Monthly Archives: November 2011

Dempster Highway Part 2 Yukon Territory Canada

So… the Dempster experience continues.  I’m still just doing my little test of the road.. and still have NOT A CLUE why people tell me it’s too dangerous!!  This road is, at least this far, one of the nicest easiest dirt roads I have ever been on.. anywhere.. even in the rain!  They certainly look after it and maintain it very well.

The majority of the traffic on the road are truckers who travel back and forth to the mine at Inuvik.. right up at the top of the world.

Once the big pour of rain calmed down I was able to take a somewhat photo.. and have a look!  This road really is as good as any paved road.  I’m always on alert though waiting for this greasy icy part to start.  There were far too many people who told me the horrors and if it was only one, I’d say I found a crazy person. But with many warnings, I’m guessing that I just haven’t reached it yet.  So I’m still prepared to check it out and if it gets really bad, I’ll turn around.

But I just can’t ‘bear’ to do that yet.. I’m loving it too much.  Those mounds look interesting ahead, more motivation to continue.  

I’ve honestly never seen a mound of rock like this.. like one big solid rock and smooth.

So I go a bit farther and still the road is good.. but I need to make an important decision whether I like it here or not.  I have to turn around right now to make it back to the fuel station at the beginning of the Dempster Highway.  Or else, I disregard the warnings for good and continue through whatever must be so horrible about this road until I reach Eagle Plains (the only midway stop on this road with fuel).

 
Curiosity got the best of me and I continued on.. Seriously, this road does not give me the slightest reason to give up on it and turn back. I bet you’ve got that point by now.. hey? πŸ˜‰
 
I pulled over here at Ogilvie.. (Gwazhal Kak is the First Nations language) and a trucker was also stopped here at the sign.  He came right over to me and asked what am I doing here – especially alone.

He explains to me how horrible this road is, people on motorcycles die out here often, etc etc.  I look at him and nod… He tells me of a guy he stopped for last year who crashed his bike near where we are standing now.. broke his leg, tore up the bike and had to be airlifted out by helicopter.  This year, the same guy tried again, crashed again closer to Eagle Plains.. didn’t get so hurt, but still had to take the bike out by truck due to damage.  After he finishes his rant, I tell him, “Sir, I can’t turn back even if I wanted to, I don’t have enough fuel”.

Then he explains the next 100 km from here to Eagle Plains is the worst part with extremely rough conditions.

He was a nice trucker and asked me to follow him through this.  I agreed. He went quite slowly. It was really nice for the man to care that much about a crazy lady on a motorcycle, and he kept an eye on me for a while.

I was riding standing up as the road was truly rougher in some sections here but still nothing compared to other roads I have been on and I wouldn’t put in the “dangerous” category.  And despite this nice mans caring, I would be better to go faster over the bumps.

I went up along side him and waved him on. Truckers here go super fast and I’d rather that he be ahead of me and drive his truck at his normal speed.

The trees are looking a bit funny up this way!

The farther north I go, the trees diminish, shorter.. smaller.. until they are only bushes.  The permafrost doesn’t allow them to grow, as well as the very short season.

 100 k’s later, on what I considered to be a very fun road and an absolutely great day regardless of all the warnings, I made it to Eagle Plains!!!!!  What a sight!  (especially since I am now running seriously low on fuel).

After 3 nights primitive camping at Tombstone and brushing my teeth in the ice cold creek, I was ready for a real bed and a shower.. and a normal meal.. I got all three!

And most importantly-  fuel!

I can not tell you how thrilled I was to make it here..  This is 300 km from the camp I rode out of this morning which I agonized for 2 1/2 days about whether I should do.. listening to more and more people tell me not to. And then needing to make a decision not to listen to any of them.  I initially decided not to do it, when as I said before, ‘I’ turned right, but my bike turned left and heading north anyway. And then when my bike took over the decision making process, it chose the worst time of all in heavy pouring rain!

The rain dimished within a 1/2 hour and I just couldn’t stop myself.  And then, I had no need to stop. There was nothing to fear!  I wasted so much time listening to people and if I had a road halfway as nice as this one while in Russia,  my Siberian experience would have been a breeze!

 
Eagle Plains sunrise

 Birdy on a bike!  A good sign!

  I learn the weather will be better today, so it was an easy decision to carry on to the north.  From this point I am only 40 km from the Arctic Circle.  I am so excited to get an early start!

Not much different when I was a kid.. always tons happier doing something I am not supposed to do.. ha! (hopefully my nieces and nephews are not reading this.. πŸ˜‰

Even though they scare me, the trucks are still rare enough in numbers that it’s just good to see SOMEBODY else is out here..

