This has become the standard response to the:
> lack of trees – or in fact any vegetation more than knee height. But plenty of animals – ground squirrels, exceedingly cute baby muskox, caribou, rabbits, hares and a bear (a reassuringly small dot in the distance)
> lack of darkness – dusk goes straight to dawn at about 2am. My camping head torch remains unused.
> lack of tarmac on the roads – I now have more words for gravel than the Eskimos have words for snow. So far the “Dalton Highway” has been less highway, and more like 200 miles of traffic calming! For those on Jersey, the good bits are like the railway cycle track up from St Aubin, and the worst bits akin to trying to cycle along Archie Rondell beach!
> lack of connection to the outside world – no mobile or WiFi for 240 miles (hence lack of tracker update)
> lack of any public service or building for 190 miles – and even then, the first building was just a toilet. After 5 days outside it was weird to be within solid walls!
The tough cycling has been more than been made up for by the very spectacular scenery. While there is more than just a passing resemblance to the likes of the Cairngorms and Glen Coe* – it is on a far grander scale, with far fewer signs of human activities.
Other road users (exclusively male as far as I can tell!) are very courteous, giving plenty of space and slowing right down on overtaking, with some stopping to check i was ok or offer help. Stories of rocks being thrown up by the huge trucks (16 wheels not uncommon) have been unfounded.
No injuries to report, and the bike and gear have held up well. Though the tent has turned out to be too well ventilated for the freezing and windy nights – but I’ve used the bike bag to provide an extra bit of shelter, and that is working well. Only problem with the gear is the weight! I’m going to need to be more ruthless with the packing.
Details of the journey so far (see map below)
May 20th – left Deadhorse at 17:30, rode for 4 hours, covered 24 miles (ouch!)
May 21st – started at 10:30 (after reorganising panniers), covered 38 miles to the first rest room just past Pump Station 2 (better distance, but still a long day)
May 22nd – later start at 11:30 (replenishing water by filtering melted snow, and hoped rain would stop), covered 42 miles (bridge before pump station 3) and up to 400m above sea level. Now getting used to the pace and settling in to the routine 🙂
May 23rd – late start at mid day (did washing and finished tent mod), covered 40 miles (finishing on main road by Galbraith Lake) finishing by in 7 hours, but also climbed 400m.
May 24th – started at 10:00, covered 50 miles (target!) in 9 hours, as well as the big climb from 800m to 1400m, finishing at 500m (14 miles after the “furthest north spruce”. A good day 🙂
May 25th – started at 11:30, covered 46 miles by 16:00, finishing at 300m. The first headwind of the trip was more than compensated by 35 miles of smooooth tarmac (asphalt as they call it here). Got to Coldfoot early and got a room – another good day.
May 26th – rest day (stock up on food, fuel, water, charge, sleep, washing, blog update) before 250 miles of rolling poor roads (yesterday’s road surface soon to end)
There are plenty of photos, but the connection in Coldfoot isn’t great – I’ll upload some of the better ones when I get to the big city of Fairbanks by the end of the month.
In the meantime, here’s few photos from Coldfoot:
*(Absolutely, McGlashan: “They even stole our idea for a countryside” – Alaska can be added to the list!)