Wednesday, July 22, 2015

July 14th, 2015. Smithers to Vancouver

We arrived in Smithers last night and once again we notice the rear tire on Kirks bike is wearing fast. Kirk calls around and finds a set of Heidenau K60 tires at an independent shop who specializes in Harley Davidson Pan Head engines. Sam gets Kirks bike on the table and allows Kirk to observe and fully explains the process of dismounting the old rear tire and remounting the new one. While changing the front tire Sam points out that one of the wheel bearings is not turning smoothly so we have both changed out to ensure a trouble free ride home. If you need service while in the Smithers area then Eyecandy Custom Cycle is the place to go.

We are on the road again and seem to have left the rain behind and get a campsite at Ten Mile Lake near Quesnel.

July 15th. Another warm day as we make good time to Lilloet and take the Duffy Lake Road towards Pemberton. Between Pemberton and Vancouver the traffic becomes extremely heavy due to the Pemberton Music Festival taking place. Kirk and I part company in Pemberton as I need to catch the 5:20 ferry.

The boy did okay for his first moto adventure, 8500 km's in less than three weeks with exposure to many road surfaces, off road riding which included a water crossing and varied weather conditions. We met many great people along the way, had lots of laughs and look forward to another road trip soon.

Sorry that we didn't have any photos for the last few days.

Diana and I plan to ride Washington and Oregon in September and during that trip I'm sure will start discussing our next adventure. A few countries that we have talked about visiting are of concern right now due to the earthquake in Nepal and with Turkey being so close to Syria we hate to plan a trip there until things stabilize.

July 9th, 2015 Whitehorse to Stewart

July 9th, 2015. It's off to Whitehorse this morning and the weather is looking like it may rain. Still a few road construction zones where the loose gravel forces us to slow our pace. At one point we are cruising along at 120 km per hour and around the bend we meet an oncoming RCMP truck, fortunately he is pulling a large flat deck trailer and would be challenged to do a u turn and catch us. By the time we reach Carmacks it's raining and continues all the way to Whitehorse where we take a hotel room rather than have all our camping gear get wet.

July 10th, 2015. Kirk has booked a flight seeing tour of the Kluane Park as a Fathers Day gift for me. We ride out to Haines Junction and set up camp at theTerritorial campground before getting groceries in town. We've decided to have our last campfire as we hear BC has a fire ban on due to the dry conditions there.

During a briefing with the pilot we learn that the weather will most likely prohibit us from flying over Kluane Glacier and Kluane Lake. Regardless of weather we decide to take to the sky to see the smaller glaciers and some wildlife. Were able to see a grizzly with 2 cubs, dall sheep, moose and black bear.

Kirk in front of the plane we were on.

Moose feeding in a pond.

July 12th, 2015. Once again we ride our last few hundred kilometers in the rain before arriving in Stewart, BC and take another hotel room. The last 65 km takes you down a valley with many glaciers on the left hand side of the highway. The melting glaciers have the creeks and rivers flowing at capacity and at one point Kirk questions if we should proceed in fear that we may get stranded if the road gets washed out.

The next morning we cross the border into Hyder, Alaska and travel up into the mountains and hope to get some photos of the Salmon Glacier and bears feeding on spawning salmon. It seems we're about a week early for the salmon and the cloud cover only allows for a few pictures of the glacier.

Salmon Glacier through the clouds.

Bear Glacier.

We grab a burger for lunch in Stewart and before we can increase the air pressure in our tires (should be paved roads from here to home) the clouds open up on us again. The rain is almost a daily occurrence and all we can do is laugh it off. Kirk is already talking about a hotel room for tonight in Smithers.

Friday, July 10, 2015

July 8, 2015 Placer mines and movie stars (or so they think)

We are off to visit Tracey & Peter Jacobs at their gold claim. It’s a 70 km ride on gravel and dirt roads and the scenery is fabulous riding the top of mountain ridges. They show us the operation which is more complicated than what the TV shows depict. After checking out some nuggets of gold we are shown some horns from a Steppe Bison and teeth from a Woolly Mammoth which lived in the Yukon 10 to 25 thousand years ago. We are returning home with a very nice tooth as a souvenir, hopefully it doesn't get damaged on the way.
 Tracey with Woolly Mammoth tooth
 Tracey, Peter and Kirk the mining engineer talking strategy (I didn't understand most of what they were discussing)
 nice size nuggets

weighing after cleaning the sluice box (approx. $67,000)
Unfortunately they didn't have any tusks at the claim but Tracey did have some pictures of the tusks they have uncovered.
Woolly Mammoth tusks
 Peter leaves their son Jake in charge of the operation while the four of us take a drive in the crew cab. The TV show GOLD RUSH starring Parker Schnabel and Tony Beets is filmed on a claim below the Jacobs claim. There are movie production trucks and tents around the claim with drones shooting footage from the air. It seems the Discovery Network has a large budget as they had two new conveyors delivered to the claim earlier in the day and there is no shortage of heavy iron on the claim. 


