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Cycle Tour 2023 - USA & Canada

Home Page > Bicycle Touring > North America > USA & Canada 2023 > Part 4 of 5

We had such a relaxing rest day! We handwashed all our cycling gear and hung it up. We did some odd jobs, I did some mending and Mike did some tech jobs. We read our books, it was very peaceful. We set off at 07:00 for Skagway. The pictures will tell the story, the views were spectacular for the entire 48 km into town. This short ride is a trip highlight, certainly on a par with Utah's Burr Trail, Bryce Canyon, the Grand Tetons and the Bella Coola Road (the pristine nature of the Chilcotin Plateau just sets it apart). It reminded us of our trips to Norway, jagged mountains, glaciers, crystal clear lakes set in boulder landscapes. It was amazing. We had our coffee break at the top of White Pass. Although we had originally planned to camp here for uor rest day, we were almost happier just riding through it in the early morning. We had the road to ourselves and the air was super clear with no smoke haze so all the views really stood out. We highly recommend this road for cycling.

The US Border Port of Entry lies 10 km shy of Skagway and was quiet. The immigration offficer was very friendly and chatted to us about our trip. We gave him our passports which he scanned into his terminal. All went well until he said, "All's fine, you are approved for 6 months on arrival which means that you need to be out of the USA by 4 September." Huh? Now, if you recall, when we arrived in San Francisco, the officer on duty had told us our visa entitles us to 6 months. This was the first we had heard of the tourism visa we applied for having a maximum stay limit. Our understanding was the we would be assessed for the time we required. However, this guy confirmed that the visa has a maximim stay of 6 months. When we arrived in San Fransisco, our passport was not stamped so we had no written record of the date we had to vacate by, we just assumed that when we re-entered (i.e. now) we would be reassessed, and a new 6-month period would begin. This entry is only for 2 days as we leave the US again 64 km after Haines into Canada, however 500 km after that we re-enter the USA and have booked a flight out of Anchorage on 1 October. The Skagway immigration officer said that the only way to extend the 6 months is to make a "meaningful departure" near the expiry date of 4 September, which let us remind you we had not been notified of when we arrived in San Fransisco. To add to the confusion, if you enter the USA on a ESTA (which Australians and other nationalities under the visa waiver program do for stays of up to 90 days) entries into Canada are not deemed "meaningful departures" and will actually be seen by the US as part of your 90 days. Anyhow, at our crestfallen and somewhat confused expressions, the bloke said he would go and speak to his boss. Up til now we had been spoken to outside. He invited us in, scanned our fingerprints and then trotted off again. When he returned it was to put nice Skagway stamps into our passports and stamp us in until 2 February 2024, explaining that although we were leaving in November he was granting us 6 months from today. We were pretty grateful and told him we appreciated it. He smiled and said, " I know you won't be staying here!". At times like these we feel so lucky to be Australian, everyone knows what a great country we call home so we are never seen as a risk to these officials! Still, it's baffling to think that you have to use up the entire first 6 months, before being granted another.

It was all downhill to Skagway. We logged into the public wifi, went to a couple of outdoor stores and art stores, and the bike shop. We also went to the library to print out the repair request for our Chris King bottom brackets. We will mail them from Tok. We marvelled at how perfectly preserved the village is and also what a tourist trap it is. There were two huge cruise ships in town and everything is geared towards the tourists. That said, we benefitted from these things too. It was amazing to be able to sit on the green lawn near the crise ship terminal and look up into glaciers. All the travellers from the ships walk around with shopping bags containing their Skagway momento, the shops get more and more exclusive the closer to the cruise ships you get! The most amazing thing was the river next to the lawn was leaping with salmon! The first we have seen! We rode around to the small harbour to catch our 45 min fast ferry to Haines which left at 16:00. It was quiet, only a few passengers and we were allowed on first with our bikes! The bikes got to sit inside with us which was great! It was a scenic trip to Haines and we went straight to the IGA to shop for supplies for a few days. We then rode about 10 km along the flat until we found a great gravel pit campsite.




As we packed up this morning we heard the sounds of a grizzly digging and scratching in the bush behind our campspot. We were suddenly motivated to be on our way pretty quickly! The first 50 km of riding were on the flat, mainly along the wide, braided Chilkat River. It was beautiful riding. Quiet road, great surface and gradient. We stopped for morning coffee at the Bald Eagle Preserve and met a lovely couple from California. We passed a pooled creek filled with frantic salmon swimming busily.

We crossed the Canadian border around 58 km and then the climb started. We started the day around sea level and had to climb to over 900 m, most of this in the last 15 km or so. It was hot and humid and we had a tailwind which was great, but doesn't cool you. We dripped with sweat on the cimb. However, the higher you climb, the cooler it becomes. The thick foilage which had grown on both sides of the road disappeared and eventually we popped out above the treeline and were on top of the climb, nearly. Once again the photos from today will tell the story. The views of mountains and glaciers were spectacular. We met Liz from Haines, out on her bike to ride up to the Three Guardsmen and back, a cool 180 km round trip! Shortly after that we dropped down a bit and found a place to camp alongside a beautiful gushing creek. We both felt pretty exhausted, the heat more than anything else. All the way on that climb there was no escape, no shade and nowhere to pull off the road and rest. I was bitten by a sandfly (blackfly) yesterday on my inner thigh and have had a bad reaction to it, the whole area is very inflamed and hot and painful, so that was uncomfortable riding with. However, this road from Haines will go down as a trip highlight, it is magical.




We had some rain overnight which broke the heat and humidity of yesterday. We kept that strong tailwind all day which was appreciated and set off into cloudy day. The magnificent view of the Three Guardsmen behind us had disappeared into the clouds! The day was cooler which was really good after yesterday's heat. Not much wildlife about, Mike spotted a fox from the tent last night, walking down the road. Otherwise we saw a pair of trumpeter swans with a brood of chicks and plenty of bear scat. One pile was bright red with berries, and in the middle of the road. It was such a huge pile that we awared it turd of the trip!

The road is so scenic that we didn't mind the climbing. We enjoy being up high. There were millions of camping spots! We cooked a warm meal at 11:00 alongside a crystal clear river near Milllion Dollar falls, a warm meal at lunchtime? Unheard of lately! Just goes to show how cool the day was! Gribble Gulch was a great spot to camp, we got there at 13:30 which gave us time to wash our cycling gear in the river. The river swim was ICY, but so good! Tomorrow we pass through Haines Junction to rejoin the Alaska Highway.




It was raining when we woke up so we stayed in bed a little longer, but the rain sounded as if it had set in. Actually, it rained all day! First time our rain gear came out in AGES. It was a pretty easy ride into Haines Junction. We stopped for coffee on the way at the entrance to Kathleen Lake. There is a dramatic descent into the village, one could only imagine how dramatic if the mountain backdrop had not been covered in clouds. There is not much to recommend Haines Junction. We stopped for fuel and then went to the beautiful visitors centre. This is absolutely worth recommending. It appears to be new and it's filled with conveniences such as no touch water dispensers, lots of indoor and outdoor seating, wi-fi, plugs for charging and fantastic exhibits. A real joy to be in that building! The carpark was packed with RVs and campervans. People milling about inside in the latest outdoor gear. Actually, walking from your van into a visitors centre does not count as outdoors. We sat outside undercover along with some school students from England here on a three week hiking trip. They were doing activities and making lunch. I walked to the grocery store to resupply. It's called the Green Apple. It was a bit disappointing but I could get everything we needed. You know the sort of store where you have to dust the top of everything you buy? Who knows where the people who live here shop, can't be in this store.The guy behind the counter was friendly. I saw there were a few pieces of warm fried chicken left, so I asked if I could buy them. He said yes and smiled, but didn't do anything. I left it and a few minutes later, passing the counter I asked again. He said yes again and smiled. I wasn't sure that he understood me. Anyway, when I came back with my basket full of things, he asked me how many pieces of chicken I wanted. I said, "All of them." and he packed them up for me.

After spending quite awhile at the visitor centre, we left in the rain and rode about 20 km uphill to the top of the 400 m climb on the Alaska Highway after Haines Junction, and just after passing the 10,000 km milestone of our trip, there was a turn off to a gravel pit with a spot to camp. In the late evening the rain stopped and the sky is now clear and it is very chilly! After 4 days the insect bite on my thigh seems to be improving. I have been taking ibuprofen 3 to 4 times a day as it has been very painful.


Absolutely stunning day today! Spectacular ride through Kluane National Park, definitely a trip highlight. The mountain and lake views were very special. The riding was also easy. It was a misty morning but cleared to a lovely sunny day, not hot at all. After yesterday's rain the air seemed really clear. We visited the Dall Sheep Visitors Centre and it was a really nice experience. We could see sheep high up on the mountain behind the centre and view them through the telescope which was set up. We wanted to find a camp spot on the lake, but ended up camping in a lovely little forest beside a glacial creek. It has been amazing to see so many glimpses of glaciers after Haines and in Kluane Park. There are many walking trails here too.




Nice flat riding today! About time too. It feels like for the longest time we have been going uphill! Beautiful views today, nice and sunny but the sun is definitely weaker now and the temperature does not even get to 20 DegC! First stop was a few km down the road at Destruction Bay where we bought a few things at the motel and store and had mobile coverage. Then about 20 km further was Burwash Landing where we bought a few more things to eat, particularly three tubs of blue Gatorade powered drink as you can almost never get the blue flavour, only lime and orange because everyone prefers blue! We also chatted to two blokes from Kentucky who had driven here in 9 days and were going as far as the Arctic Circle on the Dalton. We stopped for our lovely cheese and tomato rolls at a rest area. So good to be able to buy a fresh tomato! Small things... We have been meaning to say, having criticised the USA quitr a bit, that their rest areas are really really good and put the Canadian one's to shame. Especially the vault toilets, which are always good solid structures and all nicely painted, and clean. Here in the Yukon they are almost always made of wood and seem flimsy. The last few I have used do not even lock on the inside. The one I used at this rest area today had, "Do not use the lock, you will get stuck inside", written on the outside by a helpful person who presumably had suffered this fate. In any event, the lock had been broken. Anyhow, that is one thing in the USA's favour, they provide a good dunny!

This section of the Alaska Highway is known for potholes and rough patches due to frost heaves, but it was not too bad on a bike, except for one loooooong section of rough chipseal which was pretty slow. After the Donjek River view rest area we took the next left into a wonderland! This was a large gravel pit however, a river flowed along the edge, creating numerous emerald green lakes and flowing from one to the other. It was amazing and so beautiful. At the end was a higher flat pebbles area perfect for us to camp in! It was amazing and looks like no one knows about it! We had a great swim and filtered water. Then we rested in the shade. So nice that there are fewer bugs about, we did not use DEET today! My bad insect bite reaction has cleared up, thank goodness!

A couple of our tent zips have been giving problems, we know from experience that the sliders have worn and we do carry spares. After pitching the tent we decided to replace sliders on two zips. It's quite a quick process but fiddly and helps to have two people! Nice to do this job when it is cool and there are no bugs.



We had some visitors last night! Our tent was set up on a rise about 2 m above a little lake and a loud splash was heard as a BIG beaver jumped in and cruised about. This morning there were a few more splashes as beaver and friends jumped back in. With only a few days left in Canada this is the first time we have seen the national animal! We also had an owl right above our tent last night, hooting in the darkness. We slept in this morning, contemplating a rest day but it worked just as well to have a later start. Today was another cruisy day, mostly flat! We still have that slight tailwind! We stopped at Lake Creek Yukon Campsite for morning coffee and then had lunch overlooking White River. It is amazing how the rivers vary. White River is huge, much like Donjek, and braided through a wide river valley. Very fast flowing and very muddy. Other rivers are crystal clear. The silt from the glaciers fill the water and give these rivers their milky colour. We always try to get our water from the clearer rivers as the silt is not that good for the water filter. Our MSR Guardian water purifier has been working well, almost too easily. Mike services it often, but filtering from a silty river after Burwash Landing, the silt was still visible in the filtered water as fine dust after settling. This is strange as the filter should not allow these particles through. There may be other reasons for the silt coagulating after filtering. Mike did an integrity test on the filter which is not easy to do as it entails filtering upside down into a clear bottle after removing the pipes, and then blocking the outflow to see if bubbles continually rise. It seemed to pass, so we don't think the filter is failing. However both of us have had tummy trouble. Nothing serious but just strange stomach symptoms. Could be our diet! Pizza time in Tok, Fast Eddy's here we come!

We saw two cycle tourists today, the female one stopped to chat. She was from Poland and has ridden from Toronto to Denali and is now making her way to Banff and Jasper. A very similar trip to the one we did in 2017! We were aiming for 80-90 km today but just short came across this beautiful creek. Much work is done around creeks here, shoring them up with high pebble banks, probably to cope with high water flow during snow melt. We unpacked the bikes before pushing them up the bank as the pebbles were quite soft underfoot, but it was such a perfect campspot. The swim was great, very cold! The creek floor was all pebble which we love. We had a hot meal and then got into the tent. A thunderstorm passed over and it rained a bit. Snug in our bags we just slept like logs for a couple of hours and then got up for coffee and a sandwich. It felt like morning! Luckily we stiill get another chance to sleep tonight! It was so much cooler now and although there are still mozzies and sandflies they are far less of a problem.




The coldest morning we have had for ages, 2 Degrees C! We set off in warm jackets and gloves! The road to Beavercreek was very misty and we used our lights. The scenery was not as dramatic as it has been, just gentle hills and spruce trees as far as you could see. We noticed foilage on aspens turning colour which is the first time we have seen that on the trip. An indication of the temperature being quite low here already? At Beavercreek we spent some time in the visitors centre, the lady and gentlement who worked there were so friendly and welcoming! It was warm inside and we used up the rest of our Canadian mobile data and then used the free wifi which was pretty good as not many people were there. Until a busload of Aussies arrived! They didn't stay long. We picked up some snacks at the local motel and met Avi, a cycle tourist from Boston who was heading south from Alaska. He was fun to chat to! This sectiion of the Alaska Highway is pretty rough, there are many gravel patches and a lot of chip seal. The road is also very impaced by frost heaves and often dips and swells. A good outcome is that no one speeds and everyone drives quite carefully.

