At 7:30.M. on June 19, I arrived at the Arctic Circle! Today at 2:30. The Goose and I arrived at Prudhoe Bay, at the end of the James B. Dalton Highway where the road comes to an end only two miles from the Beaufort Sea, part of the Arctic Ocean. It is cold and today's ride was difficult. I am tired but what an adventure!
Only six months ago, I arrived in Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina, at the end of the southern most road in the Americas. Interestingly, I was there for the southern hemisphere's summer solstice. Now today I am at the end of the northern most road in the Americas and tomorrow is the summer solstice here,
Yesterday morning found me at the Harley dealership in Fairbanks to have Continental TKC 80s mounted on the Goose. Joining me was a new friend, Ron Clark from Kensington, Prince Edwards Island, Canada. Riding a BMW R1200GS, Ron is also an adventure rider, headed for the Arctic Circle and Prudhoe Bay. At my suggestion, we teamed up.
Finally, by 4:30 P.M., we had our tires mounted and departed. Our route was the only one available. Riding north on the James B. Dalton Highway, commonly called the Haul Road. Beginning 85 miles north of Fairbanks, the Haul Road runs 414 miles north, over the most difficult terrain, to finally reach Prudhoe Bay. No real towns along it's route, only the remote outposts of Yukon, Coldfoot, Deadhorse and of course the oil industry supply outpost of Prudhoe Bay.
Four hundred fourteen miles of mostly gravel and dirt roads, cutting through the Brooks Mountain Range, the Yukon River, the Arctic Circle, the Antigun Pass and many miles of isolated and cold Tundra. Pass beautiful meadows, fields of wild flowers, beautiful and raging rivers and miles and miles of barren tundra. Pass grizzlies, herds of caribou, many rabbits, muskoxen and herds of dell sheep and the occasional lone wolf.
The Haul Road is quite the road, extremely primitive and a challenge for even the most experienced rider. Loose and deep gravel, mud roads made even more dangerous because of the maintenance workers constantly application of calcium chloride making them the dirt road impossibly slick when wet. The local description is "slicker than snot".
The ride was a challenge. Weather sometimes as low as 32 degrees F., snow flurries, rain, and mud. Three times today I thought the Goose had abandoning me. The bike made moves that I had never seen, moves that even the tango dancers in San Telmo could not dare attempt. Fear struck me in my heart and stuck in my throat for hours.
Ron and I stopped for photographs at the Arctic Circle and were immediately attacked by swarms of large and viscious mosquitos. We reached Coldfoot at 10:30 P.M.and being tired and cold we stopped for the night. This morning, we departed at 7:00 A.M. and after a cold and fearsome ride reached Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay at 2:30 P.M. We will spend the night here at an inn built for the oil field workers. It is a great place with boundless tables of food that seem to be available around the clock.
Three other adventure riders arrived later today, all in a daze after the challenging ride over the Haul Road. Tomorrow morning Ron and I will depart, heading south down the Haul Road. Once again in near freezing weather, riding over loose gravel, ruts and mud that is "slicker than snot". We will spend the tomorrow night someplace along the road, maybe in Coldfoot but also maybe in Fairbanks. It really depends on the condition of this tough road which is totally determined by the weather.
But what the heck, I was looking for an adventure when I set out on this journey. And such an adventure it has turned out to be.