|7-27-04 Whitehorse, the Yukon Territory to Dawson, the Yukon Territory|
Up the Highway 2 out of Whitehorse for Dawson.
The morning started out cold, and I was getting air infiltrating around my neck.
Folding and wrapping a towel around my neck stopped the incursion of cold
air, but I was still chilled.
Just outside of Whitehorse is an
overlook of the famous Yukon River 5-Finger Rapids, a major obstacle to
the miners flooding towards Dawson during the gold rush days.
| At my first rest
stop, I closed the helmet vents, which helped.
I gassed up
at Carmacks. While walking over to pay,
a mud-spattered silver BMW loaded with gear rolled in from the north and parked next to my bike. The attendant said I had enough gas to make it
to Stewart’s Crossing, and that the next town, Pelly Crossing, sometimes had
bad gas. I thanked her for her advice and headed back to my bike.
The driver of the silver
BMW was Otto from Toronto. He spoke with a German accent and was very friendly. He
had a homemade wooden case holding a car radio and CD player in his tank bag,
which he showed me with obvious pride. He was on his way back
from the Dalton Highway via the Top of the World
Highway. He’d tried the Dempster, but
turned back after encountering thick mud.
He exuded enjoyment. He was due back in Toronto in
two weeks. After
discussing maps and routes, we wished each other luck and departed in opposite directions.
the Stewart's Crossing fuel stop I made it all the way to Dawson. I passed
the start of the Dempster at the Klondike Inn, around 8 miles south of Dawson.
the remains of a dredge decayed in a pond by the side of the road, surrounded by...
... the incredible piles of
gravel left by dredging operations..
began its gold history as a placer-mining region. Once the easy gold
had been panned out of the creeks, dredging companies bought out and
consolidated the claims. A dredge works by scooping out the gravel in
front of it. Water flows into the excavation, allowing the dredge to
advance. The gravel is processed to remove the gold, and the tailings
are dumped out the back.
The entire valley to the south of Dawson is covered with serpentine rows of gravel.
The last few miles of road into Dawson was under construction. It
gave me a taste of a gravelly, wet, muddy road. The bike was
wiggly. Once in town, I headed for the ATM.
From the bank, I walked across the street to the Downtown
Hotel, which had a sign in the window saying “BMW Parking Only”. I left a note to Dick saying “Hi”, from
Reid and said I’d stop back on the way
south. Dick was at home taking a nap... at 5:30 PM.
back out of
town, I took a side road called the "Dome Road".
The road climbed to a peak overlooking Dawson and the river
valley. From this peak and elevation, it is possible to see the
sun on the summer solstice.
I talked with
two retired Rv'ers, one from Arizona and one from Colorado. The guy from CO had ridden dirt bikes for years.
As we talked, a heavily laden fire bomber took off
from Dawson Airport, flew below us down the valley, and
executed a ponderous turn to the south. Fires were burning
throughout the area.
| To the Klondike Lodge for supper and a room. The lodge was
done in a log cabin style. My supper was
huge: 2 giant pork chops. It was my only meal of the day, but I still
couldn’t finish it. |
There were a number of
fire crews staying at hotel, fighting fires off the Dempster. I asked them and was told the road was not threatened. They told me to keep checking. Conditions changed quickly.
Dempster Highway info:
tonight was at 11:45 PM. The weather may cooperate…today’s
showers did not materialize, or I was in
a clear spot. Strangely, the air temperature seemed to warm as the evening progressed.
Clouds also started clearing.
I was almost tempted to take off on an evening run.
spent the rest of the night before bedtime scribbling down a bunch of fuel calculations based on
different miles per gallon. Can I make it without reserve? The first
run is to Eagle Plains, and there is no fuel available until then. Eagle
Plains looks at 50 mpg to be within range without too much effort. At 40 mpg, I'm going to be sweating in the cold.
there would be fire crews traveling north as well. There were no bikes at the lodge. I didn't want to be the only one on the Dempster.