Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Everyday for 7 Weeks–Day 11–Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

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Everday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

The wind is blowing, and the cold starts to seep through your coat. A cold chill. Fingers reach for the knob and give it a small twist. A flood of heat washes over and bathes you in warmth sending a warm little shiver up your spine. A bit of a cold breeze, and the fingers turn the knob again to the right. That’s the stuff. I love my heated coat. I used it a lot today.

Everday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

I was told that the section of the Alaska Highway between Fort Nelson and Watson Lake is the most scenic section. For the first hour, I was a bit skeptical, but then I was surrounded by mountains, frozen lakes, and rivers. It was gorgeous. It even made me over look the frequent snows. It was very similar to the ice fields parkway, but on a smaller scale. The mountains weren’t nearly as tall, and there was much, much less traffic and a lot more animals.

Everday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

I saw more animals today than I did people, and I am not even gonna cheat and count the birds. I saw dozens of buffalo, about ten caribou, several stone sheep, a muskrat, a large black bear, two moose, and two playful dogs. Most of them were hanging out in the road or just off to the side. The caribou and sheep appeared to be licking the road. yuck. The buffalo were trimming the grass on the sides and leaving regular deposits for almost 100km. Those not eating were laying in the sun soaking up the warmth. A great plan since it was chilly (less than 40F).

Stone Sheep:

Everday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

Buffalo running with their babies:

Everday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

For the first hour, I was staring at some horrible looking dark clouds, and just dreading riding into them. Fortunately, the road turned, and I missed the bulk of it. Being on the top of a mountain road on a motorcycle with lightning around doesn’t seem too safe.

Everday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

Instead, I got a bit wet and found some snow on the other side of the pass. It was over an inch deep on the road. Yikes!

Everday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

The rest of the times it snowed were just like the previous times on this trip. Clumps coming down and bouncing off me like little bits of mashed up styrofoam. The only ones that stuck and melted seemed to be the ones hitting my face shield. The little wiper blade on my thumb made quick work of the mess however, so no worries.

Everday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

It was a bit strange to ride for so long and see so few people or even cars. This is a remote part of the continent. At my first gas stop I was surprised to see $1.75/liter. The owner was a bit cranky and seemed like I was disturbing him.

Everday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

I paid for my gas, and rode the bike across the lot to some picnic benches. I wanted a snack. Once I sat down, his dog came running over. He was quite friendly and really wanted to play.

Everyday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

I think he wanted my food too, but I didn’t share. I just sat and petted him while I ate. Once I was done, he grabbed a 2x4 to play fetch with. He really wanted to eat it though, and even though he wanted me to throw it could hardly take a break from gnawing on it. I threw it for him a few times, and decided to go before he go over excited. He looked very sad when I started the bike.

Everday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

My second gas stop of the day was my new record for most expensive gas I’ve ever purchased blowing my previous record set earlier in the day out of the water at $1.92/liter which is $7.27USD/gallon. Wow! The girl selling it was not impressed that I had a new record. I wonder if I’ll be able to break it before the trip is up. Part of me wants to, but then the sensible part says no way!

Everday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

I’ve also learned something about my SV650. When I keep the RPM at 4,000 for cruising I can average about 60+MPG. I’ve been able to repeat this several times in the last couple days. With my current gearing, that means I’m cruising at an indicated 55mph which is about 85kph actual. Perfect speed for enjoying scenery and watching for animals. Other vehicles can easily pass too when the speed maximum is actually higher than that. For reference, I used to cruise around 5k-5.5k rpm and only was able to average 45mpg.

Everday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

Red Moss. Weird:

Everday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

Lake Muncho was my favorite part of the ride today. Beautiful blue-green water (frozen), a twisty road, and some mountains.

Everday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

A little less frozen, and it would have been perfect. I really enjoyed riding around it, and admiring it from the overlook.

Everday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

I hope you like the pics. They took over 100 minutes to upload 20MB of photos. Internet sucks in this part of the world. So unreliable. Had to restart many times.

Everyday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

A good day of riding even though it was very windy and chilly. The scenery was enjoyable as was the solitude. There is something nice (and eerie) about only seeing one car per hour.

The Yukon:

Everday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

Sing Post Forest:

Everday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

Cool sky shot:

Everday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

Good looking mountains. almost looks like a painting.

Everday for 7 Weeks - Day 11 - Fort Nelson to Watson Lake

 

 

Day 11 Full  Flickr Album (77 pics!)

 

Today’s Route:


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Other Posts in the series:

22 comments:

  1. Nice pictures of the animals. The stone sheep are always hanging around the road in that area and it is one of my favorite parts of the road; Kluane Lake is also beautiful and that's about 100 miles past Haines Junction. $1.92/l is higher than I've seen on any of my trips but it will get more expensive. After that, paying $4-$5 per gallon in AK will seem like a bargain. And, yes, Internet sucks in this part of the continent...

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    1. thanks! That part is one of my favorites as well. It is great. I guess I'll have to see Kluane Lake tomorrow.

      Yes, it was the highest I've seen by far, but I was in the middle of no where and needed gas. Most of the time it has been between 1.30-1.45.

