traciwentling

Inspiration Day

Day 44: Pelly Crossing to Moose Creek Government Campground (July 29)

A rainbow before the storm

A rainbow before the storm

It started raining sometime during the night. I sleep so so sound with the white noise of the rain on my tent and it took the alarm to wake me at 5:30. It was our turn to get breakfast and lunch on the table, so…as badly as we hated to, we crawled out of our warm sleeping bags and dashed out into the rain to get to the pavilion. We were certainly thankful that all the food was already there hanging in the bear bags from the rafters. Mark and Nelson are so good about helping us and they were right there to help me get the bags unstrapped and down. By that time, Sue had the stoves going and water onto boil for coffee and oatmeal. Giovanni drinks cocoa and Nelson drinks tea. What does Wally drink in the mornings? I have no idea. I guess I will have to pay attention.

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Breakfast eaten, sandwiches made, clean up and then back to the tents to pack up. Thankful again that the rain stopped long enough to get everything accomplished and gear safely stowed away before it started raining again and we all headed north wearing our warm rain gear. I stopped to take a picture of the bridge over the Pelly River and then stopped again after we climbed away from the river to take another one. This bridge (unlike many we have crossed) had a concrete floor so it was nothing to ride across it.

Pelly River Bridge

Pelly River Bridge

Same bridge

Same bridge

The rain turned to drizzle and then finally stopped for the day. The sun came out briefly in the afternoon just long enough for me to dry the three pieces of my tent while we stopped for lunch. Sue had her tent buried in her panniers so she didn’t bother, but I like to strap mine to the outside so I can dry it if the occasion calls for it.

I keep forgetting to tell you that whomever told me that the Klondike Highway had shoulders was mistaken. The traffic is more frequent than on the Robert Campbell Highway, but really…it is still much less than before we entered the Yukon Territory.

We had some more road construction but this time there was a pilot truck and we loaded the bikes into the back and we were driven through three miles of muck. He stopped to let us unload at his turnaround location and we had to ride three more miles in the mud. Yep, Mabelline and Mr. Green Jeans and everyone else’s bikes are muddy and filthy AGAIN!

We arrived at the Moose Creek Government Campground and got the tents up before it started sprinkling again. Wally and Giovanni made Dee and Tony’s recipe of shepherd’s pie and we ate every last morsel. About that time a young man and woman rode up on their bikes and came into the pavilion to chat. They were both so friendly and perhaps a little lonely for company other than themselves. He used to live in the town we are heading to tomorrow and so he gave us the best place to eat and the best bar to drink at. Hahahahaha. We are not much of a drinking crowd, but a few will have a beer every once in awhile. I asked him to snap this pictures of us. It is not very often that there is someone around who can get us all in one place at one time. Of course, it would be sitting at a table filling up with calories.

The gang's all here!

The gang’s all here!

After supper, I did the dishes while Mark and Sue helped and when we finished up, we got in our tents and the skies opened up and it is pouring…I mean pouring cats and dogs and buckets and buckets. Someone yelled at me that my tent is sitting in a pond, but I am dry so I’m not going to worry about it right now. The longer I sit here, the more layers of clothing I add. It never really got warm today and right now it is freezing cold outside.

A glimpse of the water-filtering process

A glimpse of the water-filtering process

Tomorrow we have a long day in the saddle. Ninety-seven miles will take us to Dawson City where we will get two days off. TWO DAYS! Somebody asked me if I had any plans for Dawson City and I replied, “just R & R…just R & R”. Dawson City was the Capital of the Yukon Territory until sometime in the 60’s and is evidently a popular tourist town. Sue and I are just excited there is a library. Libraries have been few and far between since crossing over into Yukon.

Drenched!

Drenched!

Time to make one final check that everything is staying dry and I will crawl into my sleeping bag for another great night’s sleep (I hope).

Aspens lining the road into Moose Creek Campground

Aspens lining the road into Moose Creek Campground

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Day 43: Carmacks to Pelly Crossing (July 28)

Happy Birthday Angie!

