Having two weeks in Canada has not only given me time to adjust to a new country but I also got used to covering bigger distances with not much in between which will certainly help for the next stretch. With huge distances between not just towns but garages I had to be prepared for what lay ahead and extended time in the saddle. I had once again been fortunate to have met more amazing people but heading north I was on my own and I was excited about the challenge. Being told that if I hadn’t seen bears already I would certainly see them on the road ahead and had to keep my eyes open so lets see what there is to come.
Saturday 11th June
With the plan to leave Terrace at 8.30am I was awake and up by 7.30am to have breakfast and make myself a coffee. Marg arrived on the second and so we set off once again for Kitwanger to drop me back to where I had left off. It was not only very kind of her to pick me up and take me back but she was also really great company and very nice to chat to.
The lovely Marg showing off the Terrace sign
We made our way back up the beautiful valley stopping at a couple view points to take pictures before we arrived at the garage at around 9.30am. It was perfect timing and it left me with a good chance of covering the miles I needed. I thanked Marg for being an amazing person for doing this and couldn’t believe I had only known her for a day.
I set off to the north and crossed the river then started to climb when the road levelled off and started to drop with a long straight road ahead. As I started to descend slightly I saw a black bear cross the road in the distance which was just amazing to see.
I couldn’t believe in as many days I had seen 2 bears and hoped I would see one a little closer without feeling threatened. I reached the point where I had seen it but it had disappeared into the bush. I pushed on to Gitanyow (Kitwancool) where I had been told about some world famous totem poles and so turned off to have a look. As I got closer to the village I saw Philip the German cyclist that I had met yesterday when Marg had come to pick me up. We chatted for a while with the possibility of meeting up along the road and then headed on into the small town to check out the poles.
On arriving in the centre I could see lines of them rising high above the ground and were spectacular. Although many are replicas as the originals are in the royal BC museum in Victoria these works of art were extremely impressive.
These poles were huge and so impressive to see.
Having had a look around and taking a short break I headed out of the village on a back road and rejoined the highway. It wasn’t long after that I caught up with Phillip and so we rode together and chatted. While we were riding we passed a black bear right on the side of the road.
It was so close to us and once we were at a safe distance the bear looked at us then disappeared into the forest. Pleased we had seen one so close up we rode on chatting when we saw another crossing the road ahead. We approached with caution but by the time we had reached it the bear had moved away from the highway and was heading into to woodland.
With 45 miles still to cover I could hear my frame making strange noises when I looked to see what it was. On closer inspection I noticed my frame had snapped yet again but in another place. We stopped for lunch but with my snapped frame still bugging me I told Phillip I would ride on slowly so not to make it worse. After a while Phillip caught me when we saw yet another Black bear with a cub.
Mother and cub were just beautiful
Wanting to get within 20 miles of Meziadin Junction we decided to get water in a river when we were swarmed by mosquitos. They were so bad we had to be quick and even the few seconds I had my hands exposed to collect water I was being eaten alive.
Keeping covered up while the bugs attacked
Once I had got the water we needed we went to set off when a car stopped to see if we were ok and told us about a rest area 2km up the road. It was perfect so we set off and arrived in a slightly breezy pull off. With it being slightly windier by the road we cooked there to keep as many mosquitos off us but we still had to walk around the road while we ate to keep the bugs off. Once we had eaten we could then pitch the tents and hang our food up out of the way of the bears. With my bike frame now broken and still 65miles to Stewart we hoped we could ride the 20miles to the junction and catch a lift down the the town and just hope I could get my bike fixed.
Sunday 12th June
Waking up to hear the rain starting to hit the tent and then to see about 20 mosquitos looking in at me with hungry faces saying here comes breakfast wasn’t the most encouraging thing to get me up.
If only you could see the number of mosquitos that surrounded us
Then to remember my bike was broken was the cherry on the cake almost making me want to turn over and go back to sleep. Knowing there was nowhere for another 20 miles to get supplies and I didn’t really want to stay in a mosquito infested area I got up and joined Philip for breakfast. Noticing a mouse had also found my coffee adorable I knew I couldn’t leave anything out that would attract the wrong animals.