I get right out of the way.. these trucks are on a mission.

Have a look at the slimey road I am riding on this morning.. definitely a big change for the worse.  My excitement bubble was burst right out of Eagle Plains.

This is definitely justified with the “greasey” title I have been warned about.. whew!!  And greasey it is!!  They put down this calcium chloride stuff for the trucks.

It was wet and slimey, and I was only topping 20-30 km/hr.  I know the tough guys on bikes would go faster, but I come up with imaginations on my own and I visualize me falling in the center of the slick stuff, bike pins me down and one of those fast semi trucks runs right over me and squishes me like a bug.  So I go slow.. πŸ˜‰

I wouldn’t want to ride all day in this.. torture!  But I knew the Arctic Circle was so close and I confirmed with some people in a car that the road is exactly like this all the way to Inuvik, another 300+ km.  There’s nothing up there except a goal destination, then you get to turn right around and come back through it again..  I’m quite happy for the Arctic Circle to be my goal destination. This is far more than I expected of myself and where I will actually turn back..  

Can that Arctic land be any more beautiful!!???  It’s so peaceful, wild and remote.. totally my cup of tea.

My tires had zero tread as the mud clonked on and stuck to them like slimey glue.  Totally made the road that much harder and slippier to ride.

It’s literally like keeping all my weight balanced on two spinning balloons covered in grease. It was really difficult and nerve wracking.  If somebody could have taken a photo of my face while riding, my eyes would have been bugging right out of my head in concentration.  I can only knock on wood that I didn’t fall even once.

So.. let’s go back!  I know I’m including far too many photos in this post, but I haven’t been so in love with a place on the planet since I was in remote Siberia.  So unique and amazing, so few tourists, really special..

I made it past Eagle Plains again on my way back down the Dempster and now I have more little challenges than on the way up.  New calcium laid this morning.  Doesn’t seem to effect my ride, but I wonder what it does to the bike.

Next challenge.. new grading!  Should be better, but I have always found newly grated roads to be more slippery.  I was also warned about those dark patches from the grating in the photo below from locals.  They tell me bikers don’t expect them to be soft and deep, throwing the bike off which are often the cause of bikes going down.  I avoided most that I could.

I come through these odd “mounds”  I call them..  I’m sure there is a far more technical term. πŸ˜‰  They are not really a mountain to me even though they are rock.. they are not really a hill because all the hills I know have dirt and trees or grass.  This is my reasoning anyway.. I clearly didn’t go to geology school. πŸ˜‰

The mountains return. And do you see what I see on this one?  It looks to me like either a super size alien or a very large aboriginal elder’s shadow on a walk.

  I also saw another wolf cross the road.  Darn it, I missed it with my camera!  He’s gone…

  

Plenty of moose and caribou on the way..

It’s only the beginning of September, and those trees are the brightest color of gold.  I have heard about the masses of rain all season long.. so my timing here couldn’t be more perfect.. golden even! ;-))


And then back to camp.  It’s the end of a very long exciting day and I’m looking forward to my moose steak and a beer!


First thing I do is hear the story of the grizzly bear that JUST WALKED BY!! Geez.. miss the wolf, miss the bear. Not my day for getting the good animal shots.  But Darren video taped the griz as he or she walked around the Tombstone Interpretive center and the rangers cabins just before I arrived back to camp. Darn, I missed it!!  But here is Darren’s video anyway taken just shortly before I arrived. 

(video)  Sorry I tried to upload the video many times.  It came in once, but very jumbled, now it uploads and then disappears.  I give up..  It was a big grizzly, very big!!

After I fearfully set up my TENT and hear the worries from the other campers (all of whom have a hard shell camper by the way)..  I go back for the dinner on a campfire. and another surprise!  Darren wrote me a very cool song while I was away.  He sings away while Sniper keeps an eye on me!  Very cool dog, I really enjoyed him.

The Sherri Jo song is fantastic to hear by guitar,  the words are below..   
 

Sherri Jo Road calling
You have traveled the world
But your journey slows here
The rain brings your spirits down so you build a fire to dry your day
You soar on the road made of hell never looking back
Till you see the river with the light at the end of the day
Jelly jam and a fire bug make a good time the coldest nights
Whistling at the dancing lights for the spirit takers
Laughter was heard for miles around
The roar of the road was calling again
Ride with the wind and the rain
The sun comes up and goes, but never dies.
Written by Darren Bullen

Thank you Darren! Besides being a good songwriter, he’s an excellent cook!  Great moose, veggies and beer.  I’m so glad I didn’t chicken out on the Dempster.