Thirty-six years ago today I was 20 years old and John was 23. It was a very busy day. If someone had told me that this many years later, I would be riding my bicycle to Alaska, well…

Nice place to camp by the Yukon River

Nice place to camp by the Yukon River

Today we started off with the Yukon River to our left for about 22 miles while it flowed through the valley below us. I stopped several times for more pictures because I just can get enough of it! At about mile 22, the Klondike Highway moved away from the River, but we will see it again in two days at Dawson where we’ll cross it on a ferry. How cool is that!?!

Last peek at Yukon River until Dawson

Last peek at Yukon River until Dawson

The next excitement of the day came with a six mile stretch of “road construction”. As I approached the area, I could see what looked like dust or smoke ahead and I wondered if their might be something on fire. The dust or smoke got worse as I neared and then I saw the sign that read “Extreme Dust Conditions Exist”.

The pavement abruptly turned to fine dirt covered in two to three inches deep of ball bearing type rocks. At first, I found a track right down the center of the road and as long as I could stay in it, I could ride. The RV’s were all very kind and slowed way down and went into the other lane to pass me. The traffic coming at me, was NOT so kind and also wanted to take the center of the road so when a vehicle was coming at me, I would have to jump off and push Mabelline through the rocks to the side of the road. Those vehicles created so much dust that I was completely engulfed and invisible to any other traffic. When the traffic would clear, I would drag her back through the rocks to the center of the road and ride again. This worked until a curve and a six percent grade brought the rocks all the way across the road and my track disappeared. Back off to push…but the rocks and the weight of my panniers kept dragging the bike to lay over rather than roll. I considered taking off the panniers and throwing them into the ditch so that I could get Mabelline to safety. Of course, I would then have to walk back to get the panniers. The problem with that is that I had no idea how long these conditions were going to go on. Would the construction end and pavement begin around the next corner? Or was this going to go on for miles? No signs gave any indication. Finally, finally, the hill leveled out and the track came back and I was able to ride to where the pavement finally began again. Totally covered in dust, I found the first wide spot in the road and sat there eating my pbj and waited for Nelson and Mark. We rode the remaining fifteen miles to the campground together. Sue was the fourth person to navigate the road and everyone followed and the whole situation was the topic of conversation during supper.

We actually had a few miles of completely flat road!

We actually had a few miles of completely flat road!

Speaking of supper…it was our turn to cook. Gratefully a small grocery store was just a block from this municipal campground and we used one of Mark and Nelson’s pasta recipes to feed the troops. For three loonies each, we were allowed to shower in a motel room behind the grocery store.

Someone abandoned this at a picnic table at a rest stop.  Did they think someone might eat them?

Someone abandoned this at a picnic table at a rest stop. Did they think someone might eat them?

This is Nelson. He is the only Canadian amongst us. He’s one of those people who could play and probably win “So you want to be a Millionaire” (or whatever that gameshow was called). If you want to know something, Nelson more than likely has the answer. He is quiet and soft spoken; and he is as kind and genuine as a person can be. I am so thankful to have gotten to know him.

Nelson, the only Canadian amongst us

Nelson, the only Canadian amongst us

Everyone is sound asleep. Think it’s time I turned in too. I tweeked my back a little today manhandling Mabelline in the rocks. A couple of Athlete’s Vitamin A should make me sleep better 😉

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Day 42: Little Salmon Lake to Carmacks (July 27)

Just pinch me! I am riding along the Yukon River in the Yukon Territory!

Yukon River behind me

Yukon River behind me

Yukon River

Yukon River

The Yukon River is huge! It is the third longest river in North America (nearly 2,000 miles long) and drains into the Bering Sea. We are estimating that it flows about 10 mph and that is FAST! I would NOT get in without a rope around my waist. Where we are camped tonight people are arriving in canoes and it’s quite entertaining watching them maneuver the canoes to the bank.

Before the River though…we had to get ourselves and our bikes up the 16% grade out of the Little Salmon Lake Campground. Sue and I walked the first switchback which was the steepest section and then rode the rest of the way up. We had some brief sunshine today but for the most part, it has been cloudy. We rode through another burnt forest and the gloominess seemed fitting. This forest fire happened just last year but apparently, the mushroom pickers have come and gone (we haven’t seen any). We have been hearing about the mushroom pickers and there was quite a bit of controversy about it because Cambodians had come in and picked the morels before the locals could get it done. Evidently there is a lot of money to be made in selling them.

