762 km - 2,864 km
We had a beautiful ride from Faro, YT to Carmacks, YT but the skies clouded over shortly after. We continued the rest of the day in gloomy weather with the occasional rain shower but not enough to give us or the bikes a good cleaning so everything is still pretty dusty.
The people of the Yukon are quite unique. One lady touching up the flowers at the Carmacks gas station was quick to remark that she didn't like Faro because it was in the middle of nowhere. When prodded she reluctantly agreed that Carmacks was also in the middle of nowhere, though closer to the main highway.
We reached Dawson City in the late afternoon and settled on setting up camp in the RV park in the middle of town to facilitate enjoying the bustling night life. That is no joke, the town was full of activity into the early hours of the morning when dusk took over the threatening skies. Dawson City is an amazing town; once the capital city of the Yukon with a population of 40,000 during the peak of the gold rush, it is now home to roughly 1,300 people year around and can reach up to 5,000 during the summer months.
That night we enjoyed some local Yukon beers, had the famous Dawson City Sourtoe Cocktail (Google it!), and played pool at 'The Pit' as the local bartenders and waitresses who had served us elsewhere earlier in the night trickled in.
The following morning was a bit slow and we took advantage of the information centre wifi to update the website, send a few emails, and call home.
Ben took the opportunity to visit his dad's old friend Gerry Couture and his wife Jan. They've lived in the Yukon for almost 50 years, spending the first 20 years in what was supposed to be a temporary home deep in the bush. They had been collecting logs to build a more permanent home but they were unfortunately swept away in a flood. During their time in the bush, Gerry worked as a trapper, freight barge operator, commercial fisherman and more. Life was tough and Jan had the challenging role of raising three children and keeping the home fires burning. They shot, caught and grew most of their food and were proud to say that they were never short on grub. They spoke too of the challenges of living through the winters, acknowledging with an understated sense of pride the resiliency they gained from it. Gerry warned that 'once you drink water north of 60, you never leave', and noted that those who do leave shouldn't sell their belongings because they will come back.
Speaking with them reinforced a common theme in the Yukon - those that live here permanently love it, and are extremely proud of their home. It truly is a magical part of the world.
Still feeling a bit tired from the previous night we set off on our agreed upon journey to Chicken, AK not knowing what lay ahead of us. Travelling across the Top of the World Highway was an unforgettable experience that we were happy to cross of our bucket lists before we even knew it existed. No words or pictures can capture its power or beauty and we hope that all of you reading this can one day experience it for yourselves. We attemped to capture it's beauty with a proper photo shoot a kilometre shy of the Alaska border, complete with DSLR and tripod. Stay tuned for the photos!
We crossed the border into Alaska and were pleased to see the roads were paved on the American side. This didn't last long and we were soon on roads rougher than the ones we had had in Canada. The day ended in Chicken, AK - an extremely cool little town where the bar doesn't close until you leave and you're able to camp in the backyard for free.
Today we continued on to Fairbanks, stopping in Tok to top up snacks and oil. We put the spare fuel bottles to use as Ben and Howie went dry a kilometre outside Fairbanks. A quick supper at the Safeway hit the spot and we were off to a campsite 20 mi North of the city.
We weren't the only ones happy to be setting up camp as the mosquitos had an absolute feeding frenzy. Tym and Dom took the opportunity to change the cush rubbers on the rear hub of Tym's bike, and as you could have guessed the rain started shortly after they did and is steadily picking up. Ghe tents are getting soggier every day, but it will take more than a bit of rain to wipe the smiles off our faces. Tomorrow we will reach the Dalton Highway and stop for the night in Cold Foot. If we don't get cold feet we plan to have an early morning on Friday and get up to Deadhorse and back later that day. Stay tuned to see if we made it!