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Thread: 'I've never, ever seen roads this bad......' - Alaska-Yukon 16

  1. #31
    got, got, got no time... rguy's Avatar
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    Awesome trip report! Thanks for taking the time to share it with us.
    Neal - '16 R1200GS / '81 R65
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  2. #32
    Registered User dancogan's Avatar
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    Yeah, this is a great ride report. Looking forward to more. Thanks!
    Dan

  3. #33
    Registered User Rinty's Avatar
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    Wow. This is starting to look like riding the Road of Bones.
    Rinty

  4. #34
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Day Twelve – ‘The tale of two roads’…or what a difference a day makes

    We’d drawn the blackout shades at midnight the night before – necessary as the sun never ever sets this time of year. I was pretty sore from my ‘get-off’ so dug in my toiletries for some Tylenol and gulped two down dry. Grabbing a towel from the coat rack, I opened the door, checked for 600 pound brown bears, and walked stiffly down the hallway to find the showers.

    Thirty minutes later, I felt almost human again and found the rest of the crew already in the breakfast area – Fran was working his eternal chick magnet charm on a young lady who’d also ridden up the evening before ahead of us.

    She was part of a couple actually – he was a young 28ish Aussie, who’d quit his job, sold his stuff and was on an extended ‘walkabout’. He’d flown into Vancouver a week or so earlier, bought a Kawasaki 650 KLR bike and when he was riding through Anchorage he’d met this lovely young lady – and evidently offered to take her for a ‘bit of a ride’ to Deadhorse.

    She’d borrowed a helmet, donned three sweaters and an REI windbreaker, grabbed her fuzzy woolen mittens and hopped onto his bike.



    She never ridden on a motorcycle before.

    Evidently being a young, good looking Aussie lad -with a great accent- can be pretty compelling.

    Her first ride consisted of precisely what we had gone through…… and hearing her new friend yelling ‘**** – ****- ****’ repeatedly as the KLR clawed, pounded and slammed its way up the Dalton.

    Evidently his considerable skills extended to riding as well because they didn’t fall.

    They left heading South down the Dalton – he aiming towards South America….. I’m not sure where she was going to get off.

    After breakfast, we grabbed some tank bag food and gassed up our bikes and fuel cans. My motorcycle evidently had as much trepidation as I did about the return trip as the ABS system refused to activate, leaving me with almost no brakes. I turned it off and restarted it and rode it around several times to no avail. A quick call back to Chicago to my mechanic didn’t resolve it either – it looked like I’d be removing the fuel tank to access the ABS pump buried in the frame of the bike…something I was NOT looking forward to doing in the gravel and mud parking lot.

    I crossed my fingers and restarted the bike a fourth time and it worked perfectly. And stayed working for the rest of the trip.



    Drew and Fran went over to the General Store for a photo op …..and soon we were heading back into the hell we’d left just ten hours earlier.



    Except it was fine. These roads change every hour – ‘The Tale of two Roads’ to paraphrase Dickens.

    I was counting down the miles and the road was perfectly manageable, with just a couple of dicey sections which I frankly regard as SOP.

    1. The Calcium Chloride had generally set up and hardened.
    2. The project manager for the construction crews must have gotten the word about bikes crashing left and right in the construction area and special attention was taken to create an actual ridable lane.

    We marveled at the endless scenery – now that the clouds and fog had vanished. You can see the pipeline snaking away over the horizon – several herds of grazing Musk Oxen with calves all shedding their shaggy winter coats, families of Caribou with their tall velvet covered antlers…. startled by our bikes and sprinting off over the tundra…and the sky and the puffy white clouds. That color blue of that sky is absolutely unique to that part of the world….. that cameras just can’t capture.













    We eventually crossed back over the Brooks Range, refueled at Coldfoot, saw the usual number of Grizzlies wandering around and generally arrived 500 miles later back in Fairbanks in pretty good shape. Thomas notably and strangely was lagging behind – several times Drew and I pulled over so he could catch up. I did point out that he had the fastest and best outfitted bike in the group…






    We again dined on pizza and beer (better pizza and better beer) and I went to bed with the smell of the distant forest fires burning near Tok, wafting through my open window.