We ate lunch by the roadside and then continued to the American border, where we answered some questions and were deemed fit to enter. It had turned into a sunny day and we were happy to see where the day took us, when we passed the entrance to a perfect campspot in the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. It is a flat open area and easy to camp. Having not sweated at all today, a short shower using our shower bag was fine. We tested the water filter again after Mike watched some YouTube videos and it is clear that ours is not behaving properly. Yet another gear failure! This filter was new for the trip and we did not expect to replace it so soon. The MSR Guardian is too expensive to replace after 5 months. We barely filtered any water for the first two months anyway. We had planned to take the Tok Cut Off and then ride up the Richardson Highway to Delta Junction (avoiding repeating the Alcan from Tok to Delta Junction) but now we think we will cycle Tok to Fairbanks direct to get a new filter as there are not many treated water sources along the way. In the meantime we'll use the Steripen which we also carry, to sterilize untreated water with UV light.

We were relaxing in our tent when a bloke drove a ute up onto the flat area above us. He proceeded to erect a massive aerial on the roof of his ute. We are interested to see what this is for... stay tuned. If we are not transported to a galaxy far far away during the night!



Aerial man stayed the night like us and his aerial was still set up in the morning. He got up the same time as us. Mike's theory is that he is a HAM radio guy, trying to make contact with someone somewhere. We liked wondering about it and we liked sharing our space with someone doing something interesting. It rained from the early hours and was still dripping on and off as we got ready and left. First stop was the visitors centre for the refuge less than a km down the road! It is not open weekends but had interesting display boards about the migratory route in the area, hence the refuge. The wildlife refuge concept is international and the USA has many such refuges, Alaska being well represented. In fact, the refuges in Alaska are home to 89% of the country's grizzly bears! We had a surprise after about 10 km as we hit a stop-go and were told that we would be driven in the pilot car with bikes on the back as it was a 10 mile stretch. We remember this happening a couple of times when we were here last. Luckily we just had time to unpack the bikes when the car arrived. We put our bags and bikes in the back and jumped into the ute with Bret. The roadworks was to replace 30 culverts and of course resurface the road, adding a passing lane, so this is a major job! We learnt a lot about the roadworks, the job and the weather! We are interested to learn that the workers live in a camp that we had passed yesterday. They have to provide their own trailer e.g. fifth wheeler/RV/bus and they get paid an allowance for this.This year they had to be onsite from May and the creek near the camp flooded so they had to use canoes to get to and from their rigs to overnight. Many sustained water damage which is a cost that they carry personally. We weren't sure but it seemed that even the pilot car was owned personally. As Australians we can't believe this. Certainly people who live on site in Australia get everything provided for them. It's a different world. Bret was from Washington State but is keen to move elsewhere. We laughed when he said that the state is becoming so stupid, just when you think it is stupid enough it gets a whole lot stupider!

We thanked Bret for the ride, which brought us 16 km closer to Tok, over some pretty hilly terrain. As we were repacking our bikes the flagger lady asked if we had bear spray. We said yes and she told us to keep it ready as there is a huge grizzly recently seen around this stretch of road. She proceeded to show us photos of said grizzly that she had taken with her phone. She was really serious about it. She said that she wished she could get someone to drive us further along the road. She suggested we keep our bear spray ready! She told us that the bear is being actively hunted and we passed two utes, one by the roadside and the other up a track on a hill, the driver of which warned us about the grizzly too. Later in the day we saw many many bear turds so clearly they enjoy life in a wildlife refuge, as you would expect! Currenty the most problematic wildlife are the mozzies and sandfllies which are once again out in force!

We stopped for a while at Northway Junction where there is a store. We bought some bread, cheese, fried onion rings and coffee. We had to decide what to do about the water filter. The bloke at the store was happy for us to fill up with water there which was very nice. We had stopped at Lakeview Creek campground for our coffee break as our brochure told us there was a water pump there but when we got there we could not find it (the pump that is!). Looks like it is no longer there.

Mike called REI in Fairbanks to make sure on the stock they had, which wasn't much, and everything seems to take about 10 days to have delivered to store, which is too long. We wondered whether to go with a Katadyn filter as we are quite disappointed that the MSR Guardian seems to have failed. Later on we stopped to eat lunch, and decided to order a replacement MSR Guardian filter through Amazon, to be delivered to Fairbanks, general delivery.

The riding today was hillier than it as been lately, the views of the Alaskan mountain ranges were beautiful across the boreal forests. We found a cute bushcamp, just some clearer patches set back from the road. A massive thunderstorm came through and then it cleared up.


It was a quick 35 km ride to Tok. We went to the Three Bears Grocery store to buy cinnamon cereal (our sugar fix) and milk which we ate at a bench in the Lions Park across the road. We collected new water bottle holders that we had ordered, from the post office. Later we went back to the grocery store to buy some things for the few days from here to Fairbanks. We planned to camp at Alaska Stoves Campground and went over there, but there was no one on duty, although there were very detailed instructions about where to camp and how to pay. There was a washer and drier however the washer appeared to be out of order and full of washing!? The restrooms were locked and you needed a QR code to open them. In the end we just thought it seemed a bit complicated. It was in any case nicer to sit in the Lions Park in town, than the campground! We went back there for a few hours and picked up water at the visitors centre. Then we went to Fast Eddy's for another memorable 17 inch pepperoni pizza! We had one, actually we had two 6 years ago when we arrived in Tok after riding Top of the World Highway. This one was as good. Nice to know some things don't change.

We then left Tok to ride about 20 km along the bike path which runs next to the Alaska Highway until Tanacross, to a tiny lake accessed right off the road. Wow - the mozzies were really bad! We sprayed ourselves full of DEET and pitched the tent on the gravel area. Mozzies everywhere! We lit some coils which helped. You could not really swim in the lake proper, but it had overflowed into part of the gravel area, quite deep so we dashed in there. It was refreshing! In the tent for a few minutes and some rain fell quite heavily! Crazy weather. Later on we could here something wading in the lake and Mike used his monocle to find a MASSIVE bull moose having a feed. After allowing us to have a good look he crashed off into the bush. We are pretty excited with this viewing!



We woke to a bit of rain this morning so lay in for a little while. On the bike we had a slight headwind in the morning but no rain. It was a very pretty day, blue sky, puffy clouds and lots of green everywhere. It is clear that it rains a fair bit here. It felt a little strange, having ridden this route 6 years ago (Tok to Fairbanks is a repeat for us). That time it was about 3 weeks later in the year, the first frost had happened and the views were open as the trees were losing their leaves. Everything was reds, auburns and browns of autumn. Right now you would think this was the height of summer going by the colours. Just shows you how fast the seasons change here!

We decided to aim for the same river bushcamp we used last time and in the end we went further. The Gerstle River is a massive braided river and we are camped right on it which is an experience we have always wanted but usually it is too hard to get down to the river itself. Acces here was easy to a large flat area on white river sand. Over the road is a rest area with toilets and an undercover picnic area which is handy in the morning, particularly if we wake to rain. We stopped this morning at Moon Lake Recreation Site to get drinking water. The hand pump worked okay but the water tasted of rust. These pumps are always hit and miss. A few km later we crossed a creek with lovely clear water so dumped the rusty stuff and filled up with that. Mike Steripenned it later (this is a sterilising pen that works by UV light). We are so pleased to have the Steripen as a back up now that the filter has failed. On that note our new filter ordered via Amazon has already reached Fairbanks post office so that is great service. The highlight of the day was cruising along when suddenly right next to the road was a HUGE eagle on top of a carcass of some sort. I do mean HUGE. It was easily half my height and very big. It was not at all put off by us even as we rode by within a metre of it. Later on while lying down on the bitumen in a roadside pull off a farmer from Indiana actually stopped his car and reversed back to come and chat to us, he was so amazed by us riding our bikes over so long a distance. It was a long and tiring day, even though it was easy riding. The road was very quiet. No cycle tourists now. We are going to have rain tomorrow and wind on Thursday, so we are just trying to get to Fairbanks as quickly as possible!




We woke to rain and slept in 'til 07:00, which was a good decision as by the time we got up and dressed the rain was more or less over. We set off in wet weather gear, stopping at the picnic area over the river to use the vault toilet. The road to Delta Junction is flat as, and so although it was 47 km, it took no time at all. We stopped for coffee and to take off our wet weather gear. It was a bonus, the rain stopping, as we had prepared ourselves to ride all day in it. We stopped at the Delta Junction visitors centre which was closed for the season when we were last here. As this is the end of the Alaska Highway, it has interesting information on the history of the road. There was a good IGA store at Delta Junction, but following heavy snow over the winter, the building's roof collapsed in January and is yet to be repaired due to labor shortages. So the groceries are divided between the liquor store and an outdoor tent. We got some bread and cheese and went to eat on a bench over the road. We filled up with water at the recreation park in town and then left. We are very relieved that our new water filter has arrived at Fairbanks and is waiting collection.

The ride out of Delta Junction on the Richardson Highway went well, slight headwind now but a fine day, many sweeping views of the massive river. We were aiming to get as many km done as we could in order to try to get to Fairbanks tomorrow. The road became hilly, with one quite steep climb. There were many camping options on the way, one particularly at the 100 km mark, however we pressed on. Suddenly a huge black cloud loomed and thunder was rolling all around. We took a punt on the Old Richardson Highway and rode down it for a bit, but no clearings in which to camp. As we came back onto the highway, the heavens opened and we only just made it to the next small loop road and took cover under our bothy. We left with the rain not quite over and put on our rain jackets again. A short while later we came across a disused gravel pit area where we could easily camp. The rain keeps coming though, it stops for awhile and comes back.


The ride into Fairbanks is mostly completely flat. We had some rain and a bit of a headwind. It was a pretty good effort to ride three 100 km plus days in a row to get here. We stopped for coffee at a diner that we had eaten at 6 years ago! It was closed, we had our flask coffee outside. The aspen trees here are showing signs of autumn as their leaves are turning colour. We were entertained passing Eielson Air Force Base by the F35s practicing landings (or so it seemed seeing them all lining up one after the other) as the runway runs parallel to the road for many km. We stopped for lunch at North Pole. We bought our favourite, this time honey chicken and fried rice and fried noodles from the Safeway deli. Delicious! We sat at some tables outside as it felt like a place you did not want to leave your bikes unsupervised to enjoy the warmth of the Safeway seating area! As we sat of course the rain came down again. What was so sweet was a local lady came over with her umbrella and insisted on holding it over us as we ate! She chatted about the weather and the cabin her husband was building in Healy. It was a really kind act!

We pedalled into Fairbanks fairly easily from there, arriving at Sven's Basecamp around 15:00. We chose Sven's after much deliberation. Hotel accomodation is very expensive in Fairbanks. The hotel we stayed at last time we were here now seems unaffordable. Also the Australian dollar is much weaker than it was to the US, and this week has suffered even more, to about 64.8 US cents to the dollar. We wanted to have 2 days in Fairbanks as we have a bit of organizing to do for the Dalton Hwy and at these prices we would be looking at AUD 800 for three nights which is just crazy. There are a couple of campsites, but KOA has already closed down their tent camping for the season (!) and Sven's is secure compared to other options, especially as we would be spending a whole day away from our bikes and tent, etc. Sven's still charges USD 25 per person which is a little strange as you can hire an entire tent already set up with wooden sleeping platforms and mattresses for USD 40. When we checked in the receptionist was a little apologetic about that! Anyhow, it offers the usual cosy hostel things such as a kitchen and seating area, firepits, wood stove indoors and a coffee shop in the morning. But showers are a quarter per minute. Anyhow, it was a very nice place, well presented and maintained. The people who use it are also travellers, not RV drivers which was a nice change. One guy was a total tosser (Tim the Tosser) who tried to tell us that we were cycling the Dalton as we were on an ego trip. We were surprised to hear he was from California. It is in walking distance from Safeway so we went to get something to eat and pretty much went to bed. It was still raining on and off. We got some noisy neighbours, usual thing with people out of their comfort zone who decide to make a noise at midnight, but we slept in next day so it did not really worry us.

