Jeff Oatley's Skagway to Nome 2017 Live Tracker


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A big day yesterday got me in to Tanana about 10pm last night, and back on the Yukon River. About the first thing I heard when I got here was that the trail had been great, but that it was completely blown in now.
Not wanting to take anybody's word for that I went out and verified it today. I rode a little and pushed a lot for 3-4 hours. Realized that making it to Ruby on the five days worth of food I'm carrying might be tight at that pace, and returned to Tanana. Where I can get some needed rest and buy some food instead of eating up what I'll need later. Plus it's supposed to be pretty cold tonight and I wasn't looking forward to camping on the river 12 miles out of town. I don't mind doing it. But I like the nearest warm place to be a lot further away.
This isn't much of a surprise. Tanana to Ruby is probably the most lightly traveled part of this trip. I knew that I wasn't gonna get 2000 miles of bomber trail. Right now I just need 120 miles of marginal trail. There is a rumor somebody is snowmachining up from 60 miles downriver today. That'd be a good start. We'll see how tomorrow goes...


This is what most of my trail encounters are evolving into;

(stranger approaches) "where did you come from on that bike?"

(Me) "ummm...Skagway.

(Stranger) "You crazy!!!" (Stranger walks away...)

I think this is going to get worse. I'm gonna start saying Fairbanks just to get people to not run away from the crazy person. That's what this is coming to.


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Jeff is in Tanana at the moment, waiting on a trail. Apparently there was a trail in, but wind and a bit of snow took it out.

For some context, there is a pretty active trail system between Fairbanks and Manly, with a fair bit of local traffic. There is supposed to be a fair bit of traffic between Manly and Tanana (I haven't been on those trails), but downriver of Tanana, there isn't much, as there isn't any communities of any size between Tanana and Ruby.

For some perspective, here is a map, the blue line is the iron dog route, which should pass through there in 2 days, and should be close to the route he is taking.


It looks like he has headed out.


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+1 for using a sectional chart overlay.

the numbers like 53 on the chart is the max elevation in the quadrangle (in this case 5,300')


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Wednesday Feb 22
If you're keeping score at home it's officially Middle Yukon = 2, Jeff = 0, with yesterday being a draw.

For the record, I'll settle for a draw every day from here on out. This isn't country you're gonna *win* against very often.

Yesterday was tough. It was -45 at the Tanana airport when I left, and noticeably cooler when I dropped onto the river. The Mushing Missionary, Hudson Stuck, said that traveling at -50 "was okay, as long as it's okay." That seems about right to me. I think that's the 3rd or 4th day that I've seen -50 on this trip. As long as you don't have problems you're fine. I usually inflict a few problems on myself. But I survived them.

I managed to cover a little over 60 miles in a little under 15 hours. Not a single mile was easy but I probably pushed less than 6 or 7 miles, so that was good.

Props to Ed Plum who nailed the forecast. Real cold. A tailwind picked up about 6pm and warmed things up to -15 or so and then the snow started. By the time I got here the trail was blowing in fast.

I tried to leave this morning but there is no trail to be found. I pushed and post-holed my way 2 miles from the North bank of the Yukon to the South bank. Couldn't find a hint of a trail anywhere. Not even the one I came in on 10 hours before. So I returned here to wait some more.

My host Carole says there is word of a man traveling from Tanana to Huslia tomorrow. He's supposed to stop here on his way. I'll plan on following him out. Hopefully it's -50 again because the one thing those temps are good for is setting up a trail. (And freezing snot.)

I'm not remotely disappointed by current conditions. I knew this was gonna be a tough trip. That's at least part of the point In doing something like this. It's also where I'm real happy that this is for fun and not a race. If I was racing I'd push my bike for the next 18 hours and have to sleep in a snow drift 10 miles from here. Instead I turned around after 2.5 hours and 2 miles and I'll get some rest and try to be ready to go whenever a trail shows up. Which will happen on Friday if not sooner.

Also, I saw a Marten (also known as a Sable maybe?) a couple nights ago. First one I've ever seen that was still alive.

Nap time.

Thursday Feb 23
Super slow going for Jeff the last ~30+ hours, and still a good chunk of miles left to Ruby. Beyond Ruby there will be consistent trail, not just because of the impending arrival of Iron Dog, but because there is a village-to-village trail from there to his finish in Nome. He's just gotta be patient and get to Ruby to take advantage. Fairbanks yesterday, got down to -26 around the airport, but warmed up to around -5 by the afternoon. Classic cold pools of air down low. Warmer weather supposed to be coming through now.
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Older news From
Carole Huntington
February 25 at 10:46pm ·
Jeff Oatley spent three nights here taking off after the trail breakers from Galena made it here yesterday.
With this weather I see he hasn't made it too far.. Looks like he may be across the river from Sam's place.
Hope he is dry. He is biking to Nome. While here Gideon gave him his mini snowshoes and he rigged them up to fit good.
He was wearing them and pushing his bike with hopes of the trail hardening up from the iron dog traffic.
He seems to not mind all kinds of weather and has good gear and food for four days.
We fed him his meals so that he would not have to use up his trail food. He sure is needing it now.
Temp is 32* and it has been snowing most of the night and all day today.

