Day 9 – Miette Hot Springs, A.B., to Grande Prairie, A.B., 230 miles
Day 10 – Grande Prarie A.B. to Enterprise, NWT 450 miles
Day 11 – Enterprise, NWT to Yellowknife, NWT 275 miles
Day 12 – Resting. Yellowknife, NWT
Day 13 – Yellowknife, NWT to Sambaa Deh Falls, NWT 297 miles
Day 14 Sambaa Deh Falls, NWT to Fort Nelson, B.C. 394 miles
3428 miles completed
Well. Lots of ground covered these last few days.
Day 9 was fairly uneventful. I had stayed up at a little motel across the way from Miette Hot Springs in Alberta, and had to ride out about 10 miles to get back to the main road to continue on North. I continued North (slowly) until I arrived in Grande Prarie, A.B., which would prove to be the last semblance of civilization as I’m used to it until I reached Yellowknife.
I had a nice set of tires on my motorcycle upon leaving Sacramento; Michelin Anakee III’s- good tires that focus mostly on the road. Great; they’ve been fantastic so far, only I was (and am still) facing some rather rough roads coming up.
Anyway, I took the time in Grande Prairie to upgrade to a nice set of German tires; Heidenau K60’s. They have big, gnarly knobs all over them, and they’re better suited to the roads and gravel up North.
I ended up staying in Grande Prairie for the night.
Day 10, I resolved to cover as much ground as possible, and boy, did I ever… 450 miles, which I think is a personnel “best” for me. I managed to make it North of the A.B. border, into the Northwest Territory, and was finally able to find lodging for the night in Enterprise, NWT.
The Northwest Territory is fascinating to me. NWT covers an area over three times the size of California, and yet has a population roughly the size of the town of El Dorado Hills that I grew up in.
NWT is big. I mean, really, really big, and empty. And flat. And… beautiful, actually. Day 10 was all canola fields and wheat, as well as oil industry. Day 11 and the NWT gave way to forests that stretched for miles and miles. Forests, and streams, rivers and lakes and wetlands.
Finally, at the end of the day today I arrived in Yellowknife. What a shock, running into a city this size in, seemingly, the middle of nowhere!
I decided to take an extra day in Yellowknife to rest up a bit for the upcoming ride, and to wait out the weather. I didn’t do much, really- I walked around town, attempted to shop for fishing supplies, sampled the local brewery, stuff like that. It was a nice day; I enjoy riding my motorcycle, but it was good to have a free day to just be lazy.
Day 13 was a fair amount of backtracking. I had to ride back down the highway about 150 miles to Fort Providence, NWT before I could turn West on the Mackenzie Highway. I had thought that the previous several days somewhat “quiet” with the few vehicles and motorcycles I passed on the way up to Yellowknife. My travel along the Mackenzie highway offered even more solitude.
Over the 400 mile stretch of road, from Fort Providence to Fort Nelson, I saw perhaps thirty vehicles (not counting my stops in Fort Simpson, and Fort Liard. Once West of Fort Providence, the road quickly turns into dirt and gravel of varying quality, which made things even more interesting. I don’t have any experience offroad, and as such I took it very easy until I could build up confidence off-pavement.
I stayed at a small campsite at Sambaa Deh Falls, along the Mackenzie; I had decided to pull in after getting caught out in a thunder storm along the road. It was a good thing I did too; conditions didn’t let up for the rest of the night.
Day 14 ended up being a long, long day. I had to make my way up North and cross a river by ferry to get to Fort Simpson to fuel up. I then backtracked several miles to the Mackenzie, continued on my way and more or less repeated the process (sans the ferry) when i got to Fort Liard. Up here, several of the fuel opportunities involve getting off the highway, and getting deep into the communities in which they’re located. I’ve got a range of nearly 200 miles, up to over 350 with the extra gasoline I carry on the back of the bike, but even then I don’t have enough fuel to skip stops when the opportunities to get gas are so far apart.
I ended up in Fort Nelson for the night; it’s by far the largest community I’ve seen since Yellowknife, complete with normal chain hotels, fast food, etc. I’m officially on the Alaska Highway!
I will have pictures at some point here… I promise!