I have met the Dalton, and it is mud


August 10th, 2011

I arrived in Fairbanks on the 9th, with the simple plan of finding a hotel for two nights, allowing me to leave most of my stuff behind while I rode the Dalton/Haul to the Arctic Circle for a photo op.

The first issue I ran into was a surprise. All the hotels were full. I wasn’t aware, but because of the tour schedule, Tuesdays and Thursdays are the worst days to find a hotel in Fairbanks. After spending some time at the visitor center, where they were trying to find me a room without much luck, I asked about the University of Alaska dorms. I had heard they allowed travelers to rent them, but wasn’t sure when the plan would end due to school starting.

Lucky(ish) for me there was one more night open, so off I went. After checking in I made a reservation for the next night at a Super 8, and confirmed they could hold my luggage during the day while I was gone.

I woke up in the morning and packed up. After breakfast at

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I dropped off all my bags except food and gas, and headed for Livengood. The road that far at least was paved, and I had thought most of what came after was at least chipseal, though I had read a few things on ADVRider in the dorm that made me wonder. It had been raining the last couple of days, but the sun was supposed to come out at some point and I was optimistic.

On the way to the Dalton I got to ride through a cloud, which did a good job getting me chilly and damp.

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Once I reached the Dalton and turned north the road immediately because crappy. The mud was the slick kind and the rear tire kept slipping into ruts and holes. The bumps managed to knock the gas can off the rear rack, which I thought was impressive.

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I heard the dragging right away and stopped as fast as I thought I could, but not before the can had a hole it in. I poured what gas was left in the tank and kept riding. I hadn’t even made it to Livengood yet.

I don’t know what I was expecting for the town closest to Fairbanks, but a bunch of abandoned seeming shacks wasn’t it. The various mud roads were unmarked and there was no one around, so I just guessed which turn to take. My GPS had me still going more or less north, so I guessed it was the right one.

The road continued to get worse, and I was having a hard time getting and holding any sort of speed. Somewhere north of Livengood, but still south of the Yukon River crossing, I decided the risk of hurting me or the bike was simply not in line with just wanting a picture of the sign. I was also at about 1/2 of my range from the last fuel stop, so it was something of a point of no return. I turned around.

The ride back to Fairbanks was nice, the sun didn’t actually appear until much later in the day, 5 or 6pm. I stopped at a sporting goods store and got improved tent pegs, since the ones that had come with the Nomad tent were pretty weak. I had already bent several dealing with rocky ground. I also found waterproofing for my boots and a replacement tea mug.

Back at the hotel I spent some time going through my luggage to see if there were things I could get rid of, and then walked over to a nearby movie theater to see Rise of Planet of the Apes. I loved the original movie, and enjoyed the franchise, so it was a movie I had to see. I like what they did with it.

Move watched I walked back to my room and went to sleep early. Next on my list was Denali.

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