Dempster Highway

Hello down there……..sorry for the delay on the post, BUT-

The Dempster kicked our rear-end and then let us get to Eagle Plains. For those of you who know of my “almost plane crash” back in 1999, the Dempster experience now ranks number two, just behind said crash, as one of life’s worst experiences. The disclaimer on TV that says “Don’t try this at home. This should only be attempted by trained professionals in a controlled environment,” should be posted on the Dempster. Let me just say, the highway lived up to its reputation in every respect.

Getting ready to hit the Dempster Highway


View to Eagle Plains

We began the day early in Dawson City, as we were eager to get started. Little did we know what lay ahead. We topped off our tanks at the little station at the beginning of the Dempster and proceeded through some of the most beautiful and expansive country I have ever seen. It was overcast and 46 degrees as we set off. After about 100 of the 230 miles to Eagle Plains, it began to rain. Nothing real heavy, but a slow soaking rain, like the one I know most of you are waiting for.  As we continued, the road turned from dirt/gravel to the slickest substance known to man.  The correct name of it I’m not quite sure, but just use your vivid imagination.

We arrived at a really nice spot along the Stewart River and stopped for pictures, about 130 miles up the Dempster Highway.

Looking NE along the Stewart River

Looking southwest down the Stewart River

Results of the V's bad landing. (He's up and flying the next day)

Injured Vulture

It continued to rain as we slip-slided our way to the top of a mountain for more pictures. This was at about 160 miles up the D. We left the mountain and headed on, thinking that the road would not get any worse.  Boy, were we disappointed. The rain continued and the temperature dropped to a cool 40 degrees. The road continued to deteriorate, until we were sloshing through the muk about 4 to 5 inches deep. It was as if the bikes and the road were communicating and we were left totally out of the conversation. The bike would shift, almost violently and without warning to a different track. The rear of the bike would then slide around to one side or the other (you never knew which way) and then re-track with front end. Each of us almost bit the dust numerous times, as we proceeded at 30 miles an hour. As some of you know, the Vulture was taken down by the road. As we picked up his bike we were standing in 4 inches of muk. His ankle had been pinned under the bike and was causing a great deal of pain. We weren’t sure whether it was broken or just strained, but he got back on the bike and rode for a while. Apparently the bike had also been damaged and the V decided to forgo the ride and not destroy the bike. He and the Gazelle decided to wait on the side of the road for us to send a truck for them and the bikes.

Birdman vs. The Mud

My bike starting to become covered in road muk at the Stewart River.

Bike covered in road muk

Birdman and I continued toward Eagle Plains, now only 70 miles away.  We finally figured out that we could run about 20 miles an hour in second gear and manage to get through the muk that got increasingly deeper with longer and longer stretches of it. The temp rose to a balmy 50 degrees. We continued the ride for 40 miles at 20mph, until the road surface composition changed for the better and we were blasting along at 30 mph, sometimes actually shifting into 3rd gear. Three and a half hours later, we arrived at Eagle Plains Lodge. One can imagine the thrill of that sight.

Bikes covered in mud and muk at Eagle Plains, YT

Vulture and Gazelle arrived by truck, as they had managed to get a lift from a lady that runs the maintenance crews for the Dempster. Vulture said she had a four-wheel drive truck and had almost run off the road four times, while they were en route. He further related the happenings on the side of the road. As they were “hanging out,” waiting for a ride, they looked around and a 3 to 4-year-old black bear was walking straight towards them about 30 feet away. They began yelling, flailing arms, honking the horn on the bike and going for the bear spray that he purchased just a few days ago. We’re glad they made it back and didn’t become a picnic lunch for Yogi and Boo Boo.
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Only 20 miles from the Arctic Circle...

We had a little something to eat, but for some reason my appetite was gone…..imagine that. We all decided that Inuvik ain’t gonna happen. Instead, tomorrow Vulture and Gazelle are taking the tow truck down to Dawson City. B’man and I are continuing to the Arctic Circle, which was really the whole point of this trip, as soon as the road conditions permit.

So, sorry this post is so long, but there was a lot to relate.

Until next time….Gato out