North to Dawson City

August 6th and 7th, 2011

I left Whitehorse with plans to reach Dawson City that evening, which was going to be a long day but all paved and seemed quite doable. I was just about to leave the campground when I had my first real problem of the trip.

The bike wouldn’t start. The starter was only just barely turning over.

I bump started the bike, and stopped at Can-Tire (Canada’s version of Walmart) for a voltmeter. battery read fine, and the bike started right up. Confusing. I got on the bike and rode north, into the rain.

Rain is something that happens when you are on a motorcycle ride, and I like to think my gear is up to the challenge of even Yukon rain, but after an hour or so I was cold. I have the heated gear plugged in and turned up, but it didn’t seem to be helping. The inside of my gloves were wet. I was miserable. I reached Carmacks and stopped for gas. There was also a grocery store and hotel, and after trying to warm up in the store (meeting a couple riders heading south) I went back outside thinking about pressing on.

And the bike wouldn’t start…again.

So I rolled it over to the hotel and got a room. I took about a 30 minute hot shower, put on dry clothes, spread out everything else so it could dry, and ate at the little restaurant attached. Frankly I was feeling pretty low, though much better after the shower. There was only one channel working on the TV so I watched Daily Show reruns on the hotel wifi (which was not free, btw) and uploaded pictures.

In the morning, after another warm shower, I hit the road again heading north. The bike still didn’t want to start, but I bump started it again and decided I would just keep it running. I should have headed back to Whitehorse, but I am be a little stupid sometimes.

As I rode north the day warmed up and the sun came out.


Five Fingers, on the Yukon River just north of Carmacks, see the overcast-i-ness?



See the sunn-i-ness? Much nicer.

I went to the visitor center to ask about camping, since the RV park in town that I had researched was very much an RV park and didn’t seem tent-friendly at all. I was directed across the river to one of two campgrounds on that side, a hostel (which claimed hot showers and wifi) and a government campground for $2 less that didn’t have anything beyond firewood. There isn’t a bridge across the Yukon here, so it’s a ferry ride.


I went with the Hostel to find the wifi router was down and the ‘hot showers’ were in fact hot sponge baths, and you had to heat the water yourself. And, no vehicles in the tent area, although he did relent once he learned about the motorcycle and confirmed it wasn’t a Harley (load pipes lose rights).

Once the tent was up I took the ferry back to Dawson and walked around some. It was later, after 6, and it seemed most places closed between 4 and 5. What was left open were restaurants and tourist traps. I can confirm the roads are dirt, but the rest of the town had a tourist feel to it


I had ice cream (not that great) and walked around downtown. There is a museum covering Dawson’s brief cold rush which was interesting


And the views along the river were stunning


but eventually I headed back to the hostel and my tent. It seemed like I was the only non-German there, which made chatting difficult. The sun setting dropped the temperatures and I was glad for my sleeping bag.

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