The Alaska Highway thus far

This last chunk has been hard. Mostly, I think, because it has been so long since I took a break in a place. I have had some short ride days, but today was my first day off the bike or sleeping in the same place two nights in a row in a bit, whatever that means. I’ve had some doubts about what I’m doing out here. I want to say that they were all removed when I hit the mountains, and that would be only a slight exaggeration-I’m really glad I made it here at least. These peaks are humbling and inspiring. Every jutting past the line where trees can grow and where snow melts amazes me, the layers of rock, the history, the story of the land is so long… 

I have started meeting more travelers, there are lots of people like me, transient-on the Alaska Highway most people are travelers, outside of the few larger towns at least. The conversations are all pretty similar, where are you coming from, where are you going? (There are a lot of folks who seem to feel entitled to know about me, and have no problem asking whatever comes to mind. I think trying to justify to themselves why I am doing this. I assume it isn’t just me they talk to in this way. I can get a little snarky, but I try not to) This isn’t to say I haven’t met people who stand out at all, but there have been a lot of people who ask all the same questions, and now I can ask the same of them! I finally started running into other cycle-tourists, from all over heading all over, some on short term trips, some on journeys with no set end (including a guy from Thailand who left from there in 2011 and has been riding around the world since). I am encouraged by seeing these others, and also reminded that I am not an indefinite rider, that isn’t a desire I have. 

I like meeting people. It is certainly part of why I am out here. Some are more interesting than others, but it is usually worth the risk to engage. I met a couple heading home to Alaska (who hadn’t traveled out much before) who had for the first time seen fireflies, lightning in the dark, felt warm with the sun down… It is neat to be going north, it is part of why I wanted to be up here, to see the sun up so much of the time, it just feels special, and I know part of that is experiencing the extremes, and I am only visiting for the sunny side of it. In any case, I am still a traveler, I am seeing new things and I am learning and it is strange to force myself to be this person sometimes. But, here are some things I am seeing:

I got to Dawson Creek midday. It was rainy, and I took a short break, but not really long enough to get a sense for the town. The end of that day is when I ended up staying with the family of a person I’d met on the road the day before, and that little break was much appreciated. I broke down a little when I got into Taylor and spendng the evening with people was really helpful. I restarted the next morning with much more confidence.

  

I like mule deer because they hop when threatened. I read this is to show how strong and healthy and not worth pursuing they are, but it makes me laugh

 

Quite the spread out here (there were some towns in between)

  

This is the first bear I saw. I didn’t stop too long. There have been many since, but mostly I just look as I’m going by. None have bothered me so far, but better not push my luck!

  

I imagine most people didn’t see this Great Grey Owl. Can you tell how huge it is from the picture? It is huge.

  

It is amazing to have transported myself through parts of the world that are so different from each other. I haven’t even gone so far, but I feel like I’ve seen so much variety already.

  

These signs show up a lot, they mean you are propably about to go up or down a serious hill, and you need to take the necessary precautions because no one is going to tow you out.

   

Stone’s sheep live along the road on this cliffy section. They went a bit up the hill when i stopped, but i stood and watched them long enough to convince them i was no threat and they came back down to eat more gravel.

 

This guy wasn’t in a huge hurry, but did walk away in a protected fashion. I saw a few more porcupines, they come out in the night more, but this guy was morning wandering.

    
 

There are about 250 wood bison left in BC. They are not afraid of cars and often hang out near or even on the roads (not helping their numbers). They are, though, pretty unsure about bikes and often ran when I came up.

  

I took a break at Liard Hotsprings (a short day to get there, spent the afternoon and a slow morning) which is a pretty neat spot. There are many hotsprings, perhaps, but this is the first I have visited. It is a provincial park, which sees visitors year round. Water at the source is over 50˚C (I did go in the water, but stayed toward the cooler end, because I was there for a pleasant sort of break)

There are a lot of animals that frequent the unique habitat that surrounds the hotsprings and I went for a walk ~3:45 hoping to see more activity. It was neat to walk through the “hanging gardens” a terrace formation of little pools created by the minerals deposited as water bubbles up through stone and flows down to the pools. No moose out when I went, but it was still a nice time to be out.

 

There was another, less official looking welcome sign about 40km back, and then the welcome to BC sign for the other way was about 5km back, but a little border confusion doesn’t actually change much.

   

Watson Lake is home to this sign post forest. There are close to 80,000 signs hung by visitors indicating where they came from, a fast growing collection. I saw a guy who said he was from there, though I think that hadn’t been back, who said that as a child there were only a few signs up, he seemed pretty astounded. Rows and rows, it was neat to walk thorugh.

 

It is worth looking over your shoulder from time to time.

  

This is a normal road view.

 

I got into the canyon city of Whitehorse, YT yesterday (Thursday) afternoon. I’m staying with a friend of someone I met in Saskatoon and I had dinner yesterday with a person I met briefly in Winnipeg before he moved here. I spent today wandering town, watching the river, visiting museums and galleries, just learning about this place. (and calling my family with the magic of the internet and way too much time composing this post and it is definitely time to get some sleep now) 

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4 Responses to The Alaska Highway thus far

  1. Ann Cahill says:

    Aryn, thank you for sharing this wonderful journey. I admire you so much.

  2. Norman Gaslowitz says:

    There is a quote Ithink you might appreciate.
    “A journey of discovery, consists not in seeking
    new lankscapes, but in having new eyes”. Proust.
    You are seeing new sites; towns, landscapes, people,
    animals, as well as yourself experienceing things
    new and familiar.
    “New eyes” will help you see them sharper in your
    mind and perhaps appreciate them and yourself even more.
    Stay safe.
    Love, Gr. Norman

  3. susan says:

    What a gem this is to journey with you!! Thank you for taking all of the time to compose this awesome post!
    We are so impressed with you!

  4. susan says:

    PS: could you ask someone to take a picture of you with something interesting (mountains ?!) so we can see you too?!

thoughts?

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