Woke up very early this AM. But went to bed very early in the PM.
4:30 I awoke to the rustling of Geoff already beginning to pack. I let the air out of my sleeping pad, and went outside to see what the situation looked like.
It had rained a bit the night before, it had woke me up around midnight with it’s loud thumps against the outside of my rainfly.
I am glad that I had decided to pitch my rainfly, although the sky was overcast, I wasn’t sure if it was going to rain. The forecast mentioned nothing of it for the Coldfoot area, but I take weather reports with a grain of salt, living in the Pacific Northwest, you soon realize that they are typically wrong.
It wasn’t bad, it seems that the rain was louder than actually fell. The ground, although not dusty on top, was still dry below, without much disturbance.
We packed up all our gear, and soon set off around 6am, when “quiet time” is over. With my exhaust the way it is, I didn’t want to completely piss people off.
We pushed on through the morning, coming up on some spectacular views, and while the road wasn’t great, it was good enough to sustain a comfortable 50 to 60mph.
We wanted to make sure we conserved as much fuel as possible, so even the area’s that we could push harder, we chose not to. It is 240 miles between Coldfoot and Deadhorse, with no Fuel Stops along the way.
Eventually, we came to Atigun Pass. The highest pass crossing on the Dalton.
As the tree’s thinned out, the features of the mountains were much more noticeable. The way they jig jagged across the terrain, their pointy rock formations pointing out every which direction in sharp contrasts to the smooth rolling hills below.
They looked so spectacular in the early morning sun that broke through the clouds in area’s, with the green vegetation that covered them from the valley below to the tops.
As I pondered it, and looked at them, it reminded me of photo’s I’ve seen of New Zealand. When Geoff and I finally came to a stop, Geoff said they are some of the most amazing mountain features he’s seen.
I commented to him, that it reminded me of the photo’s and video’s I’ve seen of New Zealand, and he agreed that they are very much alike. Having been there himself, he would know.
As we winded through the landscape, there always seemed to be a water feature within view. Not once through this stretch did my eyes not catch a small pond, lake, river, or even a stream.
The water is so clear, it reflects everything around it, standing at it, you can see clearly to the bottom of the shallow ponds.
We finally came to a bridge, with a small turnout. We decided to take a break. We were just over a 3rd of the way to Deadhorse.
Taking a break, I removed my Hydration Pack. I’ve been wearing this every day since leaving, as it is a easy way to access water when thirsty on the road.
We took some pictures, had a snack, and before long we set back up the road.
About 6 miles in, we came across another wonderful lake. We took some pictures, and begun to take off, when I realized I wasn’t wearing my pack.
I motioned to Geoff that I was turning around and for him to go on. The only place I could have left my pack was back where we stopped.
I raced back as fast as I thought safe on the roads, scanning the area for my pack.
About 5 minutes later, I came to the pullout, and no pack to be seen. I got off my back to double check along the bank, and as I walked back to my bike, there it was, hanging from my gas jug.
A strap had caught, and prevented it from falling off of the topbox, where I had left it.
Had I taken the moment to check my bike over before heading back, I could have prevented the waste of much needed fuel.
Now I was stuck with a 14 mile round trip, as speeds well over what we were traveling.
I met Geoff not far up from where I had turn around. He was on the side of the road putting on a sweater, as the climate was starting to chill a lot more at this location. Much contrast to the warm weather we experienced in Coldfoot, we were actually dropping in temperature with every mile we traveled it seemed.
He thought I had went back for more photo’s, not realizing I had thought I lost my pack.
With that we pushed on again at our normal fuel ration pace.
As the miles counted down, I was constantly doing math, I knew how far it was to Deadhorse, how much fuel my tank held, and how much it had on reserve.
Figuring at the low end of my fuel mileage, I would have to surpass 170 miles before hitting reserve, and then eventually breaking into my 1 gallon spare fuel tank.
If I made it beyond 214 miles, it would mean I would just have to use reserve.
As we pushed on, 170 miles came up. Then 180, then 190. Still no sputter to reserve.
200 miles crept up, still no reserve. Then 214, 215. Still no reserve. At this point, I sighed a huge sigh of relief.
