I was going to write something about how I miss Northwest Territories, but then I looked ahead.
Welcome to Yukon
Not the regular kind of mud, this one has stones in it and some sort of compound which makes it stick (I guess so the road doesn't wash away).
The mud is everywhere, on the wheels, on my panniers, on my shoes, I keep pedaling because I wouldn't want to put my food down in this.
Then I hear a big cracking sound and I can't pedal anymore.
The derailleur was bent and broken beyond repair.
Nothing can ruin your trip like a hardware failure.
that's true. It's not something that will go away in a day or two. The nearest bike shop was about 1000km away. I set up the bike as single speed.
"Cycle The Dempster Highway single speed."
Not going to lie though. The thought of being barely able to cover 100km/day with the single speed wasn't fun. I am already running behind schedule and what if there are more muddy sections ahead? The Eagle plains section is known for its mud and bad road.
But then again, I was out here in the middle of nowhere, pedaling my bike. I'll figure out things once I finish The Dempster.
END of DAY 8. (~50km)
At 4am I heard a car go by. I unzipped the tent and looked outside.
The full moon was shining brightly but there were streaks of green across the clear sky.
It was cold, but I took out my camera and my tripod and started taking photos.
The Northern Lights were beautiful.
The lights intensified and then...
They were dancing, just above me. They were moving fast and the bottom had purplish color. It was like a oval shape with piano keys, moving up and down above your head. It felt unreal, magical, spectacular.
The mud wasn't that bad on day 9 but there were still some sections that required pushing.
Then the chain broke. 30 minutes later: Again and then again for the 3rd time. I kept moving down and shortening the chain but I did not have the proper pins.
I was now able to ride on downhill or even ground but I had to push my bike uphill, no matter how slight it was: the extra tension would break the chain.
With 200$ left in my bank account for the next 18days and for a pair of boots for tree planting buying a new derailleur and chain will definitely be a challenge. Maybe I can check if Paul from Fort McPherson has a spare one when I get to Eagle Plains? Or hitch a ride to Whitehorse and then back? I don't think I have so much time.
The clouds ahead of me got darker and that meant only one thing. Snow or Rain, and of course MUD.
I arrived at the Arctic Circle, the sign was in a poor state, not what you would find during the tourist season.
Just after I had some food and I was about to start pushing my bike up the hill a truck pulls over. It's Kevin, the trucker I met few days ago at the Yukon/NWT border and who took the picture of me with my hands in the air.
He had been hauling dynamite down the ice road and I figured I'll hop in and decide what to do at Eagle Plains Lodge, 30km down the road.
The Dempster Highway closes during spring (thawing of ice crossings & runoff on road) and that was possible in the next 5 to 10days. Hitching to Whitehorse and back may take a long time and the warmer weather would only make the mud worse. Kevin and Doug were driving south, I'll go with them and continue from Whitehorse.
We stopped at Eagle Lodge for the night, the lodge itself is decked out with lots of trophy's and pictures. Eagle Lodge is the only place to get services for the first 370km of the Dempster, built in 1978 its completely self reliant which is a good thing considering there are storms which close the road for weeks in the winter.
END of DAY 9 (~35km) - pushbike day
I know some people hate skipping parts of the ride, but I had ridden the Dempster Before (LINK).
and it's not like I won't see the rest of it either. Here is a time-lapse video, so you can see the rest of it too.
What I will miss are KM200 to KM70, where you ride tucked in river valleys and on mountain plateaus surrounded by the Blackstone Mountains.
I will miss riding alongside Caribou or reindeer or whatever you call them.
I will miss meeting with Caribou Legs - a guy from Inuvik who is running the whole Dempster to Whitehorse in order to raise money/awareness to prevent industrial development on the Peel River.
"The Dempster Highway Wild Man" -Doug said.
I have the feeling that I will be back someday...
I was going to ride up to Tuk again with Doug, as they need a second person while hauling dynamite and I could use the money to repair the bike. Unfortunately all the loads were done for the spring.
I said my goodbye's to Kevin and Doug and took off just before Whitehorse, riding all muddy into the city. My epic ride was interrupted by my chain breaking again, I had to push my bike for the last 2km.
Here is one of those amazing transformations where people (um, in this case bikes) loose 50pounds (of mud).
Whitehorse. Capital of the Yukon
With just under 30,000 people, Whitehorse is a small town by most standards. It is very unique and I found that most buildings are very customized, saying hello to a stranger on the street always pays off and the atmosphere is amazing.
So, here are the buildings, the people and the atmosphere in three sections.
Things just have a strange way of working out.
I stayed with Jenny and Anthony at Whitehorse. Anthony traded me a chain + derailleur for my studded tires. He then fixed up my bike from the Dempster and it's now running in perfect condition.
I am sitting at A&W having lunch and I see eagle fly above. Wow. Love Yukon.
At the second hand store I found just what I was looking for: summer sneakers and a pair of good boots for tree planting.
One of the two bike shops was open today (Easter holiday) and I was able to find a cap for my pump, chain oil and an amazing cage to hold stuff on my bike fork.
From here, I will take the Alaska Highway East, then south on the Cassiar and into British Columbia.
P.S: my bike is still spewing out random pieces of mud from the fenders