A rare sunshine moment in the Yukon

A rare sunshine moment in the Yukon

Yukon guardrail

Yukon guardrail

We climbed it!

We climbed it!

Steve and Sue

Steve and Sue

When we arrived here at the Coal Mine Campground, we just finished up on the Robert Campbell Highway and will begin tomorrow riding the Klondike Highway (it has a shoulder). We have been told that the Klondike will be busier because it runs between Whitehorse (the capital of Yukon) and Dawson City. It would not take much traffic to be busier because the mostly gravel RCH has been mostly ours. A good thing…

Ma and Pa Kettle a/k/a Dee and Tony

Ma and Pa Kettle a/k/a Dee and Tony

Tonight we are enjoying an RV Campground with showers, laundry and a little outdoor cafe. Upon arriving this afternoon, Sue had a coffee float and I had a grilled cheese sandwich and a chocolate shake. Our supper tonight was made by the cafe and I enjoyed a hamburger and French fries. Oh ya…got some calories today.

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We rode with Steve a lot today

We rode with Steve a lot today

Gearing up for a long day in the saddle tomorrow plus it will be our turn to cook supper again. Oh boy…oh joy…8-)

Campground by the Yukon River

Campground by the Yukon River

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Day 41: Faro to Little Salmon Lake (July 26)

Surpassed 2,000 miles today!

I am pretty excited about having Orange Marmalade to make my pbj!

I am pretty excited about having Orange Marmalade to make my pbj!

Last night about 8:00 p.m. we were all surprised to hear the familiar voice of Dan from North Star Two. The group of 12 left Missoula two days after our group of 16. Twice now, Dan and one other guy have ridden two days worth of miles to catch up with us on our day off. Crazy men!

Some of these bridges are just amazing

Some of these bridges are just amazing

Today was a good day. For one thing, we are back on chip seal and off of gravel. Who would have ever thought I would be glad to be riding chip seal! The effort required to ride gravel versus the effort to ride chip seal is unbelievably different. Besides the easier roll of the tires, the hills were a normal 6% to 8%. We can ride those hills all day long! In fact, we did! We rode 62 miles and climbed just under 3,000 feet today.

Unique first view of Little Salmon Lake

Unique first view of Little Salmon Lake

Second glimpse

Second glimpse

The only gravel we had to ride was the mile-long descent into this campground. We rode our brakes white knuckled down the 16% grade and tomorrow we will have to climb it. I’ll worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes…

Little guy crossing the road

Little guy crossing the road

We met another milestone surpassing 2,000 miles today. I believe we have 12 fully loaded days of riding remaining. That doesn’t count the three more days off nor the days we will ride in Denali National Park. Some of us are still getting stronger, but I believe I have peaked and am now going backwards. But…I still have enough to get ‘er done!

Wally and Sue solving the world's problems

Wally and Sue solving the world’s problems

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Days 39 and 40: Ross River to Faro (July 24 & 25)

Home sick…

Field of daisies.  I took this one weeks ago, but have been saving it for such a time as this...

Field of daisies. I took this one weeks ago, but have been saving it for such a time as this…

The Yukon Territory is just spectacular. Everything is big and deep and wide and steep. The hills today were longer, perhaps 1/2 mile to 2 miles. Not a one of those hills was less than 10%. I know because I watch my Garmin for entertainment. Many of the hills reached 12%. Those are just killers. I would like to tell you that they are tough only after we have already rode 50 miles for the day. Or…that they are tough early in the mornings because we are not yet warmed up. But the complete truth is they are just tough whether it is the first hill of the day or the last hill of the day and everywhere in between. We climbed close to 3,000 ft today in only 46 miles. I am so so tired. I’m covered in mosquito bites and bruises. My bike is filthy and making noises. Everything I own here is covered in mud and sand. My clothes smell and look like they have been dragged through the Yukon rather than worn through the Yukon. I am so sick and tired of peanut butter and jelly that I may never eat one again (after this trip) as long as I live. I just want to gag in the mornings when I see that the bread is gone and I have to make my sandwiches with tortillas. I’m easily irritated and just want to hibernate in my tent, but that isn’t an option with everything there is to do once we get into camp. In short…I’m homesick for John.

