Day 23 – Fairbanks, AK to Denali National Park

Day 23 – Fairbanks, AK to Denali National Park     09/12/10     Mileage: 123 

I spent the morning updating the blog while I had a good internet connection. So, at the crack of noon, I set off for Denali National Park…..fortunately it’s only an hour and forty-five minutes down to Denali from Fairbanks. 

A funny sign on the way to Denali. I really like the two polar bears humping, that's a nice touch.

 

 The weather was spectacular…bright sun and cool…and the road followed a ridge overlooking two valleys and was a great ride! 

View from the road on the way to Denali from Fairbanks.

 

Had lunch at this place...the Monderosa...actually quite good!

 

Inside the Monderosa...

 

Looking across the river into Denali NP

 

I pulled into Denali and got a campsite for two nights. I also signed up for the bus to take you deeper in the park…$30..ouch. I’m sure it will be worth every penny. 

Denali!

 

View from the park road...

 

View from the park road...

 

The Alaska Range from the park road...

 

Denali (Mount McKinley) in the distance from the road...a rare treat!

 

The Alaska Range

 

On the way to the campsite, I could see Denali (Mount McKinley) in the distance which from what I understand is a rare treat, as it is often cloud covered even on the clearest days. My mother must really be in good with the Lord! LOL. Tomorrow I should get a better look at Denali…I’m looking forward to it! 

Advertisements

Day 22 – Camp on Arctic Circle to Fairbanks, AK

Day 22 – Camp on Arctic Circle to Fairbanks, AK     09/11/10     Mileage: 190  

The morning sky was gin clear and the air was warm and dry. It’s ironic that the best weather I’ve had since leaving Colorado two weeks ago has been northern Alaska!  

Camp on the Arctic Circle...

 

Along the road back to Fairbanks...

 

They call this Finger Mountain...not sure why...

 

My mother, being worried as you might expect, said she would pray for good weather for me. Well, apparently her prayer on my behalf was answered…so thanks mom! After packing up I continued south back to Fairbanks, enjoying the great weather and views the whole way.  

On the Dalton Highway heading south...

 

View from the road south...it could easily by Vermont...

 

 Once back in Fairbanks, I collected my gear from the hostel, found a self-service car wash to get the corrosive road grim off of the bike and then settled into an internet café to catch up on some calls and email.

Day 21 – Camp south of Deadhorse to camp on Arctic Circle

Day 21 – Camp south of Deadhorse to camp on Arctic Circle     09/10/10     Mileage: 368

Glenn and Scott had invited me over for coffee the night before, and I wanted to take them up on it. I asked what time and they said 5:30…I forgot those hunting types are early risers!  

Looking south to the sunrise on the distant Brooks Range

 

So, at 6am…I got up and wandered over to their camp for coffee and some hot water for my oatmeal. They were packing up to leave and head back to Anchorage.  

Glenn and Scott packing up camp...

 

They invited me over to their homes in anchorage for a shower, laundry and whatever else I need which was very gracious of them! Twelve hours ago we were strangers in the wilderness, now they have invited me to their homes…I think that is pretty cool. I sure am glad to have met them. So after bidding farewell, I was off to ride the last 60 miles to Deadhorse. As I got closer to the arctic coast, the weather turned foggy and overcast, but I was still in good spirits as the goal of reaching Deadhorse was within my reach! A little over an hour after leaving camp, I was there…Deadhorse, AK…the northern most “town” accessible by road in North America!  

Welcome to Deadhorse, AK!

 

I put town in quotes as nobody actually lives in Deadhorse. It does have a zip code, but it’s really a large industrial complex of buildings and support structure for the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. Everybody there is working directly for the oil companies or for a company that services and supports them. That is of course except for me, the one lone tourist on that day.  

Paul would be in heaven up here...he likes snow machines...and they have every conceivable type up here!

 

More snow cats...

 

"Town" of Deadhorse...

 

The drilling process

 

The lavish Prudhoe Bay Inn...eat your heart out Fairmont Banff Springs

 

Fueling up at the gas station...

 

Drilling rig...I think...

 

So, after taking the requisite “trophy” pictures, there was nothing left to do but to head south! Next stop, 18,000 miles south of here in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina.  

On the arctic tundra heading south...

 

Not a curve in sight...

 

Heading back to the Brooks Range...

 

Entering the Brooks Range from the north...

 

The Brooks Range

 

The Brooks Range...

 

The weather once again cleared as I left the arctic coast and the riding weather was great. I crossed back over the Brooks Range, fueled up and had a bite to eat in Coldfoot, then continued south.  