18 August was a busy day. We met some really pleasant people at the hostel, especially Linda who had moved to Fairbanks from Maryland at age 61 to go back to university and study for a new degree! Amazing! It is popular with motor cyclists as well. We bought day tickets for the bus which were really cheap at $3 each. We had brekky at Safeway first, yoghurt and granola as well as fresh strawberries and bananas. It sure is berry season too, we see oceans of berries along every roadside we cycle past. The bears must be happy! We got the bus to downtown, first stop was the post office to collect our new MSR Guardian water filter and a smaller package. Mike is really careful about where to get something delivered under general delivery. The post offices that offer it state it online as a service, including those like Haines who say they accept general delivery packages only to return them to sender! So we had the items shipped to the post office near the airport as they were the only ones in Fairbanks which said they offered the service, but both were forwarded to the Downtown one, which was actually more convenient. The lady at the counter even said that sometimes they get forwarded to them, and sometimes they get returned to sender! All a bit inconsistent if you ask us. Anyway, we were really happy with the service! We then went to REI as I needed to get a new rain jacket due to the rubberised finish of my 100% waterproof Helly Hansen jacket cracking and so no longer being 100% waterproof. It also went mouldy! REI always has good specials and I found a really really nice Outdoor Research jacket on sale but a size too small. Luckily there was one on display which was the right size! Winner. Now it is Goretex, which does not often work for me as I don't stay warm enough, but hopefully this jacket will work. I also got a new Kleen Kanteen drinking bottle as my plastic cycling one looks fairly dubious on the inside. One worries about the long term effects of whatever lives inside the bottle you drink all your water out of! Of course we looked at a lot of things, the jacket took ages to find. We then went to Walmart to do a massive resupply. We had to buy 10 days worth of food to get us from here to Deadhorse, and then another 10 days worth of food to mail to Deadhorse to get us back here; the Dalton Hwy being an out and back road. So this was a big job, a trolley load full of food! Really basic food. Walmart is the best for this sort of thing. Then we sat outside for ages repacking the stuff into zipllock bags as you don't have space for the packaging. It amazed us that we could fit it all into our tiny collapsable backpacks and a big shopping bag and a small shopping bag. We got the bus to the post office and bought a box for the food to go to Deadhorse. 17kg it weighed! Only cost $23 which seems reasonable for a post office at about 71 deg North... really the end of the road! After all this we got the bus back, exhausted. Had to stop at Safeway for more chicken and noodles and fried rice! Then the short walk back to the campsite. We sat down at the outdoor seating area and ate yoghurt and berries for dessert whilst chatting to Ellie and Mark from Seattle who had come to do a very remote wilderness hike of their own devising. They were to get a bus to the Brooks Range, so north of the Arctic Circle and then hike for 5 days and get flown out back to Fairbanks. It was a much more peaceful night at the campsite, but having looked at hotel rooms available tomorrow night, we thought we would splash out for a night. We decided to book into one. We really need to put something into the tank before tackling this next leg and just could not face a day at the hostel, too many people coming and going, you can't really relax. Plus we need to do laundry, I mean WE REALLY need to do laundry. Once again it has been a month since we last properly washed our clothes, towels, etc. The hostel does not have a laundry (well they will charge you private rates to do your washing) and the closest laundry is not walking distance, whereas the hotel has a guest laundry so that is easy. Too many bonuses. So we booked into one! Little bit of luxury!

We had a lazy morning, woke up late, had some brekky and took our time packing and sorting stuff out. We left around 12:00 and it was a short ride to the hotel. We were able to check in at 12:30 which was brilliant. It is a proper hotel as opposed to the motels we have been using on this trip and we appreciated that! Doing the laundry was a breeze, great machines! We relaxed and thhen went back to REI to buy a small Sawyer Mini water filter as a back up as it seems sensible to have it. Mike also got a Kleen Kanteen drinking bottle so we are very smart with our sleek drinking bottles. No more mould. Fingers crossed! We checked out a couple of other outdoor stores. We see very warm gloves and feel nervous of the weather, but we think we will be okay for the moment. As a change we got fried chicken for dinner, delicious! We have been relaxing on our lovely soft bed. It is very nice having an en suite again. Tomorrow we hit the road final push north!

So we ended up delaying our departure from Fairbanks and the hotel, it was just too tempting to stay indoors and in luxury, especially after our first glance out our wiindow at rain and wet streets. It was a very relaxing day. Mike has had some sinus issues which have made him feel a bit under the weather and at long last I seem to have got past my stomachaches. Anyhow, the hotel puts on coffee in the mornings downstairs and this morning there were BOXES of donuts! Happy days! We ate two before leaving and two on the road.

We left in raingear which we stopped to take off after a few km and then stopped to put on later. It was mostly pretty wet, not heavy rain but consistent. We had a good cycle route out of town onto the Old Steese Highway, a lot of it on a cyclepath. I was pretty excited about my new rain jacket so the rain was okay! The OR jacket went really well, seems like an excellent choice. Quite a bit of uphill today, which will be the theme until Coldfoot. We caught our first glipse of the oil pipeline which resulted in the Dalton Highway being built just after Fairbanks. There was an informative display about it. We are going to learn a lot about oil and how it is transported, particularly in the Arctic. We stopped for coffee and our donut and sat on a small rise at a gravel pulloff. Over the rise we looked straight into an informal shooting range. Just a few sand mounds, a lot of cardboard and trash, and HUNDREDS of bullet casings. Such a mess. I guess the snow will cover it up on a few months time. As we descended into Washington Creek the views opened up around us and we started getting a taste for the week ahead. We could not camp at Washington Creek, but a few km further on we filtered water using our new filter, and then after a few further km uphill we saw a turn off. This is a dirt road down to the pipeline and just off it was a track leading into a beautful spruce forest, floor thick with reindeer moss of all types. It was so lovely! We have found a nice open clearing which is such a soft bed (my side) and also lumpy (Mike's side!). We had water for a quick shower and then jumped into the tent. We are really happy with this campspot! The rain continues but there are only a few sandflies and two sad mosquitoes. It is so much cooler now.



We thought the rain had stopped until our alarm went off at six and as we sat up to greet the day, it started again! Rained much of the day. We kept thinking it seemed lighter and then it rained again. Light rain, but wet. We are sort of easing ourselves into this leg of the trip. The Elliott Highway and then the Dalton are both very hilly roads and so there are many shorter climbs, maybe 300 m or 250 m elevation gains each but that adds up over the course of the day. So today, over nearly 80 km we climbed over 1200 m! We are carrying 10 days worth of food so that load will get lighter every day, which is good!

The road is pretty quiet, it's really only the trucks that pass you, taking stuff up the Dalton. Looks to be mainly pipes! They certainly aren't Australian road trains, but they are the part of the road people dread the most. There is no tourist traffic, or hardly none. We had morning coffee and sometime after that we passed a water pipe pouring over the edge of the road. The sign was hard to read due to all the bullet holes, saying the water comes from a good source however is not tested or treated. We don't mind and filled up our bottles, for later sterilization using our Steripen. A good find! It was a pretty misty day, but we did get beautiful views from time to time, of spruce tree valleys and even the oil pipeline snaking into view from time to time. We have decided to cook at lunchtime and had mac and cheese during a break in the weather.

Mike had noted down from the iOverlander App that we could sign into a wifi network at about 53 km and sure enough, we came across some sort industrial building just off the road and could log in, and upload the website! We crossed a few more creeks but they either did not have water or it was too hard to get to. We had enough between us though from the water pipe so were happy to pull into the gravel pit where we found a flat campspot out of the way, as you usually can in a gravel pit!



At the sign announcing the Dalton Highway we met Koki from Japan who had just started the road today when he discovered that his front hub had failed, so he had taken the bike apart and was waiting at the sign with all his bags packed trying to hitch a ride back to Fairbanks. We commiserated and wished him well, there was not much we could do to help. Today was always going to be rough. The start of the Dalton northbound is said to have the steepest climbs of the whole thing. We could not quite believe the stats - 90 km and 1900 m climbing! Who would? But after the first 5 km it made perfect sense. The road surface is perfect, excellent quality dirt road whch you would expect with all the trucks going up and down all day long. However, with all the recent rain, the road was quite slushy and we had to stop and clear our mud guards every so often. As soon as the road had dried out though, it was perfect. On the topic of the trucks, without exception it was a pleasure to share the road with them. Almost all the drivers on the road greet you as they come towards you. But those climbs in the first 15 km, some 11% grade, all disappearing into the mist. No views to speak of. We stopped for coffee after 15 km and from here things began to improve, the climbs not as steep. We were expecting a pilot car around mile 19 due to roadworks. Just before reaching this point, it started to rain so we put on rain gear. We descended into the roadworks area just in time for the pilot car to arrive and quickly unpacked to load the bikes and ourselves in the back. Tight squeeze! The distance in the pilot car was about 16 km. Major roadworks, looks like a brand new road. Behind us followed the trucks that had passed us earlier, including the oversized loads! The weather turned much brighter, we had blue sky for the first time in days and the sun was out.

Getting back on the bikes we rode a few km before stopping for lunch. We are having a hot meal at lunchtime to try this out, and then wraps with sweet spreads at supper time. The views were now really good, sweeping vistas of spruce trees, we are now really up north! The bugs are very few, totally manageable. Of course the pilot car trip gave us 16 km for free and also took out about 200 m of climbing so that was good! Not longer after lunch, with 30 km to go to the Yukon River we hit a perfect bitumen road for 20 km! This was brilliant and probably saved us. We were tiring however, by the time the last climb hit we had both run out of energy and had to stop for our wraps which we devoured by the side of the road. The warm meals we are carrying don't seem high enough in energy, so we might change to have the wraps at lunchtime. The thing is, when you get to your campspot exhausted, you can't be bothered cooking. Anyhow, we will work it out.

Accessible rivers had been almost non existent today, except for one we could filter water at this morning after about 10 km. We weren't keen to camp at the Yukon though as big rivers are not always the best and it could be hard to find a secluded spot. Mike had spotted on the GPS this small lake a few km before the Yukon and we pulled in there on our last descent of the day. It was the perfect spot, easy lake access and a flat spot to camp. We had a fairly "weedy" swim in the lake, which was very pretty and full of lilies. Our wraps from earlier had kept us going so we almost poished off a bag of savoury treats. Then bedtime! It grew quite cool. No bugs (that is Alaska for only a few).





We woke to see the first sunrise we have seen in many months, sky streaked with orange, the sun a ball of fire. It was misty over the little lake and the mist would grow thicker, thanks to the Yukon River which seems to produce it. We stopped after about 4 km to log into the free wifi at one of the industrial sheds. After that it was a quick 6 km down to the Yukon River, we crossed the wooden bridge into the mist, there was no view at all. We pulled off at the Yukon Contact Centre, which was not open yet. The area is very nice with undercover picnic tables and information boards about the pipeline. Very interesting read! We took a walk to the river viewing area and the bridge came better into view as we watched. The best part were the trash bins, the first we have seen since leaving Fairbanks three days ago! We had accumulated quite a bit of it! We rode on to 5 Mile Camp, the BLM campsite to fill up with water at the artesian pipe. Lovely clear water! The pipe runs all year. We pulled into the campsite to have our coffee and snack. It is a nice place, a big open area with picnic tables at each site. There was only one campervan and one motorcyclist camping there.

Highlight of the day was coming across a cow moose and her two lovely calves eating in a small lake by the roadside. She was not bothered by the cars which drove past but after stopping to watch them for awhile, as we cycled by she stared at us and then she and babies moved deeper into the bush. They were beautiful. We have never seen a moose with two calves before. We stopped for lunch after Sand Hill, a very steep climb at 11% grade. It was an overcast day and we grew very sweaty on the climbs. We cooked our warm meal which was a bit more filling than yesterday's. Setting off we hoped for a bitumen road all the way to Coldfoot. The Welsh cycle tourist we had met on the Cassiar had told us that the road is about 50% paved and was pretty exact as to the distances. The PDF map which we downloaded courtesy of The Milepost also distinguishes between paved and unpaved and we had worked out that we should have paved surface from sometime today all the way to Coldfoot. The surface did change but it was not what we would call paved, just sort of an oil road. It was very smooth however so we were happy with that. Until it wasn't.

At some point the road surface deteriorated and the climbs became quite rough, this was around MP 86. At the same time the views became amazing! We rose above the treeline and it was just tundra as far as you could see. Before Finger Mountain we had to stop to eat, our second stop after lunch, the first was to have an afternoon coffee break which is a new treat we have invented. As we ate it started to rain. This was about 17:00. We put on wet weather gear and continued to the viewing area. It is beautiful country up here. The fireweed really looks like it is on fire, brilliant red. Reindeer moss everywhere. From Finger Mountain the road surface took a real turn for the worse. Major ruts and potholes. Suddenly around MP 102 the sealed surface began, it was chipseal so pretty rough, but hopefully it continues all the way to Coldfoot. We pulled off at the gravel carpark at Kanuti River to camp in the pouring rain. The river water is good and access was perfect via the boat launch, so we could filter water (in the pouring rain) and have a good wash (you can't get wetter than 100%). It seems the rain has set in solidly. Very wet. We are 110 km from Coldfoot however with another big climbing day of 1600 m it is unlikely that we will make it tomorrow, but we don't have to. We arrived here at 19:00, 7 hours of ride time. It was overall not as hard as yesterday, but we did benefit from that 20 km of perfect bitumen yesterday and today the harder climbing came later in the day.





It rained until quite late last night but had stopped by morning and we did not need wet weather gear until late morning when it set in again. The chipseal did not last long, within the first 10 km it had turned to thick, wet sandy gravel. There was a massive 9% downhill drop on thick muddy road which was totally ripped up in parts by the truck traffic. It was a dreadful downhill and we both thought we did not want to go up it! At the bottom we could access free wifi again at another industrial shed. These are all the same, we are trying to work out what they are for. It is amazing to be able to upload the website and check internet out here in the middle of nowhere! We're not even sure how many people even know about it. The bitumen was back after this and it sort of came and went, mostly came. Next stop was the Artic Circle wayside, complete with picnic tables and informatiion boards. There were two campervans parked there, very friendly people from the Czech Republlc who told us that they were so impressed with our effort and offered us food! Hooray! They gave us a loaf of bread and a box of cookies! Another campervanner offered us apples! This gave us quite a boost. Later on a guy in a ute pulled up to us and said he had passed us three times on the road. Once on Monday leaving Fairbanks, once on Tuesday and then another time when we were sitting having coffee. He works on the road with the truckies. Apparently there are some pretty poor conditions coming up after Coldfoot due to road work. The road is closed today for 12 hours to install a culvert. A truck got stuck there in the mud yesterday. Something to look forward to! He also told us we had picked the wrong time of year. We aren't sure there is a right time, what with all the bugs in June and July. It was nice to have a chat!

