I departed Dawson City into a fog shrouded highway. The cool morning air slowly turned my gear a darker shade with the mist falling from above. Along the roadside lay massive piles of tailings, the remnants of gold-mining in the area. Large dredges rusted away on the roadside and strange red-hued iron boilers and steam powered equipment littered hillsides. Shallow dredge ponds of lime green color sat amidst the moonscape.
I spotted a lone red fox slinking around the roadside. I paused for a picture and took some with my P&S then a substandard one with my iPhone.
Just before the Dempster Highway, the sun began to burn through the clouds and I was rewarded with a beautiful view of the sky and blue sky to warm my bones. I pulled over at the turnoff for Mile 0 of the legendary Dempster Highway for a second breakfast. I had coffee with a banana/raisin/peanutbutter wrap while drying gear in the sunshine.
The day's ride was uneventful and I didn't break any parts on the bike or myself. I passed along flowing streams and large rivers eventually winding down to the Yukon River. Large game herds of Elk or Caribou frequent these areas. Signs indicated which herd was in the region and whether or not subsistence hunting was allowed.
I prepared to camp near Tatchun Lake, 15mi shy of the town of Carmacks on the Yukon River. I pulled off the road and set up my tent on an unused trail. I had set up my tent and was grabbing my sleeping bag and pad when I notice something to my left. About 20 feet away, a full grown black bear is staring at me with it's paws elevated on a log. WAY too close for comfort. I jump up, startling it and begin to wave my arms and yell loudly. Screaming at this bear, I inch backward and grab my bear spray, fumbling with the safety latch. I hold my jacket over my head to appear larger. it huffs a stern groan and continues to hold its ground. I yell and scream at it which eventually turns into some kind of native-style chanting song about "STAY-A-WAY-BEAR, GO-ON-GIT-BEAR" as I disassemble my tent and hastily throw it into the stuff sack and under my bungee net. Still 30 feet away, it continues to paw around the woods as I don the helmet, key the starter and bounce my way down the path.
That night I camped at the established campground 3 km down the road. I pulled in late, set up a bivy and was gone by 5:15AM without dropping a dime.
The morning sunrise was glorious to my rear as I headed south on the highway.
In the town of Carmacks, I pulled in to the Gold Panner's Restaurant after getting gas and filled up my belly with that money saved. I had the "Klondike" - 2 eggs, 2 slices bacon, 2 pancakes and perhaps 3 cups of coffee. I also made a deal with myself not to blow money on breakfast unless the conditions were so terrible outside (read wet and cold) that it was a shelter from the elements as well.
Just outside of Carmacks 10 miles, I was surprised at a strange vehicle up ahead in the roadway. As I approached, I made it out as a new Ford Raptor truck rolled on it's right side. I could barely believe it. I stopped and took some pictures of the damage. The wreck was significant enough to completely destroy an A-Arm and crack a forged rim in half. A spring lay in the ditch a few feet away. The wreck was recent since power steering fluid still leaked slowly on the ground from a height of 8 feet. The trailer, now disconnected, sat with a massive boulder lodged between two wheels. I feel that this may have contributed to the damage but I will never fully know.
The headwind that persisted for the entire trip after crossing the Canadian border intensified after 10AM. Rain began to fall and made for a cold and miserable ride along Braeburn and Fox Lake. I could only keep up 30mph so it would take me quite a bit longer to reach Whitehorse than planned. Each mile ticking way was one more closer to my much needed front wheel bearing. The shop was closed on Monday for Discovery Day so I would have three days to relax in Whitehorse and explore town. I hoped I could find a place to camp along the way or near town to limit my travel on the worn out bearing.
In May 2014 I quit my job to ride a Honda Ruckus over 69'000 mi and counting. Wild camping most nights and cooking most of my own meals, I keep the costs low and the landscape changing.