June 11, 2005 GMT
Yukon! Or, How I fought Cassiar's Clay--and won

"Let me esplain. No, there is no time. Let me sum up." -- Inigo Montoya, Princess Bride.

I write from an internet cafe in Teslin, Yukon Territories. So much has happened since Seattle, I don't know where to start. The biggies; the camera is kaput (dropped, while stopped at Burns Lake. Salvaged battery and 1gb memory card just purchased in Seattle. Photos should be linked by the time I finish this update. I'm trying to get to Skagway today. Here's a quick list of places I've stayed each night:

5/29 - SF
5/30 - Blue Lake (Mom's house)
5/31 - Farewell Bend Campground (rain, near Crater Lake, OR) $6 bucks
6/01 - Portland Hostel, Victorian House, Hawthorne district. Nice. Funky. Good coffee down the street at Powell's book store.
6/02 - Seattle Green Tortoise. Touratech for GPS mount.
6/03 - Seattle Green Tortoise. Explore Seattle. Another great bookstore, Elliot Bay. Fish market fun.

6/04 - Vancouver Hostel. Nice. Charged three times each for room (second charge was supposed to be a credit). Also got Hostel card, so about $100 for the night. Still being straightened out.

6/05 - Duncan, Vancouver Island. Darcy's (KLR650.net) house. Crazy day. Late start, rain, ferry to the Island. Darcy, Fred and Willie show us the back roads of Vancouver Island, including offroad to the top of a mountain. Best. View. Ever.

On the way back, Darcy breaks a footpeg--and his foot. Then Sacha crashes.

6/06 - Solo now, I hit Victoria and back up to Nanaimo, where I catch the ferry back to Horseshoe Bay, then stay at the most beautiful campground, right at the water, by a fjord. Around 12 midnight a freight train thunders through camp. Hmm, now I know why it is so cheap!

Porteau Cove :

6/07 - 100 Mile House, motel for drying out from rain.

Sea to Sky Highway was incredible. Imagine 100 miles of Yosemite Valley with no one around.

6/08 - Vanderhoof.

Mosquitos are hellacious. I camped by a river again.

6/09 - Bell II. Kind of a resort for heliskiers. They have a hot tub, sauna. I enjoy a shower. Staying light til 11 now. Today I saw Bear Glacier and Salmon Glacier after detour through Stewart and Hyder, AK.

Yep, Alaska before Yukon. Kooky. Tough offroading to get up to Salmon Glacier, but when the pictures get developed, you'll see something amazing. Tough day, very rewarding.


(Photo added!)

6/10 - Stayed at Watson Lake after conquering the Cassiar. The Cassiar was stormy, muddy. I saw a momma moose and two baby moose stopped on the road. I stopped too. Do not cross a momma moose, I'm told. They get very protective. Later I saw a black bear ramble into the woods as my howling bike came around a corner.

The bike broke down three times, twice from dirt clogging hoses to the carb and tank, and once I pulled over after nearly overheating in freezing rain. The first time it stalled at speed I wondered, did I lose all my oil? My coolant? Are there bears here? How will I survive? You have lots of time to think dire thoughts when your bike dies at 75 miles per hour and you coast to a stop, 50 miles in either direction from the nearest human. I ran through a mental checklist, took off all the luggage and the seat, and blew water through the vent hoses to discover the blockage. I got it running for another 10 miles only to stall and discover another. Luckily having all the luggage off and the seat a second time, I finally have access to the battery, and I installed heated grips. Maybe saved my life. "Hot Grip Saves Trip," I think. I solved the overheating problem by throwing river water on the radiator and clearing out the mud. A simple fix, but proper diagnosis is critical. Keep your eyes on the guages!

I took refuge later from driving rain at a jade store. There are two competing jade stores here, one across the road from the other. The chatty purveyor was trying to get me to buy $500 jade pieces. By the time I left he was trying to give me free jade. No thanks, got no need for the stuff and nowhere to put it!

At the end of the Cassiar the sky clears. I'm soaked to the bone and I hit the Alaska Highway! I reward myself with the meatloaf special at the junction cafe, including apple pie a la mode and coffee. Free camping was a joy after laundry downtown in Watson Lake. Saw the Signpost Forest--which I was saving for the return. Oh well.

Off to Skagway today for more waterfalls. Awesome trip so far. Hopefully you can click on a link here and see my photos (pre-broken camera).
This is hard travel. I have carpal tunnel syndrome for sure from 10 hours of death grip on the bars. My back is sore, but otherwise I sleep well in my tent as swarms of mosquitoes gather outside waiting for me to exit.

Posted by James McPherson at June 11, 2005 09:33 PM GMT

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