Day 7 of the journey began quietly in the hotel in Ross River with laundry drying in the sun and Rudi’s blogging catch up game in the dining room. but once the boys hit the road at 10 a.m. that all changed.
Seventy more miles of dirt roads lined up before they got to Carmacks, plus another couple of hundred of mixed road conditions on the Klondike Highway before Dawson City on the banks of the mighty Yukon River where they would board a ferry and cross over to the “Top of the World Highway” and another 125 miles of slippery, crunchy dirt to their final destination, the Poker Creek border crossing into Alaska, and then another 50 miles of grit and grime into the renowned metropolis of Chicken, Alaska, population 43 in the “high season”. Whew!
This day became a race against time since the border closed at 9 p.m. Canadian time, and the ferry offered a delay followed by a road that is very difficult to ride when its wet, Top Of the World for 125 miles at the end of what would be a 504 mile day. Rudi is no spring chicken, and this day would demand it all from him. “Serves him right”, murmurs the audience.
The proprietor of the Moose Creek Lodge here, warned us like the ancient muse, “Beware the Top of the World” when it rains, and the Taylor Highway into Chicken is even worse” she chanted as we ate the pastries offered to us. “Beware”.
As the ferry hit the northern bank of the Yukon, some ominous booms of thunder in the distance told us we now has less than 90 minutes to rine the 70 miles of dirt on the top of the ridge line to the border station … and no where to camp if we didn’t make it. What we did have was plenty of daylight … about 20 hours of it each day.
We hammered our way up the steep roads to the top and got hit by a strong rain, that did let up some, and eventually turned into a beautiful sunset (if the sun ever set).
We arrived at the windswept border station 10 minutes before closing time, making the resident bureaucrats ecstatic and joyful.
The U.S. male border guard took this shot and gave us some advie about the Dalton since he had been turned bck in May there on his KLR650 by a blizzard on Antigun Pass in the Brooks Range.
The female Canadian guard turned her three German Shepherds out and one shot up to my chest growling and the other took a small bite out of Jesse’s hand. “They’re only playing” she said with a grin.
As we tried to take more photos she closed the border gate and yelled “Get out of here”, or something similar, and closed the gate as Jesse passed through. I showed up and she grudgingly opened it barely wide enough to squeeze mighty Bertha through before it clanged shot on my rear fender. She was not representative of the Canadians we met on the trip by a long shot. Friendly, helpful and playlful would be a good description of them, you betcha’.
The Taylor Highway droops steeply down the mountains after you enter Alaska and the surface of the road is rotten and slippery, even in the dry … which it was by then. We had another 45 miles of this stuff to negotiate before getting to Chicken and a rest. Jesse Gave Rudi some energy gels to bolster his stamina for the final push into the 12th and 13 hours of this epic ride.
Our arrival into Chicken was subdued and it was 11 p.m. (and full daylight) before we could climb off the bikes and flop down in our spartan (no lights, bath, water, heat etc. mini-cabin for a rest). They did have cold beer and Rudi still hoards his grog though.
504 miles in a run for the border that even Clint would like. Like in Eastwood.
Tomorrow is a milk run of 330 miles or so into Fairbanks, only about 40 on gravel. Did Rudi just say that is a “milk run?”
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