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Fort Worth, Alaska, Tuktoyaktuk 2018

Joined
Oct 2, 2008
Messages
92
Location
Fort Worth
First Name
Ed
Last Name
Hess
A couple of days of freezing rain and winter cabin fever motivated me to do a ride report about an epic journey I took in the month of June. I figured now would be the perfect time to share the tale. I will do an installment mostly by days. I kept a journal, took 450 photos and over 7 hours of video. Editing the video proved time consuming. I will share the feature length movie at the conclusion of this report.

Follow along on this solo, adventure touring, motorcycle trip from Fort Worth, Texas with a loop through Alaska and ultimately to Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, Canada on the Arctic Ocean. I rode a 2017 Husqvarna 701 Enduro that I selected specifically for this trip. The plan included as much gravel/dirt/forest road as possible. The total trip took 29 days. The total miles were 10,129 with nearly 3,000 of those miles being gravel/dirt/forest road. A few of the major dirt roads include; Forest Trunk Rd 40 in Alberta, The Denali Highway, Petersville Rd, Top of The World Highway, in Alaska, the Dempster Highway including the, newly opened for this year, additional 100 miles from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk, and the Campbell Highway in Yukon and Northwest Territories. Also traveled the length of the paved Cassiar Highway in British Columbia eventually passed through Jasper and Banff National Parks. Map link:
https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1TnhvJxzCYK2cdwUjZx2F16DHBBmV6WK9&ll=55.04123787228226,-124.12179900000001&z=4

https://share.garmin.com/EdHess


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June 1, 2018 Friday 08:44 pm
1601-1699 W Spruce St, Dodge City, KS 67801, USA | 90°F

473 miles today. 87degrees by 9:00am, 98-100 all afternoon. Hot day in the heartland. Took a room in Dodge City KN. Tried several places with no rooms. Ended up at a rundown motel 6. I was very happy to get out of the heat.

Little head shake induced by windshield at about 95 passing a couple trucks this morning. Later I put the shield down to lowest position. Did the ton smoothly.

Kickstand is not working very well. Hard to get bike to stand secure or stable. Hard to get on and off on un-level terrain. It is not a perfect world.

Order tires from Fortnine in Canada. Shipping to Dawson City $110. Ouch!! Supposed to be delivered June 13-15. I hope so.


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Joined
Oct 2, 2008
Messages
92
Location
Fort Worth
First Name
Ed
Last Name
Hess
June 2, 2018 Saturday 09:00 pm
Lat: 42.767, Long: -103.927

Great day! 515 miles. Heavy headwinds most of the day but temperatures are cool. 30 miles of unexpected gravel road early. Checked out the Ford County Lake camping area for future. Looks good.

Met a guy from Tallahassee on a Concurs. He was headed to the west coast.

Kickstand continues to be a problem. Bike is really light in high winds. Have to pay attention to the gust.

Had to pick up earplugs and sunscreen today. My neck is getting a little too much sun. When I took out one of my bags tonight I found sunscreen I had brought. I did need the earplugs.

Saw hundreds of old cars and hotrods on a tour coming through Oshkosh.

Camping in the Gilbert-Baker wildlife area just north of Harrison NE. Couple of others here but very quiet.

Only place in Harrison that sells gas was closed by the time I got there. Talked to a guy working next door. He said he would not be open till Monday morning. Just a little icing for my adventure cake.
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FCBH

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Messages
515
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Recalculating, Texas
That sure is a really clean bike!

I am curious as to why you choose a 701 versus a African Twin or a 800GS? It seems like a large amount of highway droning was involved for the first half of the trip. It would be better served on a heavier bike.

Looking forward to the rest of the installments.
 
Joined
Oct 2, 2008
Messages
92
Location
Fort Worth
First Name
Ed
Last Name
Hess
Stay tuned and you will see a dirty bike.

The Africa Twin was at the top of my list. I also considered the Yamaha Super Tenere. I did look at the GS. I already owned a Kawasaki Concours 1400. It is a perfect highway machine but has no place in the mud. My son talked me into a lighter bike. Originally the plan was for he and I to make this journey together. Life got in the way of him joining me but, at the time, He and I went to a dealer to ride a KTM 690 which I did. I liked it but it was a bit buzzy at highway speed. The dealer had some new 2017 701 Enduros left that he was offering a slight discount on (this was in January 2018). Anyway, I did a little research and by February I, with my son's influence, pulled the trigger on the new Husky.

