We left Tok about 9:30 AM in a constant drizzle to worse of rain and headed for Eagle, Yukon Territory over the Taylor Highway. And what a beautiful ride it was!
The rain stopped and it cleared off by the time we had rode about 40 miles. After that there was only a few sprinkles here and there.
The Taylor hwy, is now (since I was over it a number of years ago) paved to within about two miles of the small mining town of Chicken. After that it is dirt and gravel. The highway runs mostly along ridge tops and the views are truly staggering...especially in the vastness of the country. It is really hard to describe...and because with a mere camera and lens it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to show you any scale of size, so that you can tell how big everything really is.......and I do mean BIG!
We had lunch at the cafe in Chicken and the bison chili was very good.
The sun started to peek out as we left Chicken and headed for the village of Eagle (Alaska) on the Yukon River. We had decided to take this trip as neither one of has every been to Eagle. The scenery was truly breathtaking with the road running right along side deep gorges, and then over the tops of ridges above the tree line where the views are incredible. There are miles and miles of rolling hills with big mountains in the far distance, the 40 Mile River, and mining operations in size from suction dredges to "Cat Mines" (using heavy equipment).
Now before any of you start screaming some environmentalmantra about destroying the environment with placer gold mining, you need to know a few things about mining......and I know a bit about placer mining, because we mined in my family for five generations (counting our youngest daughter and her husband). The environmental regulations for mining are very stringent and if they are violated the miners get fined and can be shut down.
And remember this....if you use it it is either grown or mined. There is no other way to get the raw material to make eveything you and I use. Even sythetic clothes are made from crude oil!!! It doesen't just fall out of the sky
One of the biggest environmental mining disasters in mining history was directly caused by the EPA in Colorado....look it up yourself......google it. If I remember correctly it was on the Animus River.
We stopped at the 40 Mile River Bridge for a look see and to use the out door plumbing.
By the looks of the tracks it seems that even the local grizzly bear are house broke
We were surprised at how big the town of Eagle is. It is in a beautiful setting on the banks of the Yukon River and is a thriving community indeed.
We camped at a nice BLM campground for $12 a night.
We were up at 5:45 the next morning. As we were listening to the quietness of it all, with the sound of the creek in the background, we heard a pack of wolves howling.....what a nice way to wake up!! It sure beats a morning commute to work in stop and go traffic (although I have never had to experience that, thank God!!!).
The park attendant came by in the morning. A very nice We had a great chat. He asked me how I thought the road was coming in and I told him was in excellent shape. Then I asked him why he would ask that questions. Lana and I got a great laugh out of his reply. It seems a tourist [known as a cheechako (greenhorn or newcomer) in the Alaska Native language. The attendant said she could fly out of Eagle in a six seat single engine airplane. She wanted a jet and refused to fly in a small plane. So he told her she could hire a small boat to take her down the Yukon River to Circle where she could find a ride to Fairbanks over a very good gravel highway. She was aghast at such a suggestion. So he told her, "as those are the only three ways out of here, I suggest that you start building yourself a cabin before winter sets in." I still laugh as I type this.
We toured the old Fort Egberg. This is worth the ride just to tour the old fort. Fascinating history.
Although we had enough gas to get to back to Tok, we topped off the gas tanks on the bikes in Eagle. We like to run on the top half of the tank plus it helps the local economy. In remote areas you never know if there is going to be any gas at the next stop...they may have ran out of gas, or the pump is broke, or the power is out or, _______fill in the blank.
Lana's KLR 650 got 59.6 MPG!!!! My BMW 1150 GSA got 42 MPG. We had been traveling at less than 50 mph for all but 12 miles since the last fill up in Tok. And a good portion of the trip was at 30 to 40 mph. Lana is carrying about 50 pounds of gear and I have about 85 pounds. At that mileage she will be able to go a little further on her 6.1 gallon tank that I can go on my GS Adventures 8 gallon tank.
We paid for the gas ($3.95 gallon) and bought a few groceries, then rode down to the boat launch on the Yukon River for a lunch of peanut butter sandwiches. The Adams peanut butter needed to be stirred and spread, so rather than dig out the kitchen bag I carved a knife from a small piece of drift wood, (it is one of those "it saves washing dishes" thing). It was certainly a lovely place for a picnic lunch!
Then back to Tok we rode.
We were both tired when we got here, 212 miles of dodging pot holes for part of eight hours.......but it was still a wonderful ride. While going along at about 50 mph Lana had a cow moose stick her head out of the brush right beside her, acting like it was going to cross the road right in front of her bike. Lana said that the moose's head seemed as big as Lana's own body and really got her adrenaline pumping. Hitting a moose with a motorcycle is just not an option. We saw one other cow moose with a baby calf (got her on video with the GoPro camera), stopping back at a safe distance to wait for her and the calf to take their sweet time getting out of the road. We also saw one bull moose, two black bear, one weasel some caribou tracks, sans the caribou.
We camped at the motorcycle campground in Tok....Thompson's Eagle Claw Motorcycle Campground. It is a nice place to pitch your tent. They also have a Tepee, a wall tent and a small bunk house you can rent. We were in the "cheap seats" pitching our tent. The owner is very friendly and helpful. Fifteen dollars includes a tent sight, the sauna, a place to work on your bike and a place to cook, complete with cookware, stove and about anything else you might need but hadn't carried on your bike. A terrific deal.
