Wednesday, July 30

Monday July 27...
So, the law in BC is that all gas sales must be prepaid or by “pay at the pump”
Apparently, the more outlying areas don't have credit card readers on the pumps so you need to pay cash in advance or let them hold a card.
We fueled up at the bottom of the Stewart Cassiar highway and had a bite to eat.
Food and fuel are getting progressively more expensive.
Well, as it turns out, I didn't remember my card until some 45km up the highway!
With some well chosen words muttered in my helmet, we returned to the gas station and retrieved the card.
Now you must understand that gas stations are not as close together as in most urban centres so the fact that we has “used up”70km of fuel and the fact that we didn't top up led to a shortfall to the next fuel stop on the main highway.
No problem.
According to the signs, the town of Stewart was within easy reach...OFF the main highway!
Oh well...gotta do what ya gotta do.
Oh yes, and did I mention it has been raining now for some 2 hours or so?
Rain proof riding gear?!?!
i don't think so but that's another post.
They don't show you those pictures in the travel brochures!
As it turns out, the road was a stellar paved winding trail through some spectacular canyons and past the Bear glacier!
Sometimes mistakes can work out for the best.
Stewart is a small mining town nestled in the mountains at the end of a fjord.
The motel room was a bit pricey but I guess you pay extra for the view...:)

Tuesday July 6...
The drive out of Stewart was an even greater treat for the eyes as the rain had stopped and while the skies were not clear, the view was lit by patches of dry light.
This is a drive that we wouldn't have chosen but has been one of the highlights so far.
we connected with some guys riding street/trail bikes and traded addresses for further contact.
Big laffs were had when I asked if any of them had seen “The Long Way 'Round”
One guy named Rob is returning to Anchorage and is running a bike tour outfit and has offered to show us his shop and bikes.
I am interested in the Suzuki V Strom bikes as it is a “hybrid” and better suited for this type of environment.
Now I must clarify that while this Stewart Cassiar Highway is called a “highway” you must appreciate that this isn't what we would normally consider more than a side road.
Oh yes ,it's paved, mostly, and there is at least 12” of run off on the shoulder and yes, the vegetation is cut back enough to see just what kind of bear is about to try to ride your bike. But “Highway”...not so much!
This is why you make sure tires and suspension are in good shape.
So all is going along just as good as can be expected,not much rain and some dry, unpaved sections leading down to a river crossing and back up.
A bit pf a pain but not as bad as we had heard.
Ahh, but that wasn't the section people meant!
Nay, nay!
The REAL challenge was the 30km of unpaved, soggy, slippery ,muddy and downright unpleasant part of the “highway” that was yet to come.
i did find that it worked out better to get up a bit of speed, say around 70KPH and the bike handled as well as could be expected.
Those guys on the hybrid bikes passing with a wave...smug *&%!
By the time we arrived in Dease Lake for fuel, it was tough to tell what kind of bikes they were!
It wasn't so bad with the wet mud splashing up on the bikes and clothes because at least it wasn't raining...yet...
Just as we made paved land, the rain began and what was just manageable mud splatter on the pants became a dripping mess!
The pay off , though, was a stay at a “camping” cabin at Dease Lake Crossing that was clean, quiet and had a stellar view.

Wednesday July 7
After a good nights sleep ,we wake up to, yes, MORE RAIN!
But despair not as the weather turned in our favour as we went west.
The view is fantastic as we roll through hills and valleys.
Soon now we are riding in the warm sunlight and eventually connected to the actual Alaskan Highway.
Now THIS is more like it!
Wide road with a good surface and easily allows for a 110KPH cruising speed.
The view is right out of the brochures.A long sweeping ribbon of road cutting through the mountains and Boreal forest.
We have arrived!
Things are running well and the world is good, well at least until Kat starts having trouble shifting the gears on her bike.
I'm thinking things like "dogs are shot" and 'transmission work" but after a quick inspection and some WD40 (don't leave home without it) on the shifter linkage, it's all good with the world again!
But this vista didn't even hint as to the stunning landscape we would see in just a few hours.
We decided on a detour from the main road into the town of Carcross, a quaint rail terminus with no accommodations.
With some help from the local Tourist Info people,a room was secured in Skagway and we set off south along the edge of an inland lake.
They said it would take about 90 miutes but at 100 km distance, it seemed we would do much better.
Ahhh, but they didn't mention the mountain pass!
Now Kat and I have travelled through some nice passes in the Colorado Rockies and the Canadian Rockies but this one is in a league of it's own!
As steady climbing roadway took us into the clouds, rain and ever colder temperature.
I was sure the rain would turn to sleet at any moment.
Familiar mountain terrain gave way to snow line tundra that looked like something from another planet.
Cold? yes...Desolate? yes...Wet? yes...but OUTSTANDING!!!!!
Finally, the road leveled off then tipped down to the exit of the pass.
I can't really thing of the best word to describe it but "holy s^&*" comes to mind.
The pavement is pasted to the side of a canyon that plunges some considerable distance down to the river.
As the two lane threads it's way downward, we are treated to absolutely jaw dropping, and at the same time unnerving, glimpses of the brutal land that the gold miners of '49 had to contend with.
A couple of stops were made for pics.Hope you like them.
After the dizzying decent, and a quick chat with an ever so friendly US Customs guard,we have landed in Skagway, home of the gold rush.
Ferry tickets booked and a bite of Thai food, it's off to snooze.


Astin said...

Something interesting about the fact you made it to the Alaska-BC border in Stewart and then turned around to get back on your route to Alaska... :)

I imagine the panhandle isn't the best riding though.

burns said...

Great work Keith and Kat! But Keith, is this trip called "The Trek To The Fountain Of Youth"? I knew that BC was 4 hour behind us, but you are about 25 days behind them! May wanna check the batteries in your watch. Have fun you 2 and drive safe!