Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Segment 5. Whitehorse, Yukon, to Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Aug 14 - 31, 2009, 915 miles, 2522 cum. miles

Doug's Pletscher two-legged kickstand, purchased in Fairbanks on July 17th, which bit the dust from the rigors of the Denali & Alaska highways Aug. 15th. RIP. Graciously replaced by Pletscher.
Another RIP, dating from WWII Alaska highway construction.
A dog & her master.
Here's our personalized roadsign, duly posted for all posterity at the Signpost Forest.
Signpost Forest at Watson Lake, a milestone along the fabled Alaska Highway.
No kidding. They were roaming all over the place.
Stay clear, everyone said.
Here's the rest of his harem & brood, blocking the Alaska Highway.
Action shot. They can run, quite fast, faster than we can, whoa.....
Hey!!! Keep going the way you were going. We instinctively knew that eye contact was not a good thing.
Our camp in the rain the night of Aug. 21st, next to Smith River Falls. 
Here's a close-up, after a steep climb down the cliffside.
The gang, relaxing in the Liard Hot Springs. Relaxing, that is, until Doug passed out from staying too long in the superheated water.
Laird Hotsprings (actually, right at the location of the pool above) was terrorized by a black bear on Aug. 14, 1997, when the bear mauled & killed both a woman and a man who came to her aid. Several others were mauled & injured. The bear was finally shot by a man who was staying in Laird Provincial Campground, and luckily had a rifle in his rv. Jason & Jeff obviously aren't a bit worried that another bear might be lurking in the brush behind them at pools edge, but I was (as usual).

Jeff, checking out wildlife on the road ahead. That wildlife turned out to be a 2000 pound bull bison. Jeff and Jason proceeded first, and of course, got by him without incident. Now it was my turn, but as I cycled to a point perpendicular to the bull, he took a long look at me and decided he didn't like what he saw (or, maybe he did). Next I knew, I was standing on my pedals cycling madly down the hill as the snorting bull took off after me. He was right on the highway, in the opposing lane. I managed to crank it up to at least 24 MPH, but he was still closing on me. Just as I was thinking about how I might be able to stop & pull out my camera, the bull tired and pulled off the highway. I just kept pedalling, pumped up 110% with pure adrenalin. Thank God that was a downhill section, otherwise...Well, it would have made for a great photograph.
Here's the info kiosk at the entrance to Muncho Lake Provincial Park, a spellbinding place with immense raw natural beauty. Note the red tailed hawk, and the lurking giant.

Graphic, but we didn't see any that day.
High waterfalls. Mesmerizing.
More of the same.
We were right at the very beginning of the Rocky Mountains, which stretch from Laird River south to New Mexico.
At the crest of the Rockies, rainfall flows East or West, sometimes North. This crest is called the Continental Divide.

The following three photos show the very beginning of the Rocky Mountain Range. Sobering.

Here's the RV to end all RV's. Bigger than a bus, and towing a Mercedes tricked-up convertible. Classic overconsumption. A roadside creek, golden from some sort of mineral in the water.
Moose, near Summit Pass, at milepost 373, the highest point on the Alaska Highway at 4250 feet elevation.
Fantastic landmark features at every turn.
Another roadside tragedy marker, one of many.
All the comforts....
Fort Nelson, at milepost 307, only 66 miles from Summit Pass, has the lowest point (1000 feet elevation) along the Alaska Highway, at the Muskwa River crossing.
There were no suitable campsites in or near the town, so we were forced to stay the night of Aug. 26th in a motel. No pets allowed, of course. The next morning, early AM, the sound of the motel housekeeping guy knocking at our door was met by an "Arf-Arf" from Lucy-dog. We high-tailed it out of there, but at least we got a well deserved good night's sleep.
Moonlight. We also saw the Aurora Borealis one night, but the photos didn't take. It was awesome. It was like the sunset photo at Pink Mountain which follows, but the reds were replaced by greens & blues, in an undulating curtain that kept rising and falling...
Sunset near Pink Mountain.
Another shot, a few minutes later. That night, we camped on an old airstrip.
Just when you thought you'd seen the last of the hills....
At long last, Dawson Creek, BC, at the milepost zero marker on the Alaska Highway, 1523 miles from Fairbanks.
Grande Prarie, Alberta here we come.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Segment 4. Tok, AK, to Whitehorse, Yukon, Aug 4 - 14, 2009, 397 miles, 1607 cum. miles