I stopped looking down what seemed to be every 5 seconds, and forced my concentration on the road, as we were now coming up to the hardest parts.
First it starts off as gravel, instead of the hard pack surface. The berms pull you from side to side, the washboards rutted into the ground shake you, while bouncing the bike all over. This reminded me of our roads in summer time on the farm after potato harvest.
The trucks in and out of the fields would just destroy the roads, making them extremely bumpy, but this situation was very common, and it did not make me feel uncomfortable once bit.
Then the construction area’s.
They put water down on top of freshly disturbed road bed. Your bike slides side to side, you feel as it pulls you, and your only defense is to hope it doesn’t pull you down, or off the road into the marshy tundra.
Then you come up on a small patch of Pavement near Happy Valley, you sigh a bit of relief as you dodge the potholes, but then the road goes back to gravel. Wait, no, this isn’t gravel, this is ROCK.
Huge pieces of rock litter the road. It is like they put down the roadbed and said “Ok, that’s good enough”.
You bounce side to side, hoping you do not catch one wrong and tear the sidewall of your tires. You find the best possible route, and scan ahead constantly for oncoming trucks. Large chunks of river rock the size of your head litter the road, and before long I made a game out of it. The most entertainment I’ve had in weeks!
As a truck was oncoming, and I began to move into my right hand lane, that’s when the sputter happened. Just 14 miles out of Deadhorse. I quickly turned the valve to reserve, and continued on.
I looked down, and I was now 240 miles in. (226 miles traveled on the highway)
I was in good shape, the calculations came that I was in excess of 48 miles to the gallon. Much higher than I have ever achieved before.
I also realized, that had I not had to make the high speed detour, I would have made it to Deadhorse on my tank alone without the need of its reserves.
We finally pushed on through the last of the rocky road, and were back into a mixture of hard pack and gravel.
At this point, we also hit Road Construction. It looks as if they are widening the road, and they were running water trucks up and down, while dumping dirt, rock and calcium chloride down.
This mixture made a rather sloppy top layer that was a bit squiggly on the overloaded KLR, but reminded me of making a mess of the irrigation holding ponds after we had let them start to go dry at the end of the year. Again, nothing that made me feel uncomfortable, as it was something I grew up riding in.
Soon, the outline of massive equipment, pipes, and buildings became visible in the fog, as we inched closer and closer, the outline of a settlement appeared, and soon, we made a 90 degree turn to the left, and we had entered Deadhorse, the official end of the Dalton Highway, and the end of the road.
We first stopped at the Arctic Caribou Inn to make sure our Tour Reservations were scheduled, and to pay.
We then went to locate the Prudhoe Bay Mote
After finally locating it and checking in, we took a moment to rest ourselves before heading out into the “streets” of Deadhorse.
There are a lot of Multi Purpose shops.
The Napa acts as a General Store, Automotive Supply, and Post Office. We walked to this part of town, getting the glance by everyone passing us in their pickups and other various vehicles. I do not think very many people walk the muddy dirt roads of this place.
A true “Industrial” Village, as there is no Grocery Store.
All staff live in the various residences that are provided to them, with meals round the clock.
For tourists, it’s 110 dollars at the Prudhoe Bay Hotel per person for a 2 bed room, that includes meals as well.
Dinner was much better than I had expected.
Strip steak cooked to your liking (Medium Rare for me) it was both cooked properly, tender, and tasty.
It is buffet style here, with fresh cooked meals. The food is actually damned good.
Other things I realized. Cell Service, and WiFi!
Although Wifi is at charge. It’s not free, but at 20 dollars a week, it’s not terrible either. There are longer term options, but the 20 dollars a week is cheaper than buying 3 days of it.
After Dinner, I went to the Post Office, and mailed out a few Post Cards, and came back to our room, sat down and started to go through pictures, and eventually type this.
I’m looking forward to our tour tomorrow, finally I will have made it to the Arctic Ocean, putting an end to a part of this incredible journey I have made. Although thousands of people have done it in the past, it is still an achievement I’ve wanted to complete sometime in my life, and finally that will come to an end.
Getting this far, has been an amazing adventure, and I hope that one day, I will be able to replicate it, in some other part of the world.