STEWART CASSIAR HIGHWAY
I decided to take the Cassiar Highway. I really didn’t have a choice after hearing all the stories of grizzly bears, moose, rivers filled with salmon, barren plateaus, quiet lakes and mighty glaciers. I would see all of these but a moose over the next several days.
I have always admired dogs and how they live in the moment. They don’t worry about the future or dwell on the past.
I too, was changing:
- The rain which used to lower my spirit was merely a distraction.
- The long uphills always revealed great views.
- The lonely road led me to unique cultures and amazing people.
- And the mosquitoes... well, no change there, they just sucked.
When a normal person sees a grizzly they would back up, or reach for the bear spray. I took out my camera and my cellphone, and was faced with one of my hardest decisions in my life:
a) Use my camera, or...
b) Use my cellphone so that I could put it on Facebook. Yup, unbelievable right? That’s actually what went through my mind. I am 20-30 feet away from a grizzly and I think about Facebook!
In the commotion the bear saw me and took off, but not before I could take few shots.
As I make my way up north the nights get colder—yesterday was the second night I could see the stars. I lie down in my sleeping bag, sore from the day’s ride and millions of stars are glittering above me. I take a breath and close my eyes, and I am a part of this remote and serene landscape. I am somewhere I belong.
The luxury Bell 2 Lodge, where well-off skiers enjoy heli-skiing. They also pay $3.50 for a 1 liter bottle of water, just like me.
The guy driving the truck was here to do a repair on the gas pipeline. He told me that he went up hills slower than me.
I proved him wrong.
“When you see a sign for ‘Little Bob Quinn Lake’ make a turn.”—Jordi
I stopped for lunch. So did the mosquitoes.
A native music festival—in the middle of nowhere.
Following a short but bumpy ride on a nameless road I arrived at the Sacred Headwaters Music Festival. I had a hard time believing that so many people would gather together in such a remote place. This how the locals live—how they celebrate the pristine rivers and lakes, the snowy mountain peaks and the untouched Canadian wilderness.
And here is what it sounded like.
Few of the native people I spoke to were very happy with how the government was dealing with new developments on their land. Although it may appear that the Indian councils have a say in what goes on, they in fact do not. We live in a world where making money is the driving force for almost everything and shoving guilty money into those communities will not undo the environmental effects of building a mine, an oil field, or a pipeline through their ancestral lands.
Maybe it was the climb preceding this beautiful plateau or maybe it was the bare mountain peaks pointing my way. Or the icy shower I had taken at a stream just minutes ago, or perhaps it was the open skies and the clear air.
Whatever the reasons, this was the most wonderful stretch of the Cassiar highway.
I thought about climbing the mountain and sleeping on top. There was a small shack on the left side of the road and I spoke with the person who owned it. He said that he could give me a horse ride to the top.
“It’s too fookin little,” he says when I tell him I only have $20. Before I could try offering something for trade he saw that an RV had pulled up to the horse stable further down the road.
“They’re touching my horses!”—he jumped into his pickup truck and drove off.
After 12 days and 2,086km in British Columbia I have finally reached Yukon.
This is a major milestone for me—I am a big fan of Jack London’s books and I will in a way re-live one of his stories. I am not facing the bitter cold (yet) or crossing frozen lakes and unmarked paths, but cycle touring is quite the challenge in itself.
“Iohan of the Yukon,” a friend said, and I hope this nickname sticks.