One last thing, a good face wash in that ice cold water (instant head ache!) and a good brush of my teeth.  Then I’m ready to head back to civilization tomorrow.

That nicely concludes my Dempster Highway experience..

Parting shots of fall colors as I come to the end of the road the following morning.

I get back to the cross road of the Klondike and Dempster Highways, which so conveniently is placed a fuel station and a very expensive power wash. Didn’t matter, I am so happy it’s here.  Can’t say it got the bike totally clean,  but much better to get that calcium and mud off as much as possible. 

My sprocket is not looking too flash, actually lost some teeth on it. Hopefully I make it now to Anchorage Alaska.  Why I am talking about that now.. Time to celebrate!! Whew!  What a trip.. What an experience!!  Love Yukon, Canada.. !!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Yukon Territory Canada to Dempster Highway

Onwards and upwards toward the top of the world from Whitehorse on the Klondike Highway!

Road hazards.. πŸ˜‰
Road hazards extended family… too cute!

Spotted this old wood cabin in the woods… my mind starts daydreaming about what it must be like to live a life up here in the bush, off the land.. pretty harsh but beautiful!

Rather common site ever since Yellowstone to here when I pass remnants of forest fires.. in a way it’s sad, but in another way it’s really beautiful too.

I like to see the new life.  It’s interesting they tell me in a town up the road that the Yukon did not get their summer bloom of flowers until August.. and by the end of August the season is changing back to cold already! My timing to be here must be right!

So, I’m getting close to the Dempster Highway.. I chose to explore this area early on as being a most spectacular part of the world to ride a motorcycle.

Most people who come to the northwest by motorcycle tend to do the exact same track as everyone else.  Prudhoe Bay (top of Alaska) to Ushuaia (bottom of South America).. I purposely didn’t want to do the Dalton Highway in Alaska simply because I get put off by doing the same as everybody else. Sometimes this can’t be helped, but if I can, I would rather do something different. I asked enough people about it though to make sure I wasn’t missing something, and the most common response regarding the Dalton vs Dempster, they would choose Dempster.  If I had more time and I was here earlier in the season, I would love to see both!  But I had to pick one and Dempster is what I picked.  (I have looked at photos of the Dalton from other riders and to me it looks as spectacular as the Dempster.. so either one is a good choice I would imagine)

Knowing the time of year was iffy, Shelley and I enquired in Whitehorse with a trucking company about the road conditions.  He said truckers are reporting bad, greasy and icy for the Dempster.  He more or less said I’d be foolish to go up there on a motorcycle.  She also has other friends around here she called on to get advice about the road, everyone said the road is too bad.  My goal was to get to Inuvik, but the sound of it not too promising.  Plus a couple of motorcyclists had just died on the Dempster about 2 weeks ago.

The more I thought about that though, I bet motorcyclists died just this week on Highway 65 which is all flat and concrete!  And even more people died in cars!  I’m trying to keep perspective as it seems like the majority of people are putting fear into my head.

Hmmm.. for real though, it’s not sounding good.  We pondered whether I should just get a ride on one of the big trucks so at least I can see that part of the planet since I’m so close, but don’t want to be stupid about insisting on motorcycle.  Then my reasoning turned back, I’m not going up there just to see a destination, it’s riding my bike along the way that I want to do.

The last straw was when I stopped at the only fuel station at the base of the Dempster Highway.  Everyone checks in here, either to get fuel to go up or when they come out.

I decide to stop here and ask the people who experienced the road this actual day to tell me the conditions. Same story, urging me not to do it.  And then the owner of the fuel station came up to me outside by my bike as he owns a bike too and he said if it was him, he definitely wouldn’t do it.  Okay okay!!!  I get it!!!  To dangerous for Sherri Jo!!!!

But what this guy DID recommend is that I at least get a taste of it.  There is a campground about 60 miles up the road called Tombstone and he thought I would at least enjoy that and not feel like a total failure.

I agreed, didn’t even fill my fuel and went that night to the camp.

 The beginning of Dempster Highway, Yukon Territory

Gee whiz, I know the road is wet, but I wouldn’t describe it as greasy and I would more describe it as EASY!  (and super duper beautiful!!!)

About 60 k’s down the road I come up to Tombstone National Park, so I’m assuming I will see a campground soon.. I first see an Interpretive Center and decide to pull in.  I guess if this is as far as I’m going to go, I’d like to learn more about it.  It was late in the day AND the season and I was only lucky they were still open and about to close up for the night.  Added to that, this is the last weekend for them to be open for the season.. I am sooooo lucky!

