The first Frontier


We arrive at Fairbanks on May 29th, on Mary’s Birthday. To celebrate that day, we look for a pizzeria. But we cannot find one very close to the campground so we end up with a fast-food. It will look for us like a feast because we eat almost every day pasta and rice.

Fairbanks is not a big city even if it is the second largest one in Alaska (30 000 persons). We visit in the community center the exposition about dog sleigh and gold rush. It is from here that we will follow the Alaskan Highway but on opposite direction from the first pioneers, the founders of Alaska and the North-West of Canada hoping to find gold. Some will succeed and make a lot of money but some others will lose their lives.

We also go to the Pioneer Park (a reconstitution village from the gold rush). Kayla will find playground and she will play there for a long moment to stretch her legs. It is the first time we see so much people in a campground. We stay there to relax. Kayla walks everywhere and soon, we are very well known. Everyone asks us if we are the bike family.

After 4 days, it is time to take the road, direction south. The next grocery will be at 170km (105m.) So we have to buy food for 4 days on the road. Just after Fairbanks, we hit North Pole, the Santa Claus village. We meet him but Kayla didn’t want to take a picture with him. She still doesn’t like him. The rest of the road goes fast and we will take 4 days to reach Delta Junction.

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It is not difficult to have a place to camp in Alaska but the best place is closer to the river. One night, we just arrive near a bridge. We think it was the end of our day and we could stay in an old rest area just on the side of the river. But when we walk around, we find some caribou’s bones. So we have to leave: it is too dangerous, the smell can bring some bears. We just cross the bridge and find another place on the other side of that river. Three big RV are already there, so we just put up the tent very close. The next morning, we meet them. They are from Arizona and they pass the summer in the North. They will give us enough water for all the day.

20km (12m.) before the next city, we stop to visit an old roadhouse, a place for the travellers during the gold rush to have supplies. We meet there Gilles and Janet, two Australian people travelling in their Australian 4×4 specially adapted for their trip. They will travel to South America like us. We talk a while and we have lunch with them. We are almost ready to leave when a Delta Junction’s couple arrive. After talking to theses new people about our trip, they invite us to stay at their place for the night. What a nice meeting in a ten minutes stop…

Ed and Becky live about 10km (6m.) from Delta Junction. We just have to meet them in 2 hours in front of the grocery. Ed will come and get us with his pickup. We will have a good dinner, an excellent bed and a very fine breakfast. It is amazing to see the generosity of the people we met. Without knowing us, they open their door like we are in their family. The day after, Ed will bring us back to the grocery. We will buy the food we need for the next 180km (112m) until the next city. Delta Junction is the place where the Alaskan Highway stops. This highway from Dawson Creek in British Columbia, Canada to Delta Junction is a 2300km (1430m.) road, built very fast during the Second World War to make a ground connection to Alaska.

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For us, The Alaskan Highway begins here. We will follow that road until the end except for 1000km (620m.) for Dawson City’s loop.

It is also here we meet our first bike traveller, Luc, a French man who left Argentina 6.5 month ago. He makes a very big achievement.

The Alaskan Highway is not a very busy road at this time of the year, less than the other roads. So we didn’t see a lot of people. We ride 180km (112m.) in 3 days until Tok. We just beat our record on the third day: 84km (52m.) and we arrive at 9h pm exhausted. Tok is a very little city, just some campgrounds, one very good tourist information a gas station and a grocery. We stay there 2 days to take a rest. We know the next days will be very tough. We will take some small roads to reach Dawson City, and especially the Top of The World Highway. This road is known for its beauty and also for its difficulty. It follows the ridgeline for almost 100km (62m.)

We are now about 300km (186m.) from Dawson City. Between Tok and Dawson, there is nothing on the road, just the mountain, the very small city of Chicken with no grocery and the Canadian border.

We buy some food for 8 days. Our bags are full. After Tok, we continue for 20km (12m) before taking the Taylor Highway. Now the road climb. We stop for lunch 1 km further. There, we meet Sandra and Tony, an American woman and an English man. Tony left San Francisco and she was from Fairbanks. We eat together and leave just before them. They will reach us very quickly at the end of the next hill. We follow them in the slope and they disappear in the hill. We are too much loaded to follow them.
After 3 days of hill and slope, we arrive in Chicken where we meet again Sandra and Tony. They are there for the Chickenstock, a music festival in Chicken. This small village, built during the Gold Rush, has a gas station, a campground, a coffee, a bar and a gift shop. This place is full of people and we look for a place to put up the tent.

The night was very short between the music and all the party people. We will have noise until 7:00am. So we decide to have a good breakfast at the coffee shop. The lady at that store, knowing that we are in bike, gives us 2 big fresh homemade cinnamon buns. We leave with a full stomach.

And the asphalt road is finish; the rest of the road will be in mud. It is not a bad road. We ride like we are in asphalt. Some part of this road is covered with stones but not too long. They have a lot of gold mines still in function, so they told us not to take water in the river because they use some chemical products like cyanide. Many people came here during the summer to search gold. So the Gold Rush is not finished for some people.

