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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    There are several great options for lodging in Dawson, we highly recommend The Bunkhouse. It's convenient to everything, has a great vibe, and the owner provides a free pressure washer on the side of the building for washing your bike!

    Look at those clean bikes.

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    Once we settle in and clean up it's dinner time, so we take a stroll down the street for our first proper meal in 2 days.

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    Afterwards we grab some ice cream and see a bit of the town.

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    The mighty Yukon River.

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    Long before dark we're ready to call it a day and head for our bunks.

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    When we got up this morning things were not looking rosy. We were quite blessed however to have dry weather and a safe finish to one of the toughest roads left in North America. And I'll say of the Dempster what I said of the Dalton - the feeling of accomplishment as you finish the last few miles and realize "you made it!" is one of the best feelings I've had on a motorcycle.


    I'll leave you tonight with a quote borrowed from an ADV member (@mcphoocliff) who lives on the Dempster Highway: Last piece of advice, wait out the rain. The Dempster dries quickly, normally in a day because of the wind, and the drive is much more sane. A wet Dempster is a recipe for disaster as you need 110% focus every second. Enjoy your travels and be safe.


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  2. knight

    knight Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the great RR

    There is a free pressure washer in Eagle Plains, it is located between the hotel and gas pumps
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  3. MGV8

    MGV8 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Wow, that is much more dramatic that you intimated before. Glad you survive intact so to speak. But it does make for wonderful memories. If you guys had blasted up and down with no drama who's to say how much you would remember in a couple of years. Now you can tell that story to the grandson for years to come. :D
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  4. Comrade Art

    Comrade Art Working stiff

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    Great pics and storytelling. Thanks for posting :-)
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  5. JustCuz

    JustCuz n00b

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    Simply one of the best RRs, hell stories, I've read. Thank you, and your merry men, very much.

    Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk
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  6. DYNOBOB

    DYNOBOB lucky dog

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    Some parting thoughts on the Dempster.

    - All things considered, we were blessed and had a pretty easy ride to Tuk. Other then the rainy wipeout, we only ran through light sprinkles a couple of times over the 1100 miles and 4 days. You had a good trip when you can say that.

    - Even thought you theoretically can hotel it in Eagle Plains and Inuvik, you should carry basic camping gear and be prepared to stay on the side of the road in case it becomes impassible or a ferry closes. Folks on the other side of the closed ferry from us either had to stay there for 2 days with whatever they had on their bike, or return 110 miles to a booked-up Eagle Plains. Carry more food and water then you think you'll need and then throw in another bottled water just in case.

    - If you find yourself in difficulty don't expect quick help. You might benefit from the kindness of strangers, but if you're in a tough spot, odds are everybody is.

    - Don't let your guard down. We had already done 800 miles of the Dempster when we went down.

    - IMO, the Dalton Hwy is considerably easier then the Dempster. With decent weather you can do Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay in a 10-12 hour day. It also has relatively few places that go to complete crap in the rain. I know a few people have done Dawson City to Tuk (or reverse) in a day, but that is hardcore.

    - It's one of the most awesome, fantastic, riding experiences you can have in North America - I want to go back already!


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  7. DYNOBOB

    DYNOBOB lucky dog

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    I think that knowing a little of the history of an area you're traveling through adds to the experience. Since we're in Dawson City I'm going to lift this post from our 2016 Alaska ride report.

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    For you history buffs considering this trip...


    @Promach 1 suggestion (thank you!), I got Dad this book for Christmas. I just finished it and dearly wish I had read it before the trip. Worth noting, Klondike Fever's author grew up in Dawson and wrote the book in the 1950's. His dad was a "rusher" that traveled from New Brunswick in the main group of 30-40,000 that arrived in 1898. The author came as close as you can to living the story and got a lot of the content firsthand from those involved.

    The story of Dawson City and the Klondike gold rush is absolutely amazing. Everybody has heard of "The Klondike" but it had completely escaped me that it was a few square mile area right next to Dawson City (I guess I thought is was a large regional area). Indeed, in the little valley on the south of town is the legendary Eldorado Creek and Bonanza Creek where it all began. What's amazing are the stories of what it took to reach this area back in 1897-98, the difficulty and suffering was unreal. Alaska and the Yukon were hardly on anyone's radar beforehand, gold sparked a world wide rush of adventurers and there are many places we traveled thru on this trip that have connections to the story.

    A few examples...
    One of the several routes taken was to steam up from Seattle, thru the Aleutians to the entrance of the Yukon River, and then 1700 miles up the Yukon to Dawson. All those little steam river boats would have gone under the Yukon River bridge on the Dalton. Many didn't make it before the freeze up and ended up locked in ice for many months somewhere on the river with almost no supplies.

