Downhill to Alaska! (and uphill out)


It is all downhill into Alaska.
Just before crossing the border I had met the fox.

Mason Mashon Photo - Fox-1

And even luckier, I met Mason. 

Who just happened to be up there taking photo’s, not necessarily of me & foxes

(although he has some absolutely stunning ones of this fox!)

But mostly of crazy skidoo & ski antics. That is what this area is famous for, after all.Coming down the hill

That and Wind!

It was downhill alright,Looking back but Haines tried blowing me backwards up the mountain as I struggled to cycle along the river. Pretty road alright!

This place is famous for eagles too, when the salmon come in they hang out here in their thousands! But that’s not this time of year, you’d still see a few strays as you pedal along though.eagles

It’s funny how you notice little things. Like green grass and leaves.spring!

I have been in winter so long that spring seems a welcome change.

After finding a perfect little campsite,nice campspot I wandered into town to find a cup and a spoon, staying true to my habit of losing stuff I lately lost those two fairly necessary items.

But of course it was a Sunday and no spoon or cup-store open today.

Then someone mentioned a garage sale, on arrival I saw a sign.Free stuff

Awesome!

And I found out that for the mere price of three dollars you could take whatever you fancy.

This is what I took…

Score!

Score!

And it’s not like my panniers where full to the brim already anyway 😉

I ran into Mattias at the library, he just finished a stint as a ski instructor and was driving a car around the country.Mattias I told him about the sale I was at earlier but that was all finished up when we got back there, the pile of free stuff had grown though, so we did what only seems natural.

And then we had some beers (truly! we did that dress-up all sober)

I left on the ferry for Skagway in the morning, Leaving Haines

As it happens, so did the whole of Hanna’s school-class. I still think it’s the most wonderful thing for a whole class to go bicycle touring.the whole class touring!And I spent the first night camping with them.Skagway

I went for a walk and got sidetracked by the red onion saloon, Red Onion Saloona band was playing and the whole atmosphere was rather jolly.

Not quite as jolly as about 117 years ago when this was a busy brothel during the Klondike gold-rush.

I liked Skagway!

But as the first cruise ships for the season came sailing in I figured I better go for a ride on my bicycle, prettynice road

The weather was so great that, for the first time this year,  I could cycle in short.cycling in shorts!

Or maybe that was because of the 14-Mile climb out of town.out of town.Up and over White Pass.over White pass

And back across the border into Canada.

Special thanks to the lady at customs who granted me another 6 months to do a whole lot more cycling over this part of the globe!

I’d seen no bears this time, so I wasn’t worried about pitching my tent.

But, and I don’t know how I keep doing this, I found a cabin.Cabin

Unlocked and absolutely perfectly equipped with a stove, a small kitchen a bed and a magazine from 1969 that pretty accurately predicted the future. what it will be like in 2000So I stayed there the night.

And well rested continued battling the wind the next morning.
Skagway roadIt was against me until I turned the corner.
And arrived in the small town of Carcross,
Carcross

I’d seen the name on the map and thought it had something to do with cars.
CarcrossNot so.

It’s small village where the Caribou used to cross a natural land bridge.Bike in CarcrossAlso hometown of ‘Skookum Jim” I’ve heard that name many times as I’ve been cycling the route of the Klondike stampeders backwards.

Skookum Jim and his mates Charlie and Carmack found gold at Bonanza Creek back in 1896 wich set off the whole herd of people hurrying to Dawson City with big dreams and great hopes.
By the time most of them got there, all the land was already claimed and the whole rush didn’t last more than 2 years.

But it opened up the country and now you find pretty roads and quaint villages all up the Yukon.Carcross

Here in Carcross I visited the information centre

(what? You thought I knew all that :p )Caribou crossingIt’s the place people settled while waiting for the rivers to thaw out so they could make the plunge with their little wooden boats to reach the goldfields.

It’s a very windy place as well, but this time it worked in my favour as it blew me straight back up to Whitehorse.Whitehorse pretty lakePast a pretty blue lake and back to the Shiers. Beer Time!Where, in the meantime, spring has shown up too!springSome of the flowers that are used for designs on Mukluks.
P1010905
A soft, traditional boot worn by the people of the Northern Arctic regions. Often elaborately decorated, like theseP1010921

Made by Helen’s friend. (they are for sale too)

I visited Miles Canyon, where stampeders tried getting their self-build boats through the rapids and build a temporary camp.

Now it’s a great place to go kayaking

IMG_0410 Or mountain biking.IMG_0404Just before leaving town, nature had one more surprise in store, and flashed me some Northern Lights.