The 2017 engine had some design changes that included two balance shafts and, among other things, upped the horsepower from 69 to 74. That with slightly superior suspension and a total package that came in right at 300lbs and I was hooked. Almost no other bike in that weight range was nearly as capable. I opted for lightness being the highest priority for this trip that would include so much gravel/dirt/mud. I was also influenced by this couple's exploits: https://www.facebook.com/motomorgana/.

I made several mods to it to suit the needs of such a tour. It is not all perfect and some of the shortcomings will come to light as this adventure progresses. There really is not a perfect bike. The bike ended up performing well and was a great choice for this adventure.
 
Joined
Oct 2, 2008
Messages
92
Location
Fort Worth
First Name
Ed
Last Name
Hess
June 3, 2018 Sunday 08:12 pm
2883 King Ave W, Billings, MT 59102, USA | 81°F

Great day! 457 miles. Started out on dirt. Saw a coyote with the cows. Deer and antelope. Took videos. Crossed into Wyoming and Montana on dirt roads. No sign for Montana. Saw lots of antelope. Saw magpies.

Did more dirt today than I expected. Maybe about 150 miles. Mostly high plains ranch roads. I passed grass lands. I missed the road to a potential campground. I blame GPS malfunction. Couldn't have been operator error.

Electronics were a pain today. Phone refuses to be a phone unless I reboot it. Inreach not charging from the cradle. GAI GPS does not have offline maps that I thought I had. (figured it out much later) Hooo-booooy. Going to try to get tracks in OSmond.

I was too tired to continue on past Billings, MT. I needed gas. As I started to leave town I realized I should not continue. I am tired. This is going to be harder than I thought. Took a room at the Western Executive Inn. Ate at Famous Dave's. They did not do the pineapple steaks correct. No cyan, no raw sugar and no caramelized grilling. I did have some decent BBQ brisket and a glass of wine. Only took video today.

June 4, 2018 Monday 09:48 pm
Babb, MT 59411, USA | 61°F

Another great day. Did about 400 miles, although I forgot to check the track before I reset it. I did about 18 mi of Forest Road in the Lewis and Clark National Forest. It was fantastic. I did get a little mud on the bike. Additionally, there were probably another 30 miles of dirt roads. I took a bunch of videos. The east side of Glacier is beautiful and awesome.

Today I saw more magpies. I also saw a beautiful pheasant. At the campground I heard something make a noise and I looked up the there was a bald eagle just soaring overhead not very high. Tried to get the camera but it was too late.

It was cool this morning then nice most of the day. The last couple hours were in heavy wind and colder temperatures.

I'm camping in the place called Chewing Black Bones Campground, I think. As you would guess, it is a tribal campground. It is a huge campground. I am the only one here. Their season just opened June 1st. I hope I'm not too early to make this trip.

I have settled into the routine of cooking breakfast and then cooking dinner. I only just drink water during the day. Today I picked up a miniature box of wine to have with dinner. It said that it was three glasses. I think it was more like two. I guess they were James Gresko glasses (personal joke). I drank it all. It was actually pretty good. Some kind of Merlot.

Bike is running great. Unfortunately, I am having to add a tiny bit of oil each day. I think that's just normal for single cylinder motorcycles operated at highway speeds. I had hoped this bike would be an exception. Looks like the right fork seal is weeping just a bit. Not quite leaking yet. I am hoping it will heal on its own.

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Joined
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What luggage rack and windshield did you put on your bike? Did you add any fuel tank?


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jwrick

Let's Ride!
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Saginaw, TX
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Great ride report and awesome pics! Would love to do a ride like this before it's too late.
 