We are taking a day off in Faro. The town’s motto is: Yukon’s Best Kept Secret. It sits in a valley between the Hess and Pelly Mountains in the Central-South Eastern Region of the Yukon. Faro advertises that it is situated in the most densely concentrated wildlife areas in North America. I wish I could tell you that I’ve seen an abundance of wildlife, but for the past four days, I’ve seen only one small black bear and a porcupine. The entire population of the Yukon is under 37,000 and the population of Faro is only 390. There is money here though as seen in the Visitor Center building, the City Building and the Library.

Whatever they are, they grow in circle patches

Whatever they are, they grow in circle patches

Close up

Close up

Tomorrow (our day off) will include the usual 1) phone call to John for much needed well…you know… 2) laundry 3) bike maintenance 4) catching up the blog. My rear-end will NOT be touching the seat of my bike. Rest in that area is essential.

I wish a picture could portray the depth you see with the naked eye

I wish a picture could portray the depth you see with the naked eye

Coming out of Ross River this morning, we saw all these kids on bikes. We asked, “where are you riding?” One boy answered, “no clue”. It reminded me of something that happened a couple of weeks ago when we were sharing a rest stop with some young riders. One of them told Wally that it was “nice to see older people on bikes”. Hahahaha!

Boy Scouts perhaps?

Boy Scouts perhaps?

Short but sweet downhill

Short but sweet downhill

There are kids riding four-wheelers around and around the circle of tents, some hounds have something treed not very far away. Mark and I are arguing through the walls of our tents on the proper pronunciation of “coyote”. Mark is a retired psychologist in the U.S. Navy (rank of Commander). He has a tendency to be sarcastic and bossy but I like him anyway. He is a take-charge kind of guy and gets things done. He rides a bicycle just like Mabelline and I’m glad he is a part of my adventure. Oh, and one more thing…he has latched onto playing the Glad Game 😎

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Day 38: Big Campbell Creek to Ross River (July 23)

It’s a good thing we’re tough!

Early morning hill

Early morning hill

This is our mantra. Sue and I say it out loud often to remind ourselves that we can do this. Today was a tough day. Do you get tired of me telling you how hard the hills are to climb? If so, you won’t like today’s post. We had over 3,000 ft of climbing today in 70 miles. Many of the hills were not more than a football field long, but consistently they were at 10 to 12% grade. We were on gravel and at 12%, the back tire wants to slip and lose traction. There is no standing to climb even with all the weight of the panniers at that grade; we must stay seated to get any traction at all. To add to the difficulty, we rode in cold rain. Did I mention we are on gravel roads? Somewhere during the day, Mabelline started making scraping, grating and chirping sounds. Sue’s bike (Mr. Green Jeans) was doing some ghost shifting. Our panniers were so muddy, I had to completely wash mine down before putting them in my tent. Thankfully, the Ortlieb waterproof panniers, are truly waterproof. After supper, we took the bikes to the water treatment building and washed them down the best we could. There was no hose, only a spigot coming out of the side of the building with a button to push to get the water to expel. It either didn’t come out at all, or came out with such force that we, ourselves, got soaked again. It would have been pretty hilarious to see the process as an onlooker, but we were so tired, it made us give up with the bikes still gritty and filthy. I guess we will worry about it tomorrow.

Today’s ride was supposed to be 58 miles but it turned out being an addition nine for Sue and I. Here is why: The cue sheet said to turn right at North Canol Road at mile 54. There was no such turn at mile 54 and so we kept going a couple more miles when there was a right turn that looked more like a back road to no where. In addition, there was a bent over sign that said “road closed”. On the main road, there was a sign that said 16 km to Ross River (staying on the gravel Campbell Highway). Sue pulled out a map that she had of the area and the back road wasn’t even on it, so…we bit the bullet and rode the extra nine miles into town.

