When I got up, I didn't know how far I wanted to go. I knew it'd be further than Whitehorse, but not sure how far. So I made some hotel coffee while I packed up and got the bike loaded.
Soon enough, we were ready to roll.
I'd gotten the tip for a good breakfast place at a truck stop 20 minutes or so out of town, so off I went (I'm bad with names and figured there wouldn't be that many truck stops with restaurants).
It was a bit damp and I saw my first deer of the trip standing up a bit from the road. Not many of them up this far.
Things were a touch chilly and I was happy to have my heated gear!
Soon enough I found the spot!
After 3 days of oatmeal, man did this hit the spot (there were a couple of eggs buried underneath too)
And even better, a couple of Harley's rolled in and I got to chatting to one of the guys and he suggested the Yukon Hotel in Teslin as a good place to stop. He also said to call them and make a reservation, they'd hold the room and not charge my card. Good tips! When I called I got the of of the last rooms available and they'd hold it till 6 pm.
I wasn't going to take that long, so now I had my destination and plenty of time to check out the Carcross Desert, which the Turkish guys had told me about. Off I went.
At one of the info boards along the way I took off some layers and read a bit about the climate change in the Yukon and how it's one of the fastest changing (i.e. heat rising) places on the planet. And how deer were moving North into non-traditional ranges, which explained the deer that morning.
Also about how the lakes were formed and the beautiful colours
And then, quick as can be I was there!
You know a Tenere belongs in the desert, so this was good! (Nerdy side note: I briefly considered calling this ride report "To the desert on a horse with no name" - a la "America", since I don't name my bikes, but I just couldn't do it )
Smallest desert in the world and most northern too! More of a big dune really, but let's not split hairs, it's a cool spot.
As I stood there, a guy came over from his RV and we got to chatting. He has 3 bikes in the Netherlands, a modern naked bike and 2 cafe racers! I shared the kilometers I was putting on and he was impressed. We chatted for quite a while, super friendly guy and I think part of him was wishing he was there on a bike instead of cooped up in an RV with his wife and kid.
But I might have been reading too much into it
I'd debated stopping in Carcross and looking at the visitor center, but with all my luggage on and not knowing if I'd be able to see the bike, decided to push on instead.
When I came to the Tagish river crossing I simply had to stop, right there in the middle of the bridge, and get a photo. The vastness of it all, it's stunning.
It didn't take long from here to get to Teslin.
In the parking lot there were a bunch of bikes and I got to speaking to the couple who was on their way up to Alaska, which would be the end of the round-the-world trip. Super nice, you can see more of their journey here: https://www.instagram.com/mundo.em.moto/
She said they saw 30 bears in 300 km coming up the Cassiar!
We took some goofy photos
Just as they were getting ready to leave, another guy on a beemer came up and they chatted in Spanish for a bit. Then he and I got to talking and I got to meet Sam.
He was heading North and we talked about road conditions, Dawson, places to camp and then he said "You want to have a beer?" Well, sure!
So he bought me a beer and we talked more, he's a certified sign language instructor which is really cool! Lived in BC for a while too so we talked about that. Now in Texas IIRC... Just super pleasant to chat with
Eventually he had to get going, but we traded email addresses and I sent him the link to EagleClaw in case he wanted to go camp there. He was taking the ferry down to Prince Rupert from Alaska on his return trip.
Then it got a bit quieter.
I was glad to have an early day. Took a bunch of notes, about the trip, looked at some weather, read a bit. Had dinner at the restaurant (I can't remember what I ate, and don't think I took a photo) and also did some laundry in the room. Though, I was going to need to do more than 'sink laundry' soon!
Next: An un-natural forest and "wait, I know that guy" and the longest day of the trip.
As I was getting ready to head out I thought of something the couple from Spain / Brazil told me: The were at the sight of a collision between a black bear and a Goldwing the day before. The rider was OK, the bear was dead, the bike was wrecked. They had some video that I watched, pretty big mess made of the front end of the 'wing.
Was going to keep that in mind today as I was heading South on the Cassiar
Had breakfast at the hotel restaurant and filled up with plenty of coffee. Next to me was a guy wearing a fanny pack around his shoulder like a shoulder-holster. But we didn't chat.