I meet young Darren, an interpreter for the park who tells me the campground is full.. Full!!!  It’s the end of season, how could this be??? Well it is the weekend, but still.  There is no city around here for people to escape from.

Ah well, he says I can put my tent up in the parking area for free, and he gave me a can of bear spray as I’m not traveling with one.  I decided to go and check out the campground anyway, “cuz you never know!”  And score!  I found a vacant site right away.  There was actually still smoke coming from the fire pit with nobody around.

I asked the man across the way who was also packing up his tent at 5:30 pm, couldn’t understand.  And he said, I could even have his spot if I like.  I ask him why would he leave this magical place and especially at this time of day, where will he go?  He was a German man traveling by car and he said “I’m going to a hotel in Dawson City where I will stay warm and dry tonight”.   Okay then!  His campsite was awesome, so I took his!

You can see I’m well prepared for grizzly bears tonight!  Now this will be a little different than the little black bears I just sort of got used to.. Grizzly!!  BIG bears, I want to be prepared.. So, you know the drill.. All food and cosmetic stuff with smells get packed away in the panniers.  I’ve got not only the bear spray, but my air horn, flashlight and my leatherman (haven’t pulled out the big knife yet).  I decided I wouldn’t do the knife, I’d be better off to play dead if all else fails.

This is the view of the closest mountain from the campground.. so it looks like the snow is low enough to prepare myself for a very chilly evening….

Chilly evening it was.. I wore every bit of winter gear I had IN my sleeping bag.. 3 pairs of socks, beenie hat, the whole deal.. but I slept, mostly.

The next morning, I decided rather than pack up the bike and move on from the Dempster as originally intended, I might stay in this gorgeous camp one more day.  Still disappointed I won’t be going up the road, I was thinking it would be good to soak up the atmosphere of such a wild place rather than escaping too quickly.

Early morning walk, I stick to the road where I can see big furry things with teeth coming my way in plenty of time.. ha!

Hey, are those grizzly tracks over there??

Yep, grizzly.. I’ll head back to camp now…

I went back to the interpretive center, and they have their very last organized nature walk for the season.  Good for me, to be able to hike into the bush with a group, I would never do on my own in this grizzly country.

Before I left with the small group for a bushwalk, Darren invites me to go fishing with him later on.. Ha, fishing!  Me? then I thought, I’m in the middle of nowhere, and whether I catch a fish or not, it must be a cool experience in a beautiful place, so I said yes! πŸ˜‰

But first, the bushwalk with a geologist. We’re taking our shoes and socks off and walking through the freezing cold water.. good morning!!

Besides the amazing education about the land we walk on, we have cranberries.. !!

 We spot a moose!
And then.. blueberries!!  Oh man, now I am in total love!!!!!

Of which we all commence to be like bears and gorge ourselves on blueberries and cranberries.. I can see what the bears love about them.. they are so incredibly delicious pulled off the plant, I personally ate so many I got completely full.  I was the slowest one of the pack,  picking berries all the way back to camp.

So.. now to continue my Tombstone experience, it’s time to go fishing!

 By the way, the mountain top in the middle that looks like a Tombstone, is Tombstone Mountain πŸ˜‰

Darren picks his favorite fishing hole.. and loads up a pole for me to use too.. I haven’t been fishing since I was a kid, so I hope he doesn’t expect much from me.

Darrens totally cool dog, Sniper, is our bear guard.. and a perfect little guard he was!

Couldn’t pick a prettier land on this planet to be tonight..  I am aware how lucky I am..

We made plenty of noise while we wandered through the bush to the water toward any potential bears.  However, our noise may have backfired as we were completely unsuccessful at catching a fish.

Never fear, the experienced First Nations fisherman comes prepared..  the sun went down, we made a really big fire along a river, had leftover pizza and a beer which he had well stashed in the cooler..  for desert, bread with jam.. perfect!

Along the way, he hears me talk about all the people who insist I can not ride a motorcycle up the Dempster Highway.. and he agrees, he knows about the motorcyclists that recently died.. and he refuses to tell me the story about them. Smart man knows not to put visions and fears in my head.

But he’s been up the road many times himself and he’s not convinced that I wouldn’t make it.  This is the first person AT ALL that actually gave me a bit of hope.

However, the next morning in the center, and after I pack up my gear on to the bike, a young girl from Australia just came down from attempting to go up the road herself in a car (4 wheels!) and she she said she was sliding all over the place, so she turned around and came back. She also described the road as too greasey and icy.  Ugh!