    Craig woke me up – they’d called the ambulance for Thomas.

    Dehydration, exhaustion and prescription drug interactions had set him up for collapse. I rolled out of bed, grabbed my sandals and was walking out the front door as the EMT rolled in. Thomas was in bad shape with severe cramps, digestive problems and gasping pain.

    In short order, the ambulance pulled up and we assisted him out and onto a waiting stretcher. I accompanied him to the ER.

    Thomas, a decorated US Army officer, never, ever, ever complains. I actually had no idea he was in such a condition. The local hospital treated him and sent us home in a taxi a few hours later, prescription in hand with stern instructions to REST for a day. This was actually OK, since Drew had completely blown out both fork seals and ruined the front brakes on his rented BMW 800GS on the Dalton and these sorta needed attention too.
    Last edited by Beemer01; 01-22-2017 at 07:38 PM.

  5. #35
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Day Thirteen – R&R&R …… Rest, relaxation and repair

    Trail’s End BMW got Drew’s rented bike in at 8:00 and out by 5:30 with new seals and front brake pads – Drew slept - Thomas slept - and Craig and I sat out front of our unit, smoked cigars, drank beer and generally annoyed the student staff all day.



    Thomas' old friend Larry's family, had been tracking our adventures on Spot and overnighted a 'Care Package' to us! It was packed with thoughtful items including home made brownies, small repair kits and asprin! Very welcome!



    Tomorrow - dust storms, fields of flowers, icy lakes, forest fires and towering mountains

    Last edited by Beemer01; 01-22-2017 at 07:45 PM.

  6. #36
    SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beemer01 View Post
    Trail’s End BMW got Drew’s rented bike in at 8:00 and out by 5:30 with new seals and front brake pads – Drew slept - Thomas slept - and Craig and I sat out front of our unit, smoked cigars, drank beer and generally annoyed the student staff all day.
    HA!!! Campus housing at UAF was one of the areas for which I used to be responsible. In my day we certainly would not have tolerated such loutish behavior and hooliganism from our motorcycling guests. Students yes, of course, but guests never.
    Kevin Huddy
    The Outpost, Silver City, Montana

  7. #37
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Kevin -

    We first met back in 2009 when I was a newbie up there! The program is still in place and in our defense we smoked outside and diligently cleaned up before we left. Fran, however, is the guy who decided to ride his bike up the handicapped access ramp and park by the door for packing. I'm not even sure how he accomplished this stunt.

    No tire marks, or cigar butts were left behind.

  8. #38
    SURVIVOR akbeemer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beemer01 View Post
    We first met back in 2009 when I was a newbie up there! The program is still in place and in our defense we smoked outside and diligently cleaned up before we left. Fran, however, is the guy who decided to ride his bike up the handicapped access ramp and park by the door for packing. I'm not even sure how he accomplished this stunt.

    No tire marks, or cigar butts were left behind.
    Not as bad as the student that cut a hole into the drywall covering the space under the staircase in his apartment so he could store his CBR600 inside all winter. His plan was to repair the drywall in the spring, but since he was caught in flagrante delicto it cost him over $1,000.
    Kevin Huddy
    The Outpost, Silver City, Montana

  9. #39
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Day Fourteen – Good Pavement, dust storms, forest fires, icy lakes and Chinese food

    Up and out, all bikes running fine and Thomas more or less back to normal. We headed South out of Fairbanks…. passed through Tok, where they’d been battling the forest fire I’d smelled earlier, crossed the border back into Canada and refueled at ‘earthquake alley’ Destruction Bay just South of the now shuttered Burwash Landing resort – where in 2009 a self proclaimed arms dealer tried to sell me an AK-47…. chambered for 9MM NATO rounds. Actually, He had several models to pick from, but given that I was on a motorcycle he thought the folding stock version would be most appropriate.