In the parking lot as I was getting gas I met a French-Canadian, Marco, who'd lived in the Yukon and Alaska for a while, riding a GS (how many Marco's would I meet on this trip?). He rode the Dempster the first year it was open all the way through and told me how there were motorcycle parts scattered all along the top most part. He said 55 riders were air-lifted out the first season it was open all the way to Tuk. He was heading into Alberta, trying to get over 750 km per day (though it could have been miles, he was switching back and forth between units). Either way, much too far for me
Packed and ready to roll
I passed him a bit further up the road, we were riding East, into the sun, and the edges of the roads were difficult to see with the interplay of light and shadows, easy for a moose to hide. I didn't go to quick.
The previous night I'd gone back and forth about going into Watson Lake to see the signpost forest, it seemed such a manufactured tourist stop, but decided that it was only going to cost me 40 minutes or so and today would be a shorter day, since I was only doing a straight shot into Dease Lake.
I had the music playing, the road was quite empty and I was feeling good on the bike. Stopped in the same place that I had when I first rode West on the Alcan and had a snack. How different it all seemed now. No longer so far away and remote, just a beautiful place along the highway.
I didn't even take photos this time.
Made good time getting to Watson Lake
As I started looking around I thought about all those folks who carried signs here to put them up. What motivated them, how could it be so important? I saw large signs from Germany with town's names on them, they'd never fit into luggage. What drove people to show they'd been here, leave such a piece of where they were from as evidence given all the work that it took. Given the hassle to steal the bigger signs, then ship them, it had to have been very important to them.
Some other guys on bikes were next to me, but didn't seem interested in saying hello. Very odd at this point
In the end, it was a very different experience than I had expected and really made me think.
Then there was a woman talking loudly on her phone, using speakerphone, and I knew it was time to go.
Gassed up, and back South on the Cassiar.
Good bye Yukon, it was definitely an adventure!
Hello BC, it was time to go see some of the places I passed by on the way up, namely Telegraph Creek and the glaciers around Stewart!
As I was riding South I started having an uncomfortable feeling in my gut about riding out to Telegraph Creek on my own. How odd. It wasn't supposed to be a very difficult ride, but I couldn't shake the feeling that it'd be a bad idea to head out there solo.
So, I decided that if I met someone to ride out there with, I'd go. Otherwise I'd just keep riding south from Dease Lake. I tend to listen when I have a hunch like this and it's proven to be a good idea.
On the way up I passed by Jade City (just like everything else) as I was chasing the weather, so I decided to stop by now and see what it was all about. The 'Free Coffee' sign definitely helped ensure I stopped.
I'd just gotten off the bike and pulled my helmet off when I saw another bike go past. I waved and he waved back, and then hammered the brakes and pulled into the other entrance of the parking lot. Damn, he must have thought I had a problem and wanted him to slow down to help...
But then, something seemed awfully familiar... Oh, it was Paul, the guy with the KLR from the Netherlands who we met in Dawson City on the lookout 4 or 5 days before! He'd recognized me.
We chatted and caught up a bit and I told him about the weather and now riding south and possibly skipping Telegraph Creek. He immediately said "I'll ride out there with you!".
Well, that got settled fast, didn't it?!
After some coffee I wandered around and got a few photos. They set these blades up to cut the stone and just let them run. The water is on and I guess it acts to 'lube' the blades and a guy comes around to check on them now and then
Fish swimming down the rock, front view (tough to get it well photographed )
I waved Paul to the front as the KLR only has so much power. I've put around 90,000 km on KLR's and am somewhat familiar with the power (or lack thereof ).
But eventually I had to pass and get him to pull over as the coffee was only rented and had to be returned to the environment. I did wait until we got to a nice pullout though.
Paul had some time to think about the ride and said he really wanted to try and get towards Telegraph tonight, even if we had to camp along the way. I had enough food and thought that was OK, though it would make for a bit longer day.
When we stopped in Dease Lake to fill up he talked to some 'Overlanders' in a big truck who had just come back from Telegraph and they had a camping spot suggestion along the river. I saw a game warden walk out of the store and quickly asked if they had any problem bears along the way and he hadn't heard anything. So we were good to go.
The road starts out easy, but dropping down to this river the slope hits 20 degrees between the switchbacks. No guardrail, on gravel, don't **** up or it's high-consequence.
