It’s day nine of the 2016 Olympics in Rio and day nine of our little bike tour here in the north. We are taking a rest day.
After we crossed the border between Alaska and the Yukon, the road changed from smooth pavement to large stretches of sealed gravel. That makes for a slow and bumpy ride on our touring set up. The first stretch out of Tok continued to pass through the Tetlin Wildlife Refuge. We observed Trumpeter Swans with young in the lakes and they do indeed sound like trumpets. I would love to observe a Northern Hawk Owl, but that is yet to be seen. We met our first other bike tourer, Pablo of Spain via working as a surveyor in BC. He is riding to Calgary. He quit his job for this adventure and seemed to be in good spirits. We also ran into a man from France, Sergio, who is attempting to break the round the world running record. He is averaging 45 miles per day. He was inspiring. Aside from these few non motorists, most people traveling the AlCan are in RV’s. This is mostly fine. But because of permafrost the road is very difficult to maintain. We ran into two large stretches of road construction where they had torn out the road and we rode on dirt or gravel for about 50 km. Under these conditions, I was not very fond of RV’s. The drivers seemed unaware of how driving within 4 feet of us on gravel or dirt or mud road traveling at 50km per hour could be very unpleasant. On day six I was in tears three different times, partly from exhaustion, partly from being sprayed with rocks. It was a hard two days of riding, days six and seven. 50 miles was our max. We had not anticipated this and were stressed about food. It’s 294 miles between Tok and Haines Junction with a convenience store in Beaver Creek- a community on the western most edge of the Yukon, and a gas station in Destruction Bay- on the largest lake in the Yukon, Kluane Lake. We thought it’d be no problem to plan for four and a half days of food. Another lesson learned- road construction and sealed gravel stretches are as challenging as a 35 mph head wind, at least on our bikes. Good things to know. Aside from wrestling with the monotony and challenges of road touring, the Yukon is amazing. Kluane National Park and Reserve is a place I’d like to spend more time in, off a road. Jacob and I reflect that this trip is like a primer for future, more immersive trips. We are sort of straddling the RV/road trip world on a bike. We are tied to the road and where it goes. We get to see beautiful spaces, but still somehow fall into the mile cruncher mode due to food and logistics. Not to say it’s bad, just has advantages and disadvantages.
Out of Kluane Lake we paralleled the St Elias Mountain Range and moved through Kluane National Park and Reserve which has the Yukon’s highest peak, Mt Logan. At just over 19,000 feet, it is the second largest mountain in North America and is imposing. We had glimpses of glaciers on the peaks as we rode on.
On the hard days Jacob and I rely on each other to keep morale up. And now with some good food and a hot shower and a day of rest it feels more doable to get back out and see what we can see. We read that the Cassier is all sealed gravel so our changing our plan and will stay along the AlCan. That’s it from this neck oh the woods.
I hope all is well with you, friends!