    We all marveled at the omnipresent dust storms blowing out over Kluane Lake from the vast wash areas at the South end. Fran initially thought this was ice fog – but it’s just fine dust.



    I’d camped on the shores of this lake on past trips – at one time they’d operated commercial net fishing operations out of Burwash Landing – it’s a very, very big, very deep lake. The old wood fishing boats have been pulled up on shore and left to decay and return to the earth.

    The fields of blooming Fireweed backed up by towering snow covered mountains were just fantastic – the camera can’t do this justice – but take a look!



    At this point we’re riding East South East across some of most breathtaking lands in Yukon. It’s difficult to describe.



    We eventually wound up in Haines Junction. The local Chinese restaurant had changed ownership again, the food had improved a bit and the local beer was cold and welcome.
    The dilapidated private campground there seemed to be on autopilot, I never saw anyone in a management role when we were there, I slipped a $20 through the door slot of the closed and locked main building, having no idea who would get the payment in the end.

    Tomorrow, Fran goes down again - and we almost miss the boat.
    Last edited by Beemer01; 08-28-2016 at 10:16 PM.

  10. #40
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Day Fifteen – Ocean going Ferries and the scenery…. and Husky puppies!



    We rode down to Haines and went in to secure our tickets for the short ride to Skagway. The agent looked up quizzically – “Do you have reservations?” Oh Shi*, I'd forgotten to make these reservations. I suggested that the last time I'd been here WITH reservations, they hadn't produced a ferry.

    Good, now I have all the diplomacy of Donald Trump.





    Fran elbowed me aside smoothly and took over negotiations actually getting all five bikes and passengers standby tickets for the 1:30 sailing. The irritated agent told us that it’d be a 50/50 shot if we’d even be squeezed on board.

    So we waited in the parking lot for three hours killing time. Fran’s stomach/kidney pains had returned… so he assumed a prone position on the pavement.

    Our collective tension mounted as they filled the hold of the ferry, jockeying around trucks, cars and campers – but managed to squeeze all our bikes in…a very tight fit but we made it!

    It’s well worth it – this short 60 minute ferry ride on the inside passage saves seven hours of riding.



    The rear upper deck is mostly open and a great place to relax (if you can locate a chair)…..and the steep and pretty technical road up the mountains out of Skagway is amazing.



    In this part of coastal Alaska the dramatic mountains literally rise right up out of the sea, soaring to lofty snow covered heights. Eagles, bears and all sorts of wildlife can be seen from the ferry if you watch carefully.










    The climb up from Skagway was dazzling - literally from sea level to high alpine meadows in less than an hour!



    It seemed like we were crossing borders a lot – twice this day. As we approached Carcross, YT we saw a sign proclaiming Husky Puppies! Drew loves dogs…. and his first and only dog had been an adopted Husky/Shepherd mix – to which he’d been deeply attached.

    He was a little disappointed when we arrived in Carcross and failed to observe open fields populated with thousands of tumbling, yowling and howling Huskie pups.
    I felt a twinge, I knew this is where we’d have to part company with my son….we were heading more or less East and South back to Watson Lake and Drew heading North and West to get back to Anchorage. I hugged him, told him to ride safely and to have a safe flight back to New York.

    Drew is a great guy, a good son.... and a natural rider. He also wound up misjudging distances on the map and rode 17 hours further to get to Anchorage!

    The rest of the team made it to Watson Lake and back to the Air Force Lodge – but in the late day sunlight and deep shadows on the road had more than a few ‘moments’ dealing with over graveled sections of the Alcan Highway under seasonal repair.



    After all we’d been through, at one point Craig was convinced that Thomas was going down when his bike began to violently fishtail in this gravel…this section was gravel spread over chipseal – think marbles dumped on concrete.

    Lots of fun.



    Tomorrow the Cassiar Highway South.... and three of us try to get Hyderized!
    Last edited by Beemer01; 01-23-2017 at 04:17 PM.

