Apologies for the delay in getting out posts, the internet has been hard to find at times. I’m now out of the wilderness and hopefully able to connect to the rest of the world a little easier now.
When I left my last post I just entered the little know province of The Yukon. I had Alaskans telling me how sparse and wild the place was so its safe to say I had some fears before I rolled across the border. To put this starkness into context, Alaska is roughly double the size and has a population of around 800,000 people. The Yukon is still a huge territory at half the size and has a population of just under 34,000 people. That’s smaller than my home town back in the Britain, even though the UK can easily fit into The Yukon. So safe to say there were some lonely days ahead.
I ate lunch at the border and was instantly warned by the not so friendly rest stop owner that this was grizzly country and there was nothing open or around for 100’s of km’s. Great start and nice to hear such encouraging words, but she did have a point. The Yukon made Alaska look like it had all the amenities of Disneyland in comparison and I’d found that barren enough. I had 4 long days ahead to get to Whitehorse with 2 places to find a meal and some company in between. Those first few days were like a constantly looping episode of the Adams Family as I rolled past abandoned lodges and closed down camps. The Yukon is a stunning place, but where Alaska is postcard perfect every view you look at it, The Yukon is more beautiful from a daunting and raw point of view. It’s nature completely untouched and the landscape takes on more of a harshness to it.
The first night I bedded down in the woods only to be awoken halfway through the night by a pack of wolves howling scarily close to my tent. A good reminder of the potential dangers I faced over the next few days. I ground down the miles and set my sights firmly on Whitehorse, well over 400 km’s down the gravel roads. Even out here in the middle of nowhere though, people didn’t stop being amazingly kind. The last day of riding before I reached Whitehorse was a miserable one, pouring with rain and I was drenched through. A hunter stopped his car, offered me some shelter from the rain and a bowl of caribou and rice to see me on my way. He even offered me a chance to join him for a 4 day moose hunting trip. If this was more of a holiday I would have snapped his hand off at the offer (don’t worry animal lovers, the chances of any moose being killed would’ve significantly reduced with me being there).
I finally rolled into civilisation again and after all the rain of the two previous days, was enormously grateful to see Whitehorse, a little picturesque corner of The Yukon and it’s only real city (population of just over 20,000). I asked a passer by for directions to a hostel (needed to dry my kit) and I’d inadvertently stumbled across another example of amazing kindness as the lovely Shannon let me crash with her housemates at their awesome place. They fed me for 2 days as I rested up and provided me with incredible company (very much appreciated after all the days talking to myself). The cheese fondue was the icing on the cake and leaving the next day was a difficult challenge. But I needed to head south quickly, so after one day resting up, I got back onto the saddle and headed annoyingly east (over 400 km’s out the way before I could finally head South…cheers Canadian highways).
The next 4 days weren’t quite as barren as before. I ran across warm hearted and generous people again, receiving free food and a couple of nights I had free places to set up camp for the night, with somewhere to run inside should Winnie the Pooh take any interest in my tent. On one night camping out just in the bush, I had an animals nose prod the side of my tent in the middle of the night. Satisfied it was too small to be a bear, I stayed wrapped up inside and prayed the animal would go away (had a can of bear spray primed and ready to unleash if it was necessary). By the fourth day snow and ice greeted me again in the morning. After a bad fall I picked myself up and made great ground in the afternoon, covering 100 km’s in just under 5 hours over the mountains as I finally reached highway 37, the start of The Stewart Cassiar Highway. This road has a legendary status to it amongst the locals as a beautiful but extremely challenging and dangerous road. With more bears per square km than any area in North America, running into wildlife was going to be a given. The next day I finally started to set my sights south and hopefully to warmer days. Over 700 km’s of the Cassiar to ride and not a lot of time to do it in before winter set its frim grip on Northern BC…