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Thread: Long Range Planning for Alaska

  1. #1
    Schwetzt du aa Deitsch? deitscher's Avatar
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    Long Range Planning for Alaska

    I am currently creating a 5 year plan for a trip from PA to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in 2017. Will be camping as often as possible. I have gone cross country before on my 800ST. Was wondering what knowledge you guys have to share. I am especially looking for:

    1. A good checklist of things to pack. (extra tools?) etc.
    2. Items to budget for.
    3. Argument over taking the ST or getting another bike?
    4. Argument over which route to take north of the border?
    5. What did you learn from taking this trip, especially things that you didn't plan for?

    You guys are great and I know you will be able to share much knowledge. Just got 7 inches of snow, calling for 4 more tomorrow. At least I can think about riding!

    -Doug
    Doug
    2009 F800ST

  2. #2
    look out!!! Visian's Avatar
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    Two nerds to AK - 1998

    Here is our tale of daring do, posted from the road way before the days of broadband.

    There's not a ton of answers here... Just a bunch of dumb observations. Tom's report is more useful than mine!

    There is some old, but still relevant info in the CampSite... Man, this needs updating and Vince is looking for a volunteer... I see all the pics are missing from the Packing article, I guess this will get fixed as the new site goes live.

    This Planning article features a list of what to take.

    I've suggested to Vince that, once we get our new site and a Camping editor to maintain it, that we consider using a blogging tool to allow others to contribute by commenting on the editorial.

    Other answers:

    - your ST will be fine... It will get very dirty and probably scratched from flying gravel

    - I learned for the advice of a friend to get new tires mounted before entering Canada, as the chipseal roads are very rough. You'll probably need new tires again once you get there.

    - Don't pack too much stuff and practice with all your gear before you go.

    - Take the Alaska Marine Highway on your way back... its a great way to relax.

    Ian
    Go soothingly through the grease mud, as there lurks the skid demon.
    ________________________________________________
    '67 Trail 90 || '86 R80 G/SPD+ || '00 1150 GS || '06 HP2e

  3. #3
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    Alaska 2013

    Thanks for the info and links Ian.

    Riding solo to Alaska in 2013 from SF, so I'll be following this thread for useful information too. Only have three weeks to do the round trip. My primary objective is Fairbanks, and if time allows, ride to the Arctic Circle as well. I'm taking the ferry on the return leg, from Haines. No camping for me though, I like my long hot showers and clean bed linens at the end of a long ride too much.

  4. #4
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    Did this trip this summer and my advise is pack like you would in any northern state in the lower 48. You will hit cool weather at any time of the year and you will hit chilling rains so plan for that. Good gortex gear like Klim latitude and a heated jacket liner such as gerbings are needed. Also carry a light pair of polypropolene long underwear for chilly nights in the tent or days in the saddle. I generally wore a pair of walking shorts under my Klim gear and added the long underwear on cooler days

    Camping should not be a big issue, lots to choose from, tent sites were $20 or less. Gas was about 10-20% higher. Big cost was restaurant food. Burgers and fries were reasonably priced but after that it got a bit pricey. Hotels would be $80-100+

    You are looking at about 9-10000 miles round trip so a new set of tires before you leave will serve you the whole trip. Don't sweat the warnings of Canadian chip seal burning out your tires. Most of the roads all the way up will be at least as good as secondary highways in the lower 48. If you hit wet times up to Prudhoe you will want to have at least some sort of aggressive type of tire to deal with the slippery calcium "snot". We used Heideneu K60 and they worked well for bboth highway and gravel. They are a bit noisy at certain speeds but they stick in the wet and wear well. I had over 25,000 km (15,000 miles) on mine when I changed it.

    The Top of the World highway from Tok Alaska to Dawson City is a mandatory trip and is also mostly gravel but is well packed and easy going. Avoid the BMW dealer in Fairbanks as they are 90% Harley dealer and 10% BMW with all the attitude that goes with it. There is a great father son set up there who will assist with service like tires or oil changes. PM me if you need names and address.

    As for a route go up through Dawson Creek BC. Need to get the Mile 1 shot. When you come back take a right at Watson Lake and take the Cassiar highway down to Smithers then Prince George to Jasper and the Icefield parkway to Lake Louise/Banff. The Icefield parkway on a sunny day is about as good as it gets for the Rocky Mountains.

    Also if you have time and the weather is nice the Denali highway crossing Alaska (mainly good packed gravel) is a beauty to behold.

    One thing that we did was ride south to the Kenai peninsula to Seward and Homer. They were a bit touristy, but instead of backtracking through Anchorage and beyond, we took the tunnel to Whittier and the high speed ferry from Whittier to Valdez across Prince William Sound. It was a highlight with lots of wildlife, scenic views and a brush with history as you pass Bligh Reef where the Exxon Valdez ran aground. The pass out of Valdez was equally as spectacular as you cross the glacier with high snow bank walls beside the highway.

