We left Wiseman early and cruised along on some of the best asphalt we had since leaving Fairbanks. It wasn’t long before it turned back to a dirt road and we started through the Atigun Pass.
Atigun Pass, sometimes also called the Atican Pass, reaches an elevation of 4739 ft. As we crossed it we were crossing the Continental Divide. Rivers to the north empty into the Arctic Ocean, while rivers to the south empty into the Bering Sea. North of the Atigun Pass, the permafrost is present almost everywhere.
As we started the climb we took a breakfast break. There are no stops for the 224 miles to Deadhorse. Pretty Awesome view already. And on the mountainside there was a Dall sheep eating.
We took another break in the pass. As I was parking my bike I misjudged the camber of the road. Down went my bike. The damage was a broken brake lever tip. They are suppose to come off on a hard fall to protect the rest of the lever. Wasn’t too much to get the bike upright again. A lesson learned. And a lesson to not let it ruin the amazing experience.
I was using my GoPro for the first time. Unfortunately, I had the camera angle pointing down too much 🙁 On the way back I will need to rectify that.
The views were awesome though.
After we left the pass were the most spectacular views and ones that made me reflect. I have been working of absorbing and experiencing intensely everything I see. I want to take it all in and make it part of me.
The Dalton Highway
Up until this point the Dalton Highway was for from being one of the Most Dangerous Highways in the World. Sure there was some lose dirt and corrugated sections, but really nothing that would cause anyone more than a minor concern. That was about to change.
About 30 miles outside of Deadhorse there was major road construction taking place. This was no simple road construction. It consisted on laying down loose stones up to the size of my fist! These were present in large stretches throughout the 30 miles.
Brent went first behind the pilot car and I went next. I could see the pilot car losing grip in the stone road. Brent’s rear tire would swerve all over the place. My strategy was to hang back to put distance between me and Brent during the simple dirt portions. As I approached the loose stones, I would speed up in an attempt to fly over the stones.
Stones were also flying. I could hear then bang against my motorcycle and also felt them careen off of my right leg. A couple of times I was sure I was going down. The flag staff had told us of motorcyclists who lost it. One who had broken his ribs. I was going to be one of the stories. Compounding the problem was a strong wind and being engulfed in dust as trucks passed. Miraculously, I powered through it all.
As we reached the end of the 30 mile stretch, Brent pumped his arm in a sign of victory. I was laughing out of relief and glad it was over. Until we had to go back anyways.
I’m going to try to get good pictures on the way back.
Brent had booked us into the Aurora Hotel. It is expensive at $150 US a night. However, with that, you get all the food you can eat! Also free laundry! The rooms are nice and the whole hotel has the feel of a cruise ship.
As you can imagine it is tough to keep the inside clean with all the dust. to combat that you have to wear blue booties when entering the hotel.
It was a welcome relief to clean up and hit the cafeteria to load up.