No wonder I felt so isolated out there! Here is that "interesting" description:
The road is in great shape compared to some previous years. The water-to-your-axle, mud bogs stretches have had some gravel laid in, bridge approaches likewise. They did a great job on Moose Creek, and are using galvanized sheet for the abutments, so should be good for some time. Itsi was where I had to stop as there was no bridge deck, the quads had to ford around the side. Watch for the usual deep holes where culverts have collapsed, beavers are making some ponds/streams across the road, erosion cuts on hills, ruts, and the like.
I won't say much about what's there as you'll want to find spectacular by yourself. A few reminders for those who haven't done this type of road:
- It's remote. The Dempster and Haul Road are highways with lots of traffic in comparison.
- That means there is no support or help coming of any type. Think about it. Even in remote jungle areas, a local may pop his head out and be able to offer something. Not here.
- There is a highway maintenance camp at Twin Creeks. It's not manned unless they're doing something like the bridge repair, and even then the people may all be at the work site (where they have travel trailers).
- If you're solo (and I often am), be prepared, and be careful. No buddy to help pick up your bike when it jams against a boulder in mid-creek.
- Carry a satellite phone or SPOT. I like adventures, not dying alone!
- OK, that's all very dramatic, so some practical points follow
- The worst mosquitoes you can imagine. Only Rock Creek on the Dempster comes close
- Great changes in weather - warm and sunny, hard rain, snow. In one day...
- Until you get farther up, the middle portion has lots of wetland, so not great camping. Fords by bridges have grown in, so don't expect to camp by a creek easily on most of the middle road.
- Good camping spots include the ford at Tay Creek, Dragon Lake, Sheldon Lake (track down from the road), and lots of places once the road gets to the South MacMillan valley where you've gotten out of most wetland areas.
- Gravel pits are good camp sites, well drained, open enough to give you a chance with bugs, see the bear coming. Some pits are near creeks (from bridge building), so water is close, such as Caribou Creek.
- Some side trails are easy to explore on a bike, lead to old WW2 camps and gravel pits, good stopping places.
- There are a few cabins, respect them and use only in an emergency.
- Bring a bug shirt or head net, or regret it. And bug spray. I still have a stash of 95% DEET (restricted in Canada now to 30%, so it doesn't irritate skin - and melt plastic...). If by truck, I bring a screen house tent for cooking/eating in.
- Bring bear spray, available without permit at many stores in the Yukon for about $30.
- There are areas with not a lot of firewood, and it can all be wet. Don't count on a fire unless you're a real pro at it.
- Don't count on many services in Ross River. The store had the covers off the gas pumps, the Band card lock was working but making strange noises. Fact is, you'll need fuel here, but get food elsewhere. Bring enough fuel to get back...or call me and I'll deliver but you won't like the price!
- Allow time for delays due to washouts, weather, or?
- Allow time to enjoy it...it's not a race.
- Unless you're doing it on business. Watch out for big diesel pickups towing trailers using the entire road and travelling up to 80 KPH when they can. Sorry about that.
- The ferry is 8-12 and 1-5, not a minute earlier or later.
This is one of the best rides you can take. Compared to almost anywhere else in North America, it's really out there.