Jeff, waiting for a Tok welding shop to repair a broken weld on his bike, met a local who played guitar & banjo.
Beer joint, populated by natives, where we drank several rounds of local draft beer, and played shuffleboard.
Here's Kokoro Ito, at our campsite in Tok, cyclist, travel journalist, tour conductor, etc, who was on a round-the-world bicycling adventure. Look him up at
Local food. Click on the photo & look closely at the varied selection, necessary for a well-balanced diet for long-distance cyclists.
Only 1312 miles to go to the beginning of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek, BC.
Here's the address of someone who decided that milepost 1312 was good enough for him.
We stopped for a long visit to the Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. While there, we hiked to a hidden lake, and borrowed a rowboat courtesy of the park service. First, we noticed the wild swans.
Then, we noticed the swans noticing the moose.
Then, we rowed up to the moose, as close as we dared, who noticed us.
He got tired of us, and stalked into the forest. We then explored several beaver lodges, and were treated to many sightings of tail-slapping beaver.
When we got back to our bikes, greeted by a hitchhiking dragonfly on my seat.
O Canada!!! At the border, crossing into the Yukon.
Canadian ducks.
Doesn't everyplace have a Turd Factory?

We had previously met a cycling couple from Quebec, Rene & Josh, on the George Parks Highway on the way from Fairbanks to Denali NP. We ran into them again on the way to Haines Junction, Yukon, where they would break off and head south for Juneau and Sitka, thence to New Mexico via the coast route. We thought we might meet up with them in NM, as the Great Divide Mountain Bike Trail we were planning on taking leads to the same area.
Kluane National Park & Preserve, together with Wrangell-St Elias National Park & Preserve, constitutes a World Heritage Site containing Mt Logan, highest peak in Canada. Sightseerers on the cruise ships in the Gulf of Alaska thrill as they watch icebergs calving from the Kluane glaciers. The day after we passed through, it snowed here for the first time this fall.
This photograph was actually taken from a postcard, showing the Southern end of Kluane Lake. It was too cloudy to get a live shot.
Next stop was Haines Junction, where ONE single tomato cost Can$ 4.59 at the local grocery store. (We went without). Luckily, we still had some of our Tok Snickers stash available.

At the Robert Service Campground on the banks of the Yukon River in Whitehorse, we met a German, who flew in from Frankfort with his folding canoe, here to start a two week trip with his dog down the Yukon River. We wished him good luck, as the weather was deteriorating by the day and he (and us) could get whacked by an early winter storm at any time.
At a local eatery, we ran into another cyclist, riding a recumbent. He said he could do better than 300km a day on the road.
Another shot of his bike.
Jason giving Doug a haircut.
Here's our campsite at the Whitehorse RV park, necessary for the showers, and other amenities.  Next to us in that giant RV was a great couple from Northern California, Chyrl & Gary. We stayed up drinking (their) wine until early AM, catching up on each other's adventures.
Camp food, courtesy chefs Jason & Jeff, who could go full-blown five-star when food was accessable. Those Salmon were indescribably delicious.
About 5:00 AM, right before dawn, our camp was raided by what we think was a large fox, who ran off with chocolate muffins filched from Jason's trailer. Later that same morning, the RV park posted signs about a bear sighting, so, it might be possible that the fox might have actually been the bear.
Fish art. How many ways can you depict a Salmon? Lots. This display was at the Whitehorse fishway, the longest wooden fish ladder in the world.
An authentic native fish trap.
Mean-looking, but amazing nutrition for hungry bears & cyclists.
Salmon have travelled over 1800 miles from the Bering Sea at Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to Whitehorse at this point, and still have many more miles to go before they finally reach their spawning grounds in the headwater creeks of the Yukon.
Here's one making its way up the ladder.
The fishway. Note the wood construction.
Fellow campers, at the Robert Service Campground. Anyone care for gourmet sliced fresh strawberries?
In Whitehorse, the world's only three storey log cabin.
Whitehorse bling-bling
Next stop, Watson Lake, Yukon, just before the Alaska Highway enters British Columbia (BC). In Canada, that's short for "Bring Cash".