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 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.

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

  1. jarla says:

    Hi Lenny,

    Am vicariously enjoying your trip. Only difference is I get to stay warm and dry.
    Great pics and good writing. Thanks for sharing all this with us.

  2. Tracy says:

    OMG, the pics of the Northern Lights are something else! I’m so jealous right now. I’m glad the guys woke you up!!!!

  3. Keith says:

    First, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Keith and I am Lisa Allen’s husband.

    Second, Congratulations on reaching the Arctic Circle.

    Finally, have a safe trip and keep taking pictures. They are beautiful.

  4. Deborah says:

    The photos…and your journaling…absolutely fantastic, Lenny. This is the trip of a lifetime…and I’m grateful to share in it …

  5. Lynn Hilliard says:

    Hi Lenny, You’ll be up and moving soon but just wanted you to know how much I’m enjoying these pictures. Fantastic. You’re soooo lucky. Have fun and keep the pictures coming – they’re amazing. Lynn

  6. Dave Griggs says:

    Those pics of the Northern Lights are incredible! Something I’ve always wanted to witness – someday. I could only imagine what it looked like in person…. great stuff.

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