The Alaskan highway also improved.
10 km from Deadman’s lake we got nailed by a hail storm and thunder and lightning going off on either side of us.
There was no shelter and nothing to do but push on.
Deadman’s lake campsite has free camping in the reserve.
The host Jim was really kind and said we could camp anywhere and that we could also use the shelter to hang up all our stuff to dry. The sun came back out and it was a lovely evening. A ranger came down and gave a talk on mosquitos at 7 p.m. and afterwards we went down to the lake.
Completely flat apart from some ripples caused by a swimming beaver and a trumpeter swan. At 11 p.m. there was a great sunset over the lake.
DAY 150 – DEADMAN’S LAKE TO TOK RIVER
START: 9:20 – FINISH: 17:00 (01/08/15)
DISTANCE: 97 KM – RIDE TIME: 5H 49
It was a cold morning, so I started a camp fire when I got up
to help take off the chill. I don’t usually but since Karl was cooking. I did the same………..pasta and soup for breakfast.Again there was no wind , just a bit of cloud and the odd patch of sun. It was up and down most of the day. We stopped at North Way on the Indian reservation. But there was nothing cheap enough to buy. By the end of the day we were just outside of Tuk. We camped for the night next to the river. DAY 151 TOK RIVER TO TOKSTART 11:00 FINISH 11:30 (02/08/15)DISTANCE 11KM RIDE TIME 0H40There was no rush this morning with less than 10 km in to Tok.We plan to spend the day in Tok, having a bit of a rest. We found a relatively cheap camp site on the outskirts of town and next to the airport. I caught up with Bob and Laura and we went and had Mexican for dinner. I won’t see them again now. Bob and Laura are heading South to Anchorage, while I continue West to FairbanksDAY 152 – TOK TO LITTLE GRANITE RIVERSTART: 9:00 – FINISH: 17:00 (03/08/15)DISTANCE: 122 KM – RIDE TIME: 6H 10Today was one of the easiest cycling days because the road was so flat and most enjoyable since the sun finally came out. We did 30km in no time and stopped down by moon lake for morning tea. Lunch was only another 20km on at rest area over looking the river.We were unable to reach a town or a camp ground this evening so we found a nice spot next to the granite river for tonight. We got a small camp fire going after dinner. We cooked first on the other side of the road, so as not to attract any bears. Afterwards we tied our panniers to the side of the bridge.
DAY 152 -LITTLE GERSTLE RIVER TO SHAW POND
START:7:30 – FINISH: 17:00 (04/08/15)
DISTANCE: 92 KM – RIDE TIME: 4H 24
It was a 50 km straight road to Delta Junction. We motored along at 20 km hour. It was a beautiful morning.
The sun was out and no cloud and we could see huge snow-capped mountains. When we got to Delta Junction it marked the end of the Alaskan highway and the junction where the Alaskan highway connects with the Richardson Highway.
The Alaskan Pipeline also passes through Delta Junction on its way to Valdeaz, having come from the Arctic Ocean at Prudhoe Bay which is where I am heading in a few days.
The U.S. Military have a base here and while we eat our buffalo burgers we watched large laborious planes take off and land.
About 2 p.m. we headed out to the National historic site of Rickets Road House on the Tanner River which was built around 1906 and a large number of buildings remain.
At this point the Alaskan Pipeline makes an appearance above ground as it crosses the Tanner River.
We followed the Tanner River for another 20 km before stopping at Shaw Pond. We will camp here tonight. After setting up camp we cooled off in the lake before cooking dinner. We had a visitor. A Salmon fisherman called in and dropped us off some beers and some very fresh salmon. Before our guest left he offered us some weed as well which we declined.
DAY 154 – SHAW POND TO CHENA RIVER
START: 7:30 – FINISH: 18:20 (05/08/15)
DISTANCE: 106 KM – RIDE TIME: 5H 31
I keep hearing, this is unusual weather, as I stopped on top of the hill to take some photos of the snow-capped mountains while talking to a local lady as we listened to the thunder and watched the lightning. She said in 20 years this was only the secondnd time she had seen lightning around here. We pushed on and the storm came right over the top of us. The gap between the lightning and thunder was short and the rain was torrential. We made it to Birch Lake Provincial park which was a little water logged. We found a covered porch on the back of the rangers hut and sheltered there for a few hours from the weather.
It cleared up pretty good in the afternoon and we pushed on towards Fairbanks; About 45 km out we cycled passed Ellison Air Force Base. The sign stated no photos and no stopping. We cycled as slow as possible so we could watch a few of the big planes land.
Another thunder and lightning storm returned in the afternoon and we made a run for the Chena river park. With torrential rain we made the most of the well covered picnic shelter, firstly cooking our dinner and then setting up our tents under the shelter. There was a small wood BBQ and we got that fired up and going as well.
