Inuvik, NT to Cache Creek, BC
There was no overwhelming feeling of accomplishment when I reached Inuvik, or if there was it was overshadowed by what I had felt when I finished climbing the mountain pass to Northwest Territories. It was there that I had experienced my trip’s highpoint and it was then that I realized that doing something against all odds and against common sense and logic is very rewarding.
Now I have to hitchhike back to British Columbia where 23 days ago I made a turn north. From there I will cycle home.
So, about the other four cyclists and the bear problem.
One of the campgrounds at the start of the Dempster was closed. The sign simply read, “Bear Problem”. One of the girls had been making food, stepped away for a moment, and when she came back a grizzly was having her supper. Unlike Goldilocks, the bear had just continued eating until they flagged down a car from the road to scare it away. They were all shaken up and hitched a ride further down the road.
This reminded me that I needed to hitch a ride myself and that I had never done that before, especially not with a bike.
How does 80 days on the Mackenzie river sound for a summer vacation? The first guy I hitched with had done just that. In a canoe.
And this is Buck. Half husky, half wolf.
I spent the following morning with the ferry captain while waiting for a ride. He shared his lunch with me, as well as some great stories.
Then the first non-local traffic, an RV, picked me up. They were a retired couple from Holland, very intent on seeing a bear.
A bear cub was investigating the RV. This was just near my camp spot few days earlier when I almost froze to death (I camped just up the hill on the left). None of us saw the cub at the time, good thing his next of kin wasn't near...
“Where are you going?”
“Whitehorse,” said Paul, the priest from Fort McPherson who had let me stay in the church.
“Where are we stopping?”
It was 900km away and it was already 6pm. I got lucky!
The RV-ers stopped for the day midway across The Dempster, but I continued cycling. I have been continuously surprised by how kind and trusting people are towards complete strangers. People had shared their food, houses, cars and stories with me.
I had only ridden on a roller coaster once, and today would be the second time. The Dempster Highway is a thrill like no other, you never know when a bump will send you flying. As we drive along, Paul sometimes pats the dashboard and apologizes to the van.
The weather is beautiful, and as we pass Tombstone National Park, my heart rate increases.
I didn’t climb that mountain on the Cassiar, but I had another opportunity, and this time there were proper trails leading to the peaks.
But time is not on my side, my plan is to arrive late for school and abandoning a great ride to take two days off to climb is not a good idea.
And just like the governor of California, “I’ll be back,” ...someday.
Paul woke me up. It was dark and the van was not moving.
It was the Northern Lights.
A band of green had stretched across the night sky from end to end. I only had my sweater and it was cold outside.
Everybody else was sleeping. I am sure they have seen the lights many times. I wonder how it feels to live this far north, to spend long summer days and longer still winter nights. To have this vast untouched wilderness in your backyard.
Paul stopped again. He had seen a cooler on the road, he drove back to pick it up. How cool is that? Must have flow off somebody’s car. That’s why there are no roller coasters in the Yukon.
I met Paul’s daughter again in the morning. She had cycled The Dempster when she was 17 with her sister. Who was 15. Amazing!
While looking for a lift out of Whitehorse I met Patrick again, who gave me better instructions to his house and said that if I couldn’t find a ride I could stay over.
Getting a ride was tough, everyone leaving Whitehorse had their vehicle filled with groceries and so on. And to make things harder, I could only fit in pickup trucks or vans with my bike.
John is part of the native council in Atlin, BC. He only went my direction for 40km, but I really needed the motivation to keep going, I needed to move. I had waited for four hours with no luck.
I was just getting ready to camp when I met Harold, who was driving from Alaska to Oregon. And the best part—he wouldn’t mind some company.
Harold was great and woke me up whenever we passed by some wildlife. Unfortunately I wasn’t there to wake him up when he fell asleep behind the wheel, as I was sleeping too.
Survive going into a ditch on the Alaskan highway. Check.
It really wasn’t that bad, the pickup didn’t roll and it makes for a good story.
Harold, who drove me over 2000km back to where I made a turn, 29days ago.