Then!!  Comes a big hard core heavy rain.. Geez freakin’ whiz…okay!! That seals the deal for me.. If it was that bad of a road without rain, then it can only be worse.  I’m giving up and moving on to Dawson City.

However, Darren, still stands by the fact that I could do it, even in the rain..  He tells me the weather changes dramatically here, that I’m so close I should do it and if I do,  he’ll have a moose steak and a beer waiting for me when I get back.  I thoroughly explained that now with the rain,  it’s not gonna happen!!

He gave me a funny face, a can of  bear spray to take and walked away.  I thought.. well, I’ll take the bear spray, but I’m not going.  I pull out of the center in the pouring rain and started to turn right toward Dawson City..

However!  My bike turned left toward the Arctic Circle!!!  Seriously!! How did it do that!!  I swear I had no control over the wheel of my bike anymore!!!

I didn’t stop immediately.. I decided with myself to go a few kilometers up the road and see for myself how bad it is.  I did this in Mongolia too, when I was too scared to go on the track there.. just test it out Sherri Jo, if you can’t do it, turn back! But at least I will know for myself.

To be continued…

Enhanced by Zemanta

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress.com. After you read this, you should delete and write your own post, with a new title above. Or hit Add New on the left (of the admin dashboard) to start a fresh post.

Here are some suggestions for your first post.

  1. You can find new ideas for what to blog about by reading the Daily Post.
  2. Add PressThis to your browser. It creates a new blog post for you about any interesting Β page you read on the web.
  3. Make some changes to this page, and then hit preview on the right. You can always preview any post or edit it before you share it to the world.

Bears, Hyder Alaska, Stewart BC, and Yukon Territory Canada

It’s all about the cute little bears in this part of the world!!

I made a mad dash through British Columbia and had a plan to travel up the Stewart-Cassiar Highway toward the Yukon.

One of the great recommendations from nearly everyone is to take a 67 mile diversion to Hyder Alaska..

Why not.. I’ve never been to Alaska, I am so excited to go there.. on this road I can not STAY there, but come back on the same road back into Canada.  However the highlight to this diversion is that I’m likely to see more bears around here because they are protected.. Do I want to do this??

This guy just looked at me and said “Whatever, I’d rather eat my tree than you!” πŸ˜‰

Well, that’s either a dog or another bear up ahead!

Scaredy cat… it’s blurry but I had to include this photo because I loved his little bear feet pads.

All up I saw 4 bears on my way down the road.. and the following day I saw 2.  They were just like any wild animal and more scared of me than I was of them, and other than the first one, none stayed still for photos.  Even though I considered it, I didn’t see the point of getting off my bike and chasing a bear into the woods so I can get a better photo.. ;-/

In general I am really glad to see these bears though.. They are not as big as I imagined and they are not as scary as I imagined.  I actually feel like now, if I’m not a total idiot and leave food or toothpaste in my tent, it’s as though I don’t feel I would panic as much if I heard a bear sniffing around my tent at night.  I still hope it doesn’t happen, just saying I shouldn’t be ridiculously worried about it, which I have been.

One thing I will stop quickly for are these gorgeous glaciers along this road!  I feel like this part of the world can be called the “Sherri Jo’s Glacier Tour”! πŸ˜‰ This one is just spectacular!!

Bear Glacier

I arrived Stewart, had a quick look around this tiny town, then carried on to Hyder Alaska.

My first stop was this pub (picture below), of where I knew from research had camping and I was ready to stop for the night.  There was not a single other camper let alone tent around.  So I went down the road to another camping option which had a few RV’s.  I asked about camping here in a tent and they said, “Oh, you don’t want to do that”.  And I asked why?  They said there are too many bears around.  Well, the absolute cheapest room I could get in HIS hotel was $90 and that wasn’t going to work for me.

So I went back to the RV camp owner, who is the same guy as the pub owner, and said I will have to find a way to camp here tonight.. and then he said, “We can’t have tents here.  The people in the RV’s will complain because people in tents are cheap”.  I just looked at that guy, couldn’t believe that came out of his mouth and walked away.

And this comes from a place that uses a mobile home for a post office!

Hyder Alaska Post Office

I also enquired at 3 more places about where I might be able to stay tonight.. They ALL said to not camp in a tent.  A man was killed here just last summer.  Okay then, maybe I do have to pay the $90?  I asked one more man at the small dusty hardware store about camping, and he said the same, except he added.. “Well nobody else has really been killed here except that guy and the reason he got nailed by the bear was because he got drunk in his tent and threw up on himself”… Disgusting!!