Joined
Oct 2, 2008
Messages
92
Location
Fort Worth
First Name
Ed
Last Name
Hess
What luggage rack and windshield did you put on your bike? Did you add any fuel tank?
There is a Husqvarna 701 mega thread over on ADV. I posted up several times in the modifications process. The windshield was inspired by Richard's choice over on Texas Adventure. The rest of the story is here:
https://advrider.com/f/threads/husqvarna-701-super-moto-and-enduro.1086621/page-891#post-34260674

Check out all the rack info here:
https://advrider.com/f/threads/husqvarna-701-super-moto-and-enduro.1086621/page-891#post-34261156

With additional pannier box info here:
https://advrider.com/f/threads/husqvarna-701-super-moto-and-enduro.1086621/page-951#post-34637447

Interesting story with the windshield. After I installed it I change the rear shock spring to accommodate the added weight for touring gear. While I was adjusting the sag (a real pain on this bike) I knocked the bike over in my garage and the top of the shiny new windshield impacted my workbench on the way down. It busted into several pieces. I was pissed at myself. The good news is the windshield broke the fall and nothing else was damaged. I had to order another one. On the second order Mark at Madstad custom cut spacers for me to exactly my preference. I had shared the above thread with him when I reordered so he offered to shorten the spacers without me even asking. Great service fro Madstad.
 
Joined
Oct 2, 2008
Messages
92
Location
Fort Worth
First Name
Ed
Last Name
Hess
June 5, 2018 Tuesday 08:18 pm
27309-27581 Forestry Trunk Rd, Bighorn No. 8, AB T0L, Canada | 41°F

Woke this morning to crows calling at 5:10. When I stuck my head out of the tent the field in front of me was filled with perhaps 50 Canadian geese just wondering about grazing. It didn't take very long before they figured out who I was and took off. Their wings made the sound of drum beats almost. Their flush shattered the early morning silence. For the initial lift off I could hear their wings over their incessant honking.

It is colder this morning. I'm worried that I didn't prepare for the cold enough. I stopped at an old fashioned general store and bought a stocking hat. I had to put the hood up on my sleeping bag to keep my head warm at night. I don't like that.

I entered Canada this morning. It was early and I had the beauty of the east side of glacier to be in awe of. It was truly glorious. I praised God for His majestic creation.

Stopped in Pincher Creek to get some Canadian cash from a ATM at a bank and then tried and get a cell phone sim card for my extra phone so I can call in Canada and back home. I spent 2 hours in that town fooling around trying to make that happen. I finally ended up at Walmart and had to switch Sims in my two phones. Boy it was a mess. I am still not sure I have data on my phone. I'm going to wait till I get to another town and try and do something else with it tomorrow. I was able to make a call to Sharon and left a message. I bought a 30 day prepaid plan with a Canadian provider that includes international calling. Other phone still has USA plan for when I cross back into USA (Alaska).

My focus seems to be on just trying to make headway. I camped in a beautiful place by a stream. I walked down there and took a look. There were trails. I hiked a bit. I'm reluctant to go ride off road for fear that I would crash and get messed up. Anyway, I am just enjoying this beautiful scenery and the stream babbling as I sleep.

This is harder than I thought. I'm worried about the cold as I already said. I also have reservations about the bike and really am not trusting it very much. I've been praying to God to sustain both me and the bike for the entire length of the journey.

I am not used to kilometers per hour speed limits. Very paranoid about getting a ticket. I have vowed from the beginning to obey all speed limits (of course I could not keep that vow especially on the endless gravel roads). I set the units on the Inreach to kilometers. It has trip info that lets me know how fast I am going. Distance is causing me to do constant calculation in my head. Hooo-booooy.

Oh, I almost forgot, I did 246 miles or 397 km today.

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I stopped here on an asphalt entry to this gate to put fuel in the bike. This was a remote area. The house that this rode led to was so far off the highway that it was barely visible.

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The trail not taken? This logging area was a web of such paths.

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Joined
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Messages
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Ed
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Hess
June 6, 2018 Wednesday 09:45 pm
10111 Shand Ave, Grande Cache, AB T0E, Canada | 56°F

Great day. Made 356 miles today. 250 of those miles were on gravel roads. Cold continues to be an issue for me. I took a room in Grand Cache tonight to try and get caught up on rest and to be warm. I also need to sort out phone issues. I am about to give up on all cell phones.

(my pyro friend) Jeff would be proud. I woke up this morning so cold that I built a fire just to get warm. I stayed in a campground that was operated by a logging saw mill company and they had all the free firewood you can burn.