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    The very spot we camped across the river from Dawson City would have been covered in a tent city in 1898.
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    Both sides of the river at Dawson were six deep in small boats tied up.
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    Where I stood on the river bank to get the aurora borealis shots was no doubt covered in boats and people, what did they think of those crazy lights in the sky?
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    The valley beyond the flag is "The Klondike".
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    Google earth shows the remains of the Klondike mining just south of town.
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    This view of the Pelly River (at Pelly Crossing) would have seen a flotilla of 7000+ small homemade boats go by in June/July 1898.
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    Additionally, it's believed that miners attempting to reach Dawson from Valdez (nearly a suicide mission) may have been the first to notice the copper in the Kennicott mine region.

    It occurs to me there's a likelihood that crazy motorcyclists who want to ride to Alaska could have been among those adventurous souls 115yrs ago who attempted this adventure :-). That sounds kind of cool until you read this book. One paragraph in particular from Klondike Fever sticks with me:

    Of all the thousands who left Edmonton in '97-'98 and pursued the various routes to the Klondike, not a single one, as far as can be determined, found any gold at all. Most of the sorry-looking creatures who arrived destitute in Dawson in the summers of '98-'99 did not even bother to go out to the goldfields, but headed back to civilization a few days after arriving. William Ford Langworthy, the Cambridge law graduate who celebrated New Year's Eve so nostalgically on the shores of Great Slave Lake, was one of these. His diary scarcely mentions Dawson, and it's later entries never refer to gold, but reflect the strange lassitude that fell over those few dozen men who succeeded in getting through to the end of the Edmonton Trail. To those, gold no longer meant anything; survival had taken its place. For Langworthy and his fellows were the fortunate ones on "the easy route to the Klondike". Others there were who never found what they were seeking - as the two partners who were discovered in a cabin on the Porcupine River. They had come almost four thousand miles, buffeting the rapids and scaling the mountains and hacking their way through the forests; but when they were found, they were frozen rock-solid beside a stew kettle hanging above a long-dead fire. The pot contained a pair of partially cooked moccasins embedded in a cake of ice.

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  8. DYNOBOB

    DYNOBOB lucky dog

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    Day 11 - Tuesday August 11th - Dawson City rest day - 0 miles

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    We've averaged 500 miles a day since we left home 10 days ago, so we've earned a day off. Time to relax, walk around town some more, and do some laundry. In my mind I had intentions of riding up to the lookout above town, or out to Quartz Creek to see Parker Schnabel and Tony Beets (Gold Rush show) but that never happened. It's the only day of the trip the bikes were not started.

    So if you're planning a trip to the Yukon and enjoy history, read the book Klondike Fever by Pierre Burton before you come. (Note: I think the book may be called Klondike now)

    Anyway, more views around Dawson City.

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    The famous "sourtoe cocktail" is served at the Downtown Hotel bar. We did not partake - but hey, if that's your thing ...

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    You have to read and sign that you will not swallow the toe.
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    No one says where the toe came from, but the Downtown Hotel is next door to the mortuary.
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    Tomorrow we're back on the bikes heading over the Top of the World Highway into Alaska.


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  9. Phoenix101

    Phoenix101 Long timer

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    +1 on the advice, "be prepared to stay on the side of the road in case it becomes impassible or a ferry closes. Folks on the other side of the closed ferry from us either had to stay there for 2 days with whatever they had on their bike, or return to a booked-up Eagle Plains. Carry more food and water then you think you'll need and then throw in another bottled water just in case." We got stuck at a ferry closing and camped on the banks of the McKenzie because of the ferries... we stayed an extra day and night in Inuvick to avoid a strong storm....

    OH YEAH!!! "It's one of the most awesome, fantastic, riding experiences you can have in North America - I want to go back already!"

    oh and equipment for repairs.. and tire changes... carry an air compressor.. we helped people that were not able to make a repair or fix a tire (because they had used all of their Co2 cartilages)
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  10. Bigbob1

    Bigbob1 Rain Rider Supporter

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    Great post on the history of the Klondike. As a modern day motorcyclist we actually have a pretty easy task of hoping on a motorcycle of any size or style and ride on a paved highway to the Yukon and Alaska. In my years of living up here I have enjoyed knowing a lot of oldtimers who grew up here or in the Yukon and listening to their tales. We really live in a wonderful time and place where we can do these trips without the fear of loosing our life from drowning, starvation.
  11. DYNOBOB

    DYNOBOB lucky dog

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    Day 12 - Wednesday August 12th - Dawson City to Tangle Inn, Denali Hwy - 394 miles

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    With Tuk checked off the list, our next goal is getting to see Denali National Park. We'll take the ferry across the Yukon River this morning and head into Alaska via the Top of the World Highway. We'll rejoin the Alaska Hwy near Tok and turn south onto the Richardson Hwy at Delta Junction. The destination tonight is Tangle Inn on the Denali Highway.

