Dawson City and The Top of The World Highway

As I make my way north I will cross the historic Alaska and Klondike highways. The long days and the vast, open views of the Yukon will lead me to the Top of the World Highway and the decision whether or not I should continue North on The Dempster


IMG_6386.JPG

Another night under the stars, a glimpse at the Northern Lights and another lesson in camping: “The importance of sleeping on Level Ground”.


 The Alaska Highway

The Alaska Highway


 This is what remains of the ancient land of Quesnellia. The whole area was completely submerged and these peaks are what is left of the volcanic islands.

This is what remains of the ancient land of Quesnellia. The whole area was completely submerged and these peaks are what is left of the volcanic islands.


 Teslin, the first town with a grocery store in 350+km. Several days of mostly oatmeal & peanutbutter have taken a toll on me.

Teslin, the first town with a grocery store in 350+km. Several days of mostly oatmeal & peanutbutter have taken a toll on me.


IMG_6651.JPG

John had time off work and asked his thirteen year old son what he wanted to do.

This is how they ended up riding across Canada’s most remote regions. We shared information about camping spots, the next available grocery store and how truly amazing it is to be exploring the country on a bicycle.


It’s 8pm, I am tired and about 20km before Whitehorse—looking for #1391.5.

Patrick, whom I had met at Boya Lake and who took that picture of me jumping in the lake, had invited me to visit him near Whitehorse. The problem was finding his place. I spent half an hour looking for his house, went down two nameless dirt roads, and visited two houses. No luck. It has been 7 days since I last had a proper shower or washed my clothes.

Warmshowers.org is a cycling hospitality website, and I managed to get a hold of Karl who said it was no problem to drop by.


IMG_6745.JPG

In 1896 gold was found near Dawson City, and this launched the Klondike Gold Rush. A few years later, thousands made their way north with stern-wheelers or barges on the Yukon River.

As for me, I will be taking the Klondike Highway.


 Whitehorse, capital of The Yukon

Whitehorse, capital of The Yukon

I woke up late, had real food and stocked up for the days ahead. It was my first rest day since I began my trip.

I met Holly, Karl’s girlfriend who had cycled the road connecting Dawson City and Inuvik—the Dempster Highway. 736km (457mi) of dirt and gravel with only two towns on it and three continental divide crossings. My bicycle, Opus-Legato, had only 32mm wide tires, not the kind you should bring to The Dempster. Rain was in the forecast, but I’ve made it too far to turn back.

I left Whitehorse the following day at 5am and I was ready to finish what I started. Even if I had to push my bike through the mud, I was going to make it to Inuvik.


“What kind of precautions do you take?”

The topic was bears, and I was at the Carmacks post office. The owner was very interested in my trip.

“Oh, I just leave my food at the back of the bear-proof garbage cans or tie it up a tree,” I lied. I had in fact been carrying a 30 foot rope with me but never used it. Finding a tree to hang your bags is very difficult especially after riding all day. A few times I had just left my food on my bike, next to my tent.

“You should tie a rope around your tent with some aluminum foil on it, to scare the bear if it gets near.”

‘Bear’, ‘near’ and ‘tent’. The three magic words that hikers don’t want to hear. I took the rope but decided to hang my bear bell if I used it.

I never did.


I woke up to the sounds of a squirrel excited over its new toy.

A fox was wandering the campground looking for food.

The natives I met yesterday were preparing porcupine for their elders. They left its carcass next to the overflowing garbage bin.

sq.jpg
 Autofocus: 0, Squirrel: 1

Autofocus: 0, Squirrel: 1


 A plant who found a way to live on the road, just like me.

A plant who found a way to live on the road, just like me.


IMG_7211.JPG

Looking north across the Tinatina Trench. It hasn’t rained yet, but it will soon.


IMG_7287.JPG

As I approach Dawson City, the remnants of The Gold Rush come to life.

This was really a milestone, but the unique and historic buildings in town don't interest me. I send supplies ahead for The Dempster Highway, in two days I will be back from the Alaska border and make my way to The Arctic.


IMG_7323.JPG

Literally a breathtaking view. Who said getting to the Top of the World would be easy?


IMG_7389.JPG

A unique highway first used during the gold rush, The Top of the World has an unusual approach to crossing mountain ranges. Instead of taking the valleys below, it boldly crawls from ridge to ridge, with extreme grades and airplane-like views.


 I found this spot a few meters from the highway—it was raining last night, but my $30 dollar tent held up very well.

I found this spot a few meters from the highway—it was raining last night, but my $30 dollar tent held up very well.


20130819_125444.jpg

I stopped at this peak to take few photos and eat some Oreo’s. Then a dog suddenly appeared for a quick petting session! Her owner was there as well and she was kind enough to take this photo.

I love dogs!


IMG_7584.JPG

“I have something for you,” the dog’s owner said as she went into her car. It was caribou meat, but I refused because I had no way to cook it. I have never in my life lit a fire and I only boil water with my stove.

“How about this? Sockeye Salmon.”

If this were a word association game, my reply would have been “BEAR!”. I had not eaten any fish because I had heard bears are strongly attracted to the smell.

I refused, and I don’t recall what my excuse was but I know I didn’t give her the real reason. After all you wouldn’t want to hear somebody telling you they are afraid of bears... well, unless you are reading this story.


 Top of the world. The rain only made this more magical!

Top of the world. The rain only made this more magical!


IMG_7674.JPG

I wanted to ride at night below the stars and the northern lights, but it wasn’t to be time. Ever since my first day on the Alaskan highway the night sky had been covered in clouds and tonight was no exception.

The moonlight provides just enough light to see the road ahead, but that’s no longer what I am after. I need to find a place to camp.

Its 2am, and I am finally on the Dempster. I find a comfy patch of grass beside the road.


 

Photo gallery: Day 13-19