Over Tok it seemed that all the long expected rain finally came to support the fire fighters, which are very active all over to fight the various fires in the region. the todays tour included another change from Alaska back to Canada. so the next days will be reported under Canada.
On the way, this black bear was sitting at the side of the road, very occupied with his lunch.
As the way to Valdez is a deae end road, the next day it goes up north again towards Tok, which is somehow the juntion in this region, where all trafic goes through. On the camping spot in Tok, there are also other bikers from various US states until down from California.
Short after the way back on the George Highway the Denali Highway, a graveled road starts to the left which goes from north east to south west through a breath taking landscape with snow covered mountains all around. Beside the DEmpster Highway to Inuvik, this was the most beatiful road up to now. After the Denali Highway, the road goes south towards Valdez, a little harbour with conncetion to the Pacific which was established during the gold rush times and provides fishing tours, hiking all around and is somehow a tourist attraction, mainly for all the RV`s which are visible more and more on the roads. A lot of americans spend their holidays in Alaska with their motor homes.
The Denali Park is one of the breath taking landscapes in Alaska with wildlife, magic sceneries and breathtaking views to the Mount McKinley, americas highest mountain, if the weather allows it. Most time the top is covered with clouds as it was also today. The park can only be entered with private vehicles for the first 10 miles. Up from there, guided bus tours can be booked on short notice which will go into the park with various durations and length. The 8 hour tour with 66 miles goes from the park entrance until Eielson Shutt and is long enough to fill the day with wild life watching and nature enjoying, seeing some Grizzly bears, Caribou, rackoons, and sometimes Moose. IT was very nice as the whole bus was given the target of wild life watching, so a the end we saw at least 5 Grizzly`s and the driver of course could tell the one and other story about the park.
bike maintenance and sighseeing in Anchorage
Arriving in Anchorage, my first target was the local BMW dealer in order to get a new rear tire mounted, as the old one with its hole wasn`t really trustable any more. The dealer was nice and promissed me to look after the bike the next day. So I started to search a motel with a reasonable price level as in Anchorage at this time it is high season and lot of motels are fully booked since weeks. I found one with a very nice korean owner who told about his faith in Jesus and we had a long and very good talk.
Leaving Tok in the morning with marvelous sunshine, soon after I found the moose, I was always thinking of: standing in the middle of the lake and eating. Further on the way there are various glaciers to be seen from the road. And as well one of the onliest still active vulcanes in Alaska.... or is it a fake? See yourself...
And late afternoon, I found a camp side near Palmer with a little lake for a refreshing bath. So finally I was swimming in one of Alaskas lakes.
It was finally time to leave Dawson and I went back to Alaska, this time direction to Anchorage. As the roads here in the north are very limited, I had to go again the same way over Tok/Alaska and the officers at the canadian/alaskan border in meanwhile already gave me a warm welcome back. After the obligatory coffee in Chicken/Alaska I arrived in Tok for the stay overnight.
The next morning promissed first to become sunny, but the more I drove towards east, the more clouds cme up and on the top of the world highway, it started a heavy and cold rain. The road, which was easy and smooth the last time got muddy soon and driving was a real challenge... finally I made it to Dawson and found a room in the already known Bunkhouse.
The plan was, to start the next day towards the Dempster Highway up north, but the weatherforecast prognosed rain for the next 2 days so it means waiting and preparing. At the tourist info, I got all the actual road conditions, recent reports from other travellers and also a bigger gas canister as a spare as the first part is about 407km till the next gas station.
With new oil and everything checked at the bike, I am leaving Fairbanks with direction again back to east to Dawson/Yukon. The trip is nice and interesting and although I did it already in the other direction, a lot of perspectives are new and I realized all the views which have been at my back when going west. Not beeing in a hurry and sunny weather, an overnight stop a the Tok camping ground seems a good idea. A steak and some beer from the supermarket near by do their part and the public grill in the camp ground was waiting for me...
Relax, reading and washing
Torn between my due date on monday and the plan to come to prudhoe bay, I tried again the next morning to go north and the first 10 km went well and easy but then the rain started again and the road got immediately slippery as ice. The trucks had pressed the mud to a compact surface which when wet, created a surface similar to soap. So I slowly slowly turned around and was glad when I reached the dry road after some time and drove back to Fairbanks. There, first of all a 2 hours washing of the bike and my legs was task as it was said, that the roads are treated with some chemicals to avoid dust, which when wet will stick to any material and never ever will get away any more...
The trip north was an impressive experience and I learned what my bike can do under of road conditions. The landscapes were impressive and I have at least reached, when not prudhoe bay but the arctic circle.
When we woke up the next morning, the sky had cleared up a bit and even some small blue stripes were visible. The road was in much better condition as the day before and we started the next try to go further north. After about 120 km, we came to the arctic circle.
According toWikipedia, the Arctic Circle is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. The Arctic Circle is the southernmost latitude in the Northern Hemisphere at which the sun can remain continuously above or below the horizon for 24 hours (at the June solstice and December solstice respectively). North of the Arctic Circle, the sun is above the horizon for 24 continuous hours at least once per year (and therefore visible at midnight) and below the horizon for 24 continuous hours at least once per year (and therefore not visible at noon). On the Arctic Circle those events occur, in principle, exactly once per year, at the June and December solstices, respectively.
The road changed between mud and gravel and also some paved parts and we arrived at 2 in the afternoon at Coldfoot for lunch. There we got the info, that at the pass to Prudhoe bay it was snowing and tire chains would be heavily required. That was not what we wanted to have and also the weather forecast for the next days wasn't any more positive. So I decided to turn around in order not to fail my already fixed service day on monday a fairbanks and the others installed their tent and wanted to wait the next day. I arrived again at 7 pm at the yukon river base camp and stayed there another night.
We finally started our trip north and it went on well at the beginning. The first 60 Km are still paved road and then the gravel road starts. There was heavy truck traffic, presumably as for friday morning the road was supposed to be open again and everybody had to get its goods transported as soon as possible. We made it that day until the yukon river bridge, where a base camp with restaurant waited for us to have lunch. In meanwhile it was every now and then raining and the road was wet, slippery and muddy. Especially the piece at the yukon its propably the worst. So we deciced to stay overnight and hoped, that the road will dry up until the next morning. In the meanwhile two GS 1200 riders joined us who got stuck right 3 km after the base camp where the bikes couldn`t be moved any further as the tires were full of mud.
day off with waiting if the dalton highway will open soon. It was closed the last 3 weeks due to ice melting and heavy flooding from the sag river. We will see, in any case I found here 2 other guys, Eddie and Jack Moran who want to do the tour, so we will go together.
Well, the rain stopped overnight and sun welcomed me, so I went on the road for Fairbanks, the last stop before the famous Dalton highway up north to Deadhorse/Prudhoe bay, the northern most point which can be reached by vehicle. The drive was marvelous and finally I met a moose, right beside the road, and near enough to get some nice pictures. And it is a male one, as I learned that they loose their antlers every year and get new ones in summer time. Then finally I made it to Fairbanks where I found a BMW dealer for the next service and lodged at Svens camping area.