The end of the line…

Jaz called the trip just north of the Arctic Circle. Although I still had ability, and my bike had more to offer (as well as Jaz), her bike had given everything it could give. We had a hug at the Arctic Circle and agreed to turn around 195 mile short of our 1000 mile goal.

Being reasonable girls, we decided that the last 195 miles were not worth paying the price others were paying. There were 13 motorcycles on the Dempster these last three days, including us. We were the only women. Five riders had crashed and only one was able to continue riding their bike.

Judy standing in front of a sign reading, "Arctic Circle Lat 66 degrees 33'N"

Me standing at the Arctic Circle

The road was a huge challenge and I had one close call. I think the insides of my thighs are bruised from squeezing the tank and trying to regain control of the massive fishtails I got pushed into. I recovered, but barely. Jaz had enough close calls that it prompted her to lay face up on a picnic table at the Arctic Circle to recuperate for several minutes.

We turned around and I added this road to the list, “Things left undone and that require another attempt.” Enuff said on that!

A long dirt road travelling away into the distance

600 miles of dirt road in three days!

A long dirt road travelling away into the distance

The road kept us guessing…

Thick mud

The mud was like sheet-rock paste

No sooner did we return to Eagle Plains to gas up again, when we ran into Chuck from Idaho. Chuck (we suspect), like some of the other boys, was going just a little too fast for the road conditions. He was okay, but unfortunately paid the price with his bike. We chatted with him for a little bit. He was heading north when he hit a patch of the dreaded, “black mud,” and before he knew it he was fishtailing and could not regain control of his bike. He went down hard. The bike engine guard got pushed into the head of his BMW1200 and cracked the case and he leaked all of his oil out. He flew off the bike and into the bushes. He hurt his ankle and thought he cracked his collarbone. He destroyed the front and rear-ends of his bike and had a nice little remaining pile of dash, tail lights and speedometer. It looked like a very expensive pile. He let me take photos for my blog:

Engine of a motorcycle that is cracked

Cracked engine

Front view of a motorcycle that is damaged

Front damage

A pile of miscellaneous motorcycle pieces

Chuck’s expensive pile

Chuck resting on the side of the road next to motorcycles

Chuck recouping after his fall

See the thing is, the black mud was like sheet-rock paste. It filled your tire treads and made your tires completely smooth, so you had no tracking or control. The mud was sooo heavy, it was like cement. At least knobby tires had a better chance. Jaz’s tires and Chuck’s tires didn’t stand a chance.

If you are going to do this road:

First, make sure you have the right tires for the job. The type of tires on your motorcycle will be deciding factor for whether or not you get to the end!

Second, don’t pack top heavy. Jaz made it as far as she did because she has such a low center of gravity. We saw three folks in Dawson tonight getting ready to start the road tomorrow and two of them were pretty top heavy.

Third, make sure you have planned extra days in case the weather goes bad and you have to wait it out. Don’t rush.

We are sitting around in Dawson recovering now. We are one day ahead of schedule now and we are trying to decide what to do with that.

I just wanted everyone to know we are off the Dempster.

The Paddlewheeler Graveyard
The bartender said, “The beer truck showing up on time is more dependable than the sun showing up."
About Maya

My name is Maya, and I wander.


  1. That really sucks that you had to call it quits early, but your documentation of the fellow rider's wreck shows the price that could have been paid for pressing ahead. More than one attempt is sometimes necessary to reach a goal!

    I'm sure you'll find something cool to do with Jaz in the time you have left for your adventure.

  2. Thanks Liz!


  1. […] trails north. I did not think we could get back too far from the main road before we ran into the black mud that acts like grease (the same mud I ran into on the way to Inuvik the first time). If someone knows the story on this […]

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