RubiKon Adventures

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

Thursday, June 20, 2019

GrizzLee Stories From the North: Heading to Tok

The next day we took out time leaving. The weather was again, stupendous. We made a stop at Blueberry pass for some scrumptious view back down the glacial valley that leads down to Valdez.

View from Blueberry Pass
Once we motored our way out of the coastal mountains, the weather was sunny and it got really warm. This was a welcome change in the weather from what I had experienced for nearly the entire trip.

Mt Drum, One of the Giants of the Wrangle Mountains
Our objective for the day was Tok Alaska. But first we were treated to the beauty of the Wrangle/St Elias Mountains. Stunningly beautiful. We arrived at Glennallen and took the TOk Highway over to, where else, Tok, Alaska. Yun and I parted ways and agreed to meet in Tok at the Eagle Claw Campground. This was a loose agenda as I told him I may do a side trip.

Mt Zanetti (left) & Mt Wrangle (the long slope on the right)
I must say that the road conditions were not ideal. I encountered horrendous frost heaves and had to slow down to avoid losing control of the bike. A Subaru apparently didn’t like my reduced pace and decided to pass in a huff, a few miles later they were on the side of the road with broken front plastics that must have broken when they came off one of the whoops. I gave a friendly wave and continued on my journey.

This highway offered some great views into the Wrangle St Elias park. Mt Sanford, a mega peak for sure, 16,237 feet in elevation, it rises over 12,000 feet from the base to the summit making a truly spectacular view from my vantage.   

Mt Sanford from the Tok Highway

I was wanting to scout out the Nasbesna Road. I stopped in at the Slana Ranger Station to check on road conditions. I was told that I could only make it another 25 miles or so before I came across really wet road conditions (swelling creeks). Because of all the rain and now the warm conditions, the road had creeks that swelled and it was recommended that I not take my big bike out there as they can be uncross able. Awe, bad timing for me. It was OK though as I was starting to not feel well. The long days on the bike, I believe were beginning to take a toll on me.

Outside of Tok, near Menasta Lakes, I saw a cow moose grazing on the side of the road. She seemed to be oblivious to my presence and I got some great pictures and video.

Nellie the moose

Moose and biek were at peace
I arrived in Tok and proceeded to the Thompson’s Eagle Claw Campground where met up with Yun and several foreign visitors. Eagle Claw is an awesome campground and not a place to be missed, especially if you are traveling by motorcycle. It is run by Brain and Vanessa, both of which are riders themselves.

They are off grid, but they offer primitive hot steam baths, cook shelters and some unique camping accommodations found nowhere else. Aside from the standard tent sites, they offer tents with cots, teepees, an old ambulance that sleeps two, a bus and a parachute setup as a rain umbrella. In addition, they have a large shed with motorcycle tools to do repairs and such.  They are always happy to help. I can’t think of a more pleasant campground in all my travels north.  IF you ever travel north, please check them out. You won’t be disappointed.

Now, back to the visitors, aside from Yun, there was his friend, a Frenchman, a couple from Austria and another gent from the Czech Republic. And boy could they drink. We had a wild night in front of a large  campfire and everyone had a great time. I slept very well that night.

Wild night at THompson's Eagle Claw

These guys could drink
The next day, I headed toward Whitehorse. It seems that I caught a bug and I was slowly falling into a flu like state that would haunt me for the rest of my ride home.

Monday, June 10, 2019

GrizzLee Stories From The North: Ep6 - Making Lemonade from Lemons

Dismal Days Ahead

Continuing from Episode 5.....

I left Whitehorse after spending 2 days with a friend in hopes of doing the Dempster Highway. The weather was in flux and It seemed that the forecast changed every couple of hours. In my research of the ride reports, riders were having an extremely hard time on the Dempster as a whole. They had nearly record rainfall for June and thus reports of injuries, abandoned bikes and other harrowing tales of woe were rampant. And in talking with locals, it seems the road to Tuk was in bad shape from the severe wetness, some even stated that the road was rushed to get open for the season and as a result wasn’t quite ready for all the tourist.