    The one thing that I was not prepared for? It had to be 24 hrs of daylight. We came out of the Mad Trapper Inn in Inuvik NWT at 2 am, it was 80 degrees and and you could have laid out and got a sun tan. It is that bright for 24 hrs in mid June. You may not get as much sleep as you need and the tiredness becomes accumulative. Plan on a night in a hotel if you start feeling fatigued.
    Last edited by garthw; 12-29-2012 at 01:36 AM.

  5. #5
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    Cool

    The wife and I did this ride in 2011, here is the link to the trip we did

    http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=710844

    To answer your questions here is my take on a trip up North

    1. A good checklist of things to pack. (extra tools?) etc. Make sure you have wet/cold gear, it rain everyday during our trip (about an hour per day)
    2. Items to budget for. The higher cost of everything, gas in Dawson City was $1.75 Cdn per litre.
    3. Argument over taking the ST or getting another bike? I would suggest a GS with 50/50 tires to travel the dirt roads, like Top of the World, Haul Road, Campbell Hwy to name a few. We did see a Goldwing on the Top of the World Hwy, so I guest any bike is good when the roads are dry.
    4. Argument over which route to take north of the border? Alaska Hwy on the way up then the Cassier Hwy on the way back both are not to be missed, "bucket list" worthy
    5. What did you learn from taking this trip, especially things that you didn't plan for? Need more time to see everything, higher cost of things, get the Milepost (it has everything you will need)

    A final comment, going to Alaska is one of those rides that you will never forget, take the time to enjoy the Canadian portion of the ride as well, so many things to see as well.

    Garry and Jos?®e
    gajo.smugmug.com

  6. #6
    Lost again Texpaul's Avatar
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    Doug,

    Some great advice above. I would add the following.

    Get a copy Of the Milepost (I saved money by getting the year old version). While not necessary, it is very helpful in learning about the highways, thier conditions, and the available facilities (like gas). Gas was never an issue on our trip but knowing were gas might be scarce helped in planning stops.

    Canada has a long weekend every month during the summer and there is Canada Day long weekend the 1st of July. During these weekends campgrounds can get crowded and, depending on where you are, getting into national or local parks may require advanced reservations.

    If camping don't overlook city parks. Many small towns have one and they are good, inexpensive, places to stay.

    If not camping make sure to checkout roadhouses. The rooms are usually small, having just the bare essentials, but they are resonably priced and close to good food and drink.

    Almost every town in BC, big or small, has a tourist office that stays open late (like 10PM) during the summer. They are a great resource for finding a plce to stay or eat.

    People in Canada and Alaska are very friendly and helpful. Be sure to take the time to stop and smell the roses, meet the locals, and soak in some local culture.

    good luck and enjoy.
    Paul Mulhern
    MOA# 56330
    '05 1200GS Big Blue

  7. #7
    Schwetzt du aa Deitsch? deitscher's Avatar
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    Thanks!

    Thanks guys for all the helpful info. I will ask more questions as they come up!
    Doug
    2009 F800ST

  8. #8
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    Alaska Marine Highway at least one way, which is pretty much the only way to get to much of SE AK. Get off & fish & hike & eat & well you get the picture, along the way. When you "get there" get off & fish & hike some more. Forget about "scoring" the Prudhoe Bay ride so many like to do & enjoy the scenic part of AK.
    "If I had my life to live over, I'd dare to make more mistakes next time...I'd relax,I'd limber up... I would take fewer things seriously...take more chances... take more trips...climb more mountains...swim more rivers...eat more ice cream." Jorge Luis Borges at age 85.

  9. #9
    Fissah! AKThumper's Avatar
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    Contact ALCAN Rider through the ADV forum, the geezer is a wealth of information, an IBR legend, and lives in Glenallen, AK. Knows the haul road like the back of his hand, as well as the ALCAN and the Cassiar highways. I have Lost track of how many times he has ridden up, down and back and forth.

    Also the guys on the alaska forum are up to date on road conditions. Contact AKTracks for tire info, he and his Dad operate Adventure Cycle Works, they will receive tires and mount them for you and supply copious amounts of coffee and information.

    And plan on attending D2D ( dust to Dawson) in late June usually on Solstice, but again that far in advance check the dates. Ferry in and out of Bellingham, WA or Prince Rupert, BC, Canada is a fantastic addition, sleep in the solarium, no charge or get a cabin berth, spendy but good in bad weather.