We had one very steep climb, certainly 11%, maybe 12%, up to Gobblers Knob. It was raining the whole way up and we wore rain jackets and sweated. I had to get off and push for a while, I could not ride faster than 3 km per hour, I could push a little faster! The climbs take forever. We decided to cook lunch at Gobblers Knob as there was a viewing platform and the rain was not too bad but it did get worse as we ate and as we were up high it was very windy and cold for the descent so we rugged up. Once down below we could take off those layers. The riding was quite easy from here to the end of the day. The scenery was good too, with mountains starting to show themselves as we wound along the valley floor. We have a great campspot on a gravel bank in a small forest. There is a vault toilet at the parking area nearby. We dashed through the rain over the road where there is river access to filter water and have a cold swim. We then dashed back in our swimmers!

We are 30 km short of Coldfoot. Coldfoot has a cafe legenday for its buffet breakfasts and dinners, but we will not get there in time for breakfast so our option is to camp there tomorrow night (you can camp for free) and then have the dinner and the breakfast. We are very conscious of our dwindling food supplies. Deadhorse is still 6 and a bit days away. The riding over the last three days has demanded a lot of energy and we have had huge appetites. The cafe will sell you food too if they have surplus. We will see what they have to offer.





Not raining first thing in the morning equals bonus! We hit the STEEP climb immediately from our river campsite, after waving good morning to the hunters camped over the road. The climb was short, muddy and steep. After this we sort of dropped down towards Coldfoot. Towards the end we were along the flat for quite a bit. The bitumen got better as we neared Coldfoot. Best find of the trip was, I kid you not, a SEALED tub of PEANUT BUTTER, albeit covered in grit and rain on the outside but unused, which I spied lying by the side of the road! The Dalton provides! Doesn't get better that that! We hope it was not lost by a hapless and hungry cycle tourist! Arriving at Coldfoot Camp we grabbed a table in the cafe, very nice place, homely and basic, and friendly staff. We were too late for the buffet breakfast but could order off the menu. The place is there for the truckies but there were mainly hunters there, up for the caribou hunt. We first ordered omelettes, but they could only do fried eggs (maybe short on eggs?) so I ordered the trucker breakdast (2 eggs, fried potato, giant biscuit and sausage gravy) and a side of bacon, Mike ordered a burger and fries. We ordered coffee (self serve, bottomless). It was relaxing just to sit there and wait. The meals were delicious and huge! These were the best meals we have had on the trip. We paid $42 for the lot, which was really reasonable for what we got. We were able to purchase a loaf of bread also and they bake these giant cookies so we got 8 of those and 8 chocolate bars. So now that we have two loaves of bread, and that heaven sent tub of peanut butter in addition to our food we will be fine to Deadhorse. There was a motorcyclist eating there who I approached to ask about the upcoming roadwork. He had already been to Deadhorse so could tell us that the roadwork is to replace culverts on the other side of Atigun Pass. In addition to the road being closed yesterday it will be closed again tomorrow. He felt under pressure to make it back over the pass due to the closure. He said that the muddy conditions are on the Coldfoot side of the pass. He was interesting to chat too, an Austrian bloke on a round the world trip.

While I was chatting to the Austrian, the heavens had opened and Mike had checked the weather forecast, heavy rain today and tomorrow. We wasted a bit more time in the cafe and bought a new Nalgene bottle with "Coldfoot Camp" printed on it, a worthy souvenir, then we braved the rain in our wet weather gear and left the camp to go over the highway to the Interagency Visitors Centre, which is really worth a visit. We chatted to the ladies on duty about the road conditions ahead. They were really helpful. From here we start a steady climb towards Atigun Pass which tops out at 1445 m, about halfway up the main climb lies Chandalar Shelf, a flatter section. This area has become very muddy and trucks have been chaining up to get up it. The road is now heavily rutted as a result, and traffic other than the oilfield truck traffic is being discouraged from using it. At this time the advice is that the road is only suitable for 4WD and high clearance vehicles. We have been considering whether it is wise to be continuing on the Dalton. This climb may not be passable for us, or certainly not rideable. The thought of pushing our bikes through heavy mud for possibly a few km on a steep uphill is not a fun one. But once this section is passed, it is all downhill on the other side to Deadhorse. We decided to get as far as we could on this remaining stretch of bitumen (35 miles of it from Coldfoot) today. With the road being closed tomorrow other side of the pass there should be very little traffic and we can then try to get as high up the pass as we can. Once over the pass, there is a pilot car through the roadwork zone when the road is open which helps as we get a ride. So it seems suddenly Deadhorse is not too far away. We are so keen to get over Atigun Pass to see the beauty of the North Slope. Whether there will be much wildlife to see is a different matter, it looks to be raining for the foreseeable future and might in that case be very cloudy and misty over the hills. We have pretty much decided that we won't be riding back to Fairbanks though. The conditions of the rollercoaster we have been on for the last 3 days will be unthinkable after all this rain! So it is either hitch a ride in a truck from Deadhorse, or fly from Deadhorse to Anchorage (pretty pricey once all luggage is accounted for). The bus only runs til Wednesday and is not a dead certainty.

When we left the visitors centre the rain stopped but we kept our rain gear on as the riding was flat and quick. The rain did return and we got pretty wet. The scenery was beautiful, foliage turning shades of red, orange and copper, dramatic hills and mountaiins, partly obscured by cloud, and of course the pipeline. We appreciated the bitumen and just kept going at quite a pace. A slight headwind came up and we were on the lookout for a campspot. A picnic/rest area was signposted - winner! It is right on the river and has vault toilets. We found a good place to camp down a little track so we are out of the way and out of sight. The rain stopped as we arrived! We had a swim in the cold river and something to eat. Our towels are absolutely soaked. Mike wrings them out so we can use them after washing! What amazed us was how that meal this morning gave us a mental boost and allowed us to focus and just move forward. It also fuelled us for the rest of the day. Clearly if I could have a trucker breakfast every morning the Dalton would be a doddle!




Heavy rain all night, brief respite as we got up and then heavy squalls all day. We had a few km of bitumen and then it was into the mudfest. The surface was really good to start, a few potholes here and there, but mainly gravel. We still had a tailwind but it was a very wet day. The road climbed very gradually all the time as it made it's way up the valley towards Atigun Pass. The trees thinned out and brilliant autumn foliage covers the hills. There was a huge amount of water everywhere, it has been raining up here for many days and every stream was a raging, muddy torrent. We stopped to have our coffee and all the time we could hear rocks being pummelled through a nearby metal culvert, grating as they went. We initially aimed for Last Spruce Rest Area to camp, but as this is at the base of the first part of the steep climb up to Chandalar Shelf we wondered if we should try to go on. This was also the very muddy part we had been warned about. 2 km before we reached that the road became quite muddy and the trucks on the road (mainly hauling sand to fix damage to the road) could no longer give us much space on the road due to the conditions. A truckie coming towards us called us over and said, "Are you sure you want to do this? Let me show you something!". He opened his door and pointed to the seat next to him. There was one of the four Japanese cycle tourists we have been hearing about from other travellers along the way. They were just ahead of us going north. Poor kid was covered in bandages, particularly his head. He had come off descending Atigun Pass and had serious injuries. His hip was very damaged, possibly broken. He looked to be in a bad way. One of his fellow travellers was with him, lying in the back of the cab. The other two had continued on. The truckie warned us of very bad, dangerous riding conditions, snow forecast overnight on the pass, and thick mud ahead. We felt we had to take what he said seriously. He was taking the cyclist to Coldfoot to see what they could do for him, possibly even fly him out.

When we got to the Last Spruce Wayside we saw there was only the vault toilet but nowhere to camp; it was a mud bath, the road was so wet and muddy you could barely walk on it. We felt really unsure what to do. We watched some trucks going up the steep incline which os only a 200 m climb and they were so slow, you could tell it was really hard going. We would not be able to ride it and due to the mud may not even be able to push our bikes through it. And there is another 500 m to climb soon after to reach the summit. We did not want to place ourselves in a vulnerable position. But turning back to Coldfoot!? We could ride back there over two days but would have to rely on someone taking pity on us and giving us a ride back to Fairbanks as we did not have enough food to ride all the way back. Also we really did not want to endure the pain of that part of the road again. The whole point of suffering through what we now know is called the Roller Coaster was to get to the North Slope. Now it looked like we might never see it. We chatted to the drivers of two vehicles going north, one was a wilderness guide from Haines who sort of said, "You've come this far, why not try?". But when he drove off to start the climb even his 4WD fishtailed a lot. He seemed to wait by the side of the road a bit before setting off again.

It was just a strange set of circumstances as we had been happy that the road was closed today as it meant we had the road pretty much to ourselves and could pick any line we wanted, but now of course there was no one passing by to give us a lift! We were about to leave to go back a few km to find a place to camp, when two 4WDs, one towing a small caravan, pulled in. The drivers hopped out in hunting garb and one said, "Hey you lunatics!". Well that just set the scene and relaxed us! We all had a laugh. They were Chris and Trevor with their wives and children, from Anchorage. They come up to the North Slope each year this time for the caribou hunt. They were instantly likeable and top blokes! They just said, we'll give you a lift over the pass, put your bikes in the caravan and your bags in the back and let's go! Everything about them was proactive. How amazing! We said, yip let's do it! We jumped in Chris and Ivy's car, little 16 month old Elliot in the back, and off we went. We were pleased not to have tried to ride it, the slope up to Chandalar Shelf would not have been possible to ride, and possibly too difficult to walk due to the thick mud. The next climb up would have been fine actually as there was much less mud. The scenery was surely out of this world. HUGE variety ertical views. Amazing! We asked to be dropped off just over the summit as there was easy camping in the winter avalanche area, so missed out on 16 km of cycling. We pitched our tent on the gravel, many heavy rocks to secure the guy ropes. It is very cold (fresh snow on the mountains around us), very windy and very wet. The views are the best we have ever seen. Better than Norway, better than Denali. We are so happy and so lucky. Chris and Ivy also gave us lots of chocolate which is amazing!





Our campspot was exposed and the wind hammered the tent all night, but we still managed to sleep. That is only possible when you have a Hilleberg black label tent! Would not trust anything else to sleep in. We woke to snow and ice on the tent, my door was covered in thick ice. The bear containers too! It was raining and then snowing slightly, very cold. We just packed up as fast as we could and headed down hill, planning to eat breakfast wherever we could. The landscape seems to shine with golden light from the tundra. It is so beautiful, misty clouds dumped snow on all the peaks but as we dropped down the rain stopped. We filtered water and made breakfast along the way when it looked like there was a break in the weather. Saying that, we have never actually seen weather like this. It is so uniquely arctic. Blustery, white mist in the air covering the sun, feezing cold. We came across the bloke from Haines, heading back south. He has travelled the whole of North America and was totally blown away by the views here. As are we.

When we came across a river bridge with a gravel parking area we just decided to stop for the day. It was early, however the last 8 days have been hard going and we needed a chance to reset, dry out, and get organised. There was a strong headwind too, which should change tomorrow so we hung up the washing line and just let everything get dry in the wind. Our towels have not been dry since leaving Fairbanks as we have used them to dry ourselves day after day after swimming or washing and it has been raining everyday. Your number one priority in weather like this is just to keep as much stuff dry as possible, so you just keep wearing the same thing even though it is wet in order not to end up with something else wet. We have made mistakes, like I should have bought hand warmers in Fairbanks but didn't, and so wish I had! On a day like today they would be invaluable. But at least now our towels and clothing is all dry and so are we! No more washing for us! Too cold. We were also able to climb under the bridge itself and the area became quite roomy then so we could cook and eat under that. This is great too for the morning as we can cook breakfast under there out of the elements. We have 3-4 days riding to Deadhorse. We don't have any pressure now as we are not riding back and we can just take our time and really enjoy it up here! It does feel like a one off oppurtunity.

Stacey and Peter from Seattle who we chatted to yesterday at the Last Spruce rest area drove past our campspot and saw us so came down to chat. They stayed at the Aurora Hotel last night in Deadhorse and say it just gets more beautiful as you travel north. It was nice to see them again.





In the middle of the night a truck reversed into the gravel area we camped in and stopped metres from our bikes and tent. Sleeptime for truckie! So funny! We woke at 06:00 but the mist was very thick so we lay in a bit. It was not raining and so nice that all our clothes were dry! After we had had breakfast and were preparing to leave the truck started up. Never saw the truckie! The scenery did get ever more beautiful with lakes dotted around. We saw a trumpeter swan on one. Mike also reports seeing an arctic ground squirrel yesterday. Wildlife sightings have been scarce. The road is busy with hunters all here for the caribou which have not appeared yet. The herd is still down at the coast. For the first time the hunters are beating us to good campspots! We like them though, this is their world now, but they all appear friendly and respect what we are doing.

It was cold and the temperature sat around 3 Degrees C for much of the day, warming up towards the end. We had a couple of climbs and a guy pulled over to warn us about poor visibility due to fog, and also to give us a chocolate! The section of road which had been closed from MP 289 was open with a pilot car which would drive us the 16 miles, no complaints about that! Howard, the flagger was a really cool guy and as we had about a 25 minute wait for the pilot car, we chatted to him. He is from Fairbanks and works 5 weeks on, one week off. The hours are really long and he gave us snacks, and hand and feet warmers! This is so good as I have been so cross that we forgot to pick some up in Fairbanks. We have had really cold hands and feet! He was impressed by the speed with which we unpacked our bikes and got ready for the pilot car. He had met two of the Japanese guys yesterday, of course the other two had been taken back to Coldfoot, one of the injured. He told us that they were shockingly ill-prepared, they had run out of food and a truckie had given them his breakfast. They were wearing Crocs on their feet! Oh man, they could die out here! Howard wanted to help them more but they could not speak English and he was unsure what to do. They are very young.

It was amazing that after the pilot car drove us through, it was already 13:00! The day went by so quickly. We enjoyed the scenery alot. We pulled off at a small building and cooked our mac and cheese lunch and then rode a short distance more. We found a beautiful campspot on a rise, easy to get to and with the most amazing view of the mountains and river. The ground is covered by reindeer moss, berry plants and mushrooms.




