Saturday, September 3, 2011

Day 240/241/242 - Valdez - Tok - Whitehorse/Whitehorse

Distance travelled (by bike):  35,800

Fog, lots of it. Heading north from Valdez was slow for the first 30 miles. The road out of Valdez winds up the side of the mountains to the Thompson pass. Amazingly in the pass the sky was blue, the sun shinning, amazing Alaskan day. 
As you drive through the Thompson pass you pass the Worthington Galcier, from the road you can walk to the edge of the glacier, when i was there people were filling their water bottles from the melting ice.
Dropping down from the mountain pass I headed further north into the interior, surrounded by forests and lakes it was a beautiful drive to Tok.

It was a big day today, over 400 miles of deteriorating road. The highway has big holes in it, though the repairs the highway department have made are probably worse for a motorcycle, laying new tarmac on the old, without grading the  two surfaces together, instead you hit a 3-5cm upstand when the surfaces change. 
Leaving Tok, and Alaska i drove through more fog, this lasted for about 100 miles until i got to the Canadian border. Having crossed the border and the fog behind i ploughed on through the Yukon. I should have got some heated grips for the bike, its getting cold!
After a few stops to warm up and regain circulation to my hands i cruised into Whitehorse, to a really dramatic sunset.
Since i have been in Alaska the region has been losing 6 minutes of sunlight a day, that's 1 hour 40 minutes of daylight lost since i arrived in Alaska!

Whitehorse, nestled on the edge of the Yukon river its the capital of the Yukon, replacing Dawson City in 1953, it now serves as the centre for transportation, communication and supplies for the Yukon and north West Territories. 
The Gold rush bought stampeders and the railway, until World War 2 the river was the only way to access the city. The military built the Alaskan highway, connecting the city to the rest of Canada and to Alaska, with the highway complete it was felt that Whitehorse was more accessible than Dawson City, hence replacing Dawson as the Capital of the Yukon.
A small city of approx. 20,000 Whitehorse, it feels smaller. The downtown area has tried to retain a lot of the historic feel, with galleries, shops, deli's and restaurants. 
The highlight for me was a visit to the Yukon Brewing Company, the Yukon Gold draft beer that the brewery produces out sells all the major breweries in the north west of Canada, having seen the brewery and how small it is, its hard to imagine. The brewery also boast a lot of international awards. The brewery is now also a distillery, as beer sales drop when it gets cold they market their whisky and vodka. Having tried the 10 beers and the vodka it occured to me i had to drive back, reluctantly i saddled up and steadily, careful drove back into town...

I had to pull over and take a photo of this guy, he had ridden from Calgary with his dog on the back

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