Fairbanks to Dawson City – Top of The World Highway
After our journey to Prudhoe Bay and back we stopped for the night in Fairbanks where we did laundry, removed a few layers of dirt off the bikes and changed the oil again. For as much as Anchorage impressed me, Fairbanks did not. It was an good place to get some maintenance done and find a pizza joint for dinner. We were still traveling with Detlif, the German doctor, since our paths were still heading in the same direction. The next day we wrapped up bike maintenance in the early afternoon and headed to Tok for a second time – this time heading in the opposite direction.
A night in Tok and back on the road – this time heading for the Top of the World highway. Top of the World highway runs from Chicken, AK to Dawson City, Yukon. Much of the road is dirt and during our stop in Chicken, a quaint prospecting town, I overheard many an RV-er complaining about the condition of the road – one in particular saying that it couldn’t possibly get any worse. Nothing to concern ourselves with, the Dalton Highway veterans that we are….
Most roads gracefully pick their way through a mountain range, skirting around mountains and through valleys, taking the easy road. But not this highway. It is constantly in search of the high ground, running across the tops of the mountains, affording expansive views of the valleys below and as far as the eye can see. You truly do feel “top of the world.” Not to mention this highway is also the most northernly highway in the world.
Just as we crossed into Canada we pulled over to a gravel pullout. We noticed a two-track jeep trail that meandered it’s way across the mountains and into the distance. James, hopeful, looked at me and said, “I wonder where that goes….” Well, not wanting to disappoint the man, I said, “Wanna find out?” I don’t think I’d finished saying it and he was already off – and I was in tow. Rocky with deep water-filled ruts it was great fun for about one and a half miles until we realized that it was heading completely in the opposite direction, it was getting late, and we still had to get the ferry over to Dawson City.
The only way to get into Dawson City from that direction is to cross the Yukon river by ferry – the way it’s always been done. Dawson City was home of the Klondike Gold Rush. Here, in the late 1800′s gold was found and with it a stampede of prospectors and others looking to cash in on the rush. The town looks much like I’d imagine it did then, never having paved the roads and keeping much of their historic buildings. We had dinner at Klondike Kate’s and caught a bit of Diamond Tooth Gerdie’s show with her cancan girls, entertaining in a G-rated version of the way I imagine many women did back in the gold rush days, having their turn at making a buck.
Before leaving Dawson City we took a detour up to Midnight Mountain, a dome that affords a 360 degree view of the city and surrounding country. From there we could see the Klondike river pour it’s dark chocolate waters into that of the Yukon’s milk chocolate. Although they merge into one, they continue with their own identities for quite some time and you can watch the line between the two waters trail along down the river before blending.
From Dawson City we’ll head to Watson Lake and add our own sign to the Sign Forest I told you about before.
I’ve got a lot more catching up to do with the blog. More to come….