all the guy lines from my tent and a bit of baling wire, so we were able to raise the tank back into position. I followed them all the way to The Hub gas station in Glennallen and waved goodbye after filling up. It was now dark and I pushed on because I could no longer set up my tent.

    My plan was to do this 700 mile ride in two days. I had planned to call my brother from Glennallen to set up a meeting place. It’s late and I’m only 115 miles away... I’ll push on. I remembered my brother saying I’d drive by a glacier and Thompson pass. Gee would I miss them in the dark? Yup. I knew I was close to a glacier because I was freezing. In those days the Worthington glacier was a stones throw off the highway.

    As I entered Valdez at 3am I’m exhausted and trying to remember my brother’s directions to his friend’s travel trailer he was staying in. This is during the pipeline building boom and everyone with a shack was renting it for top dollar. He said I would cross a set of railroad tracks - bump bump – that must be them. Oh I see the fuel distributor on the left, he said that. Next he said look on the left for a house that a banker would have, yup I see a fancy house. I see a travel trailer in the back, yup… hey, there’s a light on in the trailer. Knock knock - hi bro, you’re not going to believe the ride I had :-) I made it! I think it was the longest day of my life until I started doing Ironbutt rides years later.
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  11. Bigbob1

    Bigbob1 Rain Rider Supporter

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    After relaxing a few days and playing tourist I started back home to Juneau. I’ve always said when you reach your destination you’re only halfway there, and this trip was far from over. My brother recommended I take the Richardson highway because it was paved and skip the Tok Cutoff due to the construction, so I did. With paved road I made short work of getting to Tok. The weather was a nice early fall day and fall colors were out, but things had cooled a bit the last few days. I had picked up more para cord so I was able to use my tent and camped in a campground near Tok.

    upload_2018-12-16_13-51-6.png

    The next morning I woke to freezing temps and ice in the puddles, but as I fixed my oatmeal and cocoa it was warming up. By the time I was packed and ready to go it was starting to rain.

    All the way to the Canadian border it rained hard. Shortly after entering the Yukon some of the rain seem to have shape to it… that’s not good. It started to snow big time after gassing up at a roadhouse north of Burwash Landing. I kept going, and by the time I got to Destruction Bay the power was out and the lodge was locked up. No choice but to keep going. It turned into a near whiteout and I had to stop about every 15 minutes to chip mud and snow off the front of my air cooled CB750.
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  12. Bigbob1

    Bigbob1 Rain Rider Supporter

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    As the day progressed I realized I was in deep trouble. I hadn’t seen a vehicle in hours. I had been out of the service for less than two years and all my training for cold weather told me I was in trouble. I couldn’t keep my mind focused, I was shivering non-stop, my hands and feet were numb. I stopped and pulled a pair of dirty wool socks on my hands and hugged the engine. I had to set up the tent, get in the sleeping bag, light my candle lantern and heat up some soup. I was trying to figure out how to do all of that with numb hands. Just then I felt something… a thump thump… I looked ahead and saw this orange glow… what the heck? It was a guy with a bright orange snowmobile suit riding a Harley. He was heading to Anchorage for a pipeline job. He said can you believe this weather, less than a mile to the south the sun was out. Woohoo! I let him know he had a day of hell ahead of him and took off. He was right, the sun was out and it was warm. I pulled over in a turnout with the warmth of the sun shining on me and had hot soup and cocoa. What a difference a few miles made. I cleaned the mud from the engine fins with a screwdriver.

    upload_2018-12-16_13-55-28.png

    I was on the home stretch. The rest of the way I rode in sunshine. After getting gas in Haines Junction I planned on stopping in at the Dezadeash lodge again and get another burger and Coke. As I walked in the same lady looked at me and said something about you’re cleaner this time, sit at any table I wanted.

    I had a little over a hundred miles to go and the sun was out. Due to slow going in the snow storm I was a bit behind schedule for catching the Alaska ferry. Haines here I come, but not before the darn bears alter my plan yet again. What do I see in the road ahead but grizzly bears - a sow with two cubs napping and feeding in the middle of the road. OMG I am never going to get to the ferry terminal on time! I honked, revved, yelled, rode in circles but they didn’t move. I had to wait for a vehicle bigger than me to come along. After what seemed like forever a semi truck came north bound and honked his air horns and the bears finally moved. I took off as fast as I could hoping US customs wouldn’t delay me. Customs ended up being a breeze and the ferry was a few hours late, so I made it home to Juneau with an addiction to motorcycle travel that still burns strong 40+ years later.

    @DYNOBOB Thank you for your many great RR of your travels over the years.
  13. DYNOBOB

    DYNOBOB lucky dog

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    You need to revisit the Haines Hwy and recreate this shot if you can figure out where it is. Both framed side by side would be sweet. :-)

    .
  14. Bigbob1

    Bigbob1 Rain Rider Supporter

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    We are starting our planning for next summers rides. I don't know yet what direction we will be going but if I ride the Haines Highway I will try to locate that spot. I believe the current highway is off to the left (west) of the road I traveled in 1976. There also was a small diameter pipeline going over the pass back then with a large fuel storage area near the Haines ferry terminal. I was told it was for jet fuel Eielson AFB near Fairbanks. It was no longer used when I saw it. The next few trips over the pass I would see less and less as they were removing the pipeline.
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  15. bungerman

    bungerman n00b

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    After reading a ton or threads, I planned a trip with a great riding buddy with Tuk as the goal. We were sitting in Dawson reading about all the trouble everyone was having on the new road, and we decided to give it a go... It couldn't be that bad right? We took off 8am on June 20th, and took this picture at midnight on the summer solstice. [​IMG]

    The best part of the ride was the old man running into the Arctic at midnight for his bath/cleanse on the solstice at midnight. The only thing that would have made it better is if he did it in his birthday suit... Notice the ice still formed in the bay.
    [​IMG]
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  16. gunnerbuck

    gunnerbuck Island Hopper

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    You have some fantastic photos, great report...

    We ended up making it to Tuk last summer but it was not without trials, tribulations and 1/3 of our travel time wasted, we did throw a ride report together after the trip: https://advrider.com/f/threads/20-days-to-play-heading-north-to-the-arctic.1335007/
  17. Ride Now

    Ride Now Graybeard

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    I'm seeing no pics, only the big minus signs. :confused
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  18. Super08

    Super08 Been here awhile

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    Yes his pictures didn't work.
  19. Gordon

    Gordon MC Rider Supporter

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    Thanks for taking the time to put this report together. Great pictures and a wonderful RR. Keep them knees in the breeze and ride as long as we can.
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  20. DYNOBOB

    DYNOBOB lucky dog

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