Touring - touring up to Alaska
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Anyone who has gone from lower 48 to Alaska: What's the mosquito and black fly situation enroute thru NW Terr., Yukon, and Alaska? Any info about route up to Prudoe Bay? Any other caveats for this trip? Thanks.
I've never done this trip, but while in Whitehorse this summer I was talking to two guys who were cycling from Prudoe Bay to Skagway and beyond. They reported no real problems. But be prepared for some very long, very isolated stretches - if you go with someone, make sure its either a very good friend or someone who you don't care if you ever see again.
You will almost certainly get eaten alive by mosquitos and blackflies. Don't shower and eat lots of bananas, if you can find them.
Food, and especially fresh food, can be very expensive.
The guys I talked to had a GREAT time.
What were you doing in Whitehorse, did you cycle up there and if so what route did you take? What month(s)were you there? How were the bugs up there? Bananas??
I was on vacation and regretably, I didn't cycle up there. It was late July/early August.
Most places we went the bugs were not too bad but some places they were ferocious. Wind and altitude are your friends when it comes to bugs.
I'm told that eating bananas causes you too sweat out a sort of natural insect repellant. I have no proof of this.
When are you planning on going?
One more thing...
This may or may not be obvious but north of 60 (i.e. the Yukon border), fat tires are mandatory. Even paved roads aren't really paved.
Not sure when or if re: trip to Alaska. If at all, the entire summer will be needed. Besides getting the time the M&M factor makes me hesitate. (Money - i.e. high cost of being up there & Mosquitos and Blackflies, etc.). Last year in northern Wisconsin the mosquitos were ferocious at times and life can be rather unpleasant under these circumstances. I feel I gave enough blood. I think we could start a whole new thread on the subject of insects and various methodolgies for repelling and/or avoiding.
I ride Conti Top Touring 35's and I believe these will be adequate.
Thanks for the info.
07-03-07, 06:27 PM
mosquito coils mosquito coils mosquito coils mosquito coils.......................i just finished a 420 mile alaska tour and the coils saved my ass!!!! i think i went thru 10 coils in 11 days. i cant stand putting spray on my skin so i opted the coils. just burn like 3 of them at a time on the perimeter of where your sitting and give it 10 min. it does work fairly well. it will motivate you in the morning to pack and leave tho ha ha ha
07-04-07, 08:00 AM
I have cycled up there - a lot.
In Alaska, the Yukon, and the North West Territories. Six different trips.
Maybe those guys who encourtered few flies or mosquitos were just lucky.
PLAN on flies and mosquitos - lots of them - and they bite.
Remember that Alaska's state bird is the mosquito.
When I first cycled up to the North West Territories, I encountered swarms of black flies in northern Alberta. We're talking about hundreds of big, mean boogers. You can't outrun them. They sneak behind you in your wind shadow and when you slow back to a cruising speed, swarm again. They are attracted to the carbon dioxide you exhale, so unless you stop breathing, there ain't nothing you can do.
Within a day, however, I had adjusted almost as well as the locals. I wore long everything. Long pants tucked into socks. Long sleeves tucked into gardening gloves. (definitely NOT fingerless cycling gloves!) And my fabrics were relatively thick. A cap under my helmet with a bandana tucked into my collar around my neck. Plus a spare bandana to use as a fly slapper - i.e. bike with one hand on the handlebars and the other slapping your shoulders alternately so that flies don't get you on your shoulder blades. The motion becomes automatic.
Pray for windy days. If there is a good wind the bugs stay down in the tundra and muskeg. Reduce the number of showers you take. There's a biological reason why we stink. Plus, use a good bug repellant - not on your skin - but on your clothes. There used to be a Cutters product like stick deodorant. I haven't seen it lately - but you could apply it to the brim of your cap, your collar, your sleeves, your knees and ankles of your pants - all the prime areas.
As for camping, if you random camp - choose gravel bars along streams and light small smudge fires on the four compass points with your tent in the middle. You will learn to appreciate smoke since bugs do not. Key campsite considerations - high, dry, and well-ventilated. I wouldn't even think about a hammock since there were times that I had to run to get my tent up.
Such horror stories are not the rule all the time. There are days when the flies and mosquitos are not much of a problem - especially breezy days. But you have to be prepared for those couple of brutal days or you will be toast. My experience has been a "Rule of Three" - every third day is pretty bad, every third day is nice - as far as bugs go.
Pic - The Nadahini Hilton
This cabin is on the Haines Highway roughly at Km 110 / Mi 68. In the tundra.
Excellent overnight spot if you are heading either north or south, 1 day from Haines.
On left northbound, right southbound. Free. Leave some food, an old book, etc.
Bunk space for two people - great picture window - no bugs.
Also, since the border closes at night there is zero traffic - VERY REMOTE.
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