Today was a good day. I overslept, but
I got up and packed the bike.
I wanted to leave before Jason and Scott as I had been using them as my
safety net. But it was not to be. They left before I did and were busy
having breakfast by the time I rode over to get gas. After gassing up the
bike I had some breakfast at the restaurant. I ordered 2 eggs, hash browns,
and toast. I don't know what kind of chickens they have in
Alaska, but it looked like I got 5 eggs. I also got
around 1/2 lb of hash browns. This breakfast was huge! While eating I met a
guy on the way down from Deadhorse on a Harley. He’s a photographer and has
been loving his trip. He is up north touring all of remote
Alaska. He filled me in on the road conditions and
we went our different ways.
I went out to the bike and
put away my heated vest, it was already in the 80's. To pack it up though, I
had to take the spare tires off the bike to get to the saddle bag. I stopped
removing my gear from the saddlebag lids in order to gain access (tent, or
sleeping bag & rain suit). Once everything was loaded back up, I set out.
Next stop Deadhorse! (literally, as there are no other stops along they way)
As I left Coldfoot I made
sure to snap a pic of the "240 miles to next service" sign. This stretch of
the Dalton Hwy is the
longest in North America with no services.
Right after the sign, I saw a moose, and Jason speeding back to Coldfoot. I
asked if everything was alright. It seems he just forgot his debit card at
the restaurant. So what do you know, in the end I did get to leave before
Jason and Scott. The road was much like yesterday, mostly hardpack and
gravel. In the patches where the road is good, it is really good. I was able
to get up to 60 mph on the hardpack. But on the parts where it was bad, it
was much worse than yesterday. It’s rather interesting to be riding on a
rough, dirt and gravel road and see a “Rough Road Ahead” sign. How could it get
rougher than it already was? I quickly learned to pay close attention to
these signs. When the sign says rough road ahead, it means it!
Atigun Pass there was a patch of deep gravel.
This is the section the BMW riders had warned me of yesterday. I had
forgotten about this patch until I was almost in it. I managed to slow down,
and it’s a good thing I did. The gravel was between 2 and 3 inches deep.
There were several patches of deep gravel and a few of deep dirt on this
The scenery was outstanding.
I have snapped more pics these last 2 days than all the others combined.
Things got really exciting when I passed the tree line and headed into the
mountains. It was amazing. When I went over Atigun pass (the highest in Alaska), the temp dropped quite a bit. Then
the wind kicked up. After 50 miles or so, when I had had enough of being
cold, I pulled over and put on my heated liner. I also had some antacid. I
don't know what did it, but my stomach was in knots. I ended up having to
stop twice to "take care of business". Oh yeah, on the way down Atigun pass
I saw 7 dall sheep. But due to the road, I could not stop for pics.
The last 50 miles of the Dalton Hwy were the
worst. The road crews were repairing several stretches in this last 50
miles. In one spot there were large potholes the size of my fist and rocks
the size of my thumb. In another it was deep gravel that the crews had not
yet spread out. In another they had hosed down the road. In others they
dumped fresh dirt which had not yet been graded, which means that it was
loose and soft. The absolute worst part I hit was one of these dirt areas. A
grading truck about 1/2 mile ahead of me did a U turn real quick before I
caught up to him in order to grade my side of the road. When I got up to
him, he stopped. When they grade the roads up here they do one side, then
the other, then the middle. However, until they do the middle, there is an 8
inch mound of dirt running down the center of the road. So, as the grader
stopped in my lane, I moved into the left lane, oncoming traffic. Now this
sounds way worse than it is. While you see vehicles up here, you can go over
10 minutes without seeing a sole. So it's not like I was going to plow
headfirst into a car. It's just I was in the oncoming traffic’s lane. I'd
been riding in this lane for about 5 min, with the mound to my right, in the
middle of the hwy, when I saw a dust trail (you almost always see the huge
dust trails before the vehicle). I knew I had to get over into my lane,
across the dirt mound. I slowed down and gave it a go. The handlebars
started bucking wildly. It felt like they were slamming from stop to stop. I
muscled through it and made it into my lane, but I had thought for sure that
I was going down. These types of conditions are what I had been led to
believe the entire Haul Road would be
Other than the last 50 miles,
of which only 10 were really bad, it was pretty good riding. I was surprised
that 100 miles or so are paved. And some of the best road was the fresh hard
pack in the last 12 miles or so.
As I approached Deadhorse the
clouds rolled in. It was very overcast and then got even colder. The temps
had dropped into the 30’s as I rolled into town. I should have taken a pic
to remember my first look at Deadhorse. I found my way to the Arctic Caribou
Inn. They were full up and had no vacancies, so they directed me to the
Prudhoe Bay Hotel. As long as I was still at the Arctic Caribou Inn, I asked
about the tour. They requested my driver’s license. I told them I called
last night, but they wanted it anyway, so they got it. When I got to the
Prudhoe Bay Hotel I ended up with a private room w/bath for $125 (half the
price and a better room than at the Arctic Caribou Inn). The night’s room
payment also included meals, and they have food 24x7. For dinner I had 2 hot
dogs, rice, a salad, 2 white milks, and chocolate milk. I got me a t-shirt,
pin, and some post cards in the gift shop. I asked about a larger gift shop
and the clerk directed me to Brooks Range Supply over near Drill Station 12.
She gave me a map and away I went. On the way I saw two caribou with huge
antlers on the lakeside, but my camera was buried in my pocket. I got to the
store and took my pic at the Deadhorse sign. A worker was coming out and
offered to take my pic. He then told me to go get the bike for a second pic.
I thanked him for both. Inside I found two post cards, a patch, and a couple
On the way back to the hotel
I saw the two caribou again. I took some pics, and then parked the bike. I
set out on foot to track them down. I took many pics, let's hope they come
Then it was back to the room
and postcard time. I filled out 16 to send out.
Tomorrow I go for a dip in the Arctic Ocean.