rfay's blog

Dawson Creek, BC

Today our airlift of 12 planes flew us about 800 miles today from Helena, Montana up to Dawson Creek, BC, Canada, the beginning of the Alaska Highway. Some of it was a bit choppy, but it was a successful trip.

You ask why we need 12 planes to get us to the North Country? We have no idea. When we were planning this trip, my brother Collin and sister-in-law Marisa asked if we wanted a ride up there in their Centurion light plane. We said yes. They also invited many, many of their Parkwest Air Tours clients... and all of them said YES! So it's a really big group.

Tomorrow we go on to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory if the weather works, or perhaps to Dawson City, at the bottom of the Dempster.

As I write this, the temperature in Inuvik is 2 degrees above freezing, and we're wondering if we're really ready for that kind of temperatures. The forecast is a little better than that, though, and cooler temps mean less mosquitoes...

Dempster Highway Ferry Crossings

We're starting as early in the year as would be possible. In April, the Dempster is closed when the rivers start to melt, taking out the ice bridges. The highway reopens in June when ferries can operate.

The current road report shows that the ferries are not yet running on the Dempster as of May 23. If we started today, we could not ride the highway.

The historical data for the Peel River Crossing and the Mackenzie River Crossing show that the ferry usually starts running the first week of June, but in 1977, it didn't start until June 16. I don't know why we chose June 9 as a starting date because we didn't know anything about this. But I'm glad it looks like it was a reasonable date!

The Far-North Weather Page

Inuvik, of course, was our starting place:
Click for Inuvik, Northwest Territories Forecast

Here are readings for Rock River, which was about 200 miles into the journey.

Gear Page is up!

Nancy's bike
We finally got our gear page set up, so you can see our equipment and trust and worries about it. You can see our stove, tent, water bladders, bikes, and panniers. There's even a video of a bear testing the bear bags. Check out the gear page.

Platypus Water Bladders


Platypus Bladders
We usually carry 3-4 of these Playpus 2-liter bladders. Most of the time they're empty (and light! and compact!). But they when you need them they're there to haul water. We can camp the night, fix dinner and breakfast, and start riding the next morning with about 6 liters of water, although that's pretty tight. When we know we're going to have a "dry camp" at night, we load up with water so we can do it.

We've also ordered a new item from Ortlieb: A 10-liter water bag (with shower fitting!). We'll use it for unfiltered water. It can be used to haul water before it's filtered with our Pur.
(Katadin) Hiker water filter.

MSR Whisperlite Stove


MSR Whisperlite Stove
Here's our old faithful (mostly) MSR Whisperlite stove. It will run on nearly any kind of fuel. White gas (coleman fuel) burns the best, but it's really quite hard to get an appropriate amount of white gas when you are bike touring, and it's really easy to get regular unleaded gasoline. So we just pull up at the pump and buy 50 cents worth of gas every 3-4 days. (It used to be 30 cents before the big gas price run-up!)

We use denatured ethyl alcohol to prime it - and never have to clean it any more. It's so much more reliable. See the article here.

Bearproof food bags from Ursack


Bear Bags
Nancy did an enormous amount of research on bear issues for this trip, and of course she's still concerned about it. She found that these Ursack bags were the best combination of weight and value. The only problem we'll have in the treeless north part of the trip is figuring out how to secure them.

Sierra Designs tent


Sierra Designs tent
Here's Nancy inviting you into our Sierra Designs Lightning tent. No, it's not very big. But it works. You need to be very friendly with your partner to use this one.

Our criteria for choosing this tent: We wanted something light , warm enough on the cold nights, but not a terrible condensation machine. It's really light. Maybe not warm enough on the cold nights (although we've been out below freezing on two recent nights) and maybe not good enough on the condensation angle. We've had a couple of nights where the condensation was quite surprising. I think you probably can't have everything!

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