The trip started joyfully. Wow, another dream comes true.
I am finally going to get to ride to Alaska. I always wanted to do this. Never thought I would be able to until Johann was through college or at least partially through college.
|All clean, loaded and ready for adventure|
All the weeks leading up to the trip were hectic. We had to get the gear. Thankfully, we were outfitted pretty good in the lightweight camping gear department and clothing as well. Having been on several expeditions and treks in the north already, we knew what to take and what to leave behind.
I got my affairs at work in order as best I could. However, late technical problems came my way and I had to make adjustments as best I could. I got the house in order. Roof cleaned, yards re-seeded, all the yard trimming of the trees and bushes were done. I then focused on the bikes. First and foremost, I had to plan for tires. I knew we were going to ride about 6000 miles in total. On average I get about 10K miles on my tires. But that is a mixture of riding, mostly without big loads. I figured that I would get about ½ to ¾ of that mileage on a loaded bike. So I ordered new tires and removed the exiting sets on both bikes. I was in between service intervals on both bikes, but I decided to have them fully checked out by AlyxMoto here in the Seattle area. Alyx is a knowledgeable and thorough BMW specialist and more importantly, trust worthy. He is full of knowledge , experience and helpful suggestions. I trust his judgment and implicitly. Sooooo about $2500 later, I have both bikes tuned up, parts replaced, maintenance items all taken care of, new Touratech farkles installed and a new set of tires on both bikes. I begin packing the gear many weeks before. I was meticulous in selecting what would go and what wouldn’t. Unfortunately, Johann was still in school on the other side of Puget Sound here in Washington. So I could not get much input from him.
The plan was to camp 2 out of every 3 days with a motel appox every 3rd day to cathcup on bathing, laundry, etc...Our gear included the following:
- Sleeping bag x 2
- Sleeping Pad x2
- Small sleeping pillow (for dad)
- A 4 season tent (3 man as I figured we would like some elbow room)
- A Tarp with poles
- Jet Boil Stove
- Cooking Pan x 2
- Lightweight soup bowl/mug x 2
- Spork x 2 (combination spoon/fork)
- Camp Ladle
- 3 changes of clothes x 2
- 6 small rags (for cleaning the bikes)
- 6 small soft towels (for cleaning the windscreens and helmet faceshields)
- Razors (Dad shaved, Johann did not)
- Backpackers towel x 2
- Toothbrush x 2
- Deodorant x 2
- Dehydrated food (16 days worth)
- Laundry Detergent
- Nintendo DS x 2 (entertainment in the tent)
- 35 mm SLR Digital Camera
- GoPro Camera and accessories
- Miniature Tripod
- Personal Locator Beacon
- Bear Spray
- Comprehensive First Aid Kit
- 2 TB USB drive (Backup pictures/video)
- USB power cords to charge everything
- Camera battery charger
- Extra Camera Batteries
- Extra Micro SD cards
- Cell Phones x 2
- Completes set of tools (all maintenance and repairs on the road if needed)
- Air Compressor
- Tire Gauge
- Tubes x 3
- Chain Lube
- 409 Cleaner
- Cleaning brush
- Bike straps
- Waterproof bike covers x 2
- 1 Gallon Rotopax Gas Cans x 4
- Extra oil
The Day Arrived
On Saturday morning, June 29th, we left. Father and son were on there way to the north. After a coupel of weeks of hard rain, we found ourselves leaving in the middle of a northwest heat wave that was also high in humidity. No worries I thought. The farther north we go, the cooler it would get. This was a bad assumption as later we would find that high heat and humidity followed us all the way beyond the Yukon border.
|Bad News at the Border|
All was good… until we got to the Sumas Border crossing into Canada. The little town decided that they needed host a parade down main street, blocking the border crossing for about an hour. WTF!!! So we sat in line with our HOT M/C gear on sweating. Many people wouldn’t turn their cars off and the tractor trailers... they never shut down. It was a pretty miserable sitting there waiting to cross the border. The parade ends and we have another 40 minutes or so to cross… there is a big line of cars/trucks/RVs waiting. It was the type of deal where you really couldn’t turn your engine off. Having an air cooled bike, this was bad. Both Johann and I could feel the heat of our engines roasting us. By the time we got to the border, we were cooked. We turned off our bikes, removed our sweaty helmets and handed them our passports. All was well and they waved us through. Except Johann’s bike wouldn’t start. We had to push it out of the road. I began checking all the fuses. They were good. Next I checked the electrical system. No juice anywhere. Arrrghhhhh!! A few months prior, the battery imploded and I had to replace it. I thought to myself “not again!!!!”. I pulled the battery and left Johann to guard all the gear as I went into Abbotsford to locate a new battery. About 2 hours later I return… without a new battery. I had located 3 stores (one a John Deer Shop and 2 other general Power Motor Sport type shops). They tested the battery and said it was good. Hmmm… What to do. It was now about 3 PM in the afternoon and M/C shops are closed the next 2 days. I decided that we’d put the battery back in, button the bike up and get a ride back home or camp nearby until Tuesday. What a bummer of start I thought this was going to be.
|Moving again.. Yipppee|
I put the Dakar back together and what do you know. The ignition lights lit up!!! Huh!! Will it start? I turn the key and YES, YES, YESSSSS!!!!
I don’t know what happened. I figured a chip or something overheated and had now cooled off. I thought about it for 15 minutes, trying to decide if we should go or have the bike checked out. To heck with it I said. Let’s go. We’ll deal with it later.
|Fraser River Canyon|
|A Storm was brewing.. oh no!?!|
|Lilloet in the Evening sun|
From there we rode over to Mission B.C. over to Maple Ridge past Harrison Lake to Hope. We then truned north on Highway 97 towards Lytton. Once at Lytton, we took a side road over to Lilloet. This is a great M/C road. However, by now it was about 8:00 and a thunderstorm was brewing. We headed over toward Clinton B.C. hoping to arrive at Downing Provincial Park via a shortcut known as the Pavilion road. The road is all gravel and has 12-18% grades on either end. It would be Johann’s first test on his bike in the dirt. How would he do?
|We brought riding buddies with us|
|Near Fountain Valley... A magical train|
|looking back... see the train tunnel|
|The beginning of the dirt... and then into camp for the night.|
|The Pavilion Road|
|Looking East toward the Mrble Range Mtns... Beauty eh?|
I am pleased to say that he did fantastic. We arrived at Downing Park only to find it closed. We headed towed the Day Use area and despite the crowds there already setup and camping, we got a nice spot by the lake. Free Camping!!! As we were setting up camp (it was nearly 10:00 pm by now), a friendly Canadian gent offered us a beer. Johann declined, but I jumped at it.
Awe what a day I thought. I hope tomorrow is less stressful.
|Our last look before plunge into the dark valley to our camp.|
Stay Tuned for the next leg of the trip report....