Todays news from Jeff
The tracker works better when you remember to turn it on. I rode...yes rode...almost the entire way from Ruby to Galens today. It was slow and a real grind in wind blown snow for the first 40 miles, but it was a lot better than walking with snowshoes on, which is what I'd been doing for the three previous days.
I'm sure if you're following it seems like I'm lollygagging out here. But every day has been tough lately. Feels like it's been a fistfight to me. I'm probably losing. But I'm still on my feet and moving forward. So I'll take it.
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From the Facebook page yesterday. Looks like 300 miles to go!

I made it from Galena to Kaltag yesterday. Mixed feelings about leaving the Yukon River behind. It can be tough, but it's so unique too.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll see the Bering Sea. It's always cool to see it. I think it'll be especially so this time. It feels like I left the Gulf of Alaska a year ago, or as part of some other trip.

Since I've whined about all the bad trail and weather I figure I need to acknowledge the other side of that coin. Yesterday was beautiful!! Cool, maybe between -15 and +5 or so, brilliant blue sky, light winds. There was some minor intermittent drifting but for the most part the trail was good. The last 20 miles into Kaltag saw a sidewalk trail and a tailwind, and the most beautiful two hour long twilight you can imagine. It felt like after kicking my butt for 9 or so days the trail finally gave me an 'attaboy' and a pat in the back.

Hoping Heather shows up here soon so we can get rolling. She'll be with me for however much longer this thing lasts.

One last 'incident' that I can report now that I'm off the river. About 2am the night I left Bible Camp I ended up in some overflow. Like WAY into some overflow. Me and half my bike in 28" of water on the Yukon. I don't think there is a Type-(blank) fun to describe that situation. It's the proverbial shit sandwich.

There was about two seconds of "I'm gonna die" type panic. Which I think is the correct response. About 17 seconds of assorted f-bombs, and five minutes of dealing with it. Luckily it was about 30 degrees. I got hiking as fast as I could. Within about 20 minutes I knew I was gonna be uncomfortable for a while, but I wasn't in any danger.

For scale, that was about the third toughest day I had on the river.

I didn't want to put that out there until I was off the river. I figured if my mom found out she wouldn't sleep until I was off it for good. It happened like 5 or 7 days ago. That'd be a long time for her to go without sleep.


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March 3rd. 230 miles to finish!

Heather and I made it in to Unalakleet where we were welcomed into my friend Paul's (B$) house and just had a huge breakfast that included sourdough pancakes from a 100 year old strain of sourdough. Pretty cool. And yummy!

The trail over was a mixed bag. Lot of walking. We only made it to Tripod Flats cabin (27) miles. No firewood + too much snow to get any = cold cabin. But great northern lights!

Second day started slow but picked up as we went. Unfortunately the wind did too. Not a surprise in these parts.

Heading out soon for some beautiful Bering Sea Coast riding!!


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Yesterdays news...........
We made it to Elim. Hope to cover a little more ground today. The trails have mostly been fair-to-poor, with a few miles of non-existent today. But the weather has been ridiculously nice. When we've had wind it's mostly been at our backs. we've found firewood at the last two cabins. Great northern lights this week too. Gotta go!

As of now, Monday March 6th he's got fifty miles to go!


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A last note:
SKAGWAY TO NOME… Jeff Oatley has just completed the longest winter cycling expedition ever.
Oatley’s route from the Gulf of Alaska to the Bering Sea has been cycled before -
over a hundred years ago! - but never in one season.


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NOW it's the end.....
Yeah, so we made it in to Nome yesterday. On yet another beautiful day! It was about -15, and when there was a breeze in our faces it definitely had a little bite. But for the most part it was calm and brilliantly sunny. Great way to end a ride. Sort of how it started...a really long time Skagway.

Not sure what to say about things just yet. Still processing. It was definitely the ride of a lifetime. Feel like I had a little bit of everything thrown at me along the way. Which I guess is what I wanted. Just a really cool experience on many levels. Got to see a lot of friends from past years and got to meet some new friends.

Funny how you don't realize how beat up you are when you are on the trail and need to keep going. But once you stop it all catches up with you. Feeling a bit run over right now.

Relaxing with friends today and heading back to Fairbanks tonight.

So thankful for all of the support from everybody, both along the trail and through the internet. I feel really lucky and pretty humbled to be able to even try to do something like this. Wouldn't have had a prayer of completing it without all of the kindness and help along the way. A little sad that's it's come to an end. But I couldn't have asked for a better trip. It'll leave a mark for sure, but I got my money's worth. Thanks!!!

Oatly Ak17.jpg


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After someone completes a challenge like that, you wonder what they do to find their next challenge. I mean, how the heck do you top that or do you even feel the need to try? I guess I figure if you have the personality that pushed yourself to complete that ride, then you are probably someone who wont stop pushing yourself. I doubt he's thinking about it right now. Maybe he won't even want to look at a bike for the next month.

Anyway, @Kaleidopete thanks for sharing the updates.


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After someone completes a challenge like that, you wonder what they do to find their next challenge. I mean, how the heck do you top that or do you even feel the need to try? I guess I figure if you have the personality that pushed yourself to complete that ride, then you are probably someone who wont stop pushing yourself. I doubt he's thinking about it right now. Maybe he won't even want to look at a bike for the next month.

Anyway, @Kaleidopete thanks for sharing the updates.
I heard he's not big on writing about his adventures either, But I'm looking forward to some recap of it.