Now…Giovanni, when he got to that questionable turn, decided that it had to be where we were suppose to turn so he took it. An hour and a half later, Tony, Dee, Steve and Vicky come to that point and Tony and Dee also make the turn, but Steve and Vicky decided to ride to a campground further up the road with hopes of completely avoiding any more hills for the day (because Vicky has some seriously sore knees). This meant they wouldn’t be staying with us in Ross River (a small community). The hill that Giovanni, Tony and Dee had to climb on that back road must have been brutal. All three of them pushed their bikes up the 15% grade. The trip down the other side was so frightening that Dee was about in tears when they finally made it here. You’re probably wondering which way Nelson, Mark and Wally got to town. They came the same way Sue and I did, but they were about a 1/2 hour ahead of us.

What we figured out is that when this trip was last ridden (2008), that back road WAS the main road to Ross River. Since then a new road has been built and they technically closed the other road, (but obviously locals still take it because it is a shortcut into town).

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Wally rode with Nelson and Mark today to get to town early to figure out camping, or perhaps even motel accommodations. We have had three days of no civilization, no showers, and no water to drink other than what we filtered out of a lake twice and a river once. We have been riding tough hard hilly miles on gravel roads. Wally could sense that we needed a touch of civilization and they were on a mission to see what the town could offer us. When they got here, unfortunately the only motel was closed and boarded up and the baseball fields were waist high grass. They went to the police department and were told we could pitch our tents in the park where the kids ride their four-wheelers. By the time Sue and I got to town, Wally met us at the grocery store and helped us shop for supper, breakfast and lunch groceries. Mark and Nelson came to help too and we got it done in short order. Since we hadn’t unloaded the panniers, we walked the two blocks carrying the sacks of groceries. We were tired, we were hungry, and we we’re going to have another night with no shower.

About that time, Billie, whose God-given gift is compassion and hospitality, came walking across the street and offered her home for us to shower. Were those tears streaming down my cheeks? Sue and I got our showers taken first so that we could start supper. While we were preparing it, kids rode through on their four-wheelers throwing dust into our food and tents. Billie came back over and talked to the kids telling them to slow it down! Pretty soon a group of them came over to ask us questions. One little boy asked, “how do you like my town?” We answered, “we think your town is awesome!”

One more trip to Billie’s home to ask if I left my watch in her bathroom (I found it later in the mess in my tent) and she sent me with a much needed roll of toilet paper for the outhouse across the street behind the community building.

So, with a grateful heart and with a clean body, I say goodnight to you. Tomorrow morning will come too soon.

(Not many pix today as camera was stowed away because of the rain)

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Day 37: Francis Lake to Big Campbell Creek (July 22)

Riding with the boys

Mark and Nelson

Mark and Nelson

Sue and I were first out of camp and we had a massive hill right off the bat to climb away from Francis Lake riding another day of constant gravel. The view from up high was spectacular and I zoomed in to catch a Z pattern in the current. We got separated on the climb and about that time Nelson and Mark caught me and asked if I wanted to ride with them. Their pace was faster than I was used to riding, and they had to wait for me a couple of times on the hard hills, but otherwise, I put on my fast ride face and hung on. The scenery was ever changing and I enjoyed the whole day immensely! Sue arrived at camp just about an hour later.

Francis Lake

Francis Lake

This is not an official camp sight, but instead more likely a parking lot for fishermen. We all have our tents set up around the perimeter because that is the flattest area. The creek is fast moving and cold and we filtered all the water we needed right out of it while Tony and Dee made us a pasta dish for supper. Afterwards, the guys hung the bear bags over the side of the bridge and Wally has approved it as a job well done.

Near the Big Campbell River Bridge

Near the Big Campbell River Bridge

Bear bags safely stowed thanks to Giovanni

Bear bags safely stowed

We climbed some monster hills today for a total of 2,886 feet. To put this trip into perspective for you, as of today, we have climbed 61,880 feet. That is almost 12 miles! Today’s hardest topped out at 14% grade…on gravel…carrying gear. As Nelson, Mark and I turned the curve and saw this hill before us, Mark asks, “is that even possible?” We shifted to our lowest gear and began to climb. Our back tires were slipping on the rocks, and I (in particular) was all over the road, but the three of us got it done!

