Tuk for muktuk

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Twist
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Re: Tuk for muktuk

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After dinner and an overnight in the Aurora Inn in Dawson we got kickstands up at 6am (it was never getting dark here) and headed back out top off our gas, fill our armadillo gas bags, and hit the Dempster.

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Lakes like this everywhere along the Dempster:
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The smoke was pretty bad before we'd been 80 miles. You couldn't see much off the road in places and the smell was in the air.

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BTW, that's my load including two 2 gallon Armadillo bags of fuel. It's 254 miles from gas at the start of the Dempster to fuel at Eagle Plains and I'd never seen that kind of range on my GS - maybe 200-210 max. It became pretty obvious that fuel was not going to be a problem. Riding 35 - 45 mph for a couple of hundred miles gave me plenty of range to spare to EP without using the aux gas.

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Eagle Plains is where most people stop but we didn't for several reasons. We got there at about 2:30p (30 minutes after the restaurant closed) and, it looked like this place was about to be consumed by the fires which were literally burning on the other side of the road. Trees and brush ablaze everywhere and we started to be concerned that they might not let us continue if we stayed long there. So we topped off our tanks and hit the road through the smoke and fires on both sides of the road.

On the way up to the next settlement, Fort McPherson we crossed the Arctic Circle:

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The first ferry ride is well past the Arctic Circle marker and just before Fort McP:

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We roamed around Fort McP to find gas there was nothing else there so we ended up at a pretty nice camp that had erected these tents that were cheaper to rent than a campsite:

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The mosquitos are as bad as anything you've ever heard about being up here this time of year so we were covered in lotion and nets while hanging around the camp. This far north, the sun never really sets this time of year. Here's a photo taken at 10p:

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And here's one taken at 11:30p and if you look closely you can still see the sun between the trees:

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I went out to pee at about 3:30a and it was just as light out as these photos.
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Re: Tuk for muktuk

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Kickstands up the next day at 6a and continued on up the Dempster to the next ferry crossing at the Mackenzie River:

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Inuvik is where most people stop the second night on the Dempster but we got there again about lunch time. Have I mentioned yet that food in Canada is really terrible? It was rare that we had anything that we would describe as anything more than edible but there was a place here in Inuvik, a tiny little pizza shop, that made Donaires. That's what Canadians call a gyro and it was pretty good here.

Now, Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk is only about 94 miles. Some riders go up and back in the same day from Inuvik but we wanted to camp on the Arctic Ocean so after a tasty Donaire we set off again to some of the most challenging and treacherous riding on the entire Dempster. Within about 50 miles of Tuk, the road was covered in large, sometimes sharp stone that was deep enough that my mantra became, "I'm just going to go slow enough to not take any dirt naps and be patient." That 50 miles or so took us over 2 hours and we made it to Tuk about 5:30p:

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We dropped in to the helpful visitor's center guy who gave us directions to Grandma's Kitchen. The only problem was that apparently he had no idea where it was. Luckily we found a local Inuit woman who led us there just in time for Grandma to open her kitchen to us at 6pm. Grandma's is on the edge of town right on the Arctic Ocean:

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Her famous musk ox burger:
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and the whale delicacy that is a staple of the Inuvialuit people here - Muktuk:

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Here's Grandma who was happy to keep us company while we enjoyed our dinner:

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Last edited by Twist on Sun Aug 13, 2023 1:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Bucho
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Re: Tuk for muktuk

Post by Bucho »

Wow! So far up there. Pretty cool adventure. The road was loose gravel? You probably didnt want to air down too much with heavy loads on big bikes.
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Re: Tuk for muktuk

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We all aired down the tires but not a lot. On the Dempster I ran 30 front, 32 rear. The road was pretty much all loose gravel but it would be pretty predictable for miles and then suddenly I'd be plowing through 4" deep gravel or worse. It made for pretty slow going until I got acclimated to what to look for in changes in the road surface.

I will say this - the Dunlop Trailmax Mission tires continued to be an outstanding choice. I had nearly 5,000 road miles on mine from Annapolis to the Dempster and they looked a little squared off but had a lot of tread left. When I left the bike on Thursday in Boise ID those tires had 8,400 miles on them and still look like they might make it another 2500 miles to get me home later. When the gravel got deeper certainly a knobby would have been better but they were rideable and after going all the way up and back none of us had a single dirt nap or off.
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Re: Tuk for muktuk

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After we ate and settled up with Grandma, we rode on out to the end of the point with our camping permit in hand (from the useless guy in the visitor's center). When we got out there every established camp site was taken with big RV rigs and those monster Russian all terrain vehicles. We rolled up and got the obligatory photo of the Arctic Ocean sign:

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Looking around and not finding any other suitable place to pitch our tents, we decided to take over a covered pavilion type structure and set up under there:

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About the time we had ourselves set up for the "night" a woman and some of her family came rushing up to the point and told us that her sister had just harpooned a beluga whale and were bringing it in to the shore. From there, what seemed like their whole extended family showed up and met this tiny little boat on the rocky shore:

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They had harpooned the whale at sea and eventually got it over to a nearby island to butcher it for its blubber "muktuk" and meat. They unloaded it a piece at a time on to the bank and told us that it was 13'11" long and over 1500 lbs.

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I asked them what they did with all that - did they sell it? No, she said they give it to their friends and family and would feed them for a long time. I understand beluga whales are protected but these Inuvialuit people have been hunting whale in these waters for 1,000 years before even the gold rush folks arrived. They hunt them in little boats with hand held harpoons like their ancestors did so I'd guess they are no danger to the population of belugas at large.

