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.

5 Finger Rapids

            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.

            From 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. 

          Near Dawson, the remains of a dredge decayed in a pond by the side of the road, surrounded by...

Roadside dredge

... the incredible piles of gravel left by dredging operations..

Dawson spoil heaps

          Dawson 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.  

Dawson bank

          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.

The Dawson Hote

           Heading 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 24 hour sun on the summer solstice.

Dawson overlook

          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. 

The Klondike Inn

            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:  1800-881-0750

            Sunset 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.

            I 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.

            I hoped 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.