Trek Over the Top Snowmobile Ride

Bikers have Sturgis. Sledders have Trek Over the Top.  The Trek runs for two-hundred miles between Tok, Alaska, and Dawson City, Yukon, making it an International event. Trail groomers hit the snow-covered Taylor and Top of the World highways, opening them for winter access to some of the most spectacular views in the north.

Snowmobile Trek over the Top
Photo courtesy Tourism Yuko

The snowmobile Trek runs three consecutive weekends, starting with the last weekend in February. SnowRider staff attended the middle snowmobiling weekend in 2006–and certainly hope to make a few more Treks in the coming years. The 2007 event marks the 15th Anniversary of the Trek, also called the Annual Tok to Dawson Poker Run. We met snowmobilers who had made every run, and we could certainly see why.

Snowmobile Trek over the Top
Photo courtesy Tourism Yukon

We left Tok around 8:30 a.m. on Thursday morning once the sun was up, at  -35 degree temperatures. Out of more than 200 sleds participating, we were the only ones doubling, so certainly didn’t want to get away late. We soon discovered, however, that even though the trail ran over summer paved highways, it was anything but a speed run.

The trail started out relatively easy, following a few miles of ditches on the Alaska Highway until we hit the Taylor, so beyond the usual lumps and bumps there was nothing out of the ordinary. The Taylor Highway to the tiny winter-bound community of Chicken was wide and winding, with lots of opportunity to get flying. Mind you, as the road dropped onto the valley floor the temperatures plummeted too, hitting -40 and lower.

One of the most welcome sights along the trail was the crackling woodstove and warm-up opportunity in Chicken. We stopped to help fix another driver’s broken sled, fueled up, and hit the trail again.

Snowmobile Trek over the Top
Photo courtesy Tourism Yukon

The real challenge of the ride began after the 75-mile point, leaving Chicken. Here, the mountains got steeper and the roads got twistier–mind you, it was certainly easier to keep warm as we rode harder. We continued the 60-miles into Boundary, fueled up again, and started the toughest part of the journey.

We hit the first of the Terrible Terraces, or spots where the highway was at the top of the mountain, so the howling winds had buried the road in hard-packed snow, making it the traditional 45 degree angle ditch of the prairies. Only this time down was a thousand feet or more over the edge.

Sidehilling at the top of a mountain with two riders was challenging, but after the first half-mile or so, just another road hazard to take in stride. Once in awhile we even took a few glances at the incredible vista of the treeline spread out below us.

Whoever said there’s no wind in the north has never snowmobiled the Top of the World Highway! The last ten miles out of Dawson City our heads were bent into the wind to keep our helmets in place, and driving definitely meant being attentive to where the wind might blow the snow machine.

By early afternoon we wound down the mountain to sled over the frozen Yukon River into Dawson City. First checkpoint was Customs, set up at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s, which was soon to become one of our favorite places in Dawson City.

Snowmobile Trek over the Top
Photo in Dawson City by Linda Aksomitis

But the Trek is far from over when you arrive in Dawson City on Thursday afternoon! From here it’s all about fun, from settling in at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s for the evening meals and entertainment, to discovering historic Dawson City, to visiting the half dozen other great places to socialize. Of course there’s more sledding too, with trails to ride and poker hands to play.

One thing we can guarantee, is that when you leave Dawson City on Sunday morning for that two hundred mile ride back to Tok, Alaska, you’ll be glad you took the Trek.

For full information and registration details see: http://www.trekoverthetop.com/

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