Today I saw many wild horses. There were small herds of horses running wild in almost all of the forest areas I passed through today. Interestingly, I saw a small herd of bighorn sheep in the forest. I have traveled for the last two and a half days with the Rocky Mountains just over my left shoulder. It is an awesome and incredible experience.

I saw two chicken sized birds with brown feathers including feathers on its legs and a little top knot. I'm not sure what kind of bird it is. It walks slowly on the ground and was reluctant to flee from me until I stopped to try to take a picture of it.

I also saw my first bear today. It was in an open area on the side of the road. It was a large bear I'm not sure if it was a black bear or a grizzly bear it was kind of Gray colored. It was large enough to be a grizzly. I slowed to get the camera but he/she moved away.

This morning I read in the Psalms about David offering God praise with the lute and the harp. John Piper's Christian Hedonism came down all over me. God is most glorified when I am most pleased with him. Like David only my lute and harp is this journey. Ride in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains for three days and see how majestic you think God, creator of myself and those mountains, is. I vowed my ride, my journey, as an offering of praise and worship to Him. I am most delighted in Him.

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Last edited:
Joined
Oct 2, 2008
Messages
92
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Ed
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Hess
June 7, 2018 Thursday 10:24 pm
34 Alaska Hwy, Sikanni Chief, BC V0C, Canada | 66°F

356 miles today. Started on the Alaska Highway today. Far more traffic than I expected. Lost some elevation today and it was tolerably warmer.

Crossed into British Columbia today. Noticed billboard advertising all along the highway. Not as neat and clean as Alberta. Roads are not as good either.

Saw another bear today. Smaller black bear this time running at full gait across the road in front me. Several deer today as well.

Camping tonight in the Sikanni River campground. Not that nice. It was just in the right place when I wanted to stop. I have been unable to find the little wine boxes again so I bought a bottle and put the extra in the wine platypus. Will see how that works.

Bike seems to be doing well. I have been lubing the chain daily and topped up the oil a few times now. Bug collection is out of hand. I try to use the windshield cleaners each time I get gas.

Didn't get many pictures today. Camp actually had Wi-Fi so I posted one pic on Facebook.

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It rained this night so I actually slept under this little gazebo in the campground. I appreciated the roof but that is the highway in the background. Not great.
 
Joined
Oct 2, 2008
Messages
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Fort Worth
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Ed
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Hess
June 8, 2018 Friday 10:00 pm
Northern Rockies B, BC V0C, Canada | 71°F

314 miles today. Stopped early in the day at Laird hot springs. The park was full up so I went to a campground across the road. I did get a shower in.

I discovered that I had packed the wrong spare butane canister for stove that Sharon got for me for this trip. The good news is I used the backup gas can that Mary got for me to use with it. I cooked and ate. I love it when a plan comes together.

Today was magnificent! Passing through the mountains at Stone mountain with much up and down and curvy roads. Lake Muncho was smooth as glass. Several rivers raced down the mountains along the road. Words can't describe.

Today was a good wildlife day as well. I started off with a black bear in yellow flowers (actually giant dandelions) just gorging on the flowers. He was unconcerned with me snapping pictures.

On a mountain pass I saw a group of bighorn sheep. They seemed equally unconcerned.

I saw a large number of bison also. They could care less about me as well. None of these animals consider me a threat because of our positions on the food chain.

Camped next to a man from Austria. He was traveling across Canada on a bicycle. He had ridden 140 km from Whitehorse that day.

I met a young couple with a Toyota Rav 4 making the trip to Tuctoyaktuk also. They were from St John.

It is raining now as I sit in my tent and type this. It is about 8:30 pm. It is raining steadily and it feels the temperature has dropped considerably. I am so cold I have to get into my sleeping bag now.

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Joined
Oct 2, 2008
Messages
92
Location
Fort Worth
First Name
Ed
Last Name
Hess
Are those Shinko 705's? How'd they perform? Great reading!
The tires are Heidenau K60 Scouts. I have some pics I will share on tire changing day. I changed them at about 5000 miles. They still had some life but I was glad to have new knobs for the mud I encountered on the Dempster.
 
