Dempster Highway Bike Trip

Dale + Muriel's
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Dempster Highway

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The Dempster Highway is the only highway in North America to cross the Arctic Circle.
We had decided over the winter to haul our dirt bikes to Inuvik and ride ‘the highway’. Riders would be myself, Dale Gray our son Warren Gray, Warrens wife Sauna, their two boys Jareh and Rhayl and our son in law Ben Morris. Muriel and our daughter Brenda would drive our support trucks.
On June 27 Muriel and I left Medicine Hat to start our drive 3707 kilometers to Inuvik. First stop was at Brooks, at Warren and Shaunas house to load bikes and equipment. Early next morning we got under way for real and drove the distance to Inuvik in four days, arriving in Inuvik at 4 AM on July 2 having driven all night in full daylight under the midnight sun.
We got a hotel room and had some rest before meeting Ben and Brenda at the air port. We then spent a couple days seeing Inuvik and getting souvenirs. And of course getting pictures of the Midnight Sun. On July 4 Muriel, Ben, Brenda, Warren and Shauna flew to Tuktoyaktuk to tour the village and to see and swim in the Arctic Ocean. I had been to Tuk before so stayed with Jareh and Rhayl for the day. July 5 at about 10 o'clock we unloaded bikes, took pictures and got started on our bike ride in light rain and +3C. We did not have to worry about dust which is one of the things we were concerned about before leaving home. The stuff flying around after meeting traffic was MUD. The mud of course got into our cloths and onto our goggles, but that was nothing compared to the cold. That first day of travel the temperature reached a high of +5 and with the rain and mud made for a very cool ride. No wait for the MacKenzie River ferry. The MacKenzie is a very large river, the longest in Canada and the twelfth longest in the world. After the ferry we rode in to Fort McPherson and fuel the bikes.
We camped at the Peel River camp site, a very nice and comfortable spot. We were the only ones in the camp so used the camp kitchen for our cooking which was nice and warm once Ben got the fire going. We had a comfortable night in our tents and a good breakfast in the morning.
Then we continued on our way and after a short wait for the Peel River Ferry rode on up to the Yukon NWT boarder and stopped for pictures. There was fresh snow in the hills at the boarder and 0 degrees when we got there, very cold for biking. We stopped at Rock River for lunch and being down from the hills and out of the rain and snow we felt so warm and comfy that we decided to stay for the night.
Rock River camp site is also a nice place but no wood so we had to go out away from the park area and cut our own before we could make supper. With that job done and our tents all in place Warren and I tried fishing for grayling. But with no luck although the mosquitoes had a good feed off us so it was not all for nothing.
The next morning and after another good breakfast of bacon eggs and pancakes we rode on up to the Arctic Circle sign and again stopped for pictures. Muriel blew a tire on the jeep so we had to double back and change that. It was now a balmy +8C and we dared to hope for +10.
After tire change and pictures we rode on to Eagle Plains, fueled up bought a tire and had lunch at the hotel. While having lunch in the warm restaurant I suggested getting rooms, have showers and stay the night. There were no dissenters to this plan so warmth and comfort was the thing for the night and as thing turned out it was a good plan. The next morning brought warmer weather. The riding was now very enjoyable and pleasant. We shed some of our cloths stopped more to look at things and everyone smiled more. Very pleasant up to +15C not quite warm but better for sure.
This, the fourth night we camped at Engineer Creek Camp Site. Again a nice spot and firewood this time which was nice. Again we tried a bit of fishing but no luck so we trudged on back to camp empty handed. The fifth day was beautiful sunny weather we rode to Tombstone Park with many stops along the way to enjoy the scenery and the wild life that seemed to be liking the sunshine as well. At Two Moose Lake we saw two cow moose and stopped for pictures. This evening fishing was even better. Ben Warren and Rhayl each caught a grayling.
We all went for a nature walk on Goldplain Ridge up as far as the snow from where we could see down over the valley to the camp site and the surrounding mountains. A very pretty spot.
The next morning found a bit of ice in our water buckets, but Ben had the fire going and coffee cooked before I had to get up.
After breakfast and more walks and strolls around on some of the trails we again rode on. Arriving about noon for lunch at Klondike River Lodge at the start (or end) of the Dempster Highway.
We then rode on into Dawson City and the bright lights of the home of the Klondike. Here we tried our luck in the casino and on the gravel bars to pan for gold. But like a lot of others who had trudged many hard miles to get to Dawson we spent more at Diamond Tooth Gerties Dance Hall than we made in the creeks.
Dawson City was a lot of fun with many interesting sites. Gerties girls are still beautiful. But of course no prettier or sweeter than the ones that traveled with us.
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