< Travels in Alaska | The Stewart-Cassiar Highway >

Whitehorse, Yukon


After getting back on the bike for the first time in eight days, I was afraid that my body had gotten used to the sweet living that is to be had in south-east Alaska. Leaving Haines the road followed the Chilkoot river past where 1000s of bald eagles gather to feast on stupid spawning salmon in November. I was too early in the year to watch this spectacle, but I did get to observe quite a number of bald eagles who wanted to beat the traffic up here and get a good spot along the river. Anyhow, I sucessfully crossed the Canadian border, where I was amazed and delighted to discover that the road decided to gain 3000 feet of elevation across the next 20+ miles. Shortly after the appropriately named Haines summit, I stumbled upon the mythical emergency shelter and decided to call it a day.

After fitful sleep in the emergency shelter I hit the road low on water and thinking I would take a nap somewhere down the road. When I came across my first clear-running creek, I used my tried and true water gathering technique of dip my water bottles into the creek to fill them up, and drink while praying that this won’t be the creek that gives me giardia. Although it is too early to tell, I think I have escaped illness once again and scored a major blow for the forces of convenience over safety.

Further down the road, having greedily drunk all my water, I stopped by another creek (whose name and exact location shall never be revealed) to fill up my water. And what did I see in the sand along the bank of the creek? Was it… GOLD? I say yes. Later, some wet blankets told me that what I had collected was probably iron pyrite.

Anyway, I made the final push into Haines Junction a bit over 100 miles after my start for the day, helped in part by a storm front that alternated between soaking me wet, and giving me a pleasant tailwind. All along the way I had gorgeous vistas open up behind me as a cornered each hill, cementing my belief formed the day before that I was riding the road in the wrong direction, if I wanted the absolutely best view.

At the Frosty Freeze in Haines Junction, I enjoyed a milkshake, naturally, and a medium pizza. I also had some fries, which I am sad to report weren’t very tasty at all. I pushed on to the Pine Lake Campground about five miles past town, pitched my tent, and passed out.

I woke up with the sound of rain pulverizing my tent, and I felt rather against starting any riding that day if it was going to continue to rain so hard. I moved all my gear into a covered area with an old-timey wood stove, and through creative hanging I was able to get most of my clothes and my tent dry. In this way I was able to unburden myself of about 10 pounds of water, and my outlook on riding began to improve. I met another cyclist who told me what I might expect in the way of services on the Cassiar highway —few—, and around 1pm guilt got the better of me, and I set off on the road.

Having started at 1pm, I was convinced that this day would be a short one, maybe 50 or 60 miles tops. But the flatness of the terrain, and the complete lack of any wind one way or the other made the road seem considerably more inviting. A stop a gas station along the way to get tons of candy and soda sealed the deal, and I found myself rocketing down the highway at speeds approaching 22 miles per hour on the flat and staying north of 13 miles per hour on what hills I did encounter.

Now I’m a fool, but I’m not a fool who sqanders miracle days like these. I used what must have been the last of my positive karma balance and went the full 100 miles into Whitehorse in just over 6 hours and 30 minutes. Of course, not expecting to actually reach Whitehorse that day, I found myself both without accomodations and any idea where they could be acquired. After asking around a bit, I discovered to my confusion (miracle days don’t come with miracle cognitive ability at the end) that all the hostels where full and I was gently directed to the campgound at the end of town.

Shortly after pitching my tent, I talked my way into a circle of people around a campfire, and found myself enjoying some of Canada’s finest beer. Camping really isn’t that rough at all…

The next day I cruised on over to one of the hostels, and procured a bed for the evening. There I met some cyclists from Stanford whom I met on the Day of Miracles, and we decided to combine forces to cook dinner that evening. In the kitchen at the hostel I discovered to my complete rapture a sharp chef’s knife. I proceeded to slice and dice any food I could get my hands on, just for the pure joy of using a good knife. All of that culinary ecstasy resulted in one of the best meals I’ve had since starting out.

Anyway, the hostel was full again the next day, so I had to go back to the campground. There I met two other cyclists who where going to ride the Cassiar highway, and I decided that I would join up with them.

And that brings us up to date.

< Travels in Alaska | The Stewart-Cassiar Highway >