Many of the bridges had timber tops
Phillip enjoying the ride
We set off and after 20 miles and some beautiful views we arrived at Meziadin junction. We went in for a coffee and some chips before heading out to see if we could catch a ride down to Steward to see if we could fix my bike. After several no’s from people and tourists who were going that way Phillip managed to stop a guy called Wade who worked close to the junction. I went over and he offered his welding kit and loads of tools. It was perfect so we set off for the yard and soon I was able to prove to the others how bad my welding was.
Here goes all or nothing
How hard can it be
Not totally convinced it would hold I added a splint for extra support
I did stick at it and after some persistence I managed to sort of fix it. Adding an extra splint seemed to be a good idea and just hoped for the best. Hoping this would keep me on the road I then joined Wade and Philip for a few beers then we headed down to the lake to go fishing.
Were here now can I get off
Wade getting the fire lit while we go fishing
Not a bad fishing spot if I say so myself
My catch for the day
Phillips catch for the day
It was so much fun and Wade was just the greatest of company. We hung out by the lake for a while trying to fish before making our way back up to the cabins to eat. Wade then brought us loads of food to eat and so I went in to cook while Phillip continued fish. After the day starting off so rubbish with loads of bugs up to the junction then to meet Wade was just awesome. With a side trip planned to ride to Stewart tomorrow to see the Glacier it had been a great place to stop and just have some fun.
Monday 13th June
As the light started to pour in through the cabin window I woke and lay enjoying just being in a bed. I got up and headed into the kitchen to join Philip for breakfast and sort out my things to go. It took a while to get organised and pack our things but having only 40 miles to Stewart we weren’t in to much of a rush. Having some time while I waited for Philip I managed to cut my hair and look a little bit more presentable.
Wade came over to see how we were getting on and soon it was time to leave. Although it had been a pain snapping my frame again it had actually been so much more fun because of it. Wade had been an absolute star and so much fun to be with. Looking down the valley and seeing what we had in front of us and with it being a nice day I knew we were in for a great ride. Once we had thanked Wade for being great fun we headed up on to the highway and started to head west up the valley.
It was so impressive how the mountains rose high above us with the road cutting its way through the middle following the glacial fed river as it went. We had only been going for half an hour when we spotted a bear cross the road right in front of us.
They were fascinating to watch but we were very careful not to provoke them
We stopped to let it cross only for it to be followed by an even bigger black bear. It was so cool to see them but being so close and being down wind from them they couldn’t quite work out what we were making it a little bit more dodgy. We waited for a while and as they looked at us one rose up in the air to try and smell us. Once they had moved off the road we moved past making noise so they could see us and then move away. As we climbed the hill away from them they both crossed back over the road and back into the bush. I was so pleased I had seen them so close up and also pleased we hadn’t had any problems. We continued up the valley slowly climbing with the scenery getting better all the time.
Once we had reached the pass we then started to drop towards Bear Glacier which wound its way out of the mountains and into a green lake. It was stunning and we just stood in awe trying to grasp it sheer size.
Having around 20 miles left to Stewart we followed the river down the narrow forested valley into the strengthening head wind. It remained beautiful all the way down in to town and we were both pleased we had taken the detour.
We arrived in Stewart around 3pm and while Philip went to the park to eat I found a restaurant to treat myself to some pork chops. The town was stunning with Glacier fingers hanging off the side of the mountain ready to drop at any point.
The town was beautiful
With some interesting vehicles
Entering a small part of Alaska
Once we’d had a look around we then proceeded to Hyder which is a tiny village in the USA and part of Alaska. The village was a lot smaller then Stewart but still had a charm of its own. We found the campsite and while I was putting up my tent a Black Bear wondered through the campground. I couldn’t believe how many there were and were just wondering around.
The fjord that the ships would come in on to bring supplies
Wanting to get something to eat we finished setting up camp then headed to an old restaurant bus to have our dinner. We joined a few others that were eating there and found that two of the guys were driving up to Salmon Glacier in the morning.
