Day 13 (131km)
The moment I left the 9-1-1 zone the scenery improved even more. This panoramic shot is just 50m up the road.
There was a line up in the mountains ahead that I’ve been looking at for the last hour while riding. Is that the road to Skagway, Alaska? It just looked amazing. If it is the road, I’m going there!
"Oh, I thought you were someone else," a dirt bike rider said. I didn't let him go until he explained that the line in the distance is the road to Montana Mountain. Now closed for the season.
Before heading out of Carcross I dropped by the RCMP (police) office to ask if they would care if I camped at the rest areas on the highway, even though there are no camping signs there.
“No, that’s okay. We only had to kick one guy out once. He was living in the bathroom stall for 3 weeks and people were complaining.”
I took the Tagish Highway for another 50km which leads me back to the Alaska Highway. I was no longer riding against the wind and it felt great. Tagish, Yukon is about 300 people in size and there really was nothing except a bridge. A bridge and clear, beautiful skies.
Two kilometers before the Alaska Highway I saw Atlin Road. I wanted to go there but I don’t have the time to ride the 100km road both ways. I decided I’ll stop by the junction for dinner and if I see a car I’ll try to get a ride.
Just before I put my bike down, I see a car coming. Police.
Well… Why not.
Lyle was just coming back from Haines Junction near Alaska where he did some policing during a skidoo event. He was telling me how beautiful and big the mountains up there are.
“If you like this, you will love it down there.” –Yup. I am going to Alaska later this summer.
It was getting dark, Lyle dropped me off at the park where I could camp.
“Here, in case you break another derailleur.”
I opened my mouth to say no.
I really could use the money. Once I finish working in the summer and I set up the fundraiser for the remainder of my trip this will be the first donation.
$100 from Lyle, Atlin, British Columbia.
I set up on top of a bench, the sky was clear and the stars were coming out. Beautiful I am not even going to bother with a picture, it can never capture how it really looks. I set my alarm in two hours so I can see even more stars.
I woke up an hour later and there were less stars. There was light in the sky. Wow.
Day 14 (67km)
I went to the local restaurant to leave my stuff, I will ride without it to go and meet John Ward, who is the leader of the natives in Atlin. He gave me a ride last year when I was going back to Ontario and I wanted to say thanks.
But before that I see the lake. Frozen. “The ice is good, 36inches. But you need a skidoo”—said the restaurant owner.
I go down to take some photos and I see people walking on the ice.
“That mountain over there is actually an island, island Theresa.”
“You can go around it, its 75km.”
I look into the distance as if I had a choice.
I asked them to tell the restaurant owner that I’ll be late.
By noon I only covered 20km. The snow on top of the ice is getting mushier and its hard to pedal. Sometimes I just break through the top layer of the ice and get stuck. I saw a cabin and checked it out “Please leave all windows and door closed, replace any wood used.” I can continue and fall back here if conditions get too bad, then cycle the rest early in the morning when the lake is frozen more.
But what about the restaurant owner? Would he call the police? I definitely don’t want to have people looking for me.
Good decision. It had gotten really bad, I pushed my bike more than half the way back and when I got to pedal it was hard work. It was still awesome. The skies were clear and the sun was shining.
Just as I pull up to shore, I see a pickup stopping. Its Lyle. I’ve taken 6 hours to do barely 40km and I was just supposed to go down to the lake to take pictures. I still have 30km to John’s place and I accept the offer for a ride there.
“Have you had supper?”
Oh, since yesterday the only thing I ate were a box of Oreos. By the time I ate the last one I swore never to eat those cookies again.
John told me how he was fighting against the government because they approved a mine construction without consulting the natives. It’s always a losing battle, there isn’t much native people can do if a decision is made to open a mine, campground, tourist resort.
“You are the first one to pet him,” said the clan leader at the local reserve. A native reserve is not what you think. There are no huts, or dogsled teams and people don’t ride horses up here. I was then offered a can of sockeye salmon.
John’s daughter dropped me back in town where I continued cycling back to Alaska Highway. She does social work and is currently planning on doing a backpacking trip across Europe with her kids.
It’s only 8pm but I found the perfect spot. I decide to go out on the lake and set up there, rather than seek cover in the trees from the wind, I am on a vacation after all. At 2am I wake up and look outside.
No, not this time. I need the sleep.
I read somebody calling granny gear “Don’t be a hero gear”. I switched to it. Then I decided to totally not be a hero and pushed my bike for the last bit of the hill.