Before leaving George’s last night I had the pleasure to meet to fellow riders. Jose, the lawyer from Florida had been on the road for more than a month and who was looking to cross the arctic circle twice in the same trip, had a bit of a spill on his way up the Alcan. Seems he installed a device on his GS that would allow him to start his bike bypassing the kick stand safety switch. Well sitting on he side of the road near Fort St. John fiddling with his gloves or GPS he sees a group of GS riders pass him, so he goes into gear and takes off after them. Rounding the first corner he feels something not quite right. Yes, his kick stand was still down. This sent him and the bike down a ditch and put a nearly two week hold on his trip while he arranged for parts and healed his wounded body and spirit. The other, Tom is a local trucker who not only rides a BMW but is a haul road trucker driving the Dalton Highway a couple times a week in a massive big rig. When I shared by calcium chloride love affair he agrees and as a trucker hates the crap as much.
With more than 8,000 miles on my bike, I figured to maintain my warranty on the BMW I’d better get my 12K service soon. So I put a call into The Motorcycle Shop in Anchorage to see if I could make an appointment. They wouldn’t take an appointment but informed me travelers are given priority and first-come, first served. It was Saturday and the next possible day for me would be Tuesday. That gave me two days to explore the Denali Highway and Denali National Park.
As a guest of the area, Tom took me to one of the local Sourdough eateries where we shared dinner, stories of riding and then he rode with me 20 miles or so down the road. Then I blasted down the road toward Delta Junction until the murky eve made it difficult to ride. Camping just outside Delta Junction, I’d get an early start the next morning and head to Denali Park over the 60 mile dirt road known as the Denali Highway.
Just stopping for a few moments to set up my tent and organize for the eve the mosquitoes made a feast of me. My bike was covered with bugs, mud and the nasty white residue from the CCC (calcium chloride cocktail). My suit was in no better shape covered with the same stuff plus reminders of my “oil spill”. Looking into my pocket mirror while trying to wash my face of the remnants of dust, smoky ash and dirt I saw a road weary traveler who hasn’t shaved in over a week. Though those eyes still crystal clear and full of images and experiences and hinting at the raging wanderlust still ignited and burning inside and fired up about seeing the rest of Alaska. With the Dalton Highway under my belt, my adventure begins.
My only schedule is to make the ferry in Haines next Thursday evening. I had 6 days to explore Denali, Anchorage and the Southern part of the state. The Kenai Peninsula would have to wait for another trip. I must get the bike serviced.
I’ve only been in Alaska for a couple weeks but already I can feel the weather changing. I no longer have the endless nights. The mornings are cooler and the trees are starting to show colors. After a few miles riding the next morning toward Paxston, I pulled over and changed into my winter gloves.
The brisk early morning air and a fresh early start I continued following the pipeline to the east and the mighty Alaska Range to the west. Oatmeal and coffee in Paxston and soon I was making my way on the 125 miles of dirt called the Denali Highway. The air still brisk but grey and smokey from fires burning somewhere. This obscured the view of the mighty range, but the massive snow covered peaks revealed themselves slightly. Passing by several scenic lakes and winding through forest and tundra I saw only two cars by the time I arrived at the Parks Highway.
I rolled into Denali National Park by mid-afternoon, purchased a ticket for an early morning tour and settled into a small commercial campground for the night.
Delta Junction, AK to Denali National Park, AK 8-13-05
Total Miles: 275
Photos: (1) From the collection of cars at Trail’s End BMW, this Chevy truck has been there awhile. Trees are growing out of it now; (2) My bike on the Denali Highway.