The fish and chip bus was so cool
Having wanted to go there but with it being a pain to get to it worked out perfect and would be a great start for tomorrow. With the restaurant owner wanting to head home we headed back to the campsite and got chatting to a family on an array of butchered bikes.
It was so funny what they had done to them but all looked a little dodgy. As the bugs got worse it was time to head inside and get a little work done before bed and just hopped I wasn’t woken by any fury friends.
The meeting sun hitting the tops of the mountains
Tuesday 14th June
Being woken to the sound of the birds is amazing but to be woken up by a woodpecker who has decided that out of the millions of trees in Canada to build his home next to the one next to my tent was the best. It didn’t take long to convince him it wasn’t the right tree so I could continue to sleep before it was time to go and meet the guys. I then fell into a deep sleep only to wake 10 minutes before we were due to meet. I called Phillip who was already up and leap out of bed packing away my things in record speed.
We were soon joined by Rens and Jaap and were taken in Ren’s 4×4 up the climb to the Salmon Glacier. As the Glacier came into sight we couldn’t believe our eyes. It was not just big, it was massive and looked just awesome.
One of the very cool helicopters being used to build transmission lines to a mine
The sheer size and beauty was indescribable and to think this was mother nature at its best was just breathtaking. We made our way up to the view point and just sat and stared at it. The thing I think hit me the most was that I had seen so many glaciers before with evidence of them receding and this one was no exception.
Having these guys with us made the trip so much more enjoyable
Thinking that one day all this could be gone was sad. We sat drinking coffee from Jen’s jeep and watched it and absorbed it. With time moving on and having been offered a lift back to the junction it was time to head back down the valley and go and meet the family.
Once we were reunited with our bikes we thanked Rens and Jaap for their company and headed into the village to meet Mark his wife and their 14 children.
They were all so good at singing
They were all very nice people and had made us a desert then showed us around their huge house that they had built between them all. We were then sung to by the family before it was time to set off back to the junction. With half the family coming along for the ride it took a while to get through customs and were then taken back up to Wade’s place where we were hoping we could rest before we set off tomorrow.
Our camp for the night
It wasn’t just Wade, Phillipa and me that wanted some moose stew
We soon arrived after a 40 minute drive and thanked them for their help and being so kind. I headed off to find Wade who was very glad to have us stay and as a treat he had prepared Moose stew. It was so great to see him, have a few beers and he even let us fire one of his hunting rifles.
Although we had only known him for a couple days he was someone I would miss for his energy and his kindness.
Wednesday 15th June
Hearing the rain on the cabin roof was just great has I knew we had made the right decision to stay at the camp. The rain pretty much fell all night getting heavier making me wonder if we were in for a wet day. I woke around 8.30am with the rain now stopped and got up to sort out my things ready to get going. I joined Wade for breakfast and while I ate he very kindly made me a cup of coffee. He had been such a star letting us stay and he was just the best guy to hang out with. By the time we were both ready it was gone 9.30am and so we set off with very heavy bikes for the junction. We had only been riding for about 10 minutes when we saw our first black bear of the day and luckily this one was also keen not to hang around.
He was so cool
We reached the junction and headed on to the north passing a sign saying a climb for the next 20km. Although it did climb it was pretty much steady with a few sections that levelled off or even dropped a little. Being foggy it was hard to see anything other then the fir trees but we were pleased it hadn’t been yesterday when we headed to the glacier.
The fog ahead wasn’t a great sight
As we passed the first summit we dropped towards two cyclist heading south and stopped to chat. They were on a circular route having come up from Seattle on the ferry and were now making their was south back home.
It was nice to chat and to get some info on the road but also to hear the weather for them had been good up to just an hour before. We set off again and sure enough the sky cleared leaving the trees clear of fog and now starting to expose the snowcapped mountains behind.
It was stunning riding through the corridor of firs with the snow capped peaks as a back drop and added to that we also had a slight tail wind making our going much easier. Now making good progress we decided to stop at 12pm for lunch in an open area that would be free of bears. We made our lunch and sat for about an hour before packing up and heading on.
The road dropped to a bridge and then we started to climb following a wide river up stream. Not being to steep we kept at it hoping we would soon reach Bell II in good time.