Best weather day we have had in 2 weeks! The sun does not exactly blaze down here, but we had shadows and there were patches of blue sky. No rain and not as cold as we have had, however we still wore many layers. Early on we were thrilled beyond measure to see firstly, a lone musk ox on the other side of the sag river and then later on a group of five! We can go home happy! Although the high elavation stuff is behind us, the road is not downhill from here, there was a fair amount of climbing today, some steep little hills e.g. Ice Cut! We see many hunters, all staring hopefully though binoculars at the low hills to the east. Many little camps set up here and there in pull offs and by access tracks. It is actually really nice to see so many people tenting and just being outdoors, by far the most we have seen on our trip! We stopped for coffee before Ice Cut Hill and then for lunch which we cooked down a track. After lunch, who did we see parked by the highway? Chris! We had a long chat about the caribou hunt (not many caribou around unfortunately), camping, and our hope to get a lift back to Fairbanks with him. He was able to point out a bull caribou to us on the hillside which we would never have seen with the naked eye. We have arranged to meet him at his camp on Friday as they plan to leave Friday or Saturday. He had agreed to lift us back down the highway, which is so nice of him and we really appreciate it. He is a top bloke and it was so great just to bump into him there on the road. We really hope they do bag a caribou.

The ups and downs continued for about 25 km, stunning scenery however. We passed the place where Chris and Trevor are camping, and then it was downhill for a stretch until we hit the flat and bitumen now allllll the way to Deadhorse and Prudhoe Bay. It's amazing, after you pass Pump Station 2, the road is straight and flat and the scenery changes from the rich high tundra colours and varied vegetation to pretty bland, brown bog-type landscape. It just goes on and on like this, pretty water-logged and not much camping about. We rode almost to 100 km and found an amazing place to camp, stone access track, closed off by a boomgate, beautiful swimming hole. Mike was game and submerged himself, I did not think my feet would recover and did not. We had 60 km into Deadhorse from here so if we can swing it we will camp here again tomorrow night!





We are generally super lucky when it comes to "Big Ticket Days", like we have had perfect weather in the past when cycling to Nordkapp (Norway) and the Ciffs of Moher (Ireland) as an example. Today was the same. This was the first day we woke up to no mist, a clear day, and quite a bit of blue sky. We even had the sun come out much of the time and to top it all, the wind would generally be favorable. It is flat to ever so slightly downhill all the way to Deadhorse and a North Easterly wind would start picking up early afternoon. This meant that we rode the 65 km into Deadhorse in good time, getting there at midday, and then in the afternoon when we left, we had a good tailwind. So although the distance was big, we averaged almost 20 km per hour which is actually very unusual on a cycle tour. We left our campspot at 08:00 and arrived back at the same spot at 19:00! 7 hour ride time.

It felt great riding into Deadhorse, the road was pretty quiet and perfect bitumen all through. There were many geese about, trumpeter swans too. As we arrived we saw a caribou cow and calf. She was beautiful, her coat looked just like lichen. She just stared at us, confident in the knowledge that as a cow she could not be hunted. That pelt would have made someone a very lovely floor covering! We arrived at the Aurora Hotel and went in to ask if we could have lunch. Everything up here exists for the oilfields and staff, so the meals put on are for them. It was lunchtime when we arrived and the place was busy. You have to put on booties to cover your shoes and wear plastic gloves when self-serving your food. The buffet cost just $18 per person and the food choices were really good, lamb shank, chicken pieces, fish, many veggies, lovely veggie fries and salads. We ate a lot. There was frozen yoghurt with toppings that you served out of a proper soft serve machine. This was amazing! There was coffee, hot chocolate, all kinds of soft drinks. It was really good! We both ate too much. We left very happy! We went to the post office, which is at the Brooks Range Camp. We had mailed our 17 kg box of food 2 weeks ago. Of course, we have now decided not to ride back, but still looked forward to the food! The box had not arrived and we were informed that they do not accept general delivery anyway. Mike got on the phone to the US Postal Service and get this - THE PACKAGE NEVER LEFT FAIRBANKS. They cannot charge you for a postal service and then not send the item. The bloke Mike spoke to has raised an issue on it and told us we should receive an e-mail by next Wednesday, Monday being Labour Day public holiday. Anyhow, we still needed some food. We are a couple of days from Fairbanks, with the kind lift from Chris. So I went into the general store, thinking they would sell some grocery items. Of course this was a silly thought as no one lives in Prudhoe Bay, people only work in Prudhoe Bay, attached to one of the camps where they get all their meals. We were completely out of coffee and sugar and oats. Actually we were out of everything. They sold MASSIVE jars of instant coffee which I had to take as you have to have coffee. Then it was just chocolate bars and snack foods like pretzels and nuts. So it cost $119. I have no idea what the individual prices are. Can a Milky Bar be more expensive anywhere else than in Deadhorse, Alaska at 71 Degrees North? Possibly at Furnace Creek, Death Valley. When I think that the 17 kg of food that we posted cost about $150 my blood runs cold. That was 10 days worth of food. Anyway, not much you can do about it.

We left Deadhorse at 15:00 and had 69 km to ride back to our campsite. We saw 4 beautiful, big caribou bulls right in town grazing on the green grassy plants that grow where puddles were. A couple of locals stopped their cars to have a look too. "Oh boy," we told the the stags, "if only you knew how many people are looking for you just a few km down the road!" Cleary they are not as stupid as they look, there is no hunting allowed in the town! Leaving the town we saw the same gorgeous cow again, and another one along the road. The ride went really well through the tundra and we arrived at our camspot at 19:00, the same time as last night! We both had swims this time in the lovely pool of water in the creek. We feel really great about how the day went. We only have 32 km to our meeting spot with Chris tomorrow





We could not believe it when we woke up to thick mist. How uncanny that we had a perfect day yesterday when we really needed it and now, no views? Yesterday we even had clear views of the Brooks Range coming in to our campspot. So lucky! Interesting experience for me when going potty in the tundra this morning, a large owl swooped on me, perhaps thinking my beanie was something worth eating? I did not make contact but came very close! It flew around a bit looking for prey before disappearing into the mist. We headed off on our short ride to rendevous with our ride back to Fairbanks. Just after Pump Station 2 as you climb up the hill, there is a wifi spot at one of those little buildings. We pulled in there and spent quite a bit of time online. It is CRAZY that in this remote place you can access free wifi, and speedy wifi at that! Chris, Trevor, Tina and Hadley passed us this morning going off to hunt birds, the season opened today. We had been seeing many ducks, geese and ptarmigans. The ptarmigans are starting to turn white getting ready for winter, mainly their feet and wings and necks. Amazing how animals change up here for winter. We arrived at Chris and Trevor's camp and set up our tent, and just relaxed and read after filtering water at a stream down the road. They arrived late afternoon with many birds which they had shot. It was impressive for us to see, but we felt for them not having bagged a caribou. It does not seem that anyone has bagged a caribou this year. We have seen many hunters by the roadside and all have been just fixed on the far off hills, trying to spot one to stalk and shoot. A further challenge here along the pipeline is that firearms are not allowed to be used within 5 miles of the pipe, which means that bows and arrows are required. This means that the hunter has to get to within about 60 yards of the prey which is difficult with no cover.

We were treated to a delicious meal, including honey cornbread, moose mince and ptarmigan steaks which you could not believe were not beef, they were so good! We sat by the fire for a bit and also observed Trevor and Chris process a crane, a duck and some ptarmigans.Then it was to bed as we were leaving first thing in the morning for the drive back to Fairbanks.



Another misty morning! We set off in thick mist which hung around all the way to the Atigun Pass. We were all feeling a bit apprehensive about the pass as we had had very cold weather and so surely there would have been plenty of snow up there? We pulled off at the Atigun River as Chris and Trevor were worried about one of the tyres on the camper. The tyre was getting flat and had to be changed. Chris and Trevor did a superb job with this as the camper is old and a bit grouchy. There was much lying down on the cold and bery muddy ground, and scooching underneath the precariously angled muddy old girl. In the end all was good and with a new tyre we set off again. As we approached the pass it was a like a switch had been flicked and suddenly all was crystal clear! Outrageously stupendous views! Snow really low down and up high; lots of it. Just so beautiful. The spot on the pass where we had camped had snow all over. It was really cold! The pass itself was okay however the descent down from Chandlar Pass was still very thick mud. Perhaps not quite as bad as when we had driven north over it with Chris a week ago, but the road was in bad shape. After this everyone was relieved though and we pulled into Coldfoot where Mike and I had another Trucker Breakfast, yum yum. The drive was long, longer for Chris and Trevor as it must have taken a lot of concentration. It was so strange sort of rewinding the 11 days or so it had taken us to ride there, everything went so quickly. Howard was still flagging at MP 289, the bad sections of road, like Beaver Slide were so memorable. The steep hills still looked impossible. We were really happy not to be riding it. Especially now that our food had not arrived! Mike, Chris and I chatted about all sorts of things.

We made our campspot next to the pipe by 22:00 and said goodbye to Chris, Trevor and Tina. What great people! We feel so lucky to have met them! We found a good place to pitch the tent as grass had recently been cleared near the pipeline. The aurora forecast was said to be very good tonight and we did see it but it was very faint and just pale white. We were very tired and fell asleep quickly.




Such a fun day today! Super short and easy ride. We made some coffee at our campspot and headed to Walmart for Cinnamon Toast breakfast cereal, our favourite! On the way we stopped to put on warmer gloves before a descent and met Royal on his bike. This gentleman is 76 years old and bikes everyday in summer, nordic skis in winter. "Don't go through your life without trying it!" , was his repeated advice. So I guess we will be back here for winter one year to give it a go. Apparently one can hire skis etc. and just have a go, there are trails everywhere and EVERYONE does it, old, young, you name it. Sounds fun! He was certainly a great advertisement for it! He did not look 76 that's for sure! I sometimes feel a bit neglectful on our trips, my face is lucky if it gets washed with cold water once a day. No moisturiser or cleanser or whatever gets put anywhere. Then you realise that all the fresh air and cardovascular exercise getting the blood pumping around must be better for your skin health than sitting in an airconditioned office and spending a fortune on fancy face creams.

We got to Walmart just after 08:00 and it was very quiet so we took our bikes inside and sat at a bench eating our cereal. Then we did food shopping again, buying all the things we had craved like salt and vinegar almonds, and Reese's peanut butter cups, my new favourite thing. After this we went to REI as they are having a Labour Day sale and got some good socks and a new groundsheet which we use for sitting on during breaks by the side of the road (ours mysteriously vanished on a 200 m section of the Dalton never to be seen again). I also got many pairs of handwarmers. Then on to our campsite where we did the laundry (bliss) and had hot showers (even more bliss). First hot shower in two weeks. We will rest here tomorrow. The Dalton was a magnificent experience. The best part was spending that week on the North Slope. We willl never forget it. Coming back into Fairbanks has felt like going to a different continent. We also feel happy to be off the slope however, it was turning pretty inhospitable. From here we are southbound, probably to Valdez and Denali, before flying out of Anchorage on 1 October.

We got up around 07:00 feeling very rested after our day of doing nothing yesterday. We left the campsite around 08:30. We were pretty disappointed that we did not stay here instead of Sven's Hostel when we came through Fairbanks two weeks ago. It was half price to Sven's, showers were free, and you could do the laundry. We chose Sven's as it seemed more secure than Tanana Valley, we felt that Tanana Valley might not have had anyone on duty. In the end we would have felt comfortable leaving our stuff at Tanana, it would have been quite secure. We ended up leaving Fairbanks much later as we made a few stops. We went to Walmart first to get breakfast cereal and milk. This time we got red, white and blue Rice Crispies. Must have been a 4th of July thing as they were on sale! We felt pretty patriotic. Never let colour put you off any breakfast cereal. Both our navigation phones konked out on the Dalton Hwy. Mike has been using his Google Pixel 6a as a navigation phone, well it's all in one as this is his usual mobile phone. It worked out well as it fits in his RAM mount phone bracket. I can't do this as I have a Google Pixel 6 Pro and it's too big for the mount. When we were at Walmart two days ago they advertised a Google Pixel 6a but had none in stock. When Mike went in today they did! Winner! Really good price! So we bought that and then went to the visitors centre to do all the setting up, installing apps, etc. They have great wifi there and it's a lovely place. We had our breakfast cereal there too!

After this we went to Big Ray's, an outdoor store which has many different types of gloves. Our theory with glove is you can never have too many pairs. I feel I had a lucky escape on the North Slope with gloves. I really just managed with the ones I had, thanks to Howard the flaggger giving me a few pairs of hand warmers! We each got heavy duty plastic/rubber gloves which come with fleecy inserts! How clever is that! Then we each got a pair of Carhartt gloves, Mike got a pair of liners and I got a pair of mittens, really warm. Mike also got some more Darn Tough socks which are a great find on this trip! We stopped for our flask coffee at a war memorial park, then we finally left Fairbanks! It was a pretty amazing feeling going south after we have been as far north as you can go on this continent. It is only now feeling like a massive achievement, riding the Dalton. We stopped at North Pole for pizza for lunch at Alaska Pizza Co. Yum! Then we just kept riding, overcast weather and a bit of a headwind. We made our target, Salcha River by 18:00, not bad as we only left Fairbanks at 12:00! We still could not camp at the Salcha River Rec area, it seems to be still taken over by ffirefighters? Not sure. Luckily we could go down a trail just before it and at the end is a pretty decent spot to camp. There is river access but the river is quite muddy looking and our feeling is we might be dirtier afterwards! Also it will be raining tomorrow and as we know well by now, our towels will never dry. So we shelved our swim for another time. Those people who know us will appreciate what this says about the conditions here as we ALWAYS wash. But we have learnt that you can just end up compounding your hardships! One thing, it is MUCH warmer down here than on the Dalton! In fact, now that we have endured the harsh wilderness of the North Slope, it doesn't even feel like Alaska!