Sue sitting in the shade of her front porch

Sue sitting in the shade of her front porch

It’s 9:00 p.m. and it is bright as 2:00 in the afternoon. Everyone is in their tents most likely asleep. I think I will find my sleeping mask and hit the hay too.

Why we hang the bear bags

Why we hang the bear bags

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Day 36: Simpson Lake to Francis Lake (July 21)

We saw a moose!

Sometime in the middle of the night it got dang cold. I woke up cold in my sleeping bag and began pulling clothes out of my panniers to layer up. I was finally warm enough to go back to sleep. When it was time to actually get up and leave the tent, it was only 34 degrees. Even the mosquitoes were not moving yet!

Simpson Lake early morn

Simpson Lake early morn

Wild Lupin growing at Lake Simpson

Wild Lupin growing at Lake Simpson

We had no idea today would be the day that we finally got to see a moose. She was crossing the road about 100 yards in front of Sue and when she saw us she made a dash to the forest. We didn’t have time to photograph her, but we could tell she was a “she”. We were so excited that we couldn’t hardly contain ourselves. We chanted several times today…”we’re riding through the Yukon and we saw a moose!”

Lovely red grass/weed

Lovely red grass/weed

Our next excitement is that we had to ride 2 1/2 miles of road construction. When we pulled up, there was a young girl with a caution sign. She walked up to us and said that they had just laid five clicks (I have no idea how much that is) of sand on the road. She told us we might have to walk our bikes because one of the guys in front of us fell in the soft sand. There was no pilot car and we were on our own, Let me tell you, it was a tough haul through that fine sand with many big pieces of equipment owning the road. We started out riding and then we’d get bogged down and just come to a halt. We’d walk pushing our heavy bikes using every muscle at our disposal. The road was wide and we’d have to cross over to the other side when a big truck or roller was coming at us. Then we’d have to cross again for the same reason. The tires were deep in the sand as far as the rims at times. I got back on the bike whenever I felt I might be able to ride, but it was only temporary and I’d get bogged down again. Sue and I got separated because she walked her bike more than rode it. Even with all construction traffic, I really never felt in danger, but it was a very physical experience!

We rode through this mess!

We rode through this mess!

Once we got through, we rode another 17 miles of gravel and then the road turned back to chip seal for four miles and then back again to gravel for the rest of the day (53 miles of gravel today).

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We laugh every night at supper as we discuss how few vehicles we saw that day. Yesterday we were at 10 bikes (that would be us) and eight vehicles until Noon. I think we saw another dozen or so before we turned into the campground. Today, not counting the road construction crew, we saw less than a dozen vehicles all day long.

The road got a tad boring this afternoon as we rode 30 miles through a burnt forest. It was actually kind of eerie and boring at the same time. I thought we would never get on the other side. The forestry department must not have the resources to put out fires perhaps? Less than 40,000 people live in the Yukon Territory. Evidently, the Yukon is not a Province of Canada? I should have studied up on my geography rather than spending all my spare time training, eh?

Miles and miles of this

Miles and miles of this

One of Sue’s words for beginning to bonk, is that she’s starting to feel “wonky”. At our lunch stop today, we decided we were both “wonky” when we spotted this Sasquatch. Later in the day, we had to play the “Glad Game” to keep the miles from seeming endless. You see, on gravel, we are only averaging 6 to 8 mph.

Sasquatch sighting.  Ha!

Sasquatch sighting. Ha!

A long day in the saddle put us in camp at 6:00. By the time we got all the water filtered that we would need, supper eaten, and a few miscellaneous things, it was after 9:00 before getting into the tents for the night. I am dressed warmer tonight to prepare for 30 degree temps in the morning again. Burr!