I don’t see this being repeated by me!!

So I came to a new idea.. I am literraly only 4 miles away from going BACK to Stewart Canada.  I decide to cross back through the border and check out my camping options there, not because I expect less bears in such a short distance, but because I didn’t want to be in a grass patch by myself behind the pub all night NOR was I going back to the stupid RV guy.

However, I was SO excited for the possibility of camping in Alaska!!  Therefore, I rode away disappointed…

Stewart, BC

So there was a really nice and normal campground in Stewart.. the attendant said to take the precautions, there are bears around that wander through, but I should not die tonight because a bear wants to eat me.  Whatever.. bears or not, I’m tired and set up tent.

When I did this, the people in the only other tent here came and asked if they could set up near me because they were scared.. I was happy for them to, better for both of us!  It’s really quite dense woods here, and a beautiful creek running right behind my tent site.. Magical really!

I couldn’t get a photo to show both, but there was a mountain through the trees and straight up was this patch of blue glacier ice.. and I’d look down and see purple mushrooms.  VERY magical and now I feel like Alice in Wonderland!!!

Purple Mushrooms!

I survived the night (of course) and knew ahead of time that this was going to be a full rain day.  And I had a super huge ride ahead of me today.  So I packed up somewhat in the dark early morning rain and hit the road.

Leaving Stewart, BC
Oh boy,  this is my very first full on – hard core- big rain day on the bike since arriving North America.. ever since I left Europe!
My mistake was that I had been riding in such warm weather all across America and to here that I was not in the habit of having my heated jacket handy.  I was so cold…!
There’s not really any towns to speak of on the Stewart-Cassiar, but luckily a couple key fuel stops. Being the end of summer, there was little or no traffic, so it was just me and the rainy road all day.

By the time I made it to this first fuel stop about 200 km down the road.. I was shaking in my boots.  I filled my very favorite Safari Fuel Tank, was about to get back on the road and thought.. If I was in Russia, here is where I’d have a cup of tea.  So I did!  Always does the trick and lasted me for a few minutes.  It even looks a bit like Russia around here.

My heated jacket is buried way at the bottom of my pack, and if I had a real brain, I would have taken the time to take my gear off the bike and dig it out.. but I chose to continue on and suffer through the cold rain then dig it out when I have all the gear off anyway for the night.  Ding dong!!!

I laugh at this photo below because I look so ridiculous, wet and cold the whole day completely miserable. I point a camera to myself in the rain and being a creature of habit.. I smile.. It’s a lie!!  I was not happy this day!! πŸ˜‰  You know, I don’t want to sound too much like a woosey rider.  But I had been traveling for weeks across America and Canada in hot summer sun, no rain.  This was just my first full day back to reality of cool wet weather.  I’ve had many rain days before and since then, plus I have many more ahead of me..  (just wanted to clarify that as this is the perfect place for me to whinge to someone other than myself about it..ha! πŸ˜‰

What I did love about this ride is that it reminds me a bit of Australia.  Not the landscape, but driving hundreds of kilometers with no towns in between.  This is the real wild Canada, it’s gorgeous and I love it!

I made it to the end of the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.. far too wet and cold, I decided to do hotel tonight. Quite expensive here and was not keen to pay the price, but I was a bugger of a guest and got my money’s worth.  Took the tent in and hung it from the curtains to dry out from the night before, the dirty wet tarp I washed off in the tub and hung from the shower curtain.. turned up the heat and let all my wet gear and myself dry out.  Got a really cheap bad meal at the pub next door, then went to bed.. you gotta do what you gotta do sometimes.

Plus, it had wifi there and I was able to see the weather tomorrow will be MUCH better..

And it is!

What I do notice is that the colors of the leaves are starting to show up as yellow.. After coming out of a very hot summer in America, it was a surprise to see that autumn is truly here.  A very big sign I am traveling very North!

My goal today is to make it to Whitehorse and stay with another great facebook friend, Shelley Williamson!

Welcome to Whitehorse!!  and…… here is the horse!

Whitehorse, the town is actually not named after a horse at all. If I had to assume and guess, I’d say it may be the name of a First Nations Chief.  However, the term “white horse” comes from the standing wave or whitecaps the stampeders during the gold rush would deal with in the river rapids just outside town.  River traffic was the most used form on transportation on the Yukon River until road and air options could be established.. Eventually Whitehorse became the capitol of the entire Yukon Territory.

Isn’t it cool??  A local artist had literally just finished this awesome work of art this year.

Shelley shows me around this very Yukon town of Whitehorse.. a fascinating place really.  We are nearly at the same latitude as Anchorage Alaska.

