Coldfoot was a great place to spend a few days off. Not only do they have really good food, there is always people coming and going, from all over the world. Everyone there seems to have an interesting life story and I spent hours chatting with some of them, including the wonderful staff.
People gave me food, coffee, and even a small hand crafted wooden dinosaur that is now keeping my guard dog company. People went out of their way to show their support, it was amazing and very touching.
I was sad to hear that another experienced truck driver died on the road during the week, they say the Dalton is the second most dangerous road in the world. I have huge respect for these guys who travel up and down the road: they were very kind and considerate on the road, and a few even offered a ride if I coudn’t continue.
After 2 days of relaxing and watching movies at the Visitor Centre, I decided to continue, but it was hard to leave the nice folks at Coldfoot. I knew there were serious hills between Coldfoot and Fairbanks, but I didn’t want to quit unless I really had to!
I worked very hard up some of those hills, and I sometimes found shelter in the few outhouses along the road, as thunderstorms were rolling in. Laf enjoys staying dry. But the weather was really good, almost all the time.
More people stopped to talk to me, and offered me food, advice and encouragement. An Alyeska Pipeline employee even promised to find me the next morning and asked what I wanted for breakfast.
To my surprise and delight, he did find me, even if I was not camped in a very obvious spot and gave me scrambled eggs, hot coffee and a bag full of fruits, energy bars and GORP. I couldn’t believe it! I laughed, and almost cried: that was such a treat! At times, I feel overwhelmed by all the generosity and kindness of people.
But it was not going to be the last kind person I would meet… The next day, after many very big hills, I arrived at an official campground where I met Shelia, a woman who had stopped to talked to me the day before. She was getting water from a natural well.
As I filled up my water bottles, we started chatting, and shortly after she invited me to stay at her cabin. I wasn’t keen on going back a couple miles up the road, but I coud tell that she was not an ordinary person and decided to accept the offer. And she is, indeed, a super interesting and inspiring person who lived an incredible life, has a real sense of adventure and I had a fantastic time with her. She even fed me, heated up some water so I could wash up a bit and I slept in a real bed, with a real pillow. I was almost overwhelmed by the smell of soap.
The next day I only rode 10 km to reach Yukon River Camp, another super friendly oasis. My knees needed another day off. There, I was once again welcomed like a special guest, and was offered a staff room for the night, including a hot shower, my first real one in 2 weeks, and I even did laundry. It felt like Christmas. What a treat, again!
I also had the privilege to meet Matias, a Brazilian guy who is walking around the world. He was the one who had made the “bed” in the abandoned building near the Atigun Pass. We laughed as we shared stories, as only people who went through the same stuff can. It was an amazing day. Once again, I had a hard time to leave. But I wanted to complete my “mission”.
With 200 km to go and over 3500 m of climbing, I rode in a very conservative way, but slowly the realization that I was going to make it was sinking in and when I finally reached the Dalton Highway sign, I was overwhelmed with joy, so incredibly relieved and happy. I could have stayed there forever. I couldn’t have been happier.
From the start (or end) of the Dalton, I still had about 130 km to Fairbanks, but I was done with the gravel (except for the construction zones) and the numerous climbs were long, but not as steep. The next day I got closer to Fairbanks, with mixted feelings: happy to be almost done but already missing the peaceful, magical wilderness.
And on June 14, 16 days after I left Prudhoe Bay, I navigated my way into town, with the biggest smile on my face, and reached Sven’s place, my base camp…
I completed the first part of my journey!