Mabelline doing double duty as a clothes line

Mabelline doing double duty as a clothes line

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Day 35: Watson Lake to Simpson Lake (July 20)

A few pics from our day off in Watson Lake…

This couple was touring Canada with their two year old daughter

This couple was touring Canada with their two year old daughter

Thousands and thousands of signs at the entrance to town

Thousands and thousands of signs at the entrance to town

Although we are more than half way through this adventure, today feels like the beginning of “Phase 2”. Within one mile of entering the Yukon two days ago, we rode for only 14 miles on the Alaska Highway (called that because it is the most direct way into Alaska) to the town of Watson Lake. When we left town this morning, we headed north on the Robert Campbell Highway (because we don’t want to go the most direct route into Alaska). The info that Wally was able to obtain said that most of the highway is gravel and so we were expecting to ride gravel all day. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that much of today’s ride had been chip sealed and we rode on that until mile 42, when the Robert Campbell Highway officially turned to hard-to-ride gravel. Deep sand, large rocks and washboarded road makes for six mile per hour traveling. Ugg! It’s hard on Mabelline, hard on her tires, and hard on her rider! I may have to wear both my sports bras at the same time!

Aspens are a common tree.  I love them!

Aspens are a common tree. I love them!

We are carrying three days worth of groceries. The two people that were cooking tonight chose frozen lasagna, frozen mixed vegetables and frozen fruit for dessert. That was TWO large lasagnas! Now in full disclosure, I did very much enjoy supper tonight, but the weight of that meal alone must have been 15 lbs or more. Needless to say, we ate well tonight.

Yukon road damage notification

Yukon road damage notification

When I was talking to our daughter, Angie last night, she asked if we have been seeing any wildlife and I told her that Wally had seen a moose. Sue and I saw a small contingency of mountain goats a few days ago, and black bear sightings are almost daily occurrences. The road we were on today does not meet the normal criteria for moose sightings, but Sue and I are always on guard for the excitement when it is our turn to see one.

Six of us coming...

Six of us coming…

Six of us going...

Six of us going…

One of my ridemates asked me about my faith today. Actually, I was asked that since it was Sunday and since there was a church in Watson Lake, why didn’t I go to church? My response was that I often have church with God outside on my bike. I told him I was a Nazarene, an evangelical Christian. I told him that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. After sharing my faith, I started thinking about my church family. I sure miss you all and I am grateful for your continued prayers for safety for all of us.

Tonight we are at a government campground. We have a beautiful lake to enjoy, an outhouse, and a nice pavilion to eat under. There are bear boxes to put our food in and mosquitoes to share it with. We got our water out of the crystal clear lake and filtered it. We have the process down and with two filters can get all the water we need in about two hours if everyone helps. Tonight my job was to go the boat dock with a plastic bag and fill it with the lake water. Mark did the same job and between us, we were able to keep the two filters running constantly.

The Yukon has a different tent sign

The Yukon has a different tent sign

Tomorrow is another day and we will be lighter carrying only two days worth of groceries… I think I need to let some air out of my back tire…

Nothing like the sound of stones crunching under your tires

Nothing like the sound of stones crunching under your tires

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Days 33 and 34: Boya Lake to Watson Lake, Yukon and day off (July 18 and 19)

We made it to The Yukon!

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Sometime in the middle of the night, it started raining. I sat up and closed my rain fly and carefully checked to make certain that everything that should not get wet (under any circumstances) were on top or in my panniers. These things would include my iPad and any paperwork and my down sleeping bag and coats. I’ve got a recurring leak issue with Marabelle when it rains hard and I believe it’s my own fault. You see, I put absolutely everything that I have with me (except my bike) in my tent at night. There is room enough and I just like having my “stuff” within arms reach. But…this causes a problem when it rains because my empty panniers push the lower quarter of the tent out from under the rainfly. I know what you’re thinking! You’re thinking, what’s more important: having everything a arms reach? Or having everything dry?

I want it all and I know what it takes to have it all. If I sleep with my head at the front of my tent, it is no problem at all. The problem comes when I have to sleep with my head towards the rear of the tent. The back of the tent is narrower than the front. I know what you’re thinking! You’re thinking, so why doesn’t she always sleep with her head at the front of the tent?

