|Preparation - Guide Books and other travel
First: There’s a ton of info out there on the Internet. The trip report that I’ve written is hardly the only one that exists. Do some searches, everybody has different perspectives, riding, and writing styles, and read all that you can. If there’s a road, somebody on the Internet has ridden it and can tell you something about it.
Second: Get involved with some of the Internet mailing lists, as there’s a wealth of experience and data out there, available just for the asking. Two very good ones:
Internet BMW Rider mailing list
Long Distance Rider mailing list
Time and again, people on the above two lists were able to give me some idea of what to expect, and I was able to e-mail privately and ask questions of riders that had already been there. A huge help, as Joe and I always had some idea of what to expect.
As with any mailing list, mind your manners and try to contribute if you can... You'll get more info that way!
Third : Travel books, guidebooks, and even history books. There’s a ton of them out there as well. The following are some books that I really enjoyed, or that were very helpful:
Morris Communications Corporation
735 Broad Street
Augusta, Georgia 30901
A guide to tourist services available in the far north, this book is dense with information. It’s somewhat bulky, about the size of a small town’s telephone book, but if you can make room for it in your saddlebags you will know each morning where the gas stations, restaurants, hotels, and campgrounds are for the day. And if you’re travelling to the far north to do more than just ride, for instance you want to go rafting or fishing, this book has contact info for just about any activity you might want to enjoy in the north.
Falcon Press Publishing Co., Inc.
Helena and Billings, Montana
This guidebook fits into a tank bag, and contains info on some routes in the Northwest Territories and British Columbia, as well as Alaska and the Yukon. It also contains info on fuel, services, and camping; but that isn’t it’s main objective. Mostly, it gives the flavor and the history of the various drives in the far north. As a comparison, “The Milepost” is like one big advertisement for the merchants along the way, and not exciting to read at home after the trip - “Scenic Driving...” is a book that describes the ride, and one that I still enjoy reading now that I’m back.
Wolf Creek Books, Inc.
211 Main St.
Whitehorse, Yukon; Canada Y1A 5P7
I picked up my copy of this book in Dawson City, Yukon. Another tank bag sized book, and a great read, whether at home, aboard the ferry, or on the road - six months after the trip I still enjoy reading this book!
The front cover is a black and white photo of a paddlewheeler headed upstream through Five Fingers Rapids on the Yukon River. The inside of the book contains a perfect mix of text and photographs, telling of the various transportation routes into Alaska and the Yukon, telling of the railroads and the mining towns and the people, and also detailing the final fate of many of the old paddlewheelers. The book also contains many old photos of Whitehorse and Dawson City, and paints a picture of a time in the far north much, much different from modern times.
Dr. Gregory W. Frazier
100134 University Park Station
Denver, Colorado 80210-0134
I didn't own this book before I went to Alaska, but I wish that I had.
It's a lot of informatian in a very small place. Maps to out of the way places, tips on budgeting and planning, route reccomendations and interesting sites, tips on bears, and bikes, and gear, and entering Canada, the Alaska Marine Highway.... the list goes on and on and on. Lots of photos, too!
His trips with his GS sound a bit more adventurous than my own, which is cool. Good to have more than just a single perspective.
It may not be great literature, but it's a great source of info and I find myself reading it here at home and reminiscing often.
A Guide to the Rivers
21 Klondike Road
I picked up this book in Dawson City, Yukon; and I'm glad that I did.
While it will not appeal to the general public, if you're a canoeist or kayaker you'll enjoy it.
The rivers are organized by watershed, and then each river has a 2-4 page writeup that starts with river distance, time it takes to run the river, and the whitewater rating. Then there's a flow chart showing flow rates and times in a typical year, a short story about one of the author's runs down that same river to set the tone, and then a bit of the river's location and history (both modern and geologic) and then a quick rapid by rapid description or the run.
After that, the put-in and take-outs are listed for the run, and then the topo maps that cover that particular run.
As mentioned above, if you canoe, kayk, or paddle your own raft you'll really enjoy this book. Lots of shots of huge rapids, waterfalls, kayaks surfing waves or running big gnarly stuff (mostly upright, but some with upside down boats in places I wouldn't wish to be inverted), and some funky boating cartoons scattered throughout. If you don't paddle, you won't realize that many of the rapids shown are runnable, and that some people consider whitewater to be a fun thing - you'll just blast through the waterfall pics and then set the book aside.
But for boaters - this book is very, very cool. A winter dream-book.