The first couple days were pretty straight forward. Started in sunny SoCal and had to make it through the scorching desert of Nevada and Utah. It was not too pleasant riding in about 110 degree heat. Lucky there was not much traffic through Las Vegas so we were able to get past that section without burning up. It didn’t start to cool down until we got past St. George in Utah then it became a lot more tolerable. The first day to Salt Lake City would probably be our longest leg at just under 670 miles.
Day 2 was great riding weather as we made our way through Idaho and into Missoula, Montana. Nearly clear skies with patches of cloud and maybe mid 80 temp which was a huge difference than the 110 on the 1st day.
Day 3 destination was Banff, Canada. I have to say I really enjoyed the views and scenery around Banff and Jasper National Park. I am really sad to say I couldn’t take more pictures to do this area justice. We did have a fairly tight schedule so we couldn’t spend as much time as we wanted at various scenic spot. This is one area I would like to revisit and spend more time.
Coming up to Banff along the 93, we got our 1st taste of climatic changes. The 93 from Radium Hot Springs towards Banff were big sweepers, sky were mostly clear and the sun was out. We were having so much fun running this section that I missed a very scenic outlook as we zipped by. As we continued, it got darker, clouds blocked out the sun, and then it let loose on us.
IT was pouring on us to the point we slowed to about 30sih miles. There were a few turns the winds push us both out to the double yellow or edge as we were going through. It was not too cold and our suits did hold up well to the rain. It was not a long section so we were greeted to the sun again after we passed this thunderstorm.
Day 4, we left Banff and headed up to Grand Prairie through Jasper and the Icefield Parkway. I can’t say enough of the views in this place. The Icefield Parkway is a must see.
We did take a slight detour going up at the 93 and 1 split. Didn’t pay attention to the signs so we continued on the 1 till we got to Golden and realized it was the wrong turn. We had to back track and continue. After getting down from Jasper National Park, the weather was not as sunny and clear. We had clouds and encountered on and off rain for about 4 hours. It was not the thunderstorm we had in Banff but it was enough to make it cold and miserable. We got into our hotel late and barely had time to hit the Denny within the hotel before that closed for the night: P.
Along the way to the hotel, we came across a black bear crossing the road and two deers. The black bear was well ahead and we had pretty of time to slow and let it do its thing. The deers were a different story. The mama deer surprised us but we were able to slow down enough to within 15 feet. Then the baby deer decided to rush and catch up. My girlfriend almost slammed into the baby deer. She was leading this section so she came within a few feet of the baby. After this near encounter, we watched our speed on these roads.
Day 5, we left the hotel and had to deal with the rain until we finally made it to Dawson Creek. The start of the Alcan Highway: P. We started our Alcan experience with the sun and clear skies. Roads were still paved and the route is very scenic. As we got closer to our day’s destination, Muncho Lake, we were greeted with a few sections of nice canyon fun. We got into our lodge at a reasonable time (@8pm ish). After a nice meal, we attempted to head to the Liard Hot Springs. To our surprise, about 30 miles of the road to the hot springs was under construction with it mostly been loose gravel and dust. We attempted 20 miles and decided to head back to the lodge to call it a night.
Day 6, the road towards the Liard Hot Springs was a little easier. The gravel was packed more than the night before so riding was not so bad. This time we arrived at the hot spring. After some nudging from my girlfriend, we decide to take the time and waded into the hot spring. It is worth the $5 admission and a must visit. It’s somewhat of a walk from the parking area to the hot spring and there are separate changing room. The room is just an open area with bench along the wall and outside the room are some open storage to house your belongings.
The rest of the way after the hot spring was picturesque forest, mountains, bridge crossing and lakes. I believe it was this section of our trip that we encounter the most wildlife. Saw several black bears and a couple brown bear, a fox, porcupine, moose and bison. Saw a couple of lone male bison along the road. They were big, laying along the side of the road, and did not give a damn.
When we 1st left our lodge and was making our way towards Liard Hot Springs, we did encounter a herd of bison. About nearly a dozen were on the left side of the road, with male, females and young adults. We were advised to stay close like a pack. This was around the road construction section so we were behind vehicles. My girlfriend was near the center and tailgating the vehicle in front. I was on the right-side near the edge of the road and I guess I was not tailgating the vehicle in front enough.