In the 1800’s, the discovery of GOLD is what brought so many people here.  They called them stampeders, as many of 30,000 people came into the area at the first word of the discovery.  This place that Shelley shows me, Miles Canyon, was the most difficult part for them to get through.  They’d come on rafts or small boats with supplies and would only be lucky to make it through this fast moving rock walled canyon. Several men drowned.

Eventually the men were stopped upstream and could only pass through this canyon if they hired a skilled pilot.  A few years later they managed to build a horse-drawn tramway to bypass the canyon completely.

Shelley was a fantastic host.. nice big warm house, great food and funny stories.  I was so glad she invited me for a visit.  Amazing lady who is now in Africa helping the people there.

Next stop, The Arctic Circle!! πŸ˜‰

Enhanced by Zemanta

Walking on a glacier! Nakusp to Jasper National Park

OK, now I’ve agreed to do the SCARIEST thing on this trip so far!!

Forget about unmaintained tracks in Siberia… or camping in bear country.. Let’s try public speaking!!  Geez!!

It turned out I was very near the next Horizon’s Unlimited meeting in Nakusp Canada, which was literally just over the mountains from where I was, Calgary.  Received a little bleep from Grant Johnson suggesting I attend.  But I didn’t decide to go straight away. Last time I spoke to Grant at the UK Horizon’s meeting in England just a couple months ago, he was giving me suggestions to do a presentation.  I just laughed at him and thought, there is no way I can do that.. no way!

So, I knew if I attended this meeting in Nakusp, the suggestion would arise again and I didn’t want to be a weeney and say no.  Again, my self proclaimed ‘because I can’ title came back to haunt me.  I was making excuses, so I dug in, sent Grant an email back that I will attend AND give a presentation…  Now look what I’ve done… now I’m committed.. darn it!

I’ve convinced myself that Nakusp is a small town in Canada and there would not be many people there.. so if I screw up in front of 10 people, I should be able to cope.

I packed up in Calgary and then started on my way; over the river and through the woods…

Cool!  It’s a ferry! Couldn’t tell you how many ferries I’ve been on all over the world now, so I know the deal.  As usual, they put the bikes together at the front of the boat, where I met these two characters from Vancouver out on a day trip.. they were hilarious!

I rode with the boys until I reached the town of Nakusp.. and with the toot of a horn, I was on my own again.  For about a whole two seconds.  I pulled right into the Horizons Unlimited camp.

I am one day late for the meeting and there are tents everywhere.  I get off my bike to have a look for a spot and I hear across the way, ‘Sherri!  Need a place for you tent?!”  I’m like, are they talking to me?  Who the heck knows me here??

Turned out to be Nevil Stow.. who I had never met before, but is a friend on facebook.. of course!  He gave me a couple suggestions where to squeeze the tent in.  I tried my best, but I still ended up in the wrong place.

Not long after that I see a familiar face, somebody I actually have met in person.. Miles!  I met Miles and his wife Tracey at the HUBB meeting in England and totally forgot they are FROM Canada!  After a little catch up they show me there is more room at their end of camp.

So we decide to go fetch my already assembled tent.  Miles brings his Ural, and I ride back with him in the sidecar holding my very lightweight tent over my head!  It was quite a sight, wish I had photos of it.  We did see people laughing and snapping away, but I forgot to ask for a copy.

Anyway, here is Miles and Tracey in the Ural.. Shortly after this meeting they took off for their 6 month journey to South America and back!  If you like to catch up with them on their blog, it’s at:  http://www.smilesandmiles.com  ;-))  I still need to go north into Yukon and Alaska before heading south but we are hoping I make it in time to meet up in South America at some point.. yay!

They, along with many others, gave me heaps of great advice for traveling north in Canada to Yukon and over to Alaska..   I have to admit though, I can hardly concentrate on anything anyone says.. all I can think about is  “I have to give a presentation”!!  I’ve never done one before and I’m nervous as all heck.. knees knocking long before I need to say a word in front of people.

Grant, Miles, Nevil, and many others all supported me with lots of advice and said it will be far easier than I imagine.. I’ve heard that before about motorcycle technique in the sand, and I’m not convinced!  I know what an idiot I am at forming sentences that make sense.. they don’t understand…..!!!!! (of course they all do, they’ve done a gazzillion presentations themselves.. however, I’m very good at convincing myself it’s far worse..)

My time arrives, and I’m like, “why are all those people in here??  Oh, sh__” !!  This is far more than the 10 I had pictured in my head!!!