  11. #41
    Registered User Rinty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beemer01 View Post
    – the camera can’t do this justice – but take a look!
    The camera, and operator, are doing just fine. What are you using? The pics in post 39, in particular, are exceptional.
    Rinty

  12. #42
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Camera phone

    Our trip photographer award went to Craig with his Samsung S6. I found his pictures - mostly taken riding!?! were stunning.

    The rest were taken with my Canon DSLR with a 18-200 Zoom (not while riding) and a few iPhone shots.

    I continue to be blown away by the pictures Craig took - you know, it's not the camera - it's the photographer.....but his stuff was amazing.

    More of Craig's artful photos will follow.
    Last edited by Beemer01; 08-26-2016 at 01:14 PM.

  13. #43
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Day Sixteen – The Stewart-Cassiar Highway… and some of us try to get Hyderized

    The Stewart-Cassiar is a beautiful two lane (and completely paved these days) highway – the Northernmost highway in British Columbia. A winding two lane road with deep forests, crystal clear lakes and towering, snow-capped mountain ranges…. and very little traffic.







    But lots of flying critters!



    As always, we ride this road briskly, cognizant that the local Mounties really, really frown on speeding.





    The last stretch of perhaps 30 miles (named the Glacier highway) down to Stewart BC is one of my favorite roads – narrow and winding, we pass the huge Salmon glacier, see countless waterfalls that plunge down hundreds of feet and overhanging conifers draped with moss.





    Stewart is a tiny little Canadian town – that probably has the best tap water in North America – and then there’s Hyder, Alaska.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/03/us...mbia.html?_r=0

    As noted in the article, this may be the only entry point back into the States that doesn’t have a Customs office. As Fran had noted “Where on earth would you go from Hyder?” It’s the end of the road, and the few residents like it this way. Later in July and early August the Grizzlies descend from the surrounding mountains for the Salmon run – at this point the humans of Hyder are pretty seriously outnumbered. As a consequence, open carry of large caliber handguns is not only common but recommended in season.



    However, we arrived on a Monday. Hyder is essentially closed on Mondays. The entire town which consists of a couple of bars, a ramshackle school bus repainted blue and converted into a semi-permanent fish restaurant (complete with a bear deterring nail studded door mat outside) and a couple of motels – one of which always seems to be for sale.

    Plan A was to stop at the Glacier Inn – and have Kris show these of us who enjoy a shot, how to get ‘Hyderized’, and to dine on their excellent fish and chips.

    Well, since Monday is everyone’s day off... making Hyder into even more of a ghost town – I created Plan B which consisted of riding back into Canada 15 minutes after we reentered the Hyder and the States. Canada does operate a customs station at this border. (You do have to wonder what decisions you made in your customs career to wind up stationed here). The stern customs agent did a more than through job of vetting us on our trip – but stopped short of taking apart our luggage. But he did point us to the only open restaurant in Stewart where the food was acceptable and the beers cold!

    The waitress directed us (sorta) to the municipal campground – actually the prettiest campground we found during our journey. Towering pines, an icy cold trout stream burbling past our site and towering mountains rising up abruptly from the valley floor.

    Sleep came easily.
    Last edited by Beemer01; 05-20-2019 at 05:55 PM.

  14. #44
    Rocky Bow BMW Riders #197 bogthebasher's Avatar
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    I have a feeling Hyder feels like it is closed most days. Some say there are only three things to do in Hyder - see the bears, see the glacier and drink but we got a kick out of chatting with the locals - most of whom, are of the very independent sort. However the other hotel (Grand View Inn) and the campsite across the street are open always. Just be aware the proprietor of the hotel may be wearing pajamas any time of the day. This year we arrived on a Sunday (July 5th) and found two bars and two hotels open so easily became Hyderized. And yes, we saw two adult grizzlies (one mama with three cubs) while we walked between the Grand View inn and our meal/bevvy place of choice at the Glacier Inn.

    Great trip report - keep it coming.
    Ken Dittrick
    2008 R1200RT (Biarritz Blau)


    Excuses are the rocks upon which our dreams are crushed - Tim Fargo

  15. #45
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    How many miles have you put on so far?
    Good report.

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