I’m met Steve in late 1988 when we were both working down on the border in South Texas. I had been in Laredo about a year when he arrived and we became fast friends and we’ve been close ever since; we’ve both moved all over the country— and actually lived in the same city in North Carolina for about a year way back when.
We’ve done some rides together, most recently a nice Baja adventure a couple years ago. So, he and I had planned to travel to South America on our KLR 650s when I retired in 2018 but I broke my leg on a Baja ride just a couple months before we were supposed to leave and that kind of scuttled that plan. Then, after I recovered, COVID shut the borders and made most of our trip impossible. Then, I once again became gainfully employed and had to take a two-year break.
So here we are in early 2022… We’re both free and available now and the urge to ride down to Ushuaia— although still on our minds— is not as pressing as it once was. however we still wanna do a long-term ride.
He recently asked me about Saskatchewan or Newfoundland or somewhere else in Canada and I mentioned the ride I did to Alaska in 2014 and that it might be something I’d want to do again. He readily agreed so the planning commenced.
The last time I rode up there was for 30 days in July and August 2014 and the weather and traffic were fine so we are planning for those months. Looks like 45 to 60 days riding through Canada and Alaska…and this time it’s personal! 😬 Though we are not shooting for Inuvik or Deadhorse this time, we do want to see a lot of what Canada and Alaska have to offer.
He’ll be on his 2020 Honda Africa Twin CRF1100L and I’ll be on my 2018 BMW R1200GS Adventure. We have unlimited time and fairly unlimited budgets. We plan to camp as much as possible. We are flexible as to the route and mileage though we don’t plan on really long days of riding; I’m an Iron Butt guy and he isn’t.
My main concerns right now are the routing and whether to use hard or soft panniers. I took soft side bags and a hard top case on my KTM 990 Adventure last time and that worked well. But these big aluminum side panniers sure are convenient. I’d travel a lot lighter with soft bags. His main concern is….absolutely nothing: He just wants to ride.
So, we have over 3 months to plan, and I want to make this ride as enjoyable for my buddy as possible. With that in mind, I endeavored to seek out the coolest places to see and spend the least amount of time on roads that weren’t that fun…hence, nixing the Dempster and Haul Road. I reminded Steve we’ll still ride plenty of dirt, gravel, bad pavement and muddy roads—due to construction or just cool places (McCarthy, Skagway, Valdez, etc.).
Yes, we’re actively planning this ride…but we’re also taking a “whatever happens, happens” approach and play it somewhat by ear. We’ll see how that goes.
Some of the places we plan to see:
Liard Hot Springs
Watson Lake/Signpost Forest
Top of the World/Taylor Highway
Tok, AK (Thomason’s Eagle Claw campground)
Richardson Highway (The Old Rich, between Valdez and Fairbanks)
McCarthy (60-mile dirt road, one way in/out)
Edgerton Highway (between the Old Rich Junction to Chitina)
Wrangle—St. Elias Nat’l Park
Homer, AK (The Spit)
Denali Highway (Hwy 8), 140-mile dirt road
Dease Lake (take the road out to Telegraph Creek)
100 Mile House
Highway 97/Alaska Highway
(Just south of Clinton take a right at 99 to Lilooet, the Duffy Lake road to Pemberton, Whistler and down to Vancouver. A must see.)
Fraser River gorge/Hells Gate area
Sumas (exit Canada?)