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    Tony Beets' (Gold Rush) boat Kid Commando. The rusty metal boxes are the pontoons of the dredge he is relocating this season on the show.

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    Great views of town from the ferry and far side of the river. If you like a quiet, primitive campground, the Yukon River Campground is right where you exit the ferry. Dad/I stayed there in '16.

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    Today unfortunately is mostly overcast and not the best for pics. I'm going to add a couple in from Sept '16 as we go along.

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  12. DYNOBOB

    DYNOBOB lucky dog

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    2016
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    2016
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  13. DYNOBOB

    DYNOBOB lucky dog

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    Back in the USA and four time zones behind Cincinnati. You have to be careful calling home you don't wake someone up... :-)

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    2016
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    2018 :-)
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    '16
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    If you stop in Chicken, Alaska make sure you visit the "old town" section.

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    We grab lunch in the cafe, and check out the old dredge and giant chicken on the way out.

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  14. DYNOBOB

    DYNOBOB lucky dog

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    Back on the road. I like roads with no telephone poles.

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    '16
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    Back on the Alcan.

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    Lots of this on the Alcan between Tok and Delta Junction.

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    We stop in Tok to take a break and fuel up.

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    Delta Junction has lodging, restaurants, and fuel. This is the last town we'll see until we exit the Denali Hwy and reach Talkeetna tomorrow.

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  15. DYNOBOB

    DYNOBOB lucky dog

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    Heading south on the Richardson Hwy.

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    Getting into the Alaska Range.
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    Unfortunately it started to rain before we reached 3200' Isabel Pass so we got no pics from the most beautiful stretch of the Richardson Hwy. I'll add a few from '16 to give you an idea.

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    Gulkana Glacier
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    Summit Lake - one of the highest elevation lakes in Alaska.
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    The stunning views of the Alaska Range are just starting once you turn onto the Denali Hwy. They will continue the 135 mile length of the road.

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    Looking back at Summit Lake, we just came south on the far side of the lake.

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    I'm bummed the guys missed these views as we rode the last 90 minutes (60 miles) to Tangle Lakes in a steady, cold rain. The misery index went up as temps dropped into the upper 30's and we're happy to have a warm cabin waiting for us.

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    It was 8am Alaska time when we left Dawson City and 9pm when we got off the bikes. We put in a long day so we could incorporate Denali in our trip and we're keeping our fingers crossed for improved weather tomorrow so we can see the mountain.


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  16. DYNOBOB

    DYNOBOB lucky dog

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    Indeed there is - I had it marked as a waypoint but that was the last thing on our mind. :-)

    No doubt the tight spots are what you remember the most. I really have to do better at getting pics at those times.

    Thank you gentlemen! I'm enjoying reading the story too. :lol3

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  17. DYNOBOB

    DYNOBOB lucky dog

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    Since our experience with 2 simultaneous flats and pump failure on the Dalton I'm paranoid about tire inflation. I'd recommend carrying 2 methods of inflation if you're traveling solo. Between us we had 3 tire pumps, plugs, heavy-duty self vulcanizing patches and a front/rear tube. Of course since we had it we didn't need it - and I'm ok with that.


    Amen, we really do have it easy. Even a worst case scenario has you in a hospital within 6-8 hours probably. A total mechanical and you're set back a week getting home in a truck. What's different is those are just a matter of an hour problem in our normal. Far-north travel may only be a small amount of adventure in reality, but it's a 1000 times more then we get at home.

    I really regret that we missed @Alcan Rider on this trip. Talking to Jack is a history education and a glimpse into the past. I think he first drove to Alaska in the mid-60's delivering a Hertz rental Plymouth - In the middle of winter. Reach out to him if you're traveling through.


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  18. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil Supporter

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    Wow! I'm impressed. :nod I'd forgotten we even talked about that, my first trip over the Alcan. First week of January, 1962. In a little Mercury S22, delivering it to the Avis franchisee in Anchorage. Between Cache Creek and Quesnel in B.C., drove through the worst snowstorm I have ever - even to this day - ever been in. The little car didn't have snow tires, but it also didn't have enough power to spin the tires, so it just kept going. :rofl

    This was the Watson Lake signpost "forest" back in that day -
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    How times have changed!
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  19. Alcan Rider

    Alcan Rider Frozen Fossil Supporter

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    Despite having traveled every road you picture from about post #152 on, many times, I am still impressed with how well you have managed to capture the scenes you encountered. It's almost as good as riding through those places again. A masterful job, Sir! :super
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  20. fastpast

    fastpast Been here awhile

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    I took my first motorcycle trip up to Alaska in 1972 and still have pictures of those sign posts. When i went up this past summer i was shocked to see how it had grown.
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