It totally surprised me, as by now it doesn’t get totally dark at night anymore. Still Northern Lights

By taking this little Alaska-loop around I’d cut myself a bit short on time.
The last road I really wanted to ride started about 400km down the Alaska highway.
So I found Ray.RayRay is a truck driver from Vancouver and rides up to Whitehorse every month or so.
He agreed to shift me & my gear a few 100 km’s down the track so I could enjoy the Stewart Cassiar highway at a leisurely pace.

May is the best time of year to cycle down the Stewart Cassiar if you like to see bears.
If you don’t (like me) well, that’s just bad luck
Everybody had warned me that there will be many bears about this time of year. They are just waking up after winter and hungry.

But there are many plants, so they shouldn’t be too hungry for me.

I’ve been warned, I’ve googled, I’ve even read a book.

I know what to do, I got my bearspray, my bearbangers and the happy little bells hanging of my handlebar. Bells will save meI know not to leave food laying around and to make lots of noise.
Yes. I am about as prepared as she gets.

But when Ray dropped me off and I cycled to the campground I came across my first bear after just 500 meters! Ai.Bear

Still, knowing what to do and not giving in to your gut reaction (RUN & and shit your pants a little) takes some convincing yourself.
But when I shouted to the bear to bugger off to the woods where he belongs it worked!
He walked across my road and disappeared in the woods. Easy!

Boya lake is a gorgeous spot, the water looked like a mirror.Boya Lake I made sure to have no food around my camp, but still I didn’t sleep all too great.

As it was a pretty sunny day I got up early, packed up and got back on the road.The Stewart CassiarI cycled by some pretty lakes and some odd looking thing that surely has something to do with mining.Mining thing

But it looked more like a fantasy-candy-making machine.

It didn’t take very long at all before I ran into the next bear.

But, confident, I shouted and told it to get out of my way. He didn’t listen.faulty bear

I tried again, he looked up, looked at me, and did a step in my direction. Whoops.
This one must be faulty. Didn’t he read the bear-manual?

I got my bearspray out, just in case, and slowly tried to walk by with my bike.

PSSSHHHT!

Oh crap.

I pushed in the spray with my handlebar and accidentally bear-sprayed my legs and bike!
Yeah, Dumb.

And I discovered you can’t just wash it off in the creek either. It burned like hell!

Just when it started to get a little worrisome a vehicle came up and asked if I’m alright.
I was (apart from burning legs) as long as they’d keep the vehicle between me and that bear.
Pfew,
2 bears down.

Another 685km to go…selfie

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31 thoughts on “Downhill to Alaska! (and uphill out)

  1. This is awesome, once again. Great find on the Mountain House food! That is made here in Oregon. I buy it often. I love the bandana, too. Did you find a spoon? I lost mine once and whittled one from a stick. The bears are just as scared as you. Follow the rules and you should be fine. So exciting. How was the visit with family?

  2. Just into Prince George again from the STewart Cassiar and Terrace. We are now Harding down to 100 mile house for some biking on trails. Are you any where close?
    David

  3. Another great chapter in your adventurous life story! Pictures are beautiful…..still the same old camera? It does a great job. I haven’t got a new one yet.

  4. Almost as pretty as New Zealand, bro! Personally I am enjoying the bear pics & stories very much and look forward to a few more…. foxes also very welcome.

  5. I just spent a little time with your blog. You are a gifted photographer. They are wonderful. And you, are adventurous. Cycling in the Canadian north in the winter? Remarkable 🙂

  6. Bear humor: oh, you are not a runner? well you are now!
    Bear tip: Never cycle alone in bear country. Always cycle with someone you can trip and out-cycle. lol.

  7. I thoroughly enjoy reading your cycling adventure. The photographs of the landscape are amazing and I can almost imagine myself being there! I look forward to your next adventure – all the best and stay safe.

  8. Awesome Pictures!! I love reading about your adventures. Where are you headed after Canada? I met you in Iceland:) We passed you on our bikes in the West Fjords, we got each others pictures and moved along our way. How awesome it would be to cross paths with you again:) Will you be making your way down to the US?

  9. Love this. When I visited Alaska, I expected it to be the greatest place on Earth but it was far, far better than that.

    Incidentally, Skookum Jim was one of the few who did strike it rich and set up a foundation aimed at helping First nations folk. It exists to this day in Whitehorse.

    He was also famous for carrying the largest weight of bacon over the infamous Chilkoot Pass……what a man:-)

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