RubiKon Adventures

Tales and travels of "GrizzLee", "Looksha Lori" & "Yukon Johann"

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Our Life Behind Bars – Father & Son Doing Time in the Northern Frontier (Mile 3469 to Mile 3726)

Day 15 (July 12, 2013)

So we wake up after a seemingly short night. Man the 24 hour daylight plays tricks on the minds of folks who are used to dark nights.

 In any event, we had a really nice buffet breakfast at the Deadhorse camp (

We met up again with a couple of guys we met in Fairbanks at the University Dorms. They wee riding KLRs. Nothing like a couple of buddies out for an adventure ride. I can relate. It was a great time riding with my son.

Couple of buddies out for an adventure ride of a lifetime
We met these guys in the University Dorms at Fairbanks

Father-son at Deadhorse camp

Gas was $5.50 a gallon.. YIKES!!

After much conversation about our travels north, we parted ways and began to look for the General Store and the Tesoro Gas Station. Now, one would think finding your way around a small town (if you could call Deadhorse such a place) would be easy. However, the lighting and the confusing roads that went around small lakes and tundra combined with nondescript out buildings made it hard to navigate. There were no outstanding features in Deadhorse and it really wasn’t that memorable of a place. The only distinction that mattered for us and many like us, was the fact that it lies at the end of a journey, contains fuel and basic amenities for travelers so that they may turn around and head home. Deadhorse in any other place would not even get a mention. But here, in the north, it had a unique distinction. We wanted 3 things before we left to go back. They were as follows:  1) we needed gas and Johann needed some extra for his bike as it has just slightly over a 200 mile range and it was 240+ miles back to Coldfoot where the next available fuel station was to be had 2) We wanted a picture of us by the Deadhorse town sign (proof that we made it) and 3) we wanted stickers for our bikes to provide evidence that we were truly serious adventure riders.
Obligatory picture at the old town sign. It was once located downtown,
but has since been moved to the General Store

We found the Tesoro station and got some fuel at $5.50 a gallon. My Gretchen likes the good stuff (premium gas), but she has been on a diet a great deal of this trip. No premium fuel for her today. Regular unleaded will have to do as that is all they had, and diesel, of course. So we fill up, which is a confusing ordeal in itself as they have an automated pay system set up with two different screens and two different card readers. I wasn’t sure I chose the correct one. I also wanted a receipt, but the entire process was confusing and I left w/o a receipt. After which we head over to the General Store. We found the famous town sign and got our pictures. We went inside and found that the store was stocked up pretty good on supplies, including stickers for our bikes.

240 miles back to Coldfoot
The temperatures were around 34 degrees.. a bit chilly.

 It was about 34-37 degrees outside with a breeze. The pictures make it look warmer than it really was.

The only wildlife we would see on the entire hwy :-(

We leave town and Johann spots our first and only wildlife on the entire trip. We see a lone Caribou crossing the Sag river. We looked around in hopes of seeing more. But it wasn’t to be.

As we approached the Brooks range,
the temperature began to rise considerably

We head back to the Brooks range to find the temperature starting to rise pretty quickly,  the closer we got. Off with our warm clothes and out came the darn mosquitoes. Dog gone it, those bugs were persistent buggers.

The pipeline snakes all over the tundra without any logical rhyme or reason..
at least it seemed that way

The kid looking good as usual

The tundra went on and on forever

We arrive back at Galbraith Lake area and stop for a snack

We had an uneventful crossing of the Tundra back to Galbraith Lake. We did have to ride a 17 mile road construction zone. There was a line of trucks waiting for the pilot car. Not wanting to eat dust from the big trucks, we headed to the front where the flagger greeted us and said that we were smart to do this and that we learned well. We barely shut our engines off, when the pilot car (truck) arrived to shuttle us back through the construction zone. To keep the dust down, they were spraying Calcium Chloride all over the road in huge amounts. It got so slippery and muddy, that I rode as far to the edge of the road that I dared. Our bikes got filthy from the stuff and made it really hard to clean off… if at all.
Hard to get over the beauty of this area

Lunch was delightful as we got to see  a maintenance crew head over to a small building and do some work on the pipeline. It was very warm at this point and we took refuge in what little shade our bikes could provide.

Heading back deep into the Brooks range

We are getting closer to Atigun Pass

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge looks incredibly inviting

Gretchen looking like a limited black edition.
I call it the quadruple black edition

Gates of the Arctic looked inviting as well.
Hard to choose which park has the most beauty through the BLM corridor

:Looking like real adventure riders now


I wish I could look as good as the kid. He is a natural

Heading towards the pass

Coming back down the pass... Video to be posted soon...

From there we had a long, pleasant ride back through the valley toward Atigun pass. This time the Gates of the Arctic were on our right and the ANWR was too our left. Again, both had scenic mountain landscapes making it hard to pic our favorite. We stopped many, many times for pictures and video.

By the time we reached the plateau of Atigun pass, it was REALLY quite warm. It was over 90 degrees!!!!!  With high humidity and our bike clothing, it was somewhat uncomfortable. If it weren’t for the breathtaking scenery, I think we would have had much more suffering, but as it was our minds were distracted.

Again we stop at the high plateau,
It was 90 degrees out now... HOT!!!

Yep, again that is ice our there. Hot weather and ice... hmmm??
This is the arctic?!?

Coming down the south side of the plateau

Even the views in my rearview mirror were a sight to behold

If I had a back pack and more time, I would have left the road here
 and hiked back into the Gates of the Arctic...
never to be seen again and that would be alright.

Cool rock formations

The kid

Hard to choose my favorite rock outcroppings...
they are so unusual and un expected up here

Hey, there is a road back here...
Soo off the boy went in search of adventure

The geology indicates that this land is up lifted crust
with glacial carved surfaces

This is one of our favorite scenes on the entire trip.
Hard to imagine this up here.
Looks like it could be part of Glacier Nat'l Park.

Man o man... Eye candy everywhere

Stop to explore the pipeline

Interestingly we see lots and lots of
caribou tracks walking parallel to the pipeline


Even though this looks like a grassy field, it is actually boggy and wet and
very hard to hike back to bike w/o sinking up to you knees


When I grow up, I want o look like this guy.

Back in Coldfoot

My temperature gauge on the bike reads 94 degrees..
This thermometer on this old heritage cabin confirms the reading

Just before bed, we take another temperature reading off the bike...
It cooled off to 89 degrees...
We are more than 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle here... Ouch!!

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