Cold and sometimes damp day, mainly drizzle. Some steep climbs. Then a tailwind late morning! Riding this stretch of road for the third time there was not much to report, so imagine the highlight of seeing Siwei riding towards us! This is the FIFTH time our paths have crossed so we are definitely old friends! As we rode the Dalton, so too did he go up north, on the Dempster! He is heading to Fairbanks today and then down pastd Denali. He will also ride the Denali Highway and the Richardson to Valdez so we are sure our paths will cross again there when we will be travelling west to his east. In a strange coincidence, he is also flying out of Anchorage on 1 October, around the same time as us so we will surely see him then too! He is going on to Hawaii. We have so often wondered about him and how he is going. We do check his Instagram page and knew he had ridden the Dempster but somehow on Instagram we feel we are missing half the story. So, it was GREAT seeing him in the flesh.

We were aiming for Delta Junction, although camping around the town is pretty sparse and we did not really want to go too far afterwards. It feels pretty normal that after a challenge like the Dalton we want to get on top of the route again. We knew this stretch of road and 30 km short of Delta we came across this great river gravel area where camping was easy and sheltered, which we remembered from the ride through. It just seemed like a short day was in order. We could have a COLD swim in good water without being rained on and the chance that our towels may actually dry. We have realised that you can't expect to remain comfortable if you just tough it out. We will spend more time on housekeeping as it gets colder to stay comfortable, which means taking a shorter day now and then. We even had a hot chocolate and a coffee this afternoon! And a nap.


The 30 km to Delta Junction went quickly and then while we were there, using wifi at the library and picking up some things at the grocery store, it rained so in the end we were there for 2 hours, much of it taking shelter undercover at the sportsfields. There were benches outside the store so we sat and ate there. It felt really cold, colder than the thermometer read, which was 6 DegC. The part of the grocery store in the tent is now shutdown as it is the end of the season. The other part in the liquor store is still going. The selection is not good, but the prices were pretty good. I guess once you force people to shop for cheese and milk inside a liquor store you have to give them something! The new grocery store is slowly taking shape next door. Previously I thought the roof caving in under the weight of the snow happened in January 2023, however it was actually January 2022! 18 months later and still no functioning store! A lady coming out of the store seemed a little concerned that we were heading south on the Richardson Hwy as there had been snow reported.

We have been on the Richardson Highway since leaving Fairbanks, however it feels like a different road after Delta Junction. It goes through a military base for the first bit and is an excellent road, wide shoulder. When the military stuff ends, so does the shoulder, but it is a quiet road. We liked seeing the pipeline again! It is however overshadowed by the stunning views of the Alaska Ranges, covered in snow! There was no rain and the sun was even out now and then, but it was really cold; icy. It would have snowed today on the high peaks we thought. There are many camping opportunities on this road, which already has an alpine feel. We ended up at Bear Creek. The views from our campspot by the creek are amazing. The contrast on the hills between the white snow and the red leaves of the fireweed is dramatic. It feels like Alaska again! We had a river swim which was extremely cold. It might be our last for a while as we will be at higher elevations tomorrow!




Superb views today, absolutely a trip highlight! From almost clear skies this morning to light grey cloud all day, the Alaska Range with its peaks covered in thick snow delighted us all day. It was cold, around 1 DegC when we set off and did not get warmer than 10 Deg C which was just as we set up camp at 16:00. Most of the day hovered around 5 DegC, barely any wind, just a slight tailwind. As we climbed the snow seemed to have fallen lower and lower until the grass by the roadside was encrusted with it. We stopped at a spring to collect some water. There were locals from Delta Junction doing the same. The climb to Summit Lake was gradual and enjoyable due to the scenery. We were also treated to views of the very same oil pipeline we followed to Deadhorse. Summit Lake was crystal clear and then we started the descent.

After a short time going downhill Mike thought his rear wheel felt strange and when we looked at it we saw the the rim had failed in exactly the same spot as mine all those months ago, just at the valve. So it was a day of highs and lows! We passed the turn off to Denali Highway and kept going towards Paxson Lake. After seeing so maany perfect campspots today, especially the high alpine creek ones, now of course there were none to be found. We finally found a good spot on BLM land in a gravel pit. It has a good pebbly, well-drained base. As we pitched the tent the rain started and it didn't stop all afternoon or evening. We felt lucky to have remained dry all day!

Mike contacted a couple of bike stores in Anchorage and the guys from The Bicycle Shop will fix us up with a new rim and spokes. They will try to get these mailed off tomorrow (Saturday) and hopefully we can collect in Glenallen on Monday. Mike will then build his THIRD wheel of the trip. Glenallen is only 103 km away so we could probably be there in one day, weather dependant.





It rained all night and we got up later than usual to avoid getting wet. Leaving around 09:00 we were dry all day which was great but we did have a very strong headwind. We had decided to only go as far as the BLM campsite which has walk-in sites for $6, very reasonable. It is also still open, very unusual! We had a good ride, beautiful scenery and not much climbing. The road was also a very good surface, quite new. It was a very clear day, the most blue sky we have seen in weeks and the temperature was comfortable, and and feet a good temperature all day. From high up we had amazing views of the Wrangell Ranges, all covered in snow. At one time we thought we were seeing Denali, but we were mistaken.

Mike had confirmation from the Bicycle Store that the rim and spokes had been shipped to Glenallen to arrive Monday. Their service was excellent. We will arrive at Glenallen tomorrow or early Monday morning so that works fine. The weather forecast is for rain tomorrow with a northerly wind so we are happy to have another short day and not get too wet!

We saw many hunting parties about, most people are hunting moose right now. Unfortunately we saw our first bear road fatality, a black bear which had been hit by a car, lying dead in the middle of the road. That was just before the campsite. We liked the campsite very much, only two walk-in sites out of 43 in total and we took a swim in the river. We have a lovely picnic table and it was a sunny, windy afternoon so we could dry our towels and so on. The days of washing any gear by hand are long gone though, we are lucky if we can wash out a pair of undies and have them dry overnight! There does not seem to be anyone else here either! The rain started around 19:00 so with any luck it will rain itself out overnight.


It is always so good when you don't have rain when you get up, pack and make breakfast. We really appreciate that! The rain started again mid-morning and did not stop for nearly 24 hours. It was a good road to ride today and we were surprised by roadworks and a pilot car after about 20 km so we had to unpack and get a ride for about 8 km. We were pleased when we saw the muddy road condition where the roadworks were going on. It took us right by theTok Cutoff Road. We stopped for coffee after getting out of the pilot car, around Gulkhana Bridge. We stopped at Dry Creek Campground to pick up water and after that it was a quick 10 km to Glenallen. We stopped at the visitors centre which is very good, the bloke on duty gave us a lot of information about the area. We popped into the RV park to check out camping prices, $30 for a tent site and $50 for a cabin with shared bathroom. We were mulling this over as Mike would need somewhere undercover to build the wheel. The previous two wheels had been built in Death Valley and the Mojave Desert, Alaska in September is a bit of a different prospect temperature-wise! We then went into the town along the on-road bikepath, stopping at the IGA for fried chicken. Across the road from the IGA was a Lions Park with a brand new undercover picnic shelter, lovely wooden benches, and out of the rain. We went back into the IGA and bought a HUGE box of cinnamon toasties breakfast cereal and milk and went and sat there, muching our way through one bag. We decided to go back up the road and camp along the pipeline access track. We had to ride in quite far, about a km, but just at the gate was a gravel spot good for camping. We set up and got inside the tent. The post office opens tomorrow at 09:00 and we know that the rim and spokes is on its way. With any luck it will be here early. We are only about 3 km from the post office here at the campspot. Around 19:00 a pipeline security guard pulled up to unlock the gate. He asked us how long we were camping there for and said it was fine for one night. He warned us about bears in the area.


Mike checked the tracking for the parcel and saw that at 06:10 it had been delivered to Glenallen. This was perfect as we could be at the post office for 9:00 opening time and then he could build the wheel at the Lions shelter. We would probably still be able to get in some riding today. We slept in a little and were getting up around 08:00 when another security guard arrived, a woman this time and asked us about our bear containers which we had placed away from our tent near the pipe. She was not happy with this, telling us that placing things under the pipe was not permitted. She was friendly however and even issued us with permits in case we wanted to travel along the pipeline. She asked for details such as name, address, etc. All in all not a bad experience as now we are temporarily permitted to travel the Aleyska Pipeline from Pump Station 9 through 12 for one year! At least the rain had stopped. After this we packed up and went to the Lions shelter for breakfast. Mike was at the post office for opening and picked up the parcel. It was really cold, but not raining.

While Mike set about building his wheel, I went to the IGA over the road to pick up supplies. We will ride from here to the Worthington Glacier and then back, should take 4 days. On my return Mike said that some old bloke had come to tell him this was private property and asked if we had camped here last night, to which Mike replied that we hadn't and didn't know about it being private property (we have used Lions Parks since the lower 48 and they have all been really welcoming spots, great useful facilities and some have even often camping by donation) and we had not camped there, which seemed to calm him down, but he still said we should be more observant! The shelter had a huge sign on it saying no camping or overnight parking and that the park was open from 08:00-17:00 (or something like that). There were old metal drums placed in the access points (they would not have detered cars from entering though) and when we left through the other one and looked back there was a very faded (almost illegible) private property sign taped to one. We were as usual confused by denial of access. Why have a sign up telling you the opening hours if it is private property? There was a children's playpark with all sorts of play equipment and signage explaining use behind the shelter. Why have all this when no one is allowed to use it? Anyhow, by this time it was 13:00, the wheel was built, we were packed and ready to go and it had of course started raining again.

We needed to throw away the old rim and spokes, and the box the new one had come in so I went back to IGA to ask where we could do this. The bloke at the register did not know but a customer told me to try the post office. The post office told me to go to ROAR (recycling depot) which was about 2 km up the road towards the Richardson. So Mike strapped the old rim to the back of his bike and I took the box which he had collapsed to ride up the road. I needed to put my cycling shorts on under my rainpants and leggings and as the IGA had restrooms we went back there as we left. We bought something to eat for lunch but the queue for the restrooms was too long. We made our way back up the highway to where we thought this ROAR place was. We could not find it, but we did see a skip behind the Baptist Church and turned in there. I knocked on the door, no one answered so we deposited the box, rim and spokes into the empty skip bin. Let's hope they don't come looking for us. We did our best, it can be the hardest thing to try to throw stuff away in a small USA town. No wonder people just dump stuff in rivers and backwoods. We sat outside the visitors centre eating our snack and Mike filled up with petrol for our stove. Then we left Glenallen behind us after I managed to get into my bike shorts and then back into my leggings and rainpants and shoes and booties in a porta loo with a very wet floor, and a door that did not lock properly. We stopped in at the Wrangell-St Elias National Park Visitors Centre which was very worthwhile and a great spot (they always have a hydration station with really cool sensor bottle fillers). A few km further on Mike thought his bike felt strange and worried it was the new wheel. Luckily when he stopped to have a look it was a front wheel puncture. Face plant! How does a puncture become lucky? Siwei would be proud of us! He says when he gets a puncture, "I am so lucky!". So in the rain, he fixed the puncture and luckily not long afterwards we came across a perfect gravel pit and pitched the tent, after which it rained really hard! The weather is set to improve for the next few days which we are pleased about.


Really happy with the weather today! We had mostly clear skies, the pale white sun peeking through and lighting everything up. It was so amazing to have views of the Wrangells, breathtaking stuff! The road was good, gentle gradients and a good surface. The shoulder is almost always pretty generous. The Richardson Highway is really worthwhile riding. We continue to dress warmly, today we wore rain jackets for most of the morning to keep the wind off.

We weren't sure where we would end up camping, but now that we have our flash Pipeline Permit we could not resist popping up a track just after the only rest area of the day to the boomgate to the Pipeline where there was a lovely small flat clearing to camp in. We have only 30 km from here to Worthington Glacier and our turnaround point. The weather tomorrow should be as good as today! Fingers crossed.




The morning was clear on waking, then a little rainy, then clear, then finally by 15:00 an actual sunny day! The first we have had in ages. It lasted about 30 min but it was really good! The clear day made for wonderful views as we rode towards Worthington glacier. After about 14 km we had a pilot vehicle due to roadworks. It was a short ride, about 5 km. Also amusing as of course we were coming back in a couple of hours after seeing the glacier. The glacier is forked and the view of it was actually better from further away, but it was nice to go all the way up to the viewing area. There was a good undercover seating area with info boards, toilets and a walkway towards the glacier. As glaciers go it was not very large and you could not get close to it, but it was very beautiful and we enjoyed our time there. The weather definitely looked to be worse towards Valdez and we were happy with our decision not to go down into the town. These sorts of tourist destinations don't interest us and we were not keen on camping down there. Many people go to see the salmon and the coastal brown bears feeding on the salmon. This just seemed complicated for tenting, especially the way we like to do it. Just going down there to climb out again seemed like something we would rather skip. As we had clmbed up to the glacier, it was a cold descent back to the pilot car. We caught a ride with the same bloke and as we drove along we passed a small black bear eating happily by the roadside. The pilot car driver told us the bears cause a distraction to the drivers who then want to slow down and have a look, but when you are in a line behind a pilot car that creates problems. He also told us that earlier in the season a hunter pulled out of the pilot car traffic to shoot a bear by the roadside. This is a true story. Can you imagine following a pilot car, everyone going along at a slow pace, following the one in front, cute bear by the roadside, your wife takes a photo, then BAM the bloke behind you pulls to the side of the road and SHOOTS the bear dead? The problem with this, says Mr Pilot Car, is that it is not permitted to fire a weapon in a construction zone. Well, of course not! What is this, America??!! It gets worse. The pilot car bloke then said that of course many of the construction workers carry guns themselves, although this is not allowed, but they would only use them WHEN ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. The 5 minutes it took this guy to tell us this story just sums up the issue with guns and this country. Everyone thinks they have the right to decide when lethal force is necessary, and the right to bear arms excuses breaking any other rule, including common sense. I aked the driver where he usually lives, he said a small town in Montana.