We passed by the 'camping' spot to head through to Telegraph in one shot. About 115 km one way. Took more photos along the way.
Paul was pushing harder than I was comfortable on the fully loaded SuperT especially after having already done 500+ km that day. So he'd scoot ahead and I'd catch up. Overall the road was in good shape as long as you watched the drop offs
By the time we hit the "Welcome to Telegraph Creek" sign, my blood sugar must have been getting a bit low, I was starting to get the shakes a bit and felt really wrung out.
On the ride into town some people were working in their yards or on houses and everyone waved back when we waved. We rode right to the very center of town
Some of what you see was cloud, some was smoke from the forest fires. One fire we could see from the road on the way in, too close for comfort really. Paul and I chatted and both agreed that we wanted to get back closer to the highway for the night. Good thing I had chocolate bars with me to get some energy back. The temperature had spiked as we headed West, and was now around 30 C (86 F).
Felt a bit better on the ride out, but also slowed down a touch more. This was one of the wider sports so we pulled over to get a couple of pictures
And again here:
Then we got back to a spot where there is a 80 or 100 meter drop off on either side of the road going to a river. So cool Just after there was a place to pull out and we stopped. On the edge
The road is on the left on the ride at the top as well, same drop off on the other side as what you see here. Knarly!
I'd planned to stop at the sign warning of 20% grades but was much too wiped out. I think Paul was a bit annoyed that I wasn't quite doing the same speed, but he did stop now and then and made sure I was still there.
I started watching the kilometers, had to get to 220 to be back on pavement. Luckily the temperature dropped back down and riding became more comfortable. Good thing we'd filled up with water at the gas station, I kept sipping to stay hydrated.
Eventually we made it back. The hotel was fully booked, so I wanted to head North for 10 additional km to get to Waters Edge Campground. Paul wanted to camp 'wild' and I offered him a free stay in the site I would get, but he wanted to ride another hour or so.
We split up and I wished him a safe trip.
Got to the campsite and a scruffy looking guy with a beard walked up to me and said "How's your back?" We were going to get along just fine! His name is Larry, and I swear we took a photo together, but I can't find it. So, both times I was super tired I'm missing a photo (remember Jonathan who gave me some gas on the Dempster?). I'm sure I just screwed up.
Larry even had a fridge so I could chill my beer and in the end just gave me one of his while mine were cooling off. I sat with him and his daughter for a while, drank the beer, and he showed me a video them taking a helicopter tour of the Stikine Rive. Amazing! He rides as well and has quite the history. We shared stories for quite a while.
Super chill people.
I had to get some dinner though. Dinner was Chef Boy and another beer. I think it was past 9 pm at this point. I did send Michelle a longer message on the InReach as I'd sent some updates along the way and she was probably wondering what was going on with all the back and forth.
Gorgeous camp site
With a trail right behind that goes down to the water
And what a day! Longest day of the trip. 730 km, 220 of it was gravel. I was absolutely bushed!
Next: Someone wants to meet me, Glaciers, and BEARS!
I slept OK, but probably not quite enough. The campground was nice and quiet, but it always gets light a bit early for me. I use a toque and pull it over my eyes, but that only works so-so.
Started the day with coffee and oatmeal and realized that no matter where I stopped tonight it would need proper laundry facilities. It was time to wash things properly, especially my warmer layers which were overdue.
I met my neighbour, George, as he was pulling up the supports on his camper and got to chatting. He and his wife were up from Oregon and ended up talking for quite a while. Somehow we got onto the topic of hunting, how fun it is to go hunting with dogs and how he still goes out to Eastern Oregon to go Chukar hunting. Then he said "You should come down the first week of October." Well now, that was unexpected. So he gave me his email address. When his wife came out I double checked and just about everything about it had been wrong, so she corrected it. We all had a good laugh
He doesn't look that happy here, which is odd because I remember him smiling almost the entire time.
At the gas station in Dease there was a guy in front of me on an 800 GS who jumped off when he saw me and came over smiling broadly. He said "I've seen your bike for 3 days and have been trying to meet you". So, I met Ra from Singapore. He was the guy with the fanny pack around his shoulder whom I'd sat next to at breakfast in Teslin.