Real food...yum!

 

On the road south...

 

I setup camp right on the Arctic Circle and enjoyed another great sunset. Tomorrow, it’s back down to Fairbanks.

Day 20 – Fairbanks, AK to campsite 240 miles above the Arctic Circle

Day 20 – Fairbanks, AK to campsite 240 miles above the Arctic Circle       09/09/10     Mileage: 442  

 Morning number two at the hostel which is not half bad…especially for $30. I packed the bike with only essential gear…parts, tools, camping equipment, survival gear, etc…all of the rest I left in a bag locked in the garage at the hostel. I wanted to make the bike as light as possible for the 1000 mile dash up to Deadhorse and back. Mark and I went out to breakfast at a local joint called the Sourdough, and then I fueled up and started heading north. The weather was of course cold, overcast and light rain….what else is new. Once out of Fairbanks the road twisted its way through round rolling mountains that could easily pass for the Green Mountains of Vermont in the Fall. Bright yellow and orange foliage mixed with evergreens made for great scenery, especially when the sun managed to poke through.  

Mountains just north of Fairbanks...

 

The Dalton Highway..also called "the haul road"...

 

About 60 miles north of Fairbanks the road crept out from beneath the cloud cover into the warm sunshine. The temperature also rose into the low 60’s and I had to peel of a layer from under my riding jacket. The road turned to dirt and gravel, which was expected…as most of the road between Fairbanks and Deadhorse is not paved.  

Dirt on the Dalton...

 

The Dalton runs more or less parallel to the Alaska Pipeline...which is never far from the road...

 

Crossing the mighty Yukon River...

 

The Yukon River

 

Topping up the tank at the Yukon Camp...

 

Along the Dalton Highway...

 

The Beaver Slide...I think this might have been on an episode of Ice Road Truckers. It's a long steep dirt road hill that the trucks pretty much slide down in the winter!

 

About 150 miles north of Fairbanks, I crossed the Arctic Circle…I was officially in the Arctic! Ironically, the weather was the best it had been in 2 weeks! Bright blue cloudless sky, no wind, and temperatures in the low 60’s made perfect riding weather!  

Made it to the Arctic Circle!

 

Along the road north of the Arctic Circle...

 

At the 250 mile mark is Coldfoot Camp…the last gas, food or anything until Deadhorse another 240 miles north on the Arctic Ocean. Needless to say I topped of the tank and continued north to take advantage of the great weather.  

Sign just after leaving Coldfoot Camp...next gas, or anything...240 miles north in Deadhorse!

 

Next up was the Brooks Mountain Range and Atigun Pass, after which the weather turned to overcast with some rain.   

Riding into The Brooks Range...

 

The southern side of the Brooks Range...

 

Southern Brooks Range...

 

Taking a break before crossing Atigun Pass...

 

The road leading to Atigun Pass...

 

I don’t have any pictures from the pass as I had my hands full keeping the KLR upright on the slippery dirt road. It seems they put some kind of calcium concoction down on the roads to keep the dust down when the roads are dry, but it makes the wet dirt into a slippery snot…demanding your full attention.   

Taking a break after crossing Atigun Pass...

 

Looking south towards Atigun Pass from the north side...

 

Out of the mountains and onto the arctic tundra

 

Around 60 miles south of Deadhorse, I found a spot to camp just off the road. After setting up my tent, I walked down to introduce myself to two guys camped about 50 yards away. Glen and Scott were up caribou hunting and fishing and have been camped there for about a week. We got to talking and they gave me an education on hunting for caribou, what a ptarmigan sounds like, what a grayling (a river fish) looks like and much about the Alaskan wild. (Thanks guys!)  

L to R: Glenn and Scott

 

View from my campsite on the north slope of Alaska, around 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle

 

It was a great sunset for sure...

 

More sunset..

 

And more sunset...

 

And more sunset...

 

And more..

 

OK, last one!

 

 After turning in, the next thing I remember is Glen outside my tent in the middle of the night asking if I was up…and if so, I should come outside. Well, I wasn’t…but I did…and I am very grateful that he thought to come get me to see the Northern Lights! The sky had cleared and was putting on a show that stretched from horizon to horizon.  That was certainly something I wanted to see, and I’d have kicked myself if I missed it…so thanks Glenn!  

My point and shoot camera does not do the Northern Lights justice, but here it is...

 

The Northern Lights

 

After trying to take some pictures of the lights, I crawled back into my tent for more rest.