Odometer: 35,109 miles Miles today: 532 miles Total Miles: 6,488 miles
Yesterday I left Prudhoe Bay about 5am intending to make it back to Wiseman to stay for the night, then on to Fairbanks on Wednesday. The day started with its challenges. Temperature was 36 degrees with heavy fog. In fact, once I got started on the Haul Rd south, I couldn’t see more than about 50 yds in front of me for almost 25 miles. A bit scary when you see the truck headlights appear out of the fog and in the center of the road… Oh well, builds character.
I was determined to get some pictures on the way down, as I took none on the way up. By the time I got to Atigun Pass, the weather had pretty well cleared and the sun was actually shining. The pass rises through the Brooks Range to about 4,700 feet via a very steep climb. The pictures I took do not portray the rugged nature of the mountains here. As I mentioned before, in several spots the guard rail was missing, indicating an accident of some type. Apparently an area of frequent avalanches in the winter. Ice Road Truckers and all…
The bike had no problem with the pass, easy climb – not so much for the rider on the other side though. I really didn’t like going downhill in that loose gravel and wet Calcium Carbonate. Just waiting for the rear to start sliding – guess that’s an impossibility with the traction control.
The ride was becoming very pleasant – but the mosquitos smelled fresh meat – aggressive little buggers… All of the photos were pretty rushed because of the blood suckers. Within 30 seconds of stopping, hundreds would be buzzing around my face. Always kept the helmet on until just before taking the picture.
I got a good shot of this guy munching on flowers next to an access road. He wasn’t too worried about me, but he knew I was there. The muskox gets its name from the smell emitted from male to attract females during mating season. These guys are survivors of the ice age – the sure look prehistoric.
I had to do one self portrait proving my presence along the Haul Rd. This was shot about 9am and the weather was truly spectacular. I was having thoughts about continuing all the way to Fairbanks – was just having a good time. By now, the gravel didn’t bother me too much and the roads were dry, making very good time except fro stopping for the photos. Got to Wiseman about 11am and stopped in to see Clutch at the Gold Rush Camp. Spent a few minutes chatting, then headed back on the road. For a couple of hours the weather held, then it went bad – really bad. Cold and raining for 4 hours back to Fairbanks.
It is hard to describe the character of the Haul Road when it goes from dry to wet. The dust is gone, but replaced with the sloppy, slippery muddy mess that coats everything. You can see the clouds building here and the road surface – I didn’t stop to take any shits of the wet stuff – too busy staying right-side-up.
Anyway, got back to Fairbanks – to Rich and Steph’s place – about 7:30pm – over 14 hours on the road. I was cold and wet and Rich graciously offed to have me stay with them rather than finding a hotel. I picked up a terrible cold along the way and had a miserable night fending off a sinus infection – my telltale symptom of exhaustion.
The next day I spent 48 quarters at the car wash trying to clean Sally up a bit. I got most of the slim off, but I think the Haul Road dirt will be showing up in the oddest places over the next few years.
Tomorrow is an easy day – probably change the oil, filter and some other maintenance and get ready to head home. One more stop to Anchorage then back to PA!