I (Daisy) have been dreaming about this stretch of road for going on a year now. It did not disappoint – it was both beautiful and incredibly challenging.
Leaving the campground near Chicken, the road was gently climbing and the snow was coming down. Road conditions worsened until there were huge chunks of crushed rock between the size of an apricot and a clementine. This was a very difficult section to ride! We only had to walk a little bit though, and eventually the dirt was back. We have never been so happy to see a dirt road! It didn’t help that it snowed on us most of the morning as we climbed into the hills. We did, however, resist the urge to flag down a truck for a ride. We were tempted…
As we got closer to the border, we started to climb, climb, climb, and the clouds started to clear. I think it reached about 40 degrees, which actually felt hot with all the clothes we were wearing. The views were expansive, and we climbed up the side of a mountain and could finally see the border crossing – a little cluster of buildings perched high up. We were so excited when we finally reached them, that we wanted to whoop and yell, but the border guard was so very serious that he kind of killed the mood. No matter, we were soon past him and into the Yukon.
We wild camped next to the road, and spent a very cold night warm and snug in our tent. In the morning we could see that it had snowed, and accumulated a bit on the tent. We opted for a quick breakfast of peanut butter and jelly tortillas before heading out. It was to be a tough, tough day for us, although we didn’t know it yet. The Top of the World Highway mostly sticks to ridges as it winds across the Yukon, but often dips far into a valley before climbing steeply up onto the following ridge. Some of those climbs felt eternal to us!
The weather was cold, but we could still see far in all directions and the mountains and river valleys were lovely. The road was sometimes pavement, but far more often it was gravel. We had a resolve-testing moment on an incredibly steep slope that had just had fresh dirt and gravel dumped onto it. I dubbed the machine doing that work ‘The Dream-Smasher’, and yes, we did have to push the bikes up a bit. It was so so steep!
We realized in the afternoon that we did not have sufficient water for dinner, and started to worry a bit. We scooped up some snow to melt, and flagged down a car to ask if they had any extra water. The guy looked at us and said ‘You know, it would be faster to just commit suicide.’ Ummm… whatever? He had no water for us, but the next truck did. Phew!
After dinner we were very very excited because the road became more civilized, with guardrails and gentle slopes. Then…. the wonder of the downhill sign appeared. 14 km of downhill! It was incredible, particularly when it switched to pavement midway. We found the Yukon River campground just across the way from Dawson City. It is a lovely campground, where spent 3 nights as we took two rest days in Dawson. I am so excited to be here! Next Stop: Whitehorse.