The claim from the reality show Gold Rush

July 7, 2015 Inuvik to Dawson City

July 7th, 2015 we didn’t sleep well for a second night due to the heat as the sun is beating down on you 24 hours a day and there are no trees large enough to give you shade. Two guys from California pulled in to the campground at midnight. They are riding a BMW R1200GS and Yamaha Super Tenere. According to them they rode from Smithers, BC to Inuvik with only a two hour stop near Dease Lake when one of them dozed off before the rough gravel on the shoulder awoke him. They’ve rode from Florence, California to Inuvik in a week.   A stop at the Mackenzie Inn for the $5.95 breakfast special before setting out for Dawson City is the best deal in town.
We checked out the grocery store in Inuvik and the following is a sampling of their prices:

medium size watermelon $11.49 each
navel orange $9.19 per kg
iceberg lettuce $3.69 each
honeydew melons $6.29 each

 The ferry over the Mackenzie River starts running at 9 am and we should be on the first or second sailing. The weather is great with not a cloud in the sky but the good weather comes with a price, the dust on the highway is extreme and you need to ride about half a kilometer behind other vehicles. Near the NWT-Yukon border I see the tire tracks of three bicycles in the gravel; I believe the tracks to be those of the people from Victoria. We pass the Californian’s just before the Arctic Circle and they stop to talk to us at the Arctic Circle view point. The one guy tells us he just hit one of the cyclists and he was taken by pickup truck to the medical station at Eagle Plains. The story is that a gravel truck was kicking up lots of dust with the Californians following it too closely. The gravel truck passed the bicyclists leaving them in a cloud of dust and the motorcyclist clipped the rear wheel and rack of the cyclist with his engine crash bar. This sent the cyclist into the air and his bicycle into the ditch.

We stop at Eagle Plains for fuel and a sandwich. The mother and father of the cyclist recognize us from our previous meeting and tell us their son is still being treated but should be okay. As we prepare to leave the cyclist is released and is extremely lucky he only sustained abrasions to his back and a sore ankle. He is determined to finish the bike trip and plans to stay at the hotel for one night so he can true the bicycle wheel.

Immediately after leaving Eagle Plains the rain begins and the dust subsides. Our only fear is that if it rains too much the two remaining dirt sections will become a slow ride in first gear with our feet acting as outriggers. Once again we luck out and have a dust free ride into Dawson City. The boy is worn out from the long ride and it’s raining in Dawson City so we take a hotel room and order in pizza before he turns out the lights at 9:15 pm.
9 am and the boy is still in bed
Sorry for the lack of pictures but my hard drive is full and I'll need a few days to remedy the situation.

Monday, July 6, 2015

July 6, 2015 Dawson to Inuvik



Saturday, July 4th, 2015 we took a few trails into the back country and even coached the boy across his first stream crossing on a motorcycle. It’s back to Dawson City where after setting up camp we wander around town finding a pub with live music and settle in for a few pints and Arctic Char burgers.

Sunday, July 5th, 2015 and we are meeting Julian and the three of us will ride the Dempster Highway which is gravel for all but about 5 km’s. We aren’t riding for ten minutes before I see the first bear and a porcupine. The scenery going through the Tombstone Park is amazing and we stop frequently to take pictures. During one our rest stops a couple from Inuvik asks where we plan to stop for the night and when I told them Rock River they advised that there was a lot of grizzlies in that area.
Dawson City 

 Beginning of the Dempster Highway
Tombstone Mountains 



 We reach Eagle Plains about 3 pm and stop for a quick lunch before heading to the Arctic Circle and another photo shoot. Julian returns to Dawson at this point and Kirk says to me “we can get to Inuvik tonight”. After 475 km’s of gravel roads today I’m not sure if we can do another 365 km’s safely even if it is 24 hours of sunlight now.

 Julian, Kirk & Ken

The terrain is constantly changing from trees to brush to barren land and shortly after crossing into the North West Territories we see our first grizzly bear grazing on vegetation in the ditch. After we make a U-turn and retreat to a safe distance we get a few pictures and hope he doesn’t cross the highway at the same time we pass him.

