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To the Second of the Last Three

June 17, 2010

Today started in the rain, and stayed rainy all morning as we continued northwesterly.  We arrived at what we presumed was a large lake, but it was called Destruction Bay and it had a distinctly tidal character to it.  At a service stop I was able to look at a large map to realize that this was, in fact, an inlet from the ocean cutting about 50 miles inland.  We saw grizzly bear ambling down a bank to the shore, but we were so cold and wet, we just let him go about his business and didn’t stop for his picture.

The afternoon leg gave us better weather, but took us over some of the roughest road we’ve encountered. Frost heaves had turned a long stretch of the road into a roller coaster.  Seb described the feeling aptly as what you’d expect riding a speed boat at high speed through a choppy sea.  But the real hazard was pavement that had deep ruts (6-12 inches dep) in the tarmac running along the length of the road.  They generally didn’t break through the surface to become potholes, but they were hard to see, and tended to pull the bikes off course suddenly.  The last 50 miles of the highway in the Yukon all the way up to the border were like this.

Construction was underway for the last several miles of the highway and we and our bikes got covered with clay-like mud,  that will probably never come off. 

But we finally made it.  We crossed the border into Alaska near Tok at about 4:00, and picked up another hour of daylight (as if we needed that!) as the time changed.  At the border crossing, my bike had one of its signature failures—chipping a couple of teeth off of one of its starter gears, but my trusty supply provided a replacement, and the border guard allowed me to fix it there in the customs parking lot.  After refueling bikes and bodies in Tok, we decided we were game for some more travel to get us further toward our temporary home base in Anchorage. 

We found a campground about 140 miles farther along, and camped for the night.  The campground was all but deserted of other campers, and unattended.  Although we’d been concerned about bears, the Bear Safe chart posted near the water tank said that if we ran a clean campsite  (we had no food, and bore no food odors—as far as we could tell) then we were only one step up the risk ladder than walking in a shopping mall.  We took encouragement from that, pitched our tent, built a fire and swatted mosquitoes until bedtime.

The last chunk of the Yukon and this first part of Alaska had us carving a wide circle  around the St Elias mountain range which includes Mt Logan, the highest peak in Canada and second highest in North America after Mt. McKinley.  I’m not sure were ever able to see Mt. Logan, but the mountain range it’s in—even from a distance was impressive.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jeff L permalink
    June 19, 2010 3:32 pm

    You’re in Alaska!! Woo Hoo!!

  2. Cousin Glenn permalink
    June 19, 2010 9:44 pm

    Glad you made it! Good tidings as you hed toward your respite.

  3. victoria permalink
    June 21, 2010 9:44 am

    Just realized the other day that one can follow your route on Google Earth — really interesting and taking up far too much of my work time! Congrats on reaching Alaska!

  4. June 23, 2010 11:35 am

    Congratulations! You made it!

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