In the morning I am finally able to pack my small backpack away which will make for more riding comfort going forward. I am more than halfway in and loose around 1KG of food weight a day. Much appreciated since the hills become steeper and longer. People in Coldfoot have warned me already - I am heading into the section of the Dalton called the Rollercoaster. Hill after hill, up, down, up, down... Even though the Brooks Range is behind me and the altitude is low most of the elevation gain is still ahead of me. That's what I realize today when looking into my navigation app.
I have not really "studied" the Dalton, just knew a rough timeframe for finishing it (and about the buffet in Coldfoot). I do not really have the climbing legs yet and it dawns on me that the toughest parts are still in front of me.
A couple hills in and after crossing the Arctic circle it hit me particularly hard at Beaver Slide. I am not an ambitious climber (yet!?) so I use to put in my lowest climbing gear, settle into my aerobars and slowly crawl up the hills. To me that's much less a physical challenge but a mental one. Crawling up hills with 5-7km/h for hours on end throughout the day is just... And the best part of it: when you made it up you already see the next one which makes the downhill just that tiny bit less pleasant.
I think about the reassuring words of my warmshowers host in Fairbanks and far traveled cyclist, Tom: "The Dalton highway might be one if not the toughest stretches of road on the entire Panamericana." That's good! It's tough but I am fine. Slow, but fine!
Since there is plenty of dead wood available I am finally able to cook on my hobo stove which gets me very excited and is a nice distraction from the hills. At Finger Mountain I call it a day, set up camp around 11PM and watch a beautiful sunset.