The morning broke with an ever lightening horizon as the sprinkles continued to fall. Although still cool in the 30's, I held hope that conditions would improve for my return trip south. I stopped in to the cafeteria for coffee and a hearty breakfast omelette with Kendall. He departed for the Prudhoe Bay shuttle bus tour while I packed up the soaked Ruckus in the muddy parking lot.
I fueled up at the 24hr gas station and stopped at what may be the northernmost NAPA for a headlight bolt. Once fuel and lights were secured, I waved goodbye to Sam, Clare and Charley and began the return trip down the Dalton Hwy. The overwhelming feeling of success and bittersweet emotions of backtracking kept my mind occupied for much of the first 60miles.
I'm not sure what the symbol below represents but it looks much like a running human to me. Native carins and rock art continue to fascinate me.
With little difficulty, the 49cc Ruckus labored up Atigun Pass at 9-12mph. One perk of going slow is the ability to enjoy a view without risk of riding off the hillside...assuming the weather isn't crap.
I came across the trip of KTM's below the pass. They parked in a dusty wayside basking in the warm sunshine like turtles on a log.
Clare invited me to dinner in Coldfoot and extended the use of a single bed in their room at the inn. Once again I found myself overwhelmed by the hospitality of "strangers", now becoming great friends after a shared experience. I graciously accepted and told them it'd take me at least two hours to reach Coldfoot. They promised to save me a seat at the saloon.
The whole lot of motorcyclists relaxed over coffee and beers after the meal. The great staff at Coldfoot Camp (shoutout to Cami and Daniel!) shared stories of working for Bret and the interesting clientele that frequent the northernmost truck stop.
We retired for the night and spent an hour or more sharing stories and having a laugh at each other's expense. Sam and Clare are truly wonderful characters and I look forward to catching up with them somewhere again on this fine planet.