So I decide to ride the Midnight Dome and then do a circular ride out to Bonanza Creek and ride the Hunker Creek road to Gold Bottom and up towards Solomons Dome. It did rain on me and up towards the summit I could see north into the Dempster country and it wasn’t looking good at all. Rain, rain, rain and more F@#%ing rain as far as the eye could see. Damn it!!! It was at this moment, I decided to head over to Alaska and ride towards Prudhoe Bay.

Friday, June 7, 2019

GrizzLee Stories From the North: Valdez and More

Tangle Lakes... Whooaa
So after a wonderful night at Tangle Lakes we headed over toward Paxson.  Paxson is the official end, or start of the Denali Highway. Along the way we were treated to some of the best views Alaska has to offer. It was scrumptious. Once on the Richardson Highway, the weather really began to warm up. We passed through Gakona and Gulkana before arriving at Glennallen. The latter town serves as a hub as it sits at the junction of the Glennallen highway and the Richardson Highway. And a bit farther north is the Tok cutoff highway. It was here, in Glennallen that both, Yun and I refueled, got something to eat and planned our next move. I had thoughts of going to the Kennicot Mine out to McCarthy and such, while Yun had his sights set on going to Valdez. MY time up north was running short now and I only had time for one or the other. In the interest of having a riding companion for a while longer, it was decided to head to Valdez. I must say, the weather was spectacular and I won’t’ lie, the weather played a big part in my decision. Sunshine in Valdez can be a rare treat for these parts and seeing more glaciers and tasting the ocean air was enticing as well.

More Denali Hwy Beauty
We soon came upon Mt Worthington and decided to hike up towards the Worthington Glacier. It was nice and refreshing. My legs enjoyed the hiking and my soul loved the views.

Denali Hwy

Parting shots of the Denali Hwy... It was hard to leave
From there we headed over to Blueberry Pass and soaked up the incredible views of the deep fjord valley heading down toward Valdez. The Richardson Hwy snaked its way up and around the pass before dropping quickly into the valley below. It was hard to pay attention to the road as my eyes wandered all over the place trying to absorb the scenery passing by.  We passed Horsetail Falls and Bridal Veil falls (geez, seems like there are a million falls named the same around the world), all so beautiful and within arms length off the hwy.

Worthington Glacier

Climbing up to the glacier
We pulled into Valdez and did a quick tour of the town. We eventually parked the bikes on Harbor Drive and got some Thai food for dinner and enjoyed basking in the sunshine a bit, looking across the sound at the snow capped peaks. We then pulled out and went over to the other side of the arm to look for a good place to camp. Turns out, we decided not to camp over there because the Salmon were running.


Waterfalls galore

What a cool road to ride

We stopped near the Solomon Gulch Fish Hatchery to witness thousands of salmon trying to spawn. There is a weir gate that prevents them from moving upstream to Solomon Lake. Sea Lions and Sea Gulls were feasting on the Salmon. The Sea Lions, seemed to have little respect regarding the salmon and killed them and would thrash them about and then finally let them go without eating them. Very strange behavior.

Thousands and thousands of fish

I swear I could walk across the sound on the backs of the fish
As mentioned, not wanting to camp there due to bear activity, we proceeded to head over to the Valdez Glacier. There is a campground out that way but we thought that perhaps we could camp at the Valdez Glacial Lake. We arrived there and it was beautiful. A couple of folks were pulling out of the lake in their kayaks. We chatted a bit and took some photos. We were soon advised not to camp there in tents because of high bear activity there. Sooo we motored our way back to the “Valdez Glacier” Campground. As we pulled in, we saw a rather large black bear run across the road and into the campground. We quickly alerted folks that a Black bear had just entered the camp. May folks were grilling food over an open fire and it smelled delicious. I could see how a hungry bear could be swayed to invade a camp and attempt to swipe a delicious meal form some unsuspecting campers.

Valdez Glacier Lake

Yun and myself posing with our steeds in the glacial wonderland
In any event, we found a place to setup and grabbed a well deserved shower and settled in for the night.

The next day, I began my journey back home….