Note 3/17: this is a repost back from September 1, 2013. Enjoy!
Top of the World highway was reccomended to us from the guy who originally owned Gregg's motorcycle. He said "if there is one thing you shouldn't miss don't miss the Top of the World Highway." So if it's not obvious enough, we chose this to be our experience entering Alaska for the first time. More info past the break.
We were on our way around 10 am. We knew that it would take a bit longer to go the 100 or so miles on the Top of The World Highway. Plus now that we were almost in Alaska it was time to sloooow it down.
Tip: The top of the world highway has no outhouses until you get past the border into Alaska. Don't forget your TP!
The gravel was pretty packed. We had no issues riding through it. We were probably traveling ~50 mph the whole time. As we got further and further away from Dawson we noticed the musk of burnt wood and the fog of forest fire smoke. Forest fires this time of year are quite common. Luckily for us we were no where near the direct flames.
Just before we hit the border we met up with some reindeer. Gregg was excited enough to chase them off the road only to almost get stuck. He did manage to get some great shots in the process though!
We arrived at the border in the early afternoon and quickly scuttled across. The border agent checked our passports and with little question waved us through. We made it.
After a copious amount of picture and video taking we were on our way again.
Tip: Don't have a tripod for your SLR? Why don't you use one of the boots you packed as a stand?
Just around 13:00 we rolled into Chicken, Alaska. Chicken got its name because the local residents wanted to name the town after the multitudes of indiginous ptarmigans but couldn't spell the word. They did know how to spell chicken though. Thus, the town of Chicken was born.
On our ride into Tok we encountered another (smaller/closer) forest fire. This one seemed to be closer to death than the other one. We arrived at a construction zone and asked the flagger how long has the fire been burning. Her reply, "It's been burning since May." She proceeded to tell us that because it was wet for a while a couple weeks back it had died down but now that it was dry again it was picking back up. (No good.)
One interesting tidbit was the fact that in YT and some points in Alaska (if my memory serves me well) they post where forest fires have occured in the past. "Fire of 1990" they read. It's most obvious when the fire has been recent because the landscape looks like theres just a bunch of broken toothpicks standing out of the ground. It's facinating to see the transformation the land takes after coming up against the destructive forces of fire.
We made it into Tok around 17:00. We fueled up at the Shell and were pleased to find higher octane gasoline (91 octane). We shuffled over to the Three Bears Grocery and got some food for the night. After leaving the store we happened to meet one of the local BMW enthusiasts. His name was Carroll Johnson (CJ) and he was super knowledgeable about the area. He gave us some tips and pointed us in the direction of the local accomodations. He suggested we stay at Thompson's Eagles Claw Motorcycle Park run by his good friend Vanessa.
After parting with CJ, we rode over to the spray power washers next door and hosed down our bikes. They were covered with mud and bugs from the trip all the way up so it was time to take care of it. We've heard some nasty stories how the soil in the area (especially on the Dalton) is akaline to the point where it will eat into everything on the bike.
Once the bikes were washed we decided that turning in for the night was a good idea and rode to the the moto park. Upon our arrival we were hailed with a friendly greeting and waved in. "Find any spot you want!" Vanessa exclaimed. And we did just that.
We also managed to make some friends across the way:
Turns out it was a couple from Germany riding their BMWs from Alaska to Baja. They left their jobs and comfy lives in Germany to do this all. Inspirational indeed.
We cooked some chili with some bread on the side, lit up some celebratory cigars and checked out for the night.
What does the gear of the day award go to this time?
Both Gregg and I had purchased microfiber towels for the trip. These towels are considerably smaller than normal towels but consume the same amount of water. They also dry out quite quick. They were great for drying off our bodies after jumping in the lake or dryiing off our hands after washing them.
You can get yours here.