It never got the least bit dark here in Tuk and apparently this camping point at the end of the road is a popular spot for kids to cruise on their ATVs until after my bedtime. I crawled in to my tent about 10:30p, put on my eye mask and ear plugs and fell fast asleep for one of the best nights sleep I'd had on the trip. It got down into the high 40's at night but was a very comfortable night with my gear. We were up about 5a, packed up, and after a very restful night camping on the Arctic Ocean we put Tuk in our rear view mirror and started back down toward Inuvik - again, very slow going for the first 50 miles or so and then could pick up a little speed.

We had lunch again in the same place in Inuvik and continued on over the two ferry rides and stopped at a pretty nice campground about an hour before Eagle Plains again. This was bear country and everyone was taking that warning very seriously. The bears didn't eat us but the mosquitos again gave it their best shot. I took a bath in an icy cold stream and turned in early. We again rose early and got to the gas pumps at EP about an hour before they opened so had a little wait. The smoke and fire had cleared out and the views leaving Eagle Plains were a lot better than when we were headed north.

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These Arctic plains were vast and dotted everywhere with lakes and streams. We were again patient with the road and by late afternoon we'd covered the 250+ miles from EP to the bottom of the Dempster at the Klondike highway. Here's our "after" photo. See if you can guess who was in the lead, who was second in line, and who was in the rear, LOL

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We rode the 25 miles back in to the Aurora Inn in Dawson where we had decided we'd spend a down day the next day doing laundry, cleaning bikes, and exploring Dawson.

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...to be continued...
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Re: Tuk for muktuk

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Great trip. Nice pics and write up. Thanks for taking us along.
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Re: Tuk for muktuk

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The day after returning off the Dempster was a down day for us to get our gear and clothes clean, wash the bikes, and spend a little time exploring Dawson. One of my favorite books growing up was Call of the Wild and I was a fan of Jack London's writing so it was a special treat to me to be in the epicenter of the Klondike gold rush and all that went on here. We spent a hour or so in the Dawson Museum and went to hear a presentation in th eJack London Museum. The thing I admire about London was his willingness to be an extreme adventurer and his gifted writing ability and style to take his readers along on his experiences. He left California to live in the Klondike for a short time experiencing all that happened during those years before returning to California to become a world renown author.

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It was interesting for me to walk around the old buildings still around from the gold rush days in Dawson and just drink it all in (both figuratively and literally). I could have spent another few days there but the clock was ticking and it was time the next day to point ourselves south. We had to to some backtracking back to Whitehorse and my buddy with the Africa Twin had blown out a fork seal on the Dempster so we had the folks at the Honda shop in Whitehorse lined up to fix it for him. Unfortunately, when we arrived there at 2:30 in the afternoon, they couldn't guarantee that they could finish the job that day, a Friday. They don't work on the weekend there and the shop manager explained that exactly at 5:30 the mechanic would drop his tools and go home not to return to work on it until Monday. We explained our situation and that we'd pay him directly to do the job. We'd even take the forks off in the parking lot and reinstall them ourselves if they'd loan us a stand for the bike. Nope, wouldn't make any space or stand available. I just can't fathom that lack of customer care. They might get within 10 minutes of finishing the job but at 5:30 they were done until Monday. Jerks. He bought the fork seals from them, flipped them the bird, and rode on. After an overnight in Whitehorse we set off down the ALCAN to jump on the Cassiar highway - an amazing motorcycle road through the BC wilderness and stopped to camp at the Red Goat campground between Dease Lake and Bell 2.

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The beauty of western Canada could never be really captured in photos. Everywhere we rode was a post card view.

The next day we decided we had the time in our schedule to take a side trip down 37A through Stewart BC over to Hyder AK to see the salmon spawning are and bears viewing area. I'll have some video of that road later but visiting those places was a bit of nostalgia. In 2018 we stayed overnight in Stewart on a Motoquest transporter deal to Anchorage but we didn't make it over to Hyder or the Salmon Glacier because the roads were blocked with snow/ice. Interestingly, when you ride from Canada in to the US/Alaska in Hyder there is no border control there because there's no where else you can go from Hyder except back to Stewart. When we pulled in to the salmon spawning observation area we were met by a nice ranger that directed us to park right in front of the office and his post.

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There's a sign you can see there for motorcycle parking and the reason, we were told, is that the bears know that motorcycles are an easy target to rip in to for whatever goodies are in the bags. The ranger, armed with a lot of bear spray, said he'd watch the bikes until we returned to shoo away any curious bears.

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Unfortunately it was too hot (80's) there so the bears were nowhere to be seen but we got some great views of salmon spawning in the area. Videos posted later when I have more time.

We rode out of there back up to the Cassiar and over the next three days of riding south found ourselves in Hope BC. The reason for the stop here is that it was the place where one of the greatest action movies in our top 10 list was filmed - Rambo First Blood. 40 years later the town still really embraces the Rambo tourism here:

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Of course we had to try to recreate some of the moments from the movie by getting some air over the railroad crossing like Rambo did in the movie. Unfortunately, the famous bridge is no longer there but all around town were places like where he snatched the kid off the dirt bike and led the sheriff on a chase. Hope is a really beautiful little town and we timed our visit well. Over the previous two weeks the Hell's Angels descended on the area to celebrate their anniversary of establishing a presence in BC. We saw those guys on the road and in towns from time to time as far north as Watson Lake and Whitehorse.
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Re: Tuk for muktuk

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Pretty cool. One of my middleschool english teachers had spent a year or two in Alaska. She did a unit on Jack London.
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Re: Tuk for muktuk

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For anyone that might be interested, I put the full ride report up on ADVRider

https://www.advrider.com/f/threads/just ... k.1669807/
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Re: Tuk for muktuk

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Twist wrote: Thu Aug 31, 2023 1:40 pm For anyone that might be interested, I put the full ride report up on ADVRider

https://www.advrider.com/f/threads/just ... k.1669807/
Nice
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