We chatted a bit and agreed to meet outside of town to catch up, the gas station isn't exactly a good place to hang out. I told him about Gnatt lake and he said he'd just go slow and let me lead to it.
He took a bunch of photos as well and wanted to record my re-telling of the Dempster experience. He's on his way south and was sad that he hadn't really seen any bears yet. I grabbed the binoculars I keep on the bike and had a look around the lake, but didn't spot any.
I suggested we ride South together for a ways, but Ra mentioned that he was going to take it easy as he was worried about the length between oil changes and the fact that his bike needed service, but LiquiMoly, who he's sponsored by, needed samples so he had to wait till Vancouver. So I scooted ahead.
The conditions were good, I felt good and was making good time. I guess everything was good
Eventually I got too hungry and stopped at a pullout and had a chocolate bar for lunch.
It's funny seeing this photo, because I remember thinking how 'urban' it seemed when the Cassiar had a centerline again, instead of being just a piece of chipsealed, non marked road.
In Bell II we met up again as I was getting gas, and then Ra caught me again at a construction spot where I must have waited for 15 minutes.
The longest construction delay of the trip. On the way out of Bell II I'd seen a good sized black bear right by the road and hoped Ra had seen it as well.
As we got through the construction first, we scooted ahead of all the cars. And then saw 12 bears total in a 120 km stretch! I was leading and kept pointing at them, hoping Ra would get his camera on them for his trip video.
After a while it got a bit old, but bears are so much more predictable than deer, so it really wasn't a big deal. I'd slow down to something reasonable (which in the end wasn't all that slow) and looked to see if they made a move to cross the road. Typically they just waited, saw what was coming, then scooted off into the bushes in a straight line.
It of course made me think of the couple that mentioned they'd seen 30 bears in 300 km and now I believed them
At Meziadin Jct we split, I headed to Stewart, Ra was turning South. There was a chance we'd meet up in Vancouver if the timing worked, he was going to shoot me a WhatsApp message when he got to town.
The weather was beautiful, though the wind picked up as I headed towards the coast. I was having fun, railing some corners, finally a road with real twisties!
I stopped at the first glacier I spotted and got a photo, though the light was tough.
Then I got to the Stewart Glacier!
You can't see the big smile inside my helmet, so you'll have to take my word for it
In Stewart I stopped at the Info Centre but the woman was not very useful. Turns out she was filling in for someone (several people left frustrated).
Someone waiting to speak with her suggested I go next door to the Ripley Creek Inn, but it seemed spendy. The King Edward had clean rooms and laundry on-site and they suggested I pull my bike right up on the sidewalk.
I lugged my stuff up 2 stories, which wasn't ideal, but the room was clean, the WiFi worked and there was ice just down the hall. I popped the laundry in, got that sorted and went for a walk around.
The mountains just seem to 'sprout' from the landscape
Not that many food options, but I did OK with this burger
As I sat enjoying my burger, a KLR went by outside. Yup, it was Paul, coming from the direction of Hyder Alaska. He was gone in a flash and that was the last time I saw him on this trip.
When I checked in at the hotel I had asked if they had rooms for two nights, but when I checked the weather again after dinner the forecast had changed yet again and now it looked iffy for the next 4 days. Damn. It had been flip flopping for the last few days and now it looked once again like I'd get some wet days on the way home. Oh well.
I really needed a rest day, but staying in Stewart if the weather was poor wasn't an option I felt great about either. I called my dad but didn't reach anyone, so sent an email to see if they'd be around when I was expecting to be in the area.
Riding to Smithers would make a nice short day if I decided to go up to the glacier the next day. Though whether or not I'd be able to even see the Salmon Glacier was by no means guaranteed.
The morning was grey, as predicted. I went to a cafe and had a bagel and some coffee and asked the woman working there if she thought the glacier would be completely obscured. She said that it was hard to tell, but the foot of it would likely be visible either way.
That was something at least.
I took my time, had a couple of cups of coffee and updated some notes about the ride, then went back to the hotel. I kept going back and forth between trying to leave my stuff there until I got off the gravel or taking it with me. The decision was made when they didn't have a good place to keep it.
So I packed up, and got ready to ride out.