As we were passing this herd, I noticed that a couple young adult bison were on my right. Maybe I was not grouped into the pack of vehicle enough or I decided to look at one bison on my right, but that one bison decided to start pacing me. Haha. That got me kinda freaked at that time. I thought he was going to pace and then charge at me. The bison let off as we moved through the herd though.
Made a stop at Watson Lake for the famous Sign Post Forest before getting into Whitehorse.
Day 7, Started off the day very badly. This was the day an asshole stole the brake hose (from the brake reservoir to master cylinder) off my bike. Spend 2-3 hours scrambling to find a replacement. Had a lunch and went to gas up. This was where I also lost the top to my quick release gas cap which I would not find out till about 2 hours later at our next gas stop.
There was no use attempting to run back to Whitehorse, hope the top was there, and come back again wasting 4 hours. I had to have some type of cover beside the tank bag sitting over the gas tank opening. I went into the store, looked around for idea and guess Coke can came to mind for some reason. It was smaller than the normal size can but the size somewhat match the gas opening. Coke was bought, drank, crushed, and the duct tape over the gas tank :P This would eventually last me all the way up and back to Prudhoe. I had replacement expedited to hotel in Fairbanks.
The road condition from Whitehorse towards Dawson started pretty good then we encountered loose gravels, muddy construction zone, bumpy and uneven surfaces that had us bouncing off our seat at times even though mostly paved roads.
We arrived into Dawson and it was like a scene out of an old spaghetti western movie with time period correct building and unpaved dirt roads. Found a nice little Greek restaurant, Drunken Goat for a nice meal and wine.
It was time to hop over to the Downtown Hotel for the SourToe Cocktail famous in Dawson. It is an actual human toe dehydrated and preserved in salt used in a cocktail of your choice. I chose tequila as my poison. There was a long line for the challenge. I waited my turn, sat down, gave my name (for the certificate), kiss the toe, they dropped into my tequila shot, I took the shot and let the toe touch my lips again. The rule was “You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow—but the lips have gotta touch the toe.” This is one of those thing on a trip you had to do just because of the freak factor. We checked out the old time casino and can-can dancers before calling it a night.
Day 8, Dawson was right next to the Yukon River and we had to cross it. It was a very short ferry ride over and then we started our run on the Top of the World Highway. It is roughly 60ish miles from Dawson to the US-Canada border along the Top of the World Highway but would take us close to 4 hours.
This might be consider a Dalton-lite road. The early part of it was paved once you get off the ferry. Then it was mostly unpaved, loose gravel, packed dirt road with some elevation changes. You do get a sense of riding along the top of the mountain ridge with more mountains, clouds, and sky on either side. It was not raining so that was a big plus for us. It was girlfriend 1st time riding her little Ninja 300 on such road conditions. She almost exclaimed that I was trying to get her killed so I could get a new girlfriend. She is a trooper.
The road up to and after the US-Canada border was nicely paved but went back to the unpaved, loose gravel on dirt road and about 6% down grade towards Chicken, AK. Of course, we had to have chicken pot pie and chicken noodle soup at Chicken Alaska haha.
There was construction right next to Chicken so the condition was a little worse than at Top of the World. We also got stuck behind a pilot car and a disabled RV that was been towed out. I forgot how long it took or how many miles but we finally got past that and onto decently paved road. The road reconnected with the Alcan Highway at Tetlin Junction.
This good paved road all the way into Fairbanks. Along the way, we passed by what looked like a dozen adventure riders. It seems it was a group of Polish visitor doing their Alaska run. At the North Pole, we had to stop by and visit Santa. We would not have a chance visit inside the shop as we got there well after it closed (@9:00pm).
After we checked into our hotel, I had to make a call to Dan @ Adventure Cycleworks. I had been communicating with him about our arrival date and requested for oil and chain work. Oil filter, chain and sprockets were ordered and been shipped to Dan prior to us leaving on our trip. He was nice enough to be willing to do the work at that time instead of the following morning.
Dan was not too far from our hotel in Fairbanks. We got there, waited and chatted a bit while he did the work. Dan advised us of the danger of the Dalton and the cost to be rescue via helicopter if disaster should befall us. We were still determined to make the journey. We got back to the hotel again and had to call a night since it was about 1am.