Joined
Oct 2, 2008
Messages
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Fort Worth
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Ed
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Hess
June 9, 2018 Saturday 10:36 pm
403 Jarvis St, Whitehorse, YT Y1A 2H4, Canada | 44°F

403 miles today. Got an early start. Tougher day today. Rained steadily through the night as I slept in my tent. Cleared for the morning before turning colder and then rained most of the day. I eventually had my electric jacket liner and heated grips on full. I took a room at the Stratford Hotel in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.

I'm needing to stay in hotels more than I had planned. I know I must recover well from hard days, both extreme heat and cold, if am going to be strong enough to finish this journey. Tomorrow is unknown of course, but the weather looks potentially similar to today. I will start out with all the clothes I have on.

Early on I crossed the continental divide. The altitude gains only contributed to the cold. I could see the ominous looking clouds hanging in the mountain tops. I knew.

Also crossed the Yukon river. Wow! It is huge. Saw several other similar sized rivers. I only thought everything is bigger in Texas.

I also captured a nice bear video early on today. There are bears everywhere. I saw several this morning. I really don't have the bandwidth to do business with the videos. When I return😉

Little video camera sucks down batteries at an alarming rate. I have three batteries. Two can charge at once. It seems to drain the batteries at about the same time regardless of whether you are recording or it is just idle. I turned the Bluetooth off and the Wi-Fi doesn't work when the unit is off. I am puzzled.

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June 10, 2018 Sunday 01:07 pm
403 Jarvis St, Whitehorse, YT Y1A 2H4, Canada | 40°F

I took a rest/weather day in Whitehorse. Cold rain continues. I did get out for a walk about when the rain paused.

On a similar note, the right side pannier box leaks water, even when it is just sitting still. It is a minimal amount. I leave my ground cover tarp on the bottom. It's usually some degree of wet anyway. Other side is dry even though it deformed slightly when the bike fell on that side a week ago from a kickstand event.

My Patagonia smart wool under layers were not up to the task in the cold yesterday. Well I just compensated for the cold with a credit card. I bought the thickest wool undergarments you can imagine. Imagine the most expensive price you would pay for such a thing and then double it. I could have purchased a moderately priced tailored wool suit in Fort Worth for what these undergarments cost. Oh well, I am believing I will be warm. The wool should handle moisture well also.

It is Sunday. I listened to John Piper's message on Christian Hedonism again. The following are notes from that word.

Christian Hedonism can be explained in one sentence. God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him. There is no conflict between your highest exhilarations and God's highest self-glorification. His glory shines brightest the happier you are if you are happy in Him. God is the highest source of happiness. Your duty to glorify him turns out to be the pursuit of your joy. The delight is incomplete unless it is expressed.

He quotes CS Lewis's books 'The Height of Glory' on the first page and 'Reflections on the Psalms' page 93. God's Relentless command that you praise him is a command that you not settle for anything but complete Joy.

Scriptures quoted Philippians 123 21. I added John 10:10. Matthew 13:44, becoming a Christian is Finding the Treasure.

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This statue had an inscription that read "DEDICATED TO ALL THOSE WHO FOLLOW THEIR DREAMS"

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Joined
Oct 2, 2008
Messages
92
Location
Fort Worth
First Name
Ed
Last Name
Hess
June 11, 2018 Monday day 12:00 am
1 Prospector Way, Tok, AK 99780, USA | 44°F

390 miles today. I crossed the border into Alaska.

Went to Tok and camped at the Sourdough Campground. It is a fun place although I had to make camp in the rain. I successfully used the new tarp and poles. Not the best but functional. Since it was raining I decided to eat in the little cafe. They had good rhubarb pie 😁

Only saw one bear today. I did see a big cat, perhaps a lynx. It had the pointy ears. Saw the first moose of the trip. He was far away.

I managed to stay warm today. The new wool gear worked.

I continue to worry about the electrical system on the bike running the heated gear all the time. I monitor the volt meter constantly because I am using it to the limit or, I worry, just beyond. I had to get more oil today. Went several places. Of course nobody in this remote place has the recommended Belay oil. The only decent full synthetic motorcycle oil I could find was Amsoil. I got it. It is good oil and certainly better than no oil.

Neither phone works here. The Wi-Fi was so slow it took a couple hours to put up a few pictures.

