The Haul Road
Well, we finally decided The Haul Road was too good an opportunity to miss.
But first, for those unaware, let me explain a little about The Haul Road. The James W. Dalton Highway is a four hundred plus mile, commercial, gravel/dirt, pipeline-service road built by and for the Prudhoe Bay oilfields at a cost of $150 million dollars. Hence the nickname The Haul Road. It is now a public road after being turned over to the state of Alaska by the oil consortium Aleskya a few years ago.
We left Fairbanks with the intention of riding the 350 mile round trip to The Arctic Circle. The first 65 miles is a patchwork of pavement laced with frost heaves, gravel patches and potholes. The last gas stop is a place called Hilltop, 20 miles north of Fairbanks. After Hilltop the next gas available is a hundred nine miles north at the Yukon River.
When you see this sign you are out of pavement and up to your elbows in gravel and dirt. I was surprised at how mountainous the road was. It is a constant up and down ride. The steep grades are designed for the mammoth semi trucks that dominate the road. I regularly saw semi’s today sporting 34 wheels. When one of these monsters passes you, either way, you are completely blinded by the resulting dust storm and pelted by flying rocks.
Another difficulty riding this road included the water trucks spraying a sulfate solution to harden the surface. This mixture made the gravel/dirt as slick as glass and downright soupy in places. We encountered one very bad section a couple of miles long.
Yet another problem occured when we topped a mountain and found the road completely torn up for twelve miles by construction crews. They had just laid down a carpet of fist to cantelope size boulders as a base for the new road. These rocks almost proved our undoing as we tried to negotiate through them. At one point I saw Ted almost lose his Wing as it lunged sideways and I radioed to ask "Is this the point where we decide to turn around?" LOL
It is still spring this far north.
The Yukon River Bridge
This posed a huge problem. We had enough gas to go on to The Arctic Circle but, if we did, we would not have enough to make the return trip to Fairbanks. The only other option was to continue on to Coldfoot, another 160 miles or so up the road. Neither of us ever had any intention of riding to Coldfoot. So, after wolfing down a burger and buying the T shirt, we returned back down The Haul Road with a mean little thunderstorm chasing our every move.
Two side notes;
"If you never did, you should.These things are fun, and fun is good." ~Dr. Seuss~