Top of the World Highway

The Top of the World Highway is a 79 miles long highway, beginning at a junction with the Taylor Highway near Jack Wade, Alaska traveling east to its terminus at the ferry terminal in West Dawson, on the western banks of the Yukon River. The highway is so named, because along much of its length, it skirts the crest of the hills, giving looks down on the valley.

The gravel road in the hilly mountains begins with a steep ascent. Heavy breathing and very slowly we pedal up the hill. A swarm of small, but extremely obstinate black flies, which are attracting by our sweating, accompanies us. These small little beasts often are sucking in through our nose. In the last few days, it rained a lot and at some stages, the road washed away. Huge excavators have moved away the worst of the road mud, but the constant up and down brings us to the limits of our forces. We are now not far from the Canadian border, but the final climb has it all and so we reach the US-Canadian border totally exhausted and just in time before it closes down for today. Still out of breath, we hand over the green visitor card to the grumpy American border officials and then push our bikes further to the Canadian customs.

The young customs officer looks quite astonished at us, and asks us if we really cycled all the way up here, with all that gear. Still out of breath, we nod with a grin. He is impressed by our performance and we talk for a while about cycling touring, before we get to the official part. After the obligatory questions, for example if we carry firearms, we get another stamp in our passports. This allows us to travel for 6 months in Canada. The Canadian officer is very helpful, fills all our water bottles, and wishes us a safe journey. We are amazed by the friendliness of the young officer, who doesn’t carry a weapon, in contrast to their American fellows, just next door. The hard work is not over for today, we didn’t reach the top yet! It’s already late and there is still a steep hill in front of us, luckily the climb is not too long. Afterwards we are reward with a fast descent, on concrete road. We finally find a suitable place for our tent and after a warm meal; we crawl completely exhausted into our sleeping bags. The next morning, the sun squints at the horizon and while we enjoy a spectacular panorama, a herd of Caribous, climbs elegantly down the flank of the mountain next to us. Robi quickly grabs the camera, and takes some nice shots from the herd, before they slowly disappear into the distance.

After the breakfast, we continue our journey towards Dawson City and soon the paved road ends. We have absolutely nothing against dirt roads, as long as it does not rain and there is not too much of loose gravel. However, here we were confronting with steep ramps. That means a lot of pushing and you have to be very careful on the descents, so that the front wheel does not slip away on the loose gravel!

Additionally to the bad road conditions, it is bone dry up here. This means that we pass on the entire section no river, or stream and it lives no human soul along this stretch, where we could knock on a door and ask for the precious liquid. Lucky there are campers vans, and so we ask them for drinking water. They are glad to help us and that is very nice.  In the evening, when we pitch our tent, a campervan joins us. Besides drinking water the friendly couple offers us so much water, that it even allow us to take a quick shower with our water bag.

On the next day and after a long downhill run we can spot the Yukon River, which means Great River, for the first time. In the next bend, we can get already a first glimpse of Dawson City and soon after that, we reach the riverbank of the Yukon River. We are waiting for the ferry, and we are wandering what new adventures the city will offer us.

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