Three cyclists are working their way up one of the passes through the Richardson Mountains when we stop to talk to them. They are from Victoria and warn us of the road construction ahead and tell us that in 400 km’s we were the only people to stop and talk to them. Most of the cyclists we’ve encountered over the years are well prepared with food but water is an issue due to the weight and I’ll offer a few liters of water if they need some.
Ferry Crossing at Pelly River
The construction zone is reasonably smooth but the dust is unbelievable and at times you can only see 30 meters in front of yourself. The rest of the ride into Inuvik is dusty but the road is in good condition and we are going about 100 km per hour and arrive at the campground at 11 pm and recognize Mark and Georges bikes parked next to our tent pad. The sun never does set and between the sun and Georges snoring its difficult getting to sleep.
The pipes running between all the houses in Inuvik are called utilidors and contain water and sewer lines and are heated to prevent freezing in the winter.
The famous "Igloo Church" in Inuvik

Saturday, July 4, 2015

July 4, 2015 North to Alaska and Inuvik

For those who followed our South America blog you may remember that Diana and I met a number of people that we knew, knew my sister or were neighbors of our friends back in Canada. Well, the Yukon, NWT, Alaska trip started similarly on Friday evening. I stopped at Tim Hortons in Squamish for a bite and got to talking with Ryan who was there with his children. I had met Ryan’s father Steve about 10 years ago in Saskatoon at a business function.


Friday night we camped at Squamish and hit the road early on Saturday riding about 600 kilometers, the boy had a sore butt and couldn’t ride any further. As he puts it “we were weak as a team”. He tried to redeem himself by making Couscous salad but failed to make the grade as a chef.

 Sunday morning we left Quesnel about 6:30 with good weather and by the time we reached Williams Lake the thermometer on the bike was reading 94 degrees. We rode over 1000 kilometers camping in a settlement called Iskut which is about an hour south of Dease Lake. The Cassiar Highway was in great condition and either paved or chip sealed so we made good time as there was very little traffic.

We wake up to light drizzle on Monday knocking down camp and loading the bikes before it decides to start raining. Just over an hour drive to Dease Lake for breakfast where we meet a couple from Guelph, ON who are returning from Inuvik. They said the road was a very challenging drive due to the amount of rain mixed with fresh calcium that was on the road.  Her KLR650 lost all its electrical due to the calcium penetrating the electrical sockets and preventing a good connection. They both had 2 flat tires each on the Dempster which seems to be fairly common from the people we have spoken with. We stop at the Yukon border for a quick rest and meet a couple from Leavenworth, WA who are each pulling a trailer behind their bicycle. They’ve been on the road for 4 weeks and were pedalling to Anchorage. Earlier in the week they had pulled into a campsite and while setting up their tent a bear got into their food supply. It’s been raining intermittently all day long but clears up just as we approach Teslin for planned fuel stop. While I’m filling the tank we are approached by another biker who is need of booster cables. It turns out that the father and son from just north of Mexico City have a dead battery in one of the Suzuki V Stroms. I have an opportunity to test my Spanish speaking skills with the father as we are connecting the booster cables and putting his bike back together. After a few photos and an exchange of contact information we are on the road.  We arrived into Whitehorse about 7pm and find a campground downtown and call it a day.


Tuesday morning we meet a fellow biker named Julian and have breakfast together. Julian is originally from Columbia and we have a great conversation about our trip to South America as he had been to many of the same places we had visited. We plan to meet later in the week and hopefully ride together from Dawson to Inuvik. Later we track down friends of ours, Butch and Judy from Kenora, ON and relocate to a different campground and settle in to catch up on what’s happening with them. While downtown today we meet a young lady from Bend, OR who is riding a KLR650 with a sidecar. Her golden lab rides in the sidecar wearing goggles to protect his eyes.


Happy Canada Day! Before going downtown to take in the Canada Day activities I do a mechanical check on my bike and then notice Kirk’s rear tire tread is not looking good. He could probably make it to Inuvik but there is no way it will get him back to Dawson. Mark (Diana and I rode Argentina and Chile with him last year) and George arrived in Whitehorse today after the highway was closed for a day due to a fatal roll over involving a 5th wheel trailer. We have dinner together, share some laughs and look forward to meeting them between Dawson and Inuvik. The weather on the Dempster is still not good and motorcycle travel not recommended. 
Thursday, July 2, 2015 we get to the Honda dealer just after they open and Kirk purchases two new tires, gets them installed and balanced in less than an hour. If you need to replace tires in Whitehorse these are the guys to go to! On the way to Dawson we stop in Carmacks to bid farewell to Judy and Butch.  While refueling the bikes in Pelly Crossing this Honda Gold Wing exits the highway into the gas station and almost crashes in the loose gravel then as he's approaching the fuel pumps way to fast he locks up the front brake and crashes into the garbage can. I help his wife onto her feet and with the help of another guy we get the bike upright. The dude and his wife are in their late 70's and by the looks of the bike it wasn't their first close look at the asphalt.  The next three hours to Dawson was mostly rain and we agree a hotel room is in order for tonight.

Friday, July 3. 2015 it's quit raining but an email from Tracey and Peter advises us not to come out to their gold claim as the road is impassable on a motorcycle due to the three days of heavy rain in the area. We change plans again and will take the Top of the World highway to Chicken, Alaska and hopefully go to the gold claim on the return from Inuvik.