It was exactly like they said.. after the first sentence, the knees stopped knocking and off I went..  it turned out to be a lot of fun and then my hour was over in what felt like 10 seconds!  I still can’t believe I did it and now I know I can still keep my “Because I Can” title… πŸ˜‰  I would have sworn to you a thousand times before this moment that I really couldn’t do it..  life lesson!

Once the meeting finished on Sunday, we all go our separate ways.. For me I need to go back to Banff National Park so I can make the general population happy as they all say I CAN NOT MISS JASPER National Park!!  (Jasper is connected to Banff to the north).

On the ferry with Ekke, Audrey and Doug.. ALL on BMW’s.. I’m the only odd ball, as usual πŸ˜‰

Along my route I decide I need to pull over and plug in my iphone for a charge in the 12 V.  Blew a fuse immediately, I knew straight away what it did, and I pulled out the connection took out the old fuse and and installed the new.. Yes, it shocks even me that I can do this all by myself! πŸ˜‰

While on the side of the road with my tools out and my seat off, all these guys flew right past me.. hmpff!   Eventually I ran into Doug at the next fuel stop.

He was kind enough to ask what the problem was, I told him and he volunteered to dig in and fix it.  I was in this worry state all along because if my 12V didn’t work, this meant even worse consequences.. I would not be able to plug in my heated jacket!!!  Tragedy!!  Especially since I’m going toward the Arctic Circle!  I am very spoiled by that jacket and can’t imagine how I’ll get through the journey without it.. ha!

Electrical stuff totally scares me so I didn’t touch the wires, but Doug is a master and he fixed it up straight away.. wearing and torn connections, etc. It’s ironic how the right person comes along just as you need them.  Then I was on my way!  Thanks again Doug!  Lucky me!!!

At the junction he turns right and I turn left, heading north.  Right into Jasper National Park.. I’m diggin’ that glacier up ahead!!  I’ve seen a few glaciers lately, but this one looks extra cool!

This is where the glacier came to in 1942..

This is where it came to in 1982..

Sort of reminds me of the witch in the Wizard of Oz.. “I’m melting, I’m meltiiiiiiii….!!!”

Sorry, don’t mean to make light of a serious glacier melt.  Pretty cool to experience Athabasca Glacier so close.

I could show you a thousand million zillion scenery photos, but that can get really boring.  I will do my best to keep it to a minimum and you’ll just have to go see it for yourself! πŸ˜‰

No matter where you looked, upside down, right, left, every view is the prettiest view you’ve ever seen in your life..  even in the rear view mirror!  I can’t tell you how many times I looked in the mirror and said, “holy crap!” πŸ˜‰

It’s been a big day long ride from Naksup to here..  time to set up camp before it gets dark.. always the worry for wildlife on the road at dusk..

By the way, notice my new tent??  The green tent I have been carrying since day one that uses air beams instead of poles.. failed again!!!  I have spent far more time fixing that tent, pump and air bladders than I should be, and this time I didn’t have a spare air bladder (the other times I did).  The reason I followed advice online before the trip to go with that one was because I’d be able to travel without poles, and the tent would be smaller to pack and lighter.  Not true at all!

My new one is exactly the same size, and even WITH poles, packs far smaller and lighter than my old tent.  Luckily for me the old one broke this time in an area full of adventurers and gear, so it was easy for me to into Banff (the town) and buy a new one and continue my journey..

Even better news, since I now have more space, I was able to buy a little cooker and teapot so I can make my own tea in the morning..  Yes!!!!

I loved this camping area.. was so pretty but I was extra worried for the bears, very few people around.. many warnings posted everywhere, but survived again! πŸ˜‰

The next morning on the road in Jasper Naional Park I got an extra special treat.. I spotted a wolf!!

This first photo is as close as I could get with zoom and cropping, but wanted you to see.. big gray!

Into the woods he goes.  Wonder where he was going.. he wasn’t running fast like in a chase, just galloping steadily.  So happy to see him or her.. seeing a wolf has been on my list ever since Yellowstone. Score!

;-(  I get the unhappy face in my helmet.. I’ve actually been quite lucky with great weather in Banff and Jasper National Parks.  I’ve heard many people around tell me it’s been an unusually rainy year.. so looks like it’s my turn, but literally just as I was leaving Jasper the clouds roll in. And boy did it ever rain!  I pulled over in Jasper (the town) for the night and found a little cheap room in a basement (finding anything cheap in that town was a challenge!).  I happily stayed dry for the night..

I do feel very lucky to see this great land..  rain or shine.. πŸ˜‰

Enhanced by Zemanta