We met some wonderful bikers there. The first person was Kristina Goodwin from Alaska. She was camping there on her way to Haines, Alaska and riding a BMW 650 GS with the coolest paint job we have ever seen. It was painted plaid!! Lana had been to the grocery store in Tok and bought enough food to eat for a couple of days. We invited Kristina to dine with us. We found her to be exceptionally intelligent in about any subject that you would want to bring up.....which I have found to be kind of unusual in today's world.
The next morning Lana and I said a prayer with her for her safe journey and she was off to Haines.
Then we met a couple for Steamboat Springs Colorado, Cadmus & Rachel Mazzarella, who were on a one year+ bike ride to Alaska and then to Tierra Del Fuego and possible beyond. We talked for several hours. A very bright and interesting young couple who seem to have a lot going for them and a very big adventuresome spirit. We hope to hook up with them this winter in Central or South America. Cadmus gave Lana his Cramp Buster. Lana now swears by it...Thank You Cadmus!!!
Tok to Beaver Creek, Yukon Territory
And then we were off to the Canadian Border at Beaver Creek, Yukon Territory. We got through the border with very little trouble (Thank you Doug L.!!) and we headed south.
We stopped Beaver Creek, for lunch in a small park at the visitors center. Lana made lunch from the food on our bikes, we topped of the gas tanks, and were back on the road again.
Some where along the road south of Beaver Creek we saw a small van that had backed off of a side road and at first glance, riding by at 60 MPH, looked like it was about to roll over. We turned around and went back to lend a hand and see if we could help them get it back on the road again.
As I pulled to a stop a very worried looking guy comes up and I said we stopped to lend a hand. He looked at my GS Adventure and said that he didn't think I could pull him out. I said you are right, but we can get you out. James and Bell are from London on a one year trip, London to Vancouver BC to Tierra Del Fuego. (Many if the people that we meet seem to be going there!!!)
They were smart enough to have brought a small folding shovel with them. Bell was digging away at the wheels. So I walked around the van and found that it was not in as precarious of a situation as I had first thought while riding by. It was a four wheel drive but it had to be moving before the 4x4 would engage....not a very good design for this sort of a situation. As they were unable to move forward to engage the 4x4, they were in two wheel drive. With it stuck in two wheel drive it had dug a hole with the right rear tire which was on the down hill side....NOT good. A little more spinning of the down hill tire and it might have gone over on its top in the bottom of the borrow ditch. They had done a really nice job converting this diesel powered van into a camper. We unloaded a bunch of their camping stuff to lighten the thing up a bit.
The left rear tire on the up hill side was barley touching the ground so I borrowed the shovel and started digging under the it to lower it and get the vehicle a bit more level. We were able to lower it down about six inches. Then we dug some ramps for the tires to run in. After about 15 minutes of digging, with James help, we were ready to give it a try. Bell got in the drivers seat--on the right hand side of this British rig--and James, Lana and I stood on the up hill side running board to help keep it from rolling over. Bell drove it right out with no problem! They were thrilled to be on their way again.
What we have found, quite surprisingly, is that there are lots of people that have just checked out of the "rat race" of life and decided to travel. Most of them say that they are very concerned about what is happening in the USA and the rest of the world. I am not sure if that was their deciding factor to up and leave but I would guess that it had at least some bearing on their decision.
The people that we have met that are not traveling for an extended period all wish that they were. However in nearly all of the conversations with these people it came to light that they are owned by their possessions or some other hang up in their lives, with comments something like this: "We really want to do something like you are doing and have talked about it many times, but we can't go because of______".... fill in the blank. And I fully understand that not everyone can, is able or even wants to do what we are doing, and I don't have a problem with that.
However the point that I am trying to make is this: Anyone with a half an ounce of grey matter can see that there are a lot of things that need to be changed in this world or we are going to keep going down this one way road at the current warp speed to destruction. If things in this world are going to change for the better then we have to do everything that we can to make that change. If we wait on someone else to do it, be it the government or ______(fill in the blank) we will wake up tomorrow to the world just as it was when we went to bed. The chances of the government making things better is near zero. We have to be the change that we wish to see in the world. If you are unable to do anything on your own to make a difference, then you can certainly help someone who can. We can all make a difference, in your community, town, city, state, nation and the world. I challenge you to go make a positive difference. Do not put it off waiting for the right timing!!!! The right time is NOW...today...this minute. SO GET UP OUT OF YOUR CHAIR AND GO AND MAKE A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE NOW!!!!!
From A Campground To Whitehorse Yukon Territory
We camped at a nice campground along a river on the Alaska Highway. Got up this morning packed up to leave when I noticed a bolt and a spacer missing from the mud flap in front of my left foot peg. I took a little time to dig out the tools and the handful of spare bolts, nuts and washers I carry. I found a bolt that would work, but did not have a spacer. I used some blue lock tight and put a bolt in with it. That will work until I can find something to make spacer out of.
We hit about 50 miles of road construction that was a breeze to get through. At one stop waiting for the pilot car, the flagger had us come to the front of the line of cars so we didn't have to eat dust for the next 30 Km of construction. That was very much appreciated!!!
We were out of clean cloths, in need of a bath, catch up on the blog, and the lap top battery was as good as dead, so we stayed in Whitehorse. It is far easier to camp out than to unload two bikes and haul all of the stuff up to a motel room....and the air is better and it is quieter when we camp.
We stopped and toured to paddle wheel steam boat "Klondike". During the late 1800's until the early 1900's this bat ran up and down the Yukon River hauling freight and passengers. It was a fascinating visit into the past.
We did not get on the road until about 3:30 in the afternoon.