Do you recognise this thing?
You see or hear something and it won’t leave you alone?
It’s been month’s since I saw this youtube video and though:
Far out! That’s ridiculous! Who would do such a thing..?
I could never even attempt something like that!
It looks miserable.
It was a mission and a half to get here.
I decided it would be a good idea to go and surprise my lovely family in the Netherlands.
I didn’t tell them I was coming back so that was a bit of a shock. Lucky nobody minded all too much and it almost felt like a late christmas celebration. Getting the whole lot in one picture isn’t an easy task.
Three sisters, three brother-in-laws, six nephews & nieces and one set of grandparents! 🙂
(my parents didn’t make it in this time, but they were there!)
Another reason to get back is to fit in a few more weeks of work in Northern Ireland.
During this time my mind kept wandering back to snow and ice, and that little video.
Funny how quickly you forget that really freezing temperatures can be rather unpleasant at times.
And it’s not that I really thought I could ever really do what Iohan did.
The thing is I didn’t have a back-up plan, and I kept putting little steps in place to make it happen.
I got back to Vancouver (with a brand new 6 months to play with! ) where Ric had lovingly looked after my bicycle for two months.
The same day I found out about a rideshare website Kinjiji and found a guy headed to Calgary. He dropped me in Kamloops.
Ofcourse I could’ve taken a plane from Vancouver, but seeing that a single trip to Inuvik cost the same as two return flights to Europe I decided against it.
It would’ve been more practical had I not smashed my phone between the door and the car. I guess that’s the end of worrying when & where to charge it.
In the meantime I had messaged my friend Terry (remember Terry & Jake?) to ask if he knew any one headed north. Turn’s out he himself was! And took me from Kamloops to Williams Lake ( 300 km) where I prepared my bike for some more winter conditions and tried making myself believe this is really what I’m doing.
I didn’t believe me.
And decided to take a little spin up to Quesnel,where I caught up with Jim and found a pair of boots in a clearance sale that said they’ll keep you warm at -45 degrees.
I will not be in -45, but I got the boots and that was another little step in this direction. That night I saw my first northern lights in Canada! Apparently a huge solar storm caused for high activity and Northern & Southern light can be seen clearly. It was getting cloudy and I used Jim’s camera since my good dslr has finally given up and died.
Terry had mentioned he wanted to visit friends of his in Ford Saint John. That’s a big jump from Quesnel (557 km), and by this stage I was wondering if I could manage the hike all the way to Tuktoyaktuk.
By now I’ve made a little list. I’m normally not that organised, but if I’m to ride 900km on ice and snow I’ll better be at least half prepared.
It really surprised me when a few days later I ticked off every single thing on my list!
Terry’s friends Patsy & Gary in Taylor helped me out by giving me a huge bag that would be awesome to keep my stuff safe in the plane, and dry on the back of my bike.
Terry had to head back home, but he & dog Jake would not leave until he was 100% sure I was in safe hands and I would get to my destination without any problems.
And after a day-and-a-half of asking around at a fuel station we found me a ride all the way into Whitehorse! (1333km)
Loren got Terry’s stamp of approval.
I had seen his truck with an Alaskan address the previous day. But he had told me he wasn’t gonna move at least another 24 hours.
So when I noticed him the next day I kept bugging him until he gave in and took me on the 20-hour ride!
Loren has been driving trucks for 19 years.
He just got back on the road after an accident with a snowmobile nearly took his life. But with a renewed passion for life and faith in God he runs his truck from his hometown in Alaska up and down (or down & up, what ever way you look at it) to the States, in this instance carrying a huge oil-tank, a broken down vehicle and my bicycle.
Sadly, when the minute of departure after his 34-hour stop finally arrived at 0.30am the truck had different plans, sure enough we got on the road and we moved, but at an agonizingly slow pace. And whatever Loren tried, and no matter how many good idea’s I came up with, after 6.5 hours we had covered a meagre 75km and the truck stopped. So Loren had to take it back to town (it’s gonna take three days to fix) and I was were I started 3 days ago…
Minus a scarf (Loren, if you read this!…I had that scarf since I was 14….)
With now only 48 hours and 1400 km between me and my flight. I started to get a tiny bit nervous.
But there was Mike, he’s just been driving up from near Edmonton on his way to the oilfields, he couldn’t take me all the way but the next town (400 km) wasn’t a problem.
So we chatted about life and death and most things in between and cruised to Fort Nelson where I spotted three big trucks along the road.
It wasn’t hard to find the drivers, Mike, Mike & James were on their way up to the far north to move a goldmine.
I rudely interrupted their lunch and after discovering I wasn’t a druggie or had a bunch of friends outside who needed rides as well they agreed to haul me along to the next settlement. Watson Lake (650km)
The scenery changed, we got through the Rockies and the view, the weather and the temperatures were just spectacular!
When something happened to one of the trucks I started to think that maybe I was bad luck for truck drivers… But they got the show back on the road in no time and I was told if I didn’t mind making a little detour they could drop me off in Whitehorse around lunchtime the next day!
As they pulled over for the night at Teslin Lake I decided to sleep outside under the stars.
With about 1250 km this is the biggest distance I’ve ever covered on land in one day.
And luck would have it the Northern lights came out to play!
At times like these a tent would just be in your way.
Mike dropped me right in Whitehorse the next morning,
I met up with Dan, who I had spoken to in Fort Saint John while looking for a ride, he couldn’t take me up but we caught up and spent a day running errands and eating Philippine food. As you do when in the Yukon..
He made sure I got to the airport bright and early where the people from Air North were super helpful and never charged me for the ridiculous amount of baggage I’m dragging around with me! I had expected a huge overcharge so that was a wonderful surprise 🙂
At least I’m not the maddest person out here right now. I’ll have good company in the 6633 Ultra race, I came across one fella on my way into town from the airport, that is some serious running they do! and there’s two guys hiking 2000km with a sled. All this makes me feel much better…
If only I hadn’t left my 4-season tent in Europe….