    Most importantly, slow down and enjoy the view, the wildlife, and the people!
    F650 GS 2007, F650GS 2011,F800GS 2014
    Team Pterodactyl, Dessert Division
    A Bit Wester of HQ

  10. #10
    Registered User richardak's Avatar
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    Don't overplan since that'll just lead to overpacking. I've made the trip dozens of times over the last 30 years but only one round trip on the bike (so far).
    1983 R100RT hacked w/Cozy Rocket My blog
    2012 Ural Patrol
    Airhead #10576

  11. #11
    Registered User richardak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rickatsf View Post
    Thanks for the info and links Ian.

    Riding solo to Alaska in 2013 from SF, so I'll be following this thread for useful information too. Only have three weeks to do the round trip. My primary objective is Fairbanks, and if time allows, ride to the Arctic Circle as well. I'm taking the ferry on the return leg, from Haines. No camping for me though, I like my long hot showers and clean bed linens at the end of a long ride too much.
    Shouldn't be a problem at all. I did the reverse trip last summer (Fairbanks to Santa Cruz and back) in a month with about a week of no riding. This was on my airhead RT though I did camp some to save money.
    1983 R100RT hacked w/Cozy Rocket My blog
    2012 Ural Patrol
    Airhead #10576

  12. #12
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    Alaska

    My SO and I rode the ride last year 7500 miles , 3.5 weeks camping every night.
    GET DEET , our repellant sucked and those big boys only laughed at us.
    I planned this trip for years and once in territory the weather dictated what routes we took.
    Make a plan but you had better be willing to adjust on a daily basis.
    Make sure your tent is top notch and that you are comfortable sleeping in it in rain, rain, and more rain.
    We purchased the NEMO for that ride and it was worth every penny.
    Here is my blog http://bmerman.blogspot.com/ look in past rides(archived) I have 3 parts for AK alone.
    If you want some places to see or ride e mail me and I'll give you a few.
    We had a fantastic time and to date it is our best ride yet. Not to brag but I've had numerous and I always put AK against them all for comparison.

    Good luck,

    Billy
    http://www.oregondualsportrentalandadventures.com

    Keep it upright and out of the ditch

  13. #13
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    Advance planning is a good thing and lots of fun. But you need to know that with only one exception everything you hear now about lodging, roadhouses, fuel availability, and road conditions will be changed when you go in five years.

    That one exception regards road conditions in the Yukon between Destruction Bay and Beaver Creek. That stretch will have frost heaves, broken pavement, patches of gravel, and road construction. Those conditions are permanent there, where they had to cut down trees and use them crisscross fashion in the boggy roadbed when they built the thing in the first place.

    Oh, and the diamond-grated Teslin bridge will still be frightening in the rain.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://www.bigbend.net/users/glaves

  14. #14
    Registered User Beemer01's Avatar
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    Thoughts -

    Quote Originally Posted by rickatsf View Post
    Thanks for the info and links Ian.

    Riding solo to Alaska in 2013 from SF, so I'll be following this thread for useful information too. Only have three weeks to do the round trip. My primary objective is Fairbanks, and if time allows, ride to the Arctic Circle as well. I'm taking the ferry on the return leg, from Haines. No camping for me though, I like my long hot showers and clean bed linens at the end of a long ride too much.
    If at all possible, I'd suggest that the trip extend to Deadhorse - assuming you have a bike thus capable*. The world beyond the Brooks Range is very different - almost surreal - with animals you'll never see again in your life.

    Getting to the Arctic Circle is nice, but the road beyond beckons.

    And yes - there are hot showers available in Deadhorse.

    There is a statistical window in late May and Early June where there is little rain, no bugs and almost no motorhomes to deal with on any of the roads. Thats when I went in 2009.

    * The GS designs are preferred and most common up there. The ST is OK if Fairbanks is your goal....would be a handful on the Dalton.

  15. #15
    That road looks good! Norwood's Avatar
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    Lot of good information here already....

    I would go to : http://www.travelalaska.com/ and ask for the travel packet... you will get maps and books with travel info... these can be used for basic planning... then as mentioned a year before your trip: order the MILEPOST ... in the travel info...some discounts for Milepost and other helpful info....

    Once I arrived in Alaska USA... I begin to mail back home everything I had not used ...postage rates where same has lower 48.....

    Hopefully before you go and from the new and improved web pages we can get a folder of Alaska travel info.....

    Never miss an opportunity to get fuel,.... bear spray, bug spray..... coat your bike down with Pam cooking spray before the Haul road and when you get back to Fairbanks, spray on WD40, set for 15 mins and pressure was off..... store as much as you can in Fairbanks and travel lite up the Haul Road....

    I pre-purchased tires and had them shipped to "installers only shop" I chose the one in Redmond, due to rally being there in 2010... the guy stored my old tires that had some use on them... when I returned I used those to get back to Alabama .

    Hope this helps... enjoy this wonderful trip... Hope to return in near future.
    2011 R1200 GSA (My Radio Flyer)
    75 R90/6 with Velorex sidecar

    " Oh Lord I pray, Let me live long enough to do everything they say I've done"

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