Bears, Glaciers and Rain


August 20th and 21st, 2011

When I had passed through Watson Lake on the way north, I had planned to ride the Robert Campbell Highway. The lack of gas stations had made me change my plan and instead stay on the Alaskan Highway. To be honest I felt a little sad over this, since I thought the Campbell might have been a nicer ride. Until I ran out of gas, anyway.

Heading south from Watson Lake I planned to ride the Cassier Highway, and had spent some time making sure I had the range I needed to do so. I stayed the night in Watson Lake, in a hotel as they were supposed to get 15cm of rain overnight. I don’t know how much that is in a real measurement, but it sounded like a lot. As it turned out it didn’t really rain at all, and I headed south.

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It got cloudier as I rode, and eventually the rain started. I hadn’t seen many other cars, and no other riders, until I stopped for gas and a socked BMW GSA rider from England named Mark came flying in. He had also spent the night in Watson like with two other British riders. They had left in the morning and he was trying to catch up with them in Hyder. His BMW riding suit wasn’t waterproof, and he was going as fast as he could to try and reduce the amount of rain he had to deal with.

I had decided to ride into Steward, mainly to remove any concern I had over my range. This meant I would ride the Glacier Highway, which led from the Cassier to Steward and Hyder. I wasn’t keen on going into Hyder itself, but wasn’t opposed to it.

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That road, when it isn’t raining and foggy, has to be amazing. Talking with residents in the area, the days when it isn’t rainy and foggy are few and far between, so I don’t know if anyone can really say.

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Can’t have a Glacier Highway without a Glacier or two (though Glacier National Park will be out of glaciers soon. I still wonder if they will rename it). I don’t think I need to harp on the fact it was rather cold with all that ice right there. My stuff had kept me dry, expect my hands. My right glove was actually shorting out slightly and had been giving me shocks to the back of my hand before I disconnected it.

Around here I caught up with the three Brits, then seperated from them in Steward as I went to look at the campground. It actually looked pretty nice, but in the rain I decided I wasn’t up for it and wanted to be able to dry out some. All of Steward’s Hotels were full, so I ended up in Hyder, getting the last room at the SeaAlaska. The brits were there, having gotten the second to last room (mine was nicer, since I got the detached cabin with it’s own bathroom), and we got dinner together. So I met Brian and Richard, who had ridden the America’s South to North last year. Richard was on vacation and on a rented bike, while Brian had left his bike here, a Tenere 660. He was just riding around and had been on the road for three months already.

After dinner, and drinks in the SeaAlaska bar, we all hit the sack. There had been talk of going to see the bears at the Fish Creek Viewing area in the morning, but I was the only one up and there early.

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It was raining still, and my camera started to act up.

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But I managed to get a few pics of the bears before it stopped working altogether. These two were fishing in the creek and being quite successful. The salmon numbers were apparently way down for the year, but there were still dozens in the water. The little patch of grass they were standing on in this picture was underwater in about 20 minutes. The bears wandered off not long after.

I breifly saw Jeremy on his VFR here, which was impressive given the condition of the road. He had reached Fairbanks before the days of rain that swamped the Dawson, and so had made it up to the Artic Circle. He went to look at the bears as I rode off.

Mark, Richard and Brian did eventually get to Fish Creek, in the early afternoon. They didn’t get to see anything. Guess you have to be up early to see the bears.

I made it the rest of the way south on the Cassier, then headed SE towards Prince George on Canada 16 (Yellowhead Highway), stopping in a town called Smithers, where it was warm and the clouds were breaking up. This was August 21st, the 2 month anniversary of being on the road, so I got a nice dinner after setting up my tent.

I ran into Richard and Brian after dinner, Mark had decided to press south to warmer climes. They offered me a spot in a couchsurf Brian had set up in Prince George, and I agreed to meet them at their hotel at 10 the next morning. Then I went back to my camp, enjoyed a fire, and went to sleep.

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