At one point Phillip was behind when I saw him stop in the road and look at the side of the road. I went on a little then waited for him and once he reached me he told me I had just passed a huge Grizzly just a few metres from the hard shoulder .
The scenery was just breathtaking
Pleased I hadn’t come in contact with him we rode on until we reached the tiny settlement of bell II and went in to grab some snacks.
A sign just to remind us that bears are not to be taken lightly
It was at this point I realised I hadn’t got my wallet and couldn’t find it anywhere. A rush of panic came over me and I knew there could only be one place it could be and that was back where we had started our day. Managing to send an email to Wade he soon got back to me and said he would go and look. knowing I would probably have to hitch hike back I knew I was in for a long and rubbish evening. After a while I got a message from Wade to say my wallet had been found and would be delivered in 25 minutes by a truck that was heading up to a mine. It was amazing news and I couldn’t believe he had sorted it out so I didn’t have to go back. Although I was pleased I would get my wallet back part of me wouldn’t have minded going back to hang out with Wade again but I was so grateful he had done this so quickly.
Sure enough a huge truck arrived and the driver leant out the window and handed me my wallet. Know being back on track I headed back to our camp and joined Phillip to cook dinner. It had been a really good day and not to hard. The scenery had been great and I was now reunited with my wallet. I was a happy man.
Thursday 16th June
Having had to stop early yesterday due to my wallet being lost meant the 140km we would have done then we would have to do today. Agreeing to get up and try and leave by 9.15am was great but I was tired when I woke at 8.30am. I packed away my things and although we both made breakfast we were pretty much on time. I made my way to the garage to just send some messages when the lady at the desk asked if we wanted more internet time for free. This was amazing but it meant we ended not leaving until 10.45am. We dropped down to the bridge and then started the first of many climbs out of the valley.
The bridge had holes in the base to let the snow through so not to overload it
Also having a head wind didn’t help but deciding to cover the 25 miles to Bob Quinn we hoped we could find a place to top up our water and have some lunch. With the wind picking up it was slow progress getting there and once we had arrived all we could see was a tiny airport and a compound with no one around. Realising we now wouldn’t be stopping there we rode on another 10 miles and stopped on the side of the road that was out of the way of traffic but with enough breeze to keep the bugs off.
We were stopped for about 45 minutes to an hour and by this time it was gone 3pm. Still having about 53 miles to cover we pushed on but with the constant climbs it was really slow going. The scenery made up for it as we followed a snow capped mountain range that ran parallel with the highway. Although the descents were a welcome break the climbs were sure to follow taking us ever higher and keeping our speed down.
Enjoying the ride
Just one of the many climbs through the stunning landscape
This made me laugh, despite early settlers forging route through this harsh environment to put in phone lines in the 1900’s we still today couldn’t get a mobile signal
Being such a tough day I was now really low on water when a car driver stopped to chat. The timing was perfect but the water wasn’t. I let the car go and continued on passing a waterfall with clear water coming off the glacier so emptied what I had and then refilled my bottles. It was perfect and set me up for the rest of the day. By this point it was now getting late and looking at or average speed we wouldn’t arrive until after 9pm.
We passed many nice spots to camp but with 100 km from Totagga tomorrow we wanted to get there so we didn’t get another long day tomorrow. Phillip stopped at a camper to fill his bottles so I pushed on climbing one hill after the next hoping at some point it would level off.
When it finally did the wind picked up and then returned to climbs all be it smaller ones. After what felt like a life time I arrived at the camp spot and went to check in. It was now 9.30pm and I was shattered. Still having dinner to cook and to pitch my tent and wash it was going to be a while before it was time for bed.
We were both shattered but we needed to eat
Having a Chilli mix with pasta and a potato was perfect and so it was soon time for bed and to try and get a good nights sleep. Although it had been a tough day we had covered 88miles and climbed 1500metres which we were pleased with.
Friday 17th June
Waking up I was up and packed by the time Phillip appeared. Not wanting to rush he told me to ride on and with a long day ahead I set off out of the camp.
