Epilogue – Yukon-Alaska 2019 “Two Country, Two Province, Two Territory and Two Iron Butt Tour”
Have been thinking on how to finish up this wonderful ride. It was an eye opener, as well as a good lesson in our history and what was accomplished with very little. The land was and still is quite harsh, with lots of distance between stops and towns. There were a lot of road signs about wild life, but we found this to be hit and miss, with more misses than hits.
The roads were quite good and road construction was not as extensive as we had thought. The road surface is a clear seal that I would categorize as one grade rougher than a tar and gravel surface, and because of this, tires take a beating.
Weather is a constant challenge to predict. Having a variety of clothes and riding gear to suit is a must. The good part of this is the newer textiles for travel/hiking and such are well suited to taking on a motorcycle trip such as this. Packing and amount of clothing that can be taken can be increased using the same space as that for clothing that was more bulky in the past. The issue here is that this can allow you to take more than required. The newer “quick dry” clothing can be washed in the evening and be dry by morning, very convenient.
Maintenance and trip preparation does not take as long as one would expect. We started thinking and planning this trip with 4 months to go. Sonya took on the planning, research into what was possibly available to see/visit, and I took on the “get the bike ready” requirements.
I have mentioned that there is a lot to be seen and to visit, but having been there would recommend what I have posted for timeline guidance. One evening and part of the next morning for Watson Lake. An hour or so to visit signpost forest and 1 1/2 hours for a visit to the Northern Lights Centre is a must. Dawson Creek needs two nights and one day for the town.
Dawson City two nights and one day for sight seeing. Famous Canadians from this town are Pierre Burton, Jack London, and Robert Service. It was also interesting to have complete daylight at midnight, something you can only read about in the more southern areas.
Whitehorse needs two nights and one day to see the town. Lots of places to visit but only need one day to do so. The Macbride Museum has Sam McGee's original cabin and the history of the famous poem is well presented.
Fort Nelson can be done with one night, has a nice town museum. If you are going to drop up into the Northwest Territories from Fort Nelson, spend an extra night.
Lots of open roads with nothing in between gas stops. If your motorcycle can do 250 Kms, no worries on the gas stops; however, if you need to stretch your legs and there is fuel, top up, can't hurt.
We had a leisurely trip in a sense. Most Kms in a day was around 520, think we hit 600ish one day. Still an easy ride considering there was no real historic type stops en route. First day took us from Victoria to Clearwater, BC. Second day to Hinton, Alberta. Third day up to Dawson Creek, start of the Alaska Highway. Next jaunt was to Watson Lake, BC, and then up to Whitehorse. From Whitehorse up to Dawson City in the Yukon.
We then had to retrace our steps, going from Dawson City, Yukon, to Whitehorse. From Whitehorse to Baby Nuggett City just outside Watson Lake. We then took the 37 down to Stewart, BC and Hyder, Alaska. Continued on down through Prince George, taking the 97 down to cache Creek and then the number 1 into Hope and to Tsawwassen for the ferry over to the island.
It was a long, but good trip. Some 7342 Kms and 19 days, almost a years Kms for some. Spent $662.00 on fuel, meals were $1185.00, accommodations $2178.00, and snacks/coffee of $200.00. Had some misc expenses such as museum costs, exhibit entries of $424.00.
Had to do a fix of the trailer hitch in Fort Nelson. My initial install didn't work out quite as I planned so had to replace the securing brackets with u-bolts, wanted to do this before we left, but couldn't find the u-bolts, and time was of the essence. I found that the tool kit of the 1500 was not as good as I expected and had to buy some inexpensive tools to do the job. I have started to put together a better tool kit and have learned from this experience to start any mods to the motorcycle a bit earlier.
Met quite a few motorcyclists on the trip. Discussed the different bikes being used and issues encountered.
I would propose that the highest priority item for a trip such as this is tires. I mention this because motorcycle tire shops are far and few between. On the way north, Hinton Alberta, Grande Prairie, Dawson Creek, Whitehorse on the way up are your supply towns. On the way south depending on your direction, Prince George, Prince Rupert, and once past these, should be okay. Venturing into Alaska, you have Fairbanks and Skagway, maybe a couple more. If you are concerned with tires, phone ahead and make arrangements to have tires available.
Other than this, do all the maintenance you possibly can before you go. Any item that you think you can put off until you return should be done before you go, you don't want any surprises. No matter how much you do, there will always be something to catch your attention.
Met some riders on adventure bikes in Dawson City heading for Whitehorse to do bike maintenance such as oil change, chain and sprocket replacement. If you have the space, a spare chain is good, as are new sprockets for your bike. Shaft drive motorcycles are much better, but I'm certain that these have issues.
I have mentioned that we had a Delorme inReach Explorer sat tracker. Highly recommended to have such an item, especially one that can be used to send and receive text and emails. You will find a lot of areas where there is no cell phone coverage, and if things go awry, you can be waiting for quite a while. We had to use the email function a couple of times when there was no cell phone coverage, or internet availability. I cannot compare the unit I have with the SPOT variant, but can say that email and text functions of the Explorer is very calming on a trip such as this, especially if you are travelling solo, and there are a lot of solo riders on the road.
Talked to a rider in Dawson City who was riding a Vstrom 650. He had upgraded the suspension to meet his weight requirements and riding style. Had a good selection of additional items such as the Garmin Exporer, USB attachments and such. He mentioned that he got good fuel economy as well with the bike fully loaded.
There were a considerable number of adventure style motorcycles. A lot of BMW GSA types, triumph Tiger 800s, Vstroms, and such. HDs and Goldwings were also prevalent. I'm certain that I have missed some, but suffice it to say that almost any motorcycle capable of going 250 Kms between gas stops can make the pilgrimage north.
Would I recommend this trip, definitely. It is a must to learn about our north, and the US north. There is a romance attached to the north and with it from the gold rush. There is also a reality about the north of today that is quite different from our romantic notions. Expect long stretches with the same scenery, and no wildlife, and no traffic either way. It's a bucket list trip, with many doing this trek more than once. To do and see everything the north has to offer does take more than one trip, but expect to see the same sites each time.
Thanks to all who have been following our trip, and have read and commented on my posts. Cheers
"When writing the story of your life, Don't let anyone else hold the pen"