Easiest border crossing ever crossing into Hyder (for those that haven't been, there isn't one )
Given that I now had all my stuff on the bike, I skipped the boardwalk to see the bears feed on salmon.
The road turned to gravel and I was heading up, though I didn't know exactly how far to go. Eventually I stopped where a couple was having a break and asked. They said not much further, but the clouds were pretty thick at the top and visibility was poor.
Well, I rode until the clouds were so think that it was hard to see where the road was, and then pulled back to the closest spot where I could safely pull over and which had a view.
I stopped in a couple of places and took photos. The road was good ...
... but when the clouds moved though, you had to be careful.
Wouldn't want to miss a turn
I got back to where I'd asked the couple about the road, and the glacier, and stopped. They were still there and we chatted for a while.
Barb and Dennis are on a road trip, camping where they feel like it and both used to ride (some bikes, some trikes). Nice folks
She spoke very highly of the camp ground in Stewart and I told them about staying at the lake north of Dease. They were going to stop by there
I stopped before the boarder crossing (my 4th that morning, given that the Salmon Glacier was in Canada but you have to go through Alaska to get to it), but the first one that required a passport. Very weird. A guy was on the other side of the road taking photos, and he came over.
Jason had just arrived at his destination, which was Hyder. How cool is that! I got to meet him right at his furthest point, the whole reason he was riding was that he wanted to get _here_.
We chatted a bit about the road to the glacier, he was on a cruiser with a car tire in the back, but had left his trailer behind. Not my kind of riding, but I figured he'd be OK as long as the washboard didn't drive him crazy.
The border crossing was the most relaxed one I've had (outside of Nexus lanes) I chatted with the border guard for a bit as he was very familiar with the crossing along the Alcan where there's a 20 km gap between the US & Canadian customs. Then someone was behind me yelling, it was Barb and Dennis
I got some gas in Steward and man, the sky looked black up ahead. To be 'safe' I had called ahead to the Guesthouse in Smithers and left a message that I was looking for a room. Had a call back, but no message. And when I called, back to voicemail. But, I figured it might be OK as I had stayed there just a week or so before.
Barb and Dennis must have passed me, because I caught up to their truck right before the twisties bit of road. They saw me and waved me through, and I scooted through the canyon while the rain was coming down. But when I popped out the other side, the Stewart glacier looked amazing!
The way the light was hitting it was very difficult to capture, but I waved at Barb and Dennis when they caught up so they'd get a photo as well. When they pulled in Barb accused me of following them! I told that since I was in _front_ she had this all backwards
This is what I had just ridden through, always looks a bit brighter in photos, but you definitely get the idea.
After this it brightened up significantly.
From the Junction down to Kitwanga at highway 16 it got quite blustery and there were a few more drops, but nothing serious. The bears were not on the road like they had been yesterday, probably hunkered down trying to stay out of the weather.
What a different feeling being at this sign again and reflecting back on my time up North
I look like a dork, partially because I was watching the screen to make sure I captured everything
A couple of his & hers sparkling clean BMW's were just outside the shot. We chatted for a bit, they were going to Prince Rupert and they were the furthest North that they'd ever been. After a I talked about Stewart they thought it may make for a nice day excursion. Hopefully they went and saw the glaciers
I geared up with my heated vest and my rain jacket, it looked pretty miserable ahead. But it held off and I got into Smithers with no problems and no downpours.
When I pulled in at the guesthouse I learned that they had in fact reserved their last room for me, despite the fact that they weren't exactly sure which motorcycle guy I was, but "You'd been here before, so we knew it was OK." Good people. https://smithersguesthouse.com/
I grabbed a shower and walked down to Subway, I needed some non-pub-food. Loaded that sandwich up with all kinds of vegetables and man, it was so fresh and good. Then picked up some bananas, chocolate bars and beer on the walk back, and hopped in the hot-tub.
View from the tub, the clouds kept playing around the top of the mountain
I got to bed at a reasonable hour, but woke up at 3 am and spent a fair bit of time thinking about my trip. I was 2 days from home. Which felt really strange at this point. But I was also ready to spend some days not being on the bike. And the next two days were big, long, boring highway days, with potentially a fair bit of rain on Sunday (the last day).