Climbing away from the small settlement I looked to my left to see a black bear pop its head out of the grass as if to say “dam it that was a rubbish hiding spot” It made me laugh as it was so sweet and looked very cuddly.
With two big climbs to get over I was soon at the top of the first and dropping down to the Stikine river when I saw my first Caribou. Spotting me before I could take a picture it disappeared into the forest and so I continued my descent to the bridge where I stopped for a quick lunch break.
There were so many beautiful places
Sat in the sun and having a big climb ahead of me I didn’t stop long when I saw Phillip ride up from the river. Not having stopped for food we agreed to meet a bit later and I set off up the pass. After 15 miles I finally reached the top of Gnat pass at 1241 metres and started the long descent the other side.
It took a while to reach Dease lake but once I reached the centre I went into the garage restaurant and ordered some food. It was great to have made it but I still wasn’t sure where the campsite was. Once I had finished eating a very tired Phillip arrived and we went to find a place to stay. Hearing that the campsite was another 10 miles further on we agreed to do it and so I set off while Phil had his dinner. It seemed to take a while to reach the camp but once I was checked in I got chatting to the two girls next to my site who had an amazing mosquito net over their bench.
This was so cool and they were the bet company
Once I was set up and had packed my things Phillip arrived and we joined the girls along with Craig who had come down from Alaska. Mercia, Angie and Craig were such great company and we had a brilliant evening drinking wine until 1.30am when I checked the time.
Our camp sunset
Knowing we had 140km to ride the next day it was time to get some sleep hoping we would manage the distance to our next camp spot.
Saturday 18th June
Going to bed at 1.30am wasn’t the best way to prepare for a long day on the road but having such great company it was so much fun. Having drank a few to many glasses of wine also didn’t help meaning I woke earlier and not feeling to great.
Very early morning camp
I joined Marcia and Angie in their bug tent and we were soon joined by a bleary eyed Phillip and Craig. It was so great hanging out with them especially as Angie made everyone a coffee. Although I wasn’t feeling to great we were packed and ready to go by 9.30am. We said our goodbyes and set off up to the road and started to head north. Noticing there was a wind from the south was great as it would make our day a little easier.
The road around the lake climbed and fell making it slow and annoying knowing we were following a lake. As we got closer to the end the road climbed above the lake, then dropped and followed the river down the valley. From here it undulated slightly and with a tailwind we started to make better progress.
Needing to cover 90 miles to get to Boya lake we rode until we had 45 miles left then pulled over to have lunch. Knowing we had a climb coming up it was good to stop and refuel to give us energy for the climb. The scenery was just incredible and we were kept entertained constantly as we headed towards the mountains.
Once we had eaten we set off and soon started to climb. It wasn’t steep but we continued to get steadily higher. As we neared Jade City I saw a cyclist coming the opposite way. Her name was Maud from France and was heading to South America skipping bits to fit in as much as possible.
Reaching the top and seeing beautiful lakes was just great
Phillip and Maud
She was really great to chat to and knowing what she was heading for I was excited for what she was going to see. We set off and soon arrived in Jade city to check out the jade shop and grab a snack. As we were about to leave when a tour bus arrived and we were then asked a million and one questions. They were all very nice and great to chat to but needing to get to the lake which was still 25 miles away we had to push on. We set off and from here the road steadily dropped making our progress really fast.
If Phil hadn’t spotted these two I would never have seen them
Feeling tired but great to be almost there
There was still some hills in the way and having already done several long days we were both getting really tired. By the time it reached 7.30pm we reached the turn off for the lake and dropped down to the water. When we arrived it was stunning with emerald green water that was to inviting not to jump in.
It was just what I needed and the water was warmer then I had thought it would be. Once I was out I pitched my tent had dinner then packed away my things so we could go and see a beaver dam. Being a 20 minute walk through the beach forest we took our bear spray and headed off.
This bird was going crazy at us for being in her territory
Thats a big bear (i don’t mean me)
As we dropped through the woods we spotted a tree where wood peckers had been making their home and some bear claw marks a bit higher up. We realised it must have been a big bear so walked on until we reached the damming area.