My camera is acting up. I think it may be the constant wet conditions. I only used the video camera at the border. It is a pain most of the time. A nice couple from Germany took pictures of me at the border with my camera for me.

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I was VERY far away. Photo is not sharp because I had to crop it a bunch to even tell it was a moose.

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Friends told me this looks like a magazine cover. Certainly makes the Husky look good.

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No, I was not riding without a helmet. Just sitting on the bike for photo op. Too cold to not have a helmet anyway.

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Hunkered down in the rain here.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Fort Worth
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Ed
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Hess
June 13, 2018 Wednesday 08:18 am
Lat: 63.393, Long: -148.911

Completely forgot to write in the journal today (yesterday). 326 miles today on June 12th. Snowed most of the day. Cold. Took a little cabin at an RV park in Cantwell for the night. Crossed Denali highway rained or snowed the entire way. Followed snow plow for 10 miles on the Denali highway till it turned to gravel/dirt. Then about 150 miles of gravel/dirt and weather. Temperature hoovered in the 35-40-degree range. No gas at Paxson left me concerned. The Lord provided gas at a remote Lodge on the Denali. These remote places run their own generator. Gas was in a locked shed with an elevated gravity fed tank. Little meter on the tank read the liters. Woman used a calculator to charge me. I was happy to have it.

Wrote this on Wednesday morning. Sun is predicted for today. Yay! I am well rested this morning.

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The ubiquitous, Alaska pipeline.

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I could see I was riding into the snow storm before I reached the Denali Highway.

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That is snow accumulating on ice of this small lake.

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When you can see the weather.

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Little cabin at an RV park kept me out of the snow and rain for the night. Comfortable and clean but only a bed, small table with a lamp and a microwave. Oh ya, a space heater:lol: Had nice bathroom and shower house not too far away. Cooked my dinner on the little porch, coffee and oatmeal for breakfast in the microwave. I was well rested here.
 
Joined
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Messages
92
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Fort Worth
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Ed
Last Name
Hess
June 14, 2018 Thursday 12:09 am
321 E 5th Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501, USA | 61°F

(Actually Wednesday’s Account written just after midnight) 280 miles today. Sunny and clear today 😆😆 Warmed to the mid-60s. Pleasurable all day.

Today was all about Mount McKinley, Denali. I was blessed with a clear view of the summit. I stopped a dozen times and took pictures from many different vistas. It was magnificent! Note how it towers over the adjacent mountains.

When I started this journey I prayed God would receive the ride, the adventure as an act of worship. I felt His good pleasure with my offering today. I cannot look on such a spectacle and not consider God's magnificent role as creator. I was delighted in His majesty. I glorify His sovereignty over the whole earth. The words of Psalm 97:5 permeate my heart "The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the Lord...'

Petersville Road was an adventure. Ten miles of nice smooth asphalt then fair gravel for another ten. At this point there were road closed signs and a partial barricade. I continued on for another twenty miles after the barricade. The road just had huge mud hole/bog sections with lots of deep ruts. Not much watery mud, just thick quagmire mud. Some of these are swallow-a-Buick sized mud bogs. There were also some rocky climbs and descents. I crossed a low bridge very near the end of the road and turned around. About halfway back, I got caught in one of the ruts and went down. Bruised my pride and my elbow. Bent the brake pedal and the mirror on the bike. I took much video including a small moose running along in front of me for a bit.

Made it to Anchorage for the night. Coming down the Parks Highway, into Anchorage, I felt like I was on I-35 in Dallas. Anchorage is far bigger and far busier than I anticipated. Been there. Done that. Don't even want the T-shirt.

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The Parks Highway heading South.

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Hurricane Gulch Bridge, Parks Highway south of Cantwell, AK

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Denali in the background.

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Note the mountains in the foreground. Some of those are fourteeners. They are dwarfed by Denali's 20,310 feet.

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Denali zoomed in.

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One of the many view points along the parks highway. I had a woman take my picture with Denali over my shoulder.

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For most of Petersville road the summit of Denali remained obscured by clouds from my, now southern, exposure.

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An interesting phenomenon, a hole in the clouds allowed just the summit to show through.

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Bent the brake pedal falling in a rut on Petersville road. Displaced but still functional.

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Last picture on Petersville Road.
 
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