Tuesday, 15 May 2012

June 9th-12th, 2010 pt.1

We woke up early this morning to get the most out of the day.  Skies were grey and looked like it could rain at any minute.  Not wanting to pack a wet tent in the rain again, we quickly broke camp and made our way to Fairbanks.  We rode through a few patches of rain, but managed to ride through it without getting completely soaked.  We resorted to comfort food to help lift our spirits and rode to Taco Bell as soon as we arrived in town.  The usual chicken burrito and 5 layer burrito from the value menu immediately made us forget about the cold, wet ride.  We found out that Amanda’s hydration pack was leaking, so we rode around town and picked up a new one at an army surplus store for $15.  We then made our way to Wal-Mart to stock up on food and last minute preparations before tackling the Dalton Highway.  This included an oil change and front-tire change on Amanda’s bike.  We met fellow KLR riders JasonLester and his dad Ed while we were working on the bikes in the parking lot.  They graciously invited us over to their cabin when we got back from Deadhorse and wished us luck.  

50/50 tires down to supermoto tires

A worker from Wal-Mart lent us a milk crate and some tools

By the time everything was finalized, it was 10:00pm with the sun still shining.  The forecast for the next couple of days in Deadhorse looked very promising, but that can change very quickly.  Fairbanks however was calling for chance of rain.  It was an easy decision to ride the Dalton tonight opposed to waiting till morning.

Hurry!  The rain clouds are gaining on us! 

Mementos left behind by past travelers

So long pavement…

…hello gravel.  THIS IS IT!  The moment of truth.  Time to separate the men from the boys and the girls from the women.  Unpredictable terrain, unpredictable weather, unpredictable wildlife.  Everything we’ve learned about camping, survival, and adventure motorcycling will be put to the test.  Let’s just hope we pass with flying colors. 

I’m nervous.  I’m also super excited of what’s to come.  I’m usually tired by now at this time of night, but I’ve never felt more awake, more in tune with what’s around me.  I spot a moose up ahead in the middle of the road.  I slow down and carefully proceed with caution.  I notice the moose has sustained serious injury; as if it had gone 12 rounds with a grizzly and lives to tell the tale.  Maybe it was hit by one of the many 16-wheelers that travel this road; who knows.  I’m not superstitious or one to believe in omens, but after seeing that, one has to assume that anything goes out here in the wild.  Gotta stay sharp; can’t let my guard down, not even for one second.  Being nervous is a good thing. I react quicker, I can anticipate problems that may arise and jump into action, and above all, it lets me know that I’m not underestimating the task at hand.  The moment we sit back on our laurels is the moment we end up looking like that moose. 

Crossing the Yukon River at 1:00am.  Bridge was steep and very slick so we duck-walked our way down.

Here’s an idea for adventure!  Build a raft and float down the Yukon River to Dawson City in time for the Dust 2 Dawn Motorcycle Gathering. 

We now know why the mosquito is Alaska’s unofficial state bird.  We camped at 5 Mile Campground where it was free to camp.    It was 3:00am by the time we were tucked away in our sleeping bags. 

402 km

No turning back now.

One way ticket to Deadhorse.

Stay sharp, stay alive.

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