This was mad to see how they were cutting them down
At first we saw loads of trees that had been chopped down realising it must have been the beavers. These trees were huge and as we walked to the dam we could hear a huge tree crashing through the forest. It was so funny to think that such a small animal could chop down such a big tree with its teeth.
Beaver heading to the dam
The lake behind this dam was huge
We reached the dam and couldn’t believe the size of it. It held back water raising the height by over four feet. We stood and watched them come and go and with the sun slowly setting the colours of the forest became magical.
We stood for a while watching and with the light slowly fading we started to head back when we saw the moon rise over the lake.
As the moon came up a beaver swam through the water below
It couldn’t get any better the this and we were both just speechless at the beauty. We made our way back to camp taking hundreds of photos and then settled down for the night.
What a day
With the full moon up and the sky still light from the late summer sun I went to bed with the sound of the wolves howling way off in the forest. It had been a long but an incredible day from start to finish and I felt so lucky I was here to see and hear it all.
Sunday 19th June
Waking up to the sun heating my tent was enough to get me out of bed and into the lake. The water was still cold from the night but the surface was flat as a pancake. It took me a while to get used to it but the feeling of the cold refreshing my body was amazing.
Why would you not want to jump in here
Once out I got up and started to make breakfast when Phillip appeared from his tent. I hung around while he got ready then headed up to the junction to wait for him. He got chatting to a couple who were inviting us to stay in Watson lake which was where we were heading that day. Their names were JM and Natalie and had two kids who were more then happy to host us. Feeling relieved we had a place to stay we set off up the track and passed yet another bear heading into the forest. Once out onto the road it was clear we had a strong tail wind and that was what Phillip loved.
The totally smooth highway with a tailwind was perfect
He was off at top speed and I clung onto his back wheel trying to keep up. Although we were averaging 18 mph we didn’t seem to be covering the miles. I knew were were and had to be but today it was my turn to be tired. The road surface was amazing but we past miles and miles of dead forest due to a fungus and insect invasion. It was incredible to see the destruction and how far it had spread.
Phillip riding towards me through the dead firs
As it got closer to lunch time we spotted a beautiful blue lake to have lunch by. With the water being so clear I was soon in for a swim and enjoying the cool water in the heat of the day. It was so refreshing but my legs were still tired.
This just felt great
Once we’d had lunch we set off again continuing north passing even more Beavers swimming in the lakes next to the highway.
From here the road got tougher with short steep climbs followed by short steep descents that seemed to zap my energy. What didn’t help was that we had been plagued by huge horse flies all day that were so big they caused shadows on the ground and if we stopped they would swarm and take chunks out of us.
Phillip just about to take on the steep hill behind me
Not being able to stop because of them I reached the junction followed by Phillip who had stopped having seen more bears and we sat cooling down in the shade with a cold drink. I was exhausted and we still had another 17miles to go. We set of east for Watson lake and started to drop towards the Laird river and the start of the first hill. Still with a strong tailwind we stopped to chat to another cyclist before continuing to climb the next two big hills. We kept at it and soon arrived in town and on to the signpost forest where there is a forest of over 100,000 signs covering almost 2 acres having been started by a homesick GI in 1942.
The famous signpost forest
There were over 100,000 signs from all over the world
It was so cool to see so many signs from all over the world. We looked around for awhile but with the time getting on we headed to the supermarket and on to JM’s house to set up camp. Once we were set up JM and Natalie arrived home and cooked us dinner using moose sauages while we chatted.
JM, Natalie and Phillip making the evening fun
They were such great company and so kind to have invited us to come and stay. Canada was proving to be so much more then incredible scenery it was also incredible people.
The last week was a complete surprise with Phillip for company, seeing countless bears, Stunning Glaciers, snapping my frame again and having the best time because of it. It hasn’t been easy with long days and lots of miles and I still had a long way to go before a rest day. It had been so much fun but the bugs were starting to get more intense and much bigger. From here in Watson lake my journey would head west again for over 300 miles to White horse where I could finally have a few days off before the next stretch to the Alaskan border and then onto Fairbanks. I was now getting close and I could feel the end getting closer.
Thanks for reading xx