We camp at the bottom of the last hill of the Taylor Highway. We just finish eating than Sandra and Tony arrive. They left Chicken at the beginning of the afternoon and they already are here. We eat together and they leave because they want to be closer to the border.

On the last hill, we are 1000m. (3280’) altitude and this hill is 5km (3.1m) long. We have to push our bikes because the hill is too steep. On the top, we have the junction with the Top of The World Highway. There, we meet Damien, from Belgium, who travel in hitch-hiking. We talk with him and meanwhile, a pickup from Alaskan Road Works stops and tell us that the road is in construction until the border having big rocks for 15km (9.5m). They offer us to drive us at the end of the road works. We refuse and told them we will be very cautious. We say Good Bye to Damien. He wants to reach a place to watch the Belgium soccer game on Television. We are in the middle of the World Soccer Game and each European we met, they talks about that. In Alaska, they don’t care a lot about soccer.

The beginning of The Top of The World is on slope (it is good for us) and we think it was a good thing that we choose to refuse the lift. But we change mind very soon when we begin to ride on some big rocks. That man was right. The stones are very big and also look like they can cut our tires. So we have to push the bikes. We have to walk with our bikes luckily not 15km (9m) but just 5km (3m). After that, the road is going a little bit better. We stop late for lunch and we make the decision to keep on despite the black clouds and a big steep hillside. The border, very close, is motivating us. But the hill is too hard and we have to push our bikes again. We are almost on the top when a car sounds one’s horn at us. It is Gilles and Janet, our 2 Australians people. We talk a while with them; they give us some fruits and leave for Dawson. We hope to meet them over there.

The end of the day is coming and we wonder if we will pass the border tonight or wait until tomorrow and make water refill for the next day. At the end, we decide to cross our first border. We ask the custom officer to refill our second 4 liter water bag and he gives us some information about the road. We start . We are now in Canada, in Yukon Territory.

Yukon

The border is very small, just one building for both Canadian and American custom and a small house for each one to live. This is the northerly passage between these two countries. That border altitude is 1250m (4100’) and we can tell : It is in the middle of nowhere. It is open only through the day during summertime. So we keep on climbing and we reach to highest point of that road: 1339m (4393’) altitude.

The view is awesome!

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We go down and find a place for the tent. Who can tell you that we arrive here after that long and difficult day? We are tired but proud of us. When we get up the day after, the clouds are still present. We keep on going down and the road become to be hilly. We are between 1000 and 1200m (3280-4000’). At this altitude, the snow is there on the side of the road.

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Suddenly, the wind is stronger, so the weather is colder. And now, the rain starts…we are quickly frozen even with our raincoats. We put the tarpaulin by the time we eat. Stay quiet is very unpleasant. It is too cold. We decide to camp as soon as we find a place. We stop just a few kilometers away and we are in a hurry to install the tent, just to stay out of that weather. We just transfer Kayla from her trailer to the tent. She was staying dry all the time. In our sleeping bag, we are chilled for a long moment. The rain stops during the night, so we can eat outside. The clouds are blacks, and we hear the thunder. At least, we won’t get wet. We go to sleep and we told us: tomorrow cannot be worst.

But unfortunately, it can be worst…and it will be. It rains all the night and in the morning, no more rain, it is snowing! It is 2C (35F) and the wind is stronger than yesterday. We have two choices: keep on the road or stay here until the weather will be nicer. We don’t know how long it could take and our food is going down. We didn’t have enough water for another night. We decide to keep on and try to reach Dawson today. We quickly know that it is impossible. The road is muddy and very slippery. We cannot take the speed even in a slope and on the hill, we have to push our bikes. Even if we work a lot, we are still cold. It is too much! We decide to stop a car. The only problem we have with that weather, almost nobody is on the road. The cars we see are too small to take us with the bikes and the trailer. We keep on but we stop each time we see some lights coming. After a long time, a big pickup is coming…we are in the middle of the road to stop him. Mike and Kim offer us a lift before we had time to ask them. When we take Kayla out of her trailer, we realize that she is warm and dry. We are so happy! After putting everything in the back of the pickup, we are safe and we make the last 40km (24m) very quickly. We thank a lot Mike and Kim and we went at the tourist information to warm up ourselves for a while. It is 4:00pm now and we didn’t eat since this morning. The first restaurant will be good. When we arrive at the campground, we find all the damage we have: Marie’s bike has no more breaks and everything is covered with mud. We not even see through the trailer.

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We need a good clean up. For that, a hose is required. John, a big RV owner, accepts we use his.

With his wife, Nancy, they invite us in their big bus to share a glass of wine. Inside, we think we are in a house… everything is so spacious. They spend 9 months in a year to travel. it is like a second home for them. Their 2 dogs make Kayla happy. We leave them even with something to eat for that night.

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