We rode on about 10 km from the roadworks back to the rest area opposite our pipeline campsite to have lunch and another coffee. Then we continued up the highway. The views of the snow capped mountains were dramatic and we really enjoyed the ride and the scenery. We appreciated the weather. We filtered water by the same clear stream as we did yesterday and ended up riding quite some way beyond where we thought we would camp. Mike found a gravel pit, but it was an old disused one and totally overrun by willows all in various shades of yellow and orange. It was a beautiful campsite. Unfortunately Mike had another front wheel puncture which he repaired pretty quickly. Our tyres are holding up well after 12,200 km, but there will be the odd puncture now. We will make it back to Glenallen tomorrow and maybe a bit further.

We had really good news today from Eric at US Postal, which is that he has liaised with the Brooks Range Prudhoe Bay Post Office and the Cantwell Post Office for our package of food (remember, the one which never left Fairbanks until it did and arrived in Prudhoe in 2 days?) to be sent on to Cantwell? This is so good! We can pick it up when we come off the Denali Highway in Cantwell and as it is 10 days supply we will have enough for when we stay in Denali and travel south to Anchorage. Makes life so much easier as we only have to resupply tomorrow for the 6 days from Glenallen to Cantwell. All's well that ends well!





Strange things are happening to my fingertips. Just like at the start of the trip nearly 7 months ago, the skin gets cracked and dry and peels off. I have to look after my thumb tips especially, applying lanolin morning and night, otherwise they will develop deep cracks which are pretty painful. Exposure. Northern Exposure (remember the TV show?)! Although it was the same in California. Strange things are also happening to Mike's toes. They have started to look red and swollen, they feel uncomfortable. The have been cold for a long time. Northern Exposure! More on this later. We woke to a promising day, pretty clear and cold which quickly turned to mist for about the first 20 km. At this point we climbed a steepish hill and the skies cleared (as they had when we climbed the same hill going south). We were cold though. The morning temp on leaving camp was only 1 DegC and by 10:00 it was 3 DegC. What we are learning about fall as opposed to spring is that although the mornings are very very cold, can be freezing even in spring, in the spring the sun is turning to warming, in the fall, the sun is turning to packing up and moving out. So the maximum temperature we get all day is around 9 DegC. Which I think explains the fingers and toes. We stopped for coffee break at a pipeline access track and it started to rain, quickly turning to heavy rain. We hopped under the bothy to finish our coffee. It warms up nicely under the bothy. After a while sitting there Mike checked the weather radar and it seemed that we were going to cop it really bad with this rain, as in heavy rain all day. So we decided to leg it down to the next pipe access where we had had a coffee break a couple of days ago and pitch the tent. We remembered that we had not yet picked up water today, but we needn't have worried as when we arrived at the campspot there was a new stream running through it courtesy of the rain dump! We hunkered down in the tent, hopping into our sleepy clothes and sleeping bags. I read my book and Mike did his tax return online. In a couple of hours it was lighter and the rain stopped. Everything looked optimistic for carrying on. So we packed up and set off.

After about an hour the rain started up again and by the time we got to the Wrangell St Elias National Park visitors centre the rain was heavy. We picked up water and had a look at the exhibition hall. Two blokes came over for a chat. One owned a cabin in McCarthy and they had been there to close it up for the winter. They knew the area and were pretty confident that we would not have much snow on Denali Highway. We headed off towards Glenallen and stopped at Tazlina River Trading Post. We were so hoping to resupply here for the 6 days to Cantwell (where our well-travelled food parcel will make its wandering way thanks to Eric of US Postal Service) and we were not disappointed. Tazlina is a native village and we have come to rely on first nations/native/indigenous stores all over North America as they stock it all, at reasonable prices, and we can always find every single thing we want. We bought a giant bag of chilli and lime roasted almonds, over a kilogram of M&M's, 2 litres of milk and a box of Kelloggs Frosted Flakes to name but a few delicious items! Oh - we got cinnamon toastie SPREAD. Can't wait. After packing our bikes full of food again, we set off uphill to a scenic viewpoint. This overlooked the Copper River far below. We followed a track that was blocked off to cars (probably due to the huge undercut) eventually into a beautiful forest, moss covered floors and many mushrooms popping up all over to camp.

Mike has completed some research on his toes. He has chilblains even though he hasn't been having a hot shower or using a heater soon after exposure to cold. Luckily the Tazlina Store sold hand warmers and toe warmers, charging less than what we had paid at Walmart in Fairbanks! I got a heap of hand warmers and Mike got some pairs of toe warmers so hopefully this helps his tootsies.

Today was pretty perfect, roaring tailwind all day, no rain (not even one drop), sun out for a lot of the day, tenperature got to 13 DegC! We so appreciated all of this! So good to be dry and warm (Alaskan standards). We rode straight through, bypassing Glenallen, and stopped when we got to the pilot car section around Gulkhana River. We had to wait about 20 min so had our coffee break then. We chatted to the flagger, a lady who was a great traveller, had spent a month on holiday in Australia years ago and whose twin sister was now a student of Tibetan Buddhism living in the Himilayas, but once cycled round the world with her husband for 10 years. Pretty interesting. The lady driving the pilot car was the same one from Sunday and we were pleased to see the good progress on the road from the warm pilot car! She even drove us a couple of bonus km past the end to drop us on a safe stretch of road! Thanks!

We had about 20 km to ride to Sourdough Creek Campground where we cooked lunch and had hot chocolate. Mike went to brush down my Gates Drive belt to remove a squeak and noticed that it was breaking, in that a number of teeth had come off. I had felt a small hitch now and then when pedalling and was worried it was my newish bottom bracket. Instead I had worn out a belt! This was a first! It had done 17,000 km and we weren't sure of their ultimate lifespans. So now we know! We carry two spares and Mike swapped it out. After this we had some climbing, but as always when the scenery is great you don't really notice. The foilage is now all shades of yellow, gold, red and copper. The Alaska Ranges were snow covered in front of us and the Wrangells also snow covered behind us. It is a remarkable place to be. The road was quiet and this section until about 20 km short of Paxson, superb quality. Such a smooth ride.

We stopped a few times at potential campspots before finding one so pristine, no vehicle access, flat and covered with fine reindeer moss. So many mushrooms and toadstool of such variety, from really tiny to large. It is amazing to see. It was a cold evening but we so enjoyed sitting out in the sun, weak as it is. Such a treat not to have to duck and dive for the rain, we really enjoyed it. Mike's toes are still feeling quite sore and swollen. He used toe warmers today but did not find they made a big difference. At least we were dry though, apparently chilblains are caused partly by cold (but not freezing) and wet conditions. I am putting lanoline on my fingertips and have now also developed exposure spots on the backs of my thighs. I had this on the Heysen thru-hike as well. They start like insect bites but end up as quite large painful lesions. Great! It is also from the cold. I am putting lanolin on that as well. Oh boy!




It rained from the early hours until we had to get up which worked out well! No rain at all until later in the day. We had 20 km to ride along the Richardson Highway before turning onto the Denali Highway. Most of the climbing happens within 60 km of the eastern end as you work your way towards the summit of Maclaren Pass. At 4086 ft it is the second highest pass in Alaska after the Atigun Pass on the Dalton Hwy. We stopped for coffee and then it really cooled down, our hands were painful from the cold. Mike tried out his toe warmers again today, they seemed to work better and his feet stayed warmer. We reached a rest area and the views of the Wrangells and the Alaska Ranage were just astounding. We were pretty pleased with the weather, we even had a small tailwind after the morning headwind. The colours of the landscape here are all the reds, oranges and yellows of fall. The backdrop is the snow covered high mountains. The experience is as beautiful as the North Slope but a fraction of the effort. Alaska is amazing.

We stopped to cook lunch at the Delta Wild and Scenic Wayside picnic spot at Tangle Lakes. The road is quite busy with hunters, they are parked up all over, but are all friendly and drive by slowly. After this the pavement is supposed to end but actually it was sealed all the way to the end of our day, not great condition but definitely not gravel. After Tangle Lakes the climb starts in earnest and we climbed for the rest of the day, but it was a reasonable gradient for the most part. Water is plentiful and we filtered twice. We ended up camping short of the summit as we wanted to camp up high and the view was too beautiful to pass up!

Mike has been keeping an eye on the US Postal tracker and our much travelled food parcel arrived at Cantwell post office today which is great news as we will pass by in about three days. So we can happily eat all the food we have now and will collect 10 days worth in our parcel! Nothing makes us happier nowadays than knowing we will not run out of food. We are often hungry and are eating a lot. It was still only 6 DegC at 15:00!






We had thought we might take a rest day today as the weather forecast was for strong northerly winds and rain. When we woke it was still and quite clear. The mountains behind us were luminous and white. We thought we may as well make the most of the weather! We stayed dry all day which was super. We were quickly over Maclaren Summit and had our coffee at the river beneath. The views amaze us ceaselessly. When we think of the massive effort involved in riding the Dalton, it feels like a gift to be getting this reward in return for so little effort. We stopped at Clearwater Creek Wayside for a few sandwiches. Chatted to the wife of a hunter who was walking two little dogs. Apparently the moose hunt is quite difficult as the moose has to be not only a bull, but also a certain size and stage of development. We see many hunters by the roadside. They sometimes ask if we have seen moose or bear. The road surface continues to impress. It is probably the only scenic byway type of road which undersells itself. There are occassional very high quality gravel sections which stretch for a few hundred metres at the most, but then it is back to a sealed surface, yet everything you read about it will say it is 135 miles long, 21 miles of pavement on the eastern end and 3 miles on the western end, and in between gravel, suggested speed 35 miles per hour. By the end of the day we had ridden half the road and it is not gravel.

We had been sheltered from the wind by high mountains, but as we rounded the range, we were straight into it and it became unpleasant. Very cold! We filtered water by a gushing stream and then found a campspot along a little track with amazing views over the Susitna River valley. Many moose droppings along the track and in the camp spot so this is where they must hide from the hunters! We each took a very short and very cold shower as we do each day. Mike's feet seem to be benefitting from the toe warmers. The sore spots on the backs of my legs are developing nicely in the cold. It is nice and warm in our tent however, we seem to spend a lot of time getting warm and keeping warm.


I woke up in the middle of the night to go and make peepee, and it had started to snow. The sound of snow falling on a tent is actually lovely, gentle and soft, unlike rain. It sounds like it accumulates rather than just hitting and running off. By morning we were in a world of white and by midday large clumps of snow were falling from the sky. Not being very experienced in matters of snow, we were not sure where this would end up. Certainly there was a lot of snow falling and it did not stop at all. It was very cold, freezing, but the snow was not accumulating as much as we thought it would. It seemed to be just staying in white patches everywhere but not completely covering the ground. By the afternoon it was raining and by the evening it had all stopped. Everything was transformed though, the snow was everywhere. We spent the day sleeping and reading. It was lovely to be warm.

As we had had such a restful day, we were awake around midnight. It was very quiet after all the snow and rain. No wind at all. We peeked outside and the aurora was visiting. It was very active. The sky was completely clear and the aurora covered almost all of it. It did not have much colour but it was a great display and went on for a few hours. So all in all we were really lucky with our day, the experience and beauty of being in the snow and the northern lights.




The sun is only rising now at 07:30, but we still wake up at 06:30. Our campsite has great mountain views across the Susitna River valley. It was crystal clear this morning, there was not a cloud in the sky. We can't remember having such a clear day in Alaska. We were so happy and so lucky! It was really cold, 6.5 degC below zero, but we dressed warmly and set off mainly downhill to the Susitna River. The photographs will tell the story. The Susitna River bridge was iced over and so we walked the bikes across. The potholes in the road were full of ice from the snow/rain of yesterday. After crossing the river and climbing up the other side the road parallels the Alaska Range for the longest time. The majesty of the snow covered mountains and occasional glacier against a blue sky is something we will not forget. There were still hunters about but the road was very quiet. The road surface was excellent. You forgot it was gravel mostly.

We cooked lunch at Brushkana Creek BLM campsite after about 60 km. It was a sunny day, so amazing to us after all the overcast days we have had. Still very cold though, the sun is so weak. We still struggled to stay warm but not get sweaty on climbs which of course cools you down. About 20 km further on we reached the Nenana River and there was a dramatic drop down to that. We are now at a much lower elevation than we were last night and Denali National Park is just around the corner. We found a place to camp with difficulty as from the Nenana River on it is Ahtna land and there is much "do not trespass" signage going on. We found a small track and it grew wide enough to pitch the tent. From here we have about 25 km to Cantwell post office, where our food parcel awaits, and then about 40 km to Denali National Park. Riding the Denali Highway has been a trip highlight, right up there with the Burr Trail in Utah so many months ago. We would recommend it to any cycle tourist, and this is the perfect time of year to ride it if you can handle the conditions. Something that has taken us by surprise is that after the snow melted from the leaves of bushes and trees around our campsite and by the roadside, the leaves just fall off. The sound of falling leaves was the music of the day today as we rode along and the leaves that remain on the trees and bushes make a dry rattling sound all the time.






It was raining as we got up so we made breakfast and packed up as far as we could in the tent. By the time we got out of the tent, the rain had turned to snow. We rode in the falling snow for an hour or so. It was cold, but not as cold as yesterday, still only just above freezing. We arrived in Cantwell around 09:45 and went to fill up our fuel bottle with petrol. The Vitus petrol station had a nice and warm laundromat below ground, very modern restrooms too with piping hot water. We went and sat down there and had our coffee, checked the internet and so on. It was raining and cold. We then went to collect our food parcel at the post office and packed the contents away. So happy to finally get our hands on that parcel of food after three weeks!