Next: Back in familiar surroundings with at my Dads
Still a great read and nice pictures too. FYI - 'Stewart' Glacier is actually named Bear Glacier on 37A. LINK I got to see it calving one year in late May. The blue/green ice is pretty amazing and the toe was close to the road that year too. 2004 IIRC. One of many trips to Stewart/Hyder before they paved the roads and tore down the old wooden docks.
The Ripley Creek in is a little more money than the King Edward, but it's very nice. Either are far better than a sleeping room at the Sealaska Inn! Glacier Inn had good breakfasts in the past, and cheap beer to go.
Short break getting to the final couple of days as I was on another road trip
Day 13 - Smithers to outside of Horsefly
I'd not been looking forward to the last couple of days as they were mostly highway riding. But the weather looked OK, at least for today.
After some breakfast at McDonald's I headed East on 16 and it was pretty much what I had expected. A fairly boring highway ride, with the music playing the whole time.
Outside of Prince George I passed a couple of cruisers and we were around each other till I split off to get some gas.
Stopped south of PG to grab a bite and for a bit had the highway rest stop all to myself
There were plenty of dark clouds around, and several times I thought "damn, I'm going to get hit with that", but then the highway would turn just enough that I'd once again scoot by the rain. So I didn't linger anywhere too long and figured I'd spend the last day of the trip getting properly wet... but hell, it was what it was.
Originally I was going to gas up right by the Mountain House turn off, but that gas station was closed. As was the next one... so into Williams lake I went.
The run out to Horsefly was again bordered by clouds and once a little shower started, but nothing lasted.
When I got back to my dad's I had managed to stay dry and didn't need the rain gear after all.
Had a nice relaxing evening and some more good food and drinks, but didn't take a whole lot of photos this day.
Day 14 - Horsefly to Home!
Got a mellow start in the morning, chatted more over coffee, had a great breakfast and took a stroll out to the horses. The weather was still looking decent, though there were definitely darker clouds on the horizon. I was just happy to start the day dry.
Scooted out to the pavement at Horsefly and that would be the last gravel of the trip. It was smooth and easy riding (like previous years as seen in the following photo)
On Hwy97 south of 150 mile I had to jump on the brakes as a badger was running across the road as fast as his little legs would carry him! Never seen a badger in the wild before, it was pretty cool!
Normally I stop in 100 mile at the Timmy's for coffee but was well caffeinated and went all the way through to Clinton. Got damn hot outside of Cache Creek so I stopped to take some layers off.
In Spences Bridge a few people were pulled over and I did as well. Should have shut off the bike, sorry about he blurry sheep pictures
(All the white spots are sheep butts )
I was in a less than ideal spot at the side of the highway, so I didn't hang out for too long.
The bike was running well, but the wind was picking up and some weather seemed to be ahead. In the Fraser Canyon the wind had gotten to the point where the gusts would blow me just about across my lane if I didn't react quickly to counter. Passed another cruiser down by the twisty bits of the Fraser south of Spences Bridge.
This cruiser didn't seem any more friendly than the guys I'd been around yesterday. Maybe those guys don't like getting passed by a fully loaded adventure bike with knobbies while they're struggling with corners and passing?
We were around each other for a while, with me pulling away in the turns and him catching up in the straights where I'd roll off, until he pulled ahead in some of the straighter stretches North of Alexandra Bridge.
I caught up to him again outside of hope and decided whichever way he turned, I'd take the other highway. Sometimes I like to let the universe decide. He went into Hope, I turned off onto Hwy 7 which was a great choice because the clouds that were hanging over Hwy 1 to the South of me looked nasty and wet.
In Deroche I got some gas for the last time and kept scooting West on roads I ride so regularly it always seems strange to ride them with luggage on.
Earlier in the day I'd messaged Michelle and let her know roughly when I'd be home. As I pulled into New West part of me wondered if she'd be there when I pulled into the parking lot. As I did, there she was sitting in the back of her Outback reading a book. Could you come home a better way?!?
This was a fantastic read!!! Thank you for sharing and all the effort into putting this on the forum. I give you a lot of credit in knowing your limitations and putting your safety first and not pushing on when the goal was within reach. It is something I will keep in the back of my mind when faced with a similar situation. Wishing you more future adventures that make it on the forum so us dreamers can ride along with you.