In the night there was another huge thunder storm that came straight over the top. Just as well we were well protected.
DAY 155 – CHENA RIVER TO FAIRBANKS
START: 8:30 – FINISH: 17:30 (06/08/15)
DISTANCE: 51 KM – RIDE TIME: 3H 08
Our first stop today was the North Pole, Alaska. It has become a theme town where every day is Christmas. The visitor centre had a Christmas tree up. The street lights were painted like candy sticks.
All the street names relate to Christmas. We went and visited sSt; Nicholas’ house which had a giant Father Christmas and even a dozen live Reindeer out the back.
After a good dose of Christmas we cycled the remaining 30 km in to Fairbanks. It is not a big city. The river front was the nicest and newest looking part.
I plan to rest here for at least 4 days and get everything ready for the move north.
I have got a “Warm Showers “host called Ben for part of my stay. Ben works at the University. In the evening we went and visited some of Ben’s friends for a bit of beer tasting.
DAY 156-158 – FAIRBANKS (REST DAYS)
So the plan is to have a bit of a rest over the next few days before starting the 800 km up to the Arctic Circle and beyond to Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Ocean. I have to also use this time to prepare everything I need to get me through the 1600 km there and back.
So I will be busy out buying 2 weeks of food and some other important bits and pieces. I will need a scrubbing brush to clean the bike daily to keep it clean of the calcium that quickly builds up from the dirt road.
I had a couple of “Warm Showers” hosts in Fairbanks. After two nights with Ben I cycled 4 km down the road to Duncan and Rehan. Their cottage is semi-rural. Duncan worked for 26 years for the US Airforce as a pilot and aviation mechanic for the refuellers.
Rehan is a primary school teacher. They weren’t home when I arrived, so I left my bike and hitched back into town to do some shopping. On the way back I got picked up by Rosemary who just happened to know Duncan and Rehan. In fact she used to live in their house.
Rosemary is from Mackay in Australia. Small world – I used to live there a few years ago. Duncan and Rehan weren’t back when I was getting dropped off so Rosemary invited me back to her place for a drink with her and her husband Mark. They then kindly invited me out for a meal in town.
There has been a couple of bear stories in the news recently.
Firstly a 20-year old women was attacked by a bear while out walking somewhere in Alaska and then a 63-year old man was killed by a Grizzly bear while hiking in Yellow Stone NP. Stories like this keep you on your toes.
DAY 159 – FAIRBANKS TO MURPHY DOME
DAY 160 – MURPHY DOME (REST DAY)
START: 13:00 – FINISH :18:00
DISTANCE: 58 KM – RIDE TIME: 4H 55
Duncan has kindly let me leave a lot of stuff at his place, to help lighten the load. In reality the bike is no lighter because it has been replaced by food and more food. I have it hanging off the bike from everywhere and the bike is so heavy. I had another “Warm Showers” host near Fairbanks recommended to me by a cyclist I met way down by Whitehorse. Janet and Robert are on a rural block about 30km from town. I thought 30 km would be a nice easy ride and get me a little way up the highway before I had to really get into it.
I got some directions from Google. Sheep Creek road, left on to Ester Dome road, left on to Murphy Dome road and finally left on to Abrahams road. I got on to Ester Dome road. The steep dirt road just went up and up and up. I ended up on top of the hill with all the radio masts and a great view of Fairbanks and a dodgy track that didn’t look like much of a road. There were some car tracks so I followed it. When they stopped, I thought this isn’t good and returned to the top. Some workers turned up and gave me the bad news, that I needed to return all the way to the bottom which was slightly disappointing to hear. Google had tried to send me on some ^&&^ mountain bike track. The workers kindly gave me new directions, but warned me it wasn’t going to be good as the road up to Murphy Dome was just as steep. Going up Murphy Dome Road I saw a coyote on the road. I also saw Janet and Robert so it was nice to know I was heading in the right direction.
I was so happy to reach their place. So much for an easy day. I was hungry and exhausted. Janet and Robert have built themselves a lovely cabin up in the hills with a lovely view. They are off the grid with no running water and only Solar for power. I was just stuffed with yummie food when I arrived. I got to stay in a little sleep out which had a small log burner that I started up a few times. It might be summer but it is starting to get cold. After doing so much climbing today, I asked if I could please stay another night.
I was so happy they said yes. The forecast for the next few days is rain so would also be happy to dodge some of that.
The next day was much easier. We did a trip back into town. Picked up another cyclist, Rob who has just come down the Dalton after flying into Deadhorse. So he has given me some good information.
Chopped a bit of fire wood for the Sauna. The reward was we got to fire it up and then I really got to relax.