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Stuck for three days on the Denali Highway

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It was the last Saturday Denali park's campsite were open for the season so we had to go. We are heading South from here and we had two options: we take the same road we used coming to Denali (Alaska Highway) or take a chance on turning South and then use a different one.

We took the latter and reached Cantwell without problems where Google Maps directed us to the Denali Highway, route #8. It is about 130 miles towards Gakona and somewhat before that it joins route #4. As it passes high mountains by the left side it promised nice views. We also preferred nature to Anchorage. Small detail that this road is not paved. I hoped for about 10 miles that it will eventually become paved but we were out of luck. So we pressed on driving around 30 miles an hour and rallying from pothole to pothole.

After about an hour or so a car tried to pass us and was flashing its headlights and honked approaching us. First I was confused as I pulled to the right for several other cars to make their pass easier for them. They were not angry at us but wanted to signal that something was not right.

We both pulled our windows down and they said: our left back wheel is moving on the trailer and smoke is coming out of the break!! We stopped immediately and the wheel was indeed very hot and smoking. Not smoking hot, that is my wife. It was the same wheel which got loose earlier and the one we stopped at Bucar to be serviced.

I scratched my head and started to think what to do. Raised the trailer to see how big the issue was and tried to come up with a fix. After removing the wheel I realised that the whole bearing was missing and the wheel was not turning any more but moved in and out about an inch. Not a good sign being on a remote unpaved road, without cell signal. Backwards we were about 45 miles from civilisation and there was 90 miles ahead.

There were a few cars passing by as it was Saturday and this area is a nice offroading, boondocking, hunting area. We have seen many trailers with quads, small fishing boats and dirtbikes enjoying the area. The first two guy who stopped could not help us obviously. I knew that we need parts to fix this before we can move the trailer again.

Then a State Trooper arrived and asked if we were all right? Well, I explained the situation and he offered help by going back 40 miles and informing the tow company back there. They might have parts but knowing its Saturday afternoon I had no high hopes. He also told us there is a cottage further up on the road, about 5-10 miles from there.


To survive we decided to tow the trailer on three wheels off the road. Luckily there was a small sideroad right where we parked and I tried to manouver into that. At first I tried to back in but the sewer connection was too low and we started to drag it so I stopped. Maybe reversing on the road and then turning into the sideroad foward works. I gave it a try when another motorhome stopped and a white bearded man asked if he could help.

Later I learned that Joe is very knowledagble about trailers as he had a business repairing trailers. He immediately pulled his tools from his car and started to see how big our issue was. In about half an hour we had a diagnosis. The bearing was gone indeed as I thought but the axle itself was not harmed yet. He said we must have stopped fairly quickly after the issue developed. He gave us contacts to look for the parts needed, explained how I can assembly the bearing and the wheel and offered all help as they were heading home to Anchorage. He even popped a beer once he finished tearing apart our trailer. Now this is what I call a helping hand! Amazed and shaken how helpful he was!


Then we set up camp for the next two days. We need to wait until Monday morning and return to civilisation without the trailer, about 40 miles backwards first on the bumpy road and then another 150-200 miles to bigger towns to get parts. We wanted to boondock anyway but would have preferred doing it without mechanical issues.

Location on Google Maps: 93MJ67FM+FV

Posted by divatmotoros 06:08 Archived in USA Tagged alaska

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