We had around 45 km to ride to Denali National Park and the Parks Highway is a good road, wide shoulder. We even had a slight tailwind. We stopped briefly at Carlo Creek and met Anne who offered her van for us to sleep in if we want, which was kind. When we got to Denali we went to the Wilderness Centre to enquire about camping in the park. Riley Campground at the park entrance is always open with limited facilities now and no charge. The campgrounds along the park road are closed and may not be used, so our only option is back country camping which means you have to get a permit for the area you wish to camp in, and camp 800 m from the road but out of sight. There are no trails or tracks so this did not seem workable with our bikes. Typically cycle tourists stash their bikes by the road and hike in with backpacks. This was disappointing. We asked how many hikers were out in the backcountry right now and were told none as it was too wet with rain and snow. We then went on to the visitors centre to ask about camping at Riley Creek and were told if we wanted to ride the park road we would have to ride in and out and camp at Riley. Apart from the visitors centre nothing else was open. We filled up with water at the hydration station and rode down to Riley. There were a few sites available on Bear Loop; they limit the camping area at this time of year. We camped near a large food storage locker and restrooms but later discovered that the restrooms were locked and the only ones open at all were at the top of the road loop. It was all good after we had sorted all this out, but you had to figure it out on your own even though we had gone to both information sources to find out. It is pretty cold (max 3 DegC) but we did want to be here out of season and so this is what it is like! It is a very lovely place to be and we have enough to eat so we might stay a couple of days before riding south to Anchorage, about 400 km away.



We had two relaxing days at Denali National Park, the first was rainy and the second clear. We left this morning around 09:30. The mornings are literally icy now and we can't leave any earlier. This morning even one of my pedals had frozen in place so would not revolve, and the tent is totally dry with ice all over! We have decided that 08:00 is probably our new wake up time. We can just ride 50 km per day if we like as our flight is booked for 1 October. It was such a great ride to just beyond Cantwell. We had gorgeous views of very white mountains all around and the Parks Highway is brilliant to ride on. We stopped at Cantwell gas station as we liked the warm laundry when we passed through a few days ago. I paid for a shower, $5 but worth it I think. Last hot shower was three weeks ago at the campground in Fairbanks! Mike filled a shower bag with hot water from the basin tap and we only rode around 5 km further on so he still got a warm shower! The gas station has a heater on in the laundry and the facilities are hotel standard. They do not sell hand warmers though! I have only 4 pairs left. It is warmer as you move south though, not much but it will help. Mike has no toe warmers left but his feet are almost back to normal.

We picked a bushcamp in BLM Lands along an ATV track right in the tundra with mountain views. It is such a clear day with the sun out, but don't think for a minute that means any warmth! There are still thousands of blueberries out, so ripe that the minute you pick one it bursts open. We picked and ate many. Mike's Thermarest mattress has started delaminating and he has ordered a new one from REI in Anchorage, we will pick it up when we arrive. This is the third Thermarest we have had that has done this. It seems you will probably get around 300 nights sleep on one. The tent outer zip sliders also have to be replaced and we have found a place that will deliver size 8 YKK zips. We have already replaced most of the inner zips which are now working fine. The aurora forecast for tonight is excellent so we look forward to that! Hopefully the skies stay clear.



We did not sleep very well as we wanted to check out the aurora which was forecast from 23:00. Also our camping spot whilst soft was a little lumpy (and Mike's mattress is even lumpier). We had a peek outside but nothing much was going on. We looked later at 01:30 and the aurora was there, right over our heads and the sky was very clear, probably the clearest skies we have had. However the aurora was very pale and not very active. We sat outside for a while in many layers of clothing, inside our sleeping bags etc, but eventually went back to bed.

This morning was once again freezing, 9.6 deg below 0 degC. Everything was covered in ice, all the blueberry bushes, all the blueberries, the bikes, the tent. Our water bottles froze even though we had put them in the tent vestibules. I could not even open the flasks, and Mike could not open the water bag and some of the bottles. Frozen! It takes ages to get breakfast going as you really have to focus on keeping your gloves on and that makes everything slower. Mike could pour some water out of one of the water bottles but had to then pour it back after heating it to melt the ice. Mike has taken to licking the tent pole joins to seperate them when packing the tent away as they are frozen and cannot be disconnected. This is not wise, do not try it at home! It finally took us two hours to get on the road, we got up at 08:00 and were on the road at 10:00! The best news for us is that the very large partly clouded mountain that we had been staring at yesterday from our tent was now revealed in all its glory as Denali this morning! There was not a cloud in the sky and it was super clear. What a brilliant campspot to pick as we had 360 degree views of white mountains, with the view of Denali being the cherry on top!

We pushed our bikes back to the road with some huffing and puffing (mainly me) and then had the most wonderful ride along the Parks Highway which is a great road. It was such a clear day and we had a slight tailwind. The small lakes on the side of the road now continue to have a frozen crust for the entire day. We aimed to have coffee at the East Fork Wayside where the little campground was closed for the season. We could still go into the camping area which we did and sat in a lovely sunny spot at a bench to have our flask coffee. After a while we started to think maybe we should just camp here. It is so nice to have a bench and we would rather have extra time spent up here than closer to Anchorage. We also booked into what looks to be a lovely hotel in Anchorage for Friday and Saturday nights. This gives us 5 days to ride 300 km and the weather looks stable and good for the next week. The area has proper campsites and we chose one. The river is amazing, so clear! Another time we would have definitely swum, but no longer. Swimming days are over! We put the tent up which was still covered in ice and it was now 13:00! The water bottle in my frame bag was still partially frozen. We both felt body sore. I actually felt like I was getting flu or something. Achy muscles. We cooked a hot and spicy meal and had more coffee, then pretty much got into the tent and fell asleep for an hour or so and felt much better!



The riding along Parks Highway is easy. The road is so well built, wide shoulder and great surface, the climbs such as they are just go by really quickly. The challenge right now is the cold and it is merciless for those first 4 hours on the bike. Which leaves only one hour or so when we feel warm! We can't believe the length of time per day that your feet can just be frozen only to warm up at some point and then feel totally normal. This morning was no different. Minus 7.5 DegC this warming up to zero around midday. Everything was iced over, but we learnt our lesson with the water and kept some of our water bottles in the tent overnight; the one's on the bike froze. It is so sunny though, skies clear and yet another day with never ending views of Denali. While resting by Pass Creek and having our morning coffee, a group of hunters stopped. They were towing quite big boats. We had a chat to them. They were from south of Anchorage and every year they take their boats to the Yukon River, where the Dalton Highway crosses it. From there they go west for about 350 miles on the river and then up another river to hunt moose. They came back with four this year. It was amazing to see the massive antlers and photographs of the meat hung in the boat. It looked beautiful and sets them up for the year, all the meat they need. One bloke's son who looked about 14 or 15 had shot his first moose this time. We find it so interesting talking to the hunters. The Parks Highway passes through the Denali State Park and so we had many points to stop and admire the view. First up was North Denali View, now closed for the seaon, then we had the Veterans Memorial and then South Denali View (which was chockers with all the people - where have they been hiding?). All these places were really great to be at, many picnic tables and benches, info boards and usually open vault toilets. There were also other trailheads and campgrounds where we could have stopped. We were impressed with Denali State Park and you could not beat the conditions.

About 3 km after the South View point the road crosses the Chulitna River and just before the road bridge a track (gated) goes off down to the river. We needed to access the river anyway to get water and there was a spot to camp so we went for it. We even had a shower tonight with river water in our shower bag so it must have warmed up! We have experienced Northern Hemisphere autumn before and in places like Sweden and Finland it seems as if you are just moving into a grey, fuzzy time of year with all the edges misting. Here in Alaska it is like falling off the edge of a cliff. Very extreme. We are enjoying the extreme feeling of it, but we also look forward to getting to Anchorage!



Yay for warmer weather! Only minus 3 this morning, no ice and we warmed up much quicker on the bike. Our hands and feet felt pretty normal. We do wear massive gloves and I wear three pairs of wool socks, but decided not to wear the double booties this morning, and Mike was gaitor free! Moving south has definite advantages. We had clear skies still, no wind and it was just a brilliant ride along the Parks Highway. We had an enjoyable day. We stopped for our flask coffee at the Vitus fuel stop Trappers Creek where we sat at a table in the sun and I even bought two more pairs of hand warmers! Yippee! Then we stopped again at the IGA in Susitna North where we ate delicious spicy chicken and fried rice. This was our first time in a grocery store since Glenallen and it was great! We bought delicious bread, cheese and yoghurt, bananas and tea (which we have both been craving) and of course Reese's peanut butter cups for me. We sat in the sun and ate our chicken, rice and bananas. A lady passing said sarcastically, "Mind you don't get sunburn!". We were aiming for Susitna Landing Campsite however were not sure that it was open, most places have closed now for the season. Three km short of it we saw the sign for public access to Casswell Creek for fishing. iOverlander gave some more information about the place, importantly that you could camp there for up to 14 days. It was only 600 m off the highway down a gravel road and such a great spot. Many lovely campsites amongst the aspens which have shed all their golden leaves over the ground. The creek was actually an arm of the Susitna River and far below us but there was a handy staircase to take you down to the water which was crystal clear, and provided a good place to filter. I could see what I first thought was a person and then thought was an animal, perhaps a moose, by the water. It was large and moving about, Mike got it in one, "It's a bald eagle!" he said. We almost could not believe it, it was so huge! A massive bird! It looked as if it was eating a fish by the river. It flew off.

A bloke came along in a car and had a chat to us, so pleased to see us there and using the campground. He was from Big Lake, about 50 miles nearer to Anchorage and showed us his rifle on the seat next to him. He was here to shoot some birds. We had a great chat and he told us about a freshwater spring that he was going to collect water from nearby. Alaskans are so at home in the outdoors and love meeting other people like us who are using it too. It is great!

We had a refreshing shower (we were tempted to have a swim in the creek but just could not face the immersion! We enjoyed our tea, yoghurt and cheese sandwiches for dinner. It is cold but not the kind that you think might kill you! It feels like reasonable Alaskan cold for this time of year. As we have only 145 km to go to Anchorage we have decided to add a night to our existing two night stay there and so we will be in the hotel from Thursday to Sunday. There is a "Made in Alaska" festival on this weekend which would be good to go to and three nights in the hotel will be a nice break. We will camp in or near Wasilla tomorrow and then have about 65 km into Anchorage on Thursday. Also, bit of a milestone reaching 13,000 km cycled trip to date today.


Mike's mattress woe's escalated last night as the delaminated section has grown bigger and bigger, to the point when the sections were just popping one after another. Basically the mattress is just a big airbag now and he has to sort of balance on top to sleep. Either that or there is not enough air in it to keep him from becoming very cold. Mattresses are as important for insulation as they are for comfort. Only one more night for him on this dodgy mattress! This morning was not as cold as it has been and the day ended up being around 11 DegC, so that is pretty good! We stopped in Willow for our flask coffee, we sat in the sun at the public library. After Willow there was a cycleway all the way to Wasilla and beyond which was a nice surprise! Cycleways and Alaska are not two concepts that you would normally place together! It was a bit up and down from Willow to Big Lake but the ride into Wasilla was flat as we entered the Valley area. We stopped to eat a Dominos pizza which was delicious. We were pleased to arrive in Wasilla and pleased too to leave! We were aiming for Reflection Lake as there were BLM lands just before it (nothing campable) and just on the other side of the higway from the lake was a really nice spot in the forest. It is noisy with highway traffic, but secluded between the highway and the railway line so we should not get any visitors. We have just 60 km to go to our hotel in Anchorage.


Short ride into Anchorage today. We stopped at the Vitus servo at Peters Creek to do our laundry. From here we were on cycleways into the city, stopping again at Eagle River for a pizza. The weather was good all the way, no rain. Eagle River seemed a nice place. After this the cycleway runs alongside the highway into Anchorage and this was a great ride, very fast. Coming into the town we rejoined suburban streets which are multi-laned and the motorists had no time for cyclists. There is a network of more cycle friendly streets but we encountered these the next day. You wouldn't really find them without local knowledge. We headed to REI to pick up Mike's new mattress and gloves. He had great service as when he first placed the order he was told that the size glove he requested was not available, so he ordered a larger size. The store had actually gone to the trouble of locating the correct size for him. We looked around the store for a while and then we went on to our motel.

We chose the Qupqugiaq Inn as it was close to REI and The Bicycle Shop where we could get bikes boxes to box the bikes for air travel to Salt Lake City. The Google and Booking.com reviews were encouraging, the place was a little quirky but nicely fitted out. The woman at the front desk turned out to be extra-quirky. This is a nice way of saying that she was actually nuts. She took us round the back of the building to the carpark and told us that we could lock our bikes up in the open wooden stairwell. I just said straight out that we were not leaving our bikes on the street, to which she replied, "It's not the street, it's the hotel". It was totally open to the street. She then went off and took ages to check us in and the room we got was not their best, probably because she did not want us to have our bikes inside. The shower is excellent though! We have three nights here. We noticed that there were biscuit crumbs all over the tiled floor and the little bedside table so I went and asked for a broom to sweep. She was so strange, when I went in to the reception area she barked, "What's the problem?" and when I asked for the broom she insisted on coming out to sweep it herself and said she would send housekeeping the next day. There is a shared kitchen and lounge, with good facilities and weird people. Anyhow, like I said, we love the shower!

The following day we went to The Bicycle Shop and got two fabulous, large boxes and then packed the bikes back at the room. I also got a new pair of bike overshorts. We went into town later to look around and caught the bus back. The day after that we relaxed and organised our things for our flight to Salt Lake City.