It is because you cannot always tell which end of the tent is going to be higher. I always have to sleep where my head is higher than my feet. Sometimes the slant is obvious…sometimes it is subtle. Last night though, I knew right from the get-go that the rear of my tent would be higher because I wanted to have my front door facing the lake.

So…I tell you all of this just to admit to you that even with all I know…even with all advance preparation, rain poured in my tent… Good grief.

We rode in cold rain all day. The first 30 miles was fairly flat and we rode fast. The next 36 got hilly; I mean HILLY and we slowed down significantly. The hills were rollers you might say; except these rollers are at 7, 8, 9 and 10% grades. No matter how much momentum we gain coming down, the moment we begin to go up, the bike (with all it’s weight) will just stop if not properly geared to begin the climbing process.

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We rode all day through forest that had burned on both sides of the road. One of the first plants that grows after a burn is the Fireweed. By now you must know how beautiful I think the flower is based on how many pictures I have taken with some in it. So here is one more introducing you to Natasha Fireweed, Triple Agent! Whenever Sue says this, she says it with a Russian accent. We think it’s hilarious 😎 The idea came into being when I bought the new riding shirt of the same color.

Natasha Fireweed,  Triple Agent

Natasha Fireweed, Triple Agent

We are in a motel room again tonight. Evidently the closest campground is five miles away and that was not going to work since we have to buy groceries for the next three days. And when I say motels, I’m not talking one of the chains of Marriott (if you know what I mean).

New use for a loader

New use for a loader

When we got in, we literally dumped the contents of our panniers on the floor and rushed to the grocery store because it was our night to cook. We went super super simple and bought 1,800 grams of pasta (I’m finally catching on to the metric system here), six jars of Alfredo sauce, and five cans of canned flaked turkey (with the pull-off lids). Pre-packaged salad and pre-packaged veggie trays for appetizers and frozen carrot cake for dessert. From pulling into town to supper on the table (outside in the parking lot directly in front of the laundry mat) in 1.5 hours. Whew! We are now free for the next five days!

Supper and breakfast was had here  in the parking lot

Supper and breakfast was had here in the parking lot

Today I will tell you a little bit about Giovanni. Keep in mind that everything I tell you, I heard second hand. He is such a mystery and would not ever consider sharing anything personal with me. Giovanni is a retired astro-chemist. I’m assuming that means that he is highly educated and intelligent. He is a strong rider and he is very quiet. I told him one time that I took a great picture of him coming down a mountain and asked if he would like me to email it to him. He told me he would “probably never look at it”. Alrighty then.

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So the time has come for me to tell you that again…you may not hear from me for days. We are in The Yukon now and for the next week or so we are staying at government campgrounds (and even under a bridge one night). We have been told that they will include outhouses and some have potable water and some don’t. We’ve also been told that when they say the water is potable, we should filter or at least boil it anyway. There will be no electricity. There will be no showers.

Mark, Steve and Sue

Mark, Steve and Sue

The good news is that I FINALLY found a loofa! I ruined my original loofa in a dryer at the campground outside Prince George. The darn dryer just melted it to the drum. Gratefully, it was still so hot when I discovered it that I was able to peel it off the drum (burning my fingers in the process) and I didn’t have to buy a dryer. Please forgive me if I’ve already told you that story. So ANYWAY, today Sue and I are walking around this small town of Watson Lake and we see a sign on a small metal building that indicates they sale bath and office supplies. I walked in and asked if they sale loofa’s and neither person knew what a loofa was, but when I explained what it is used for, the owner (a man in his 50’s) says, “oh, you mean a bath flower!” We walked over to where the bath flowers were and sure enough, three colors of small loofa’s (I bought a pale yellow one) were on the shelf! Woot Woot! I also bought a notepad and two pens since I may be blogging by hand when my iPad dies in a couple of days. There may be a hint of civilization when we arrive in Faro on July 24th, but I am not going to hold my breath.

The sun sets tonight at 11:09 in The Yukon, just in case you wanted to know.

One more picture of Boya Lake taken early in the morning

One more picture of Boya Lake taken early in the morning

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