The people you meet along the way.. or after.
When the trip is over, the memories get bottled up inside, quietly waiting to be opened up, like a shook up bottle of pop. I had the opportunity to ‘pop the top’, and swap stories with Glen. Several years ago, Glen tackled the Dempster with 80 Military vehicles. Glen’s 84 year old grin turned into a boyish smile, as we swapped similar stories of places we saw, people we met, and riding conditions crossing the Northern Slope. I cherish these memories and these people. They breathe life into my soul. This is my tale of a trip onto Alaska’s Northern Slope…
Blogging The Way on the Dalton Highway
My interpretation, impressions and recollections of the final 59 mile ride north of the 250 mile stretch connecting Coldfoot Camp to Deadhorse Camp. This stretch of the Dalton Highway* is commonly called the “Haul Road”.
*The Dalton Highway is a 414 mile stretch of road beginning north of Fairbanks at the Elliott Highway. It then ends at Deadhorse near Prudehoe Bay and the Arctic Ocean.
Rambling around the country quite a bit lends itself to much planning. To combat fatigue and simply enjoy whatever the road brings, unless asked for input, it is no sin to go with the flow and follow the pack.
Stern faced but has been grinning ever since.. Don can ride, ride like the wind…”Ya know I don’t plan much Don..”
This comment is confirmed when fellow rider, motorcycle mentor and semi-unconditional best amigo says to me: “T-Bar you really don’t know where we are riding to, do you?” Knowing he is on to me, I am hesitant to answer. “Uh, kind of. Well, I made some of the Hotel Reservations.”
Don, at 74 years of age musters up a recognizable grin, resembling a boy ready to explore some unknown area that he’s only read about in pirate comic books. “ T-Bar. This is the Dalton. And according to a well documented 2011 British television show, one of the world’s most dangerous roads.” How hard can it be? I ask myself…
The end of hotel chains.
The last gas stop, hot dinner and sleep before the Antartic! Coldfoot Camp
Coldfoot Camp’s accommodations follow the simple conditions of most work camps. Trailers with paper thin walls which hold 8 to 10 small rooms. Each with sink, toilet, and a pair of double beds.
This is travel at it’s finest. Unpredictable living conditions, changing weather patterns, and NO electronic entertainment. Ordering food is definitely not the same-old, same-old fast food.
About the only thing that does seem predictable is the stories. Yesterday’s adventures from modern day cowboys, in the midst of living their own personal adventures of travel and desires to see the world. Even if it’s a bucket list ride, these folks are riding their ride and living their dream.
The Atigun Pass
No 250 mile gas-less stretch, between Coldfoot and Deadhorse Camp, is complete without a photo op at Atigun Pass, mile marker 244. Crossing the Continental Divide at an elevation of 4,739 feet, temps dropped from the mid 70s down to 36 degrees. I ended up putting on every piece of clothing I brought. Not even a mosquito could pierce these layers. Of course, the odds are against a mosquito making it to this elevation in this climate. But if one did make it, I was prepared.
Common scene on the Dalton. Expect a 10 min wait for the pilot car. This is happening to safely get you around busy construction.
-These stops give you an opportunity to learn about the natives, the people and their personal stories of what brought them to this beautiful land.
-Allows time for a restroom break, to shake off the cramps and stretch.
-Nourish up with water or snacks as this will be a long ride.
-Check up on your fellow riders and meet new riders and encourage one another.
-Secure you gear, check over your ride and assess the damage.
Adventure riders come in all shapes, sizes and intellects. During a stop, my engineering friends observed how this road was being repaired:
‘A thick sheet of a type of Styrofoam is laid, then layered with varied sizes of rocks and stones. As the process continues the gravel is constantly watered creating a wet slimy cement gravel substance that sticks to everything.’
While waiting for Pilot Car on the Dalton
A break for the Outdoor Restroom, Nourishment, Hydrate, Stretch, Check For damage, meet riders encourage one another and…