Two weeks and 9000 km of the most beautiful scenery we’ve ever found, with two full days of dirt, constant construction, rain and the friendliest people you can meet.
Last year, when we finished our 5000 km, two week California trip, we said to ourselves, “What’s next? It’s the big three-oh for both of us, so we need to make it epic. How about Alaska? But… all the way this time.”
Planning began immediately. We outlined a route, bike upgrades and supplies needed to cook and camp for 17 days. Our bikes need upgraded suspensions, rock protection, a backup of spark plugs, lights, brake pads, flat repair and fuses with a plan for tires to be safe.
Two months prior to the trip, both bikes had a major service including valves, tires, throttle bodies, fuel/air/oil filters and final drives. The V-Strom had a fuel pump issue in the last week, causing an inordinate amount of stress and attempted solutions, culminating in a new fuel pump from North Carolina overnighted at the last minute and a quick visit to an actual mechanic. The Friday we were supposed to leave was spent replacing a kinked fuel line and actually packing, which we finished by about 3am. On the way home the ST1300 had an indicator light go out requiring replacement and sleep by 4am.
After 4 hours of sleep, we decided to get back on track by riding directly to our day 2 destination of Chetwynd (Moberly Lake). There was a 50 minute delay between Spences Bridge and Cache Creek where the highway happened to be on fire.
We had lunch and danced to the ethnic music from tour bus patrons while an air show was conducted above us, dumping chemicals on the fire. Our bikes were decorated “fire-retardant pink” for a while. The strong head-wind and recent repairs had the V-Strom using an unusual amount of fuel, actually having to use the extra 1.5L fuel tube between towns, which we fixed with a tank of treated fuel. Exhilarated with good weather and finally being on the road, we passed Heart Lake Campground (through a dense thicket of flying insects) and continued to Moberly Lake Provincial Campground. It was our second longest day of the trip.
After a long night’s rest, we travelled to the WAC Bennett Dam. Bennett is significantly larger than any BC Dam with the capacity to supply 25% of BC’s power.
On the Cassiar, the towns grew smaller while the vehicles and animals grew larger and rougher. We encountered a particularly nasty gravel section with 3 inch minus rock fill, at a high enough speed to convince us to drop our tire pressure. At the far end of construction we used an air compressor to re-inflate our tires and immediately melted the accessory wiring on the V-Strom.
After passing through some absolutely gorgeous canyons, we arrived at a completely filled up Liard River Hot Springs campground. Our late arrival nearly landed us in the overflow far away from the campground, but we were rescued by a park ranger who escorted us to a day-use area to camp right next to the hot-springs entrance. Best spot in the whole park! While we re-wired the V-Strom accessories we met a motorcyclist who travels the arctic in the winter putting our current troubles in stark perspective.
After midnight, we walked the kilometer of raised wooden walkway over the swamp to the hot springs; the high summer latitude twilight providing barely enough light to make flashlights unnecessary. It was fairly unsettling to walk the narrow path listening to moose and various critters shuffling in the dimly lit swamp just aside the walkway. We met a couple porcupines who were very indignant about sharing the path with us. Liard was the most rustic and “natural” hot springs we visited; the two rock-lined pools separated by a small wall and a hidden spring above the garden.
We woke to a dusting of ash from nearby fires that acted as a thick fog, persisting all the way to the Watson Lake Sign Post Forest. We had lunch surrounded by road signs and funny signs serving as trip memorabilia from all over the world.
There isn’t much in Northern BC and the Yukon Territories. We were glad to reach Whitehorse for some supplies and a (extremely brief) dip in the Yukon River.
The Robert Service Campground is walking distance from town and offers a great community of walk-in tenters compared to the endless RV sites everyone fills as they travel through the one stop everyone goes through to travel north. We met some motorcyclists who were heading North, some to Dawson, some to Prudhoe Bay, whom we would run into again a couple times.