July 29-30, Epic Ride Days 20-21:
Tonight, Jim and I are in Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory. Does anyone else remember Sgt Preston of the Royal Canadian Mounties and his “great husky” King? “On King; on you great husky!”
We put on lots of miles in the last couple of days. The first 600 or so was in Jim’s friend’s John’s employer’s (how ’bout that for linked possessives?) Cessna Caravan. The Caravan is a workhorse airplane powered by a Pratt & Whitney PT-6 turboprop. Wright Air Services has ten of them and runs scheduled operations to villages that can’t be reached by car or truck. We flew to Tanana and Husila, carrying two passengers to Tanana, picking up three in Husila, and off-loading a bit of freight. The airports had gravel runways, and John shot a partial instrument approach to Husila. Modern GPS has transformed flying in Alaska and greatly increased safety and reliability of service.
Here’s a picture of me in the right seat of the Caravan (getting me into the right seat of the Caravan was almost as interesting as getting me out of it):
Here we are landing at Tanana:
And here are Jim and John just prior to boarding for takeoff from Husila:
And here’s the Caravan at Husila:
All this aviating put us late leaving Fairbanks, but we did get new batteries for my SPOT, so our track from Fairbanks to Tok and from Tok to Whitehorse are more complete than the last couple of days around Fairbanks.
We missed a great opportunity to ride the “Haul Road.” (For non-long-distance motorcycle people reading this blog, the Haul Road is the road to Prudhoe Bay and can be one of the toughest 400+ miles anywhere. We chose not to ride it on our plastic bikes and had no regrets about that decision. But after we got to Tok last night, I noticed that just out of Delta Junction was the “Haul Road,” maybe 1 kilometer long. And we missed it!
Today we re-rode the stretch from Tok to Whitehorse that had been so miserable as we were going to Alaska. Then the wind was blowing and the rains were falling, and the highway construction, combined with the rain and the wind, raised our “pucker factor” to uncomfortable levels. Today, the weather was beautiful and even though there was still 50+ miles of construction, it was much more enjoyable.
We’ve been carrying the “You Meet the Nicest People on NT-Owners.org” banner and should have gotten a picture with it with Marcus and John and Dianne, but we didn’t think about it. So we dug it out and got pictures of ourselves at the Alaska-Yukon border. The border has a 15-foot clear-cut demarcation line signifying the friendship between our two nations. We appreciate the two ladies from Alberta who took the pictures:
Kluane Lake was beautiful as was the eastern edge of the Elias Mountains.
As we were checking in, we met another more ambitious motorcycling couple. This one was from Argentina. He had ridden from the southern-most tip of South America to Columbia, had his bike transported to Panama by sailboat, and she flew into Panama to join him for the rest of the ride to Prudhoe Bay and back to Argentina. They were riding a Honda Trans-Alp, an off-road cousin of Jim’s and my NT-700VA’s.
They had everything on that bike and it was a very good thing that she was a tiny person…there wouldn’t have been any room for anyone any larger!
Monday, John and Dianne Pearson’s to Tok: Day, 248 miles; Trip, 5895 miles.
Tuesday: Tok to Whitehorse: Day, 388 miles, Trip, 6,283 miles; Year, 12,183 miles.
And a sorta’ significant number. My bike passed 64,000 miles today. We were riding in rough, loose gravel at the time, so I took a picture at 64064:
Tomorrow, we continue to backtrack until we get to the junction with the Cassier Highway, and then we’ll take it south to Dease Lake, British Columbia. The next day will see us in Stewart, BC, and Hyder, Alaska, a “Quaint Little Beer-Drinking Village with a Bear Problem.”