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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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Old 17 Mar 2009
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Across Canada from Halifax!?

Hi All,

Changes to my itinery mean im now planning to travel across to Anchorage from Halifax NS. Has anyone here done this - are there any things to consider regarding weather in April/May and are there any tricky crossing?????

All help appreciated!!! Planning to set off in mid april!

Wingin' it.
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Old 21 Mar 2009
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Originally Posted by craigwake View Post
Hi All,

Changes to my itinery mean im now planning to travel across to Anchorage from Halifax NS. Has anyone here done this - are there any things to consider regarding weather in April/May and are there any tricky crossing?????

All help appreciated!!! Planning to set off in mid april!

Only one. Dress warm and have a good sleeping bag if camping. It will be cold still at that time of the year.
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Old 21 Mar 2009
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Derek Fairless

Derek road the Hali to Western Canada route a couple of years ago....have a look at his Travel Story....

Across Canada

An echoes to olebiker...things out west are still very snowy and cool (-10c ish) ....

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Old 24 Mar 2009
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April is early in Canada for a long bike ride. Snow storms are possible until late May and even early June as you get further west and north towards the Territories and Alaska. The good news is that, at that time of year, the snow will usually melt quickly, so you can just hole up somewhere and wait it out. Last year in mid-may I rode to Vancouver and saw two feet of snow on the sides of the road in places in the mountains. I turned around on the Coquilhala highway south of Kamloops with an inch of wet snow on my windscreen.. Then took the lower road through the Fraser Canyon.

The key to success is not to be in a hurry; to have the time to wait out a snowstorm until the weather and road clears. Have warm and waterproof clothing, and you will be forever thankful if you have an electric vest and either heated grips or gloves. And, to improve your chances, don't plan on getting to Alaska until June.

Last summer, I had wet snow in Denali Park (north of Anchorage) in late June. I had a hail storm in the Yukon in mid-June that dumped about 3 inches of ice on the highway. Just takes patience.

-john b.
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Old 24 Mar 2009
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I do agree with John, April and May is pushing the early end of the season for a ride such as what you have planned.

What makes further analysis difficult (I'm going to try it, bear with me) is that you will be crossing no less than 7 totally different climatic zones between Halifax and Anchorage. Heck, you are hitting every climatic zone possible in meteorology with the single exception of desert, and if you really want to hit that one, just take a slight detour to the sand dunes in Northern Alberta.

If you begin in Halifax in mid-April, you shouldn't have too many problems while you are in the Atlantic region of Canada (Nova Scotia and New Brunswick). You might get nailed by a snowstorm, but the odds are against it. However, it is not going to be comfortably warm - evening temperatures will be near freezing - and daytime temperatures of +5 to +10 C, with rain, are common that time of year.

Once you start moving inland from the Atlantic Coast and the Gulf of St. Lawrence (in other words, once you are west of Quebec City), snow is not uncommon during late April, and cold temperatures - daily highs of +10C or less - are the norm. Once you get to Montreal, you face a fork in the road - go north-west up the Ottawa River, following the trans-Canada highway, or continue south-west toward Toronto?

If you go north-west along the trans-Canada, you are going to be encountering cold temperatures and a very real possibility of snow-packed roads (not just a one-day dusting of snow) as you move northward. You will be away from all bodies of water that temper weather. I grew up around North Bay, and well remember making snow forts in April, and I remember frozen ponds on May mornings. Folks who live there don't take their snow tires off their car until the Queen's Birthday in May.

If you go south-west to Toronto, no big problems, you won't freeze in late april April. In fact, from Montreal down toward Toronto, you will encounter milder temperatures than what you left behind.

However, eventually you will want to proceed westward, and from Toronto, the only way to do that is to head straight north to go around the top of the Great Lakes. I can promise you that once you reach Sault Ste. Marie, all bets are off prior to May 15th. You might have dry sunny days with temperatures of +5 to +10, you might get a cold snap with temperatures down to daytime highs of -10 C along with a large (and persistent) dump of snow.

Going around the top of the Great Lakes, most especially around the top of Lake Superior, during the latter part of April or first half of May is a crap-shoot.

Once you hit the eastern border of Manitoba (let's assume it is May 15 now) you are into a different climatic zone altogether. Canadian farmers from the Manitoba border west can generally count on a 95 day frost-free growing period - that starts about mid-May and ends in late August. The good news is that the weather will be drier, and you will have more sunshine as you leave the Great Lakes behind you, the bad news is that it still won't be reliably warm, you could have highs of +10 to +15 and lows very close to freezing.

You'll have to move north and west toward Anchorage, which means that the average daily temperature will remain unchanged for you from what you encountered when you entered Manitoba until at least when you leave Northern Alberta to go into BC. It might get colder as you go northwest, it certainly won't get any warmer.

The land rises once you get into BC, again, the second half of May is a bit iffy up there. By June 1, it's OK - plus, you have lots and lots of light (20 hour days).

All in all, I think you are about 15 days early.. If you left Halifax on May 1, life would be rosy and you would experience the best that Canada has to offer. If you left Halifax on April 15th, you might just freeze your ass off for the next 30 to 45 days. So, I recommend you try and push your departure date back to May 1.

I've done a few cross-Canada runs in the past, in June, and even in June it can be chilly north of the Great Lakes.

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Old 24 Mar 2009
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Just a PS:

The half-way point between Halifax and Anchorage is about at the border between Ontario and Manitoba. The amount of mileage (what you have to ride, not what the crow flies) around the top of the Great Lakes will surprise you.

The area North of Superior (from Sault Ste. Marie to the Manitoba border) will be the riskiest part of the voyage from a temperature point of view. The shoreline ice doesn't melt from Lake Superior until well into May.
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