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  2. The last day or two here has really made me wish that I was in a place where other people were few and far between.... hmm... as for the record gas, once you get into Alaska should be back around the $4 - $4.50 range, if the web is to be believed... since the Canadian government prices for Yukon are showing 130-159 c/liter... but supply and demand i suppose... eh... its just part of the cost for getting a little bit of freedom.

    as for optimal mpgs... I have found similar issues with my motorcycle... especially since its actually tuned to be a low-rev power band... my car, on the other-hand, is completely different... my car isnt in the power-band (lugging low side) at 55-65 mph that it actually gets worse gas mileage compared to 75 mph .. but once over 80 it starts to drop again. (thank you high speed limits of some states) ... never bothered to figure out commute to work gas mileage.

    Quite fun watching your spot track from work... coworker was both interested in what I was looking at.. and then... why someone would do such a thing (the going to Alaska, on motorcycle, 'alone' part.. more so than the tracking) ... I forget that the road doesnt call for all people to ride ...

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    1. the gas prices are fun to watch; when I need it I am gonna buy it. having fun with people huh? lol.

      My wife has really been enjoying the spot tracker as well. It was expensive, but seems a lot people enjoy it. A good purchase.

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  3. Are you using your GoPro camera much for videos? I imagine you are and that it is difficult to know when to turn it on, with so much great scenery around.

    I want to see a photo of a moose before the end of your trip, so thats a challenge for you!

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    1. yes, I have been using it, but editing video take so long on this laptop and requires a decent internet connection to upload. I have several hours recorded so far, and no easy way to deal with it all until I get home.

      I have it mounted on the handlebars, so I can easily turn it on and off. its usually pretty easy to tell when to have it on.

      A photo of a moose huh? I will try. The only two I saw ran away as soon as they spotted me from a distance. they run fast.

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  4. The Yukon, that's awesome.

    I think I have my wife convinced that we need to take a similar trip sometime (probably in a car).

    And, if we're putting requests in I'd agree that I'd love to see a pic of a moose.

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    1. It is awesome.

      I'd like to do it again with my wife as well, but in a small camper/van.

      I'll work on the moose. they run fast.

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  5. Chris:

    with no one else around it seems that somebody built the roads just for you. I can imagine the solitude with no civilization, quietness except for the sweet rumble of your engine, and your animal companions. As Gary said, it's hard to know when to turn your GoProHD ON, unless you have more battery power. I would imagine you have USB chargers on board.

    You truly are an Adventurer. As I look at all the frozen lakes, the skiffs of snow on the side of the road and Richard's recent report of below freezing temps, you are heading deeper into the freezer. I saw the snow on the road and worry about traction.

    ride safe
    bob
    Riding the Wet Coast
    My Flickr // My YouTube

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    1. nah, I know they built them for the army, but I'm happy they maintain them, so I can enjoy!

      I wish I could hear the bike, the wind... when I get off the bike. It's just the wind in the trees. very nice. I woke up to a bird this morning I've never heard before. I didn't get a look at him.

      GoPro is pretty easy to deal with. Easy on and off in a few seconds. it's pretty easy when to tell when to turn it on. I'm showing you guys the nice scenery. There is plenty of boring straight road in between. hehe.

      Thanks for that. Most days I don't feel like an Adventurer.

      yes, further north into the freezer for a couple more days.

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  6. Some very dark clouds for a while, nice weather otherwise I guess. Great to see your progress.

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    1. yes, very dark. almost night under them.

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  7. My guess is the animals are licking the salt off the roads. We used to have trouble with that in BC and the animals would get hit by the cars at dawn and dusk when they were doing it. The forestry department would put cattle salt licks off to the side to try and keep them off the roads.

    Great pictures. I am glad you are having such a good time. Wow on the price of gas. You have to pay to play.

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    1. that was my guess as well.

      glad you are enjoying the photos. yes, canadians pay more in gas than we enjoy in the US. when ya need it, ya need it though.

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  8. Sounds like lots of diversity in the riding temps and road conditions. Still, great fun...some very nice landscapes--and the dog looked like he was ready for some serious fun. BTW, where are you getting your hot water while on the road for your lunch?

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    1. lots of diversity for sure.

      the dog was fun, but he was getting a bit too excited and I started to think he was gonna start chewing on me.

      Hot water? JetBoil. Been using it for several years. It is awesome. I bring it on day trips just so i can make tea on the side of the road. I know, so spoiled.

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  9. connections may be slooowww, but am thrilled you are getting connected as I am totally enjoying watching/reviewing the progress of your adventures! enjoy the ride and continued safe travels!

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    1. glad I could share some of the travel joy with you. :)

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  10. Ah, thanks for bringing back those memories. We traveled the Yukon and Alaska back in summer 2004. I agree, lots more animals than people (not counting the birds).
    If you think that the gas prices suck up there, try fueling up in Europe...

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  11. Great pictures Chris, glad you're persevering with the uploads in spite of slow and unreliable Internet access....funny how spoiled we are with fast access at home eh?

    Dom

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