Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Williams Lake to Sumas, Washington: Back in the USA!

Today’s ride was eight years in the making.  Back in 2014, I was heading south on the Cassiar Highway and people were giving me ideas of which way to go. And because cell service was so bad, I usually didn’t get their messages for over a day. 

One message in particular always stuck with me. After I had already passed the area and was down by the Fraser Canyon— which turned out to be a wonderful ride in itself— I received a message that said, “You  must do Lillooet, Pemberton, Duffy Lake Road and Whistler… not to be missed!

And that always stuck with me. Well, today I went ahead and did that ride and it was everything that the guy had promised… it truly was an incredible ride. 

At Cache Creek I got off the 97 and got on the 99 South.  There was Lillooet—with the badass town motto of, “Guaranteed Rugged”—then Pemberton, Duffy Lake Road, Whistler, Squamish and ending with the Sea to Sky Highway.  Absolutely amazing area; pictures don’t do it justice.

Lots of elevation and snow—Whistler is a ski resort—and twists and turns that bike enthusiasts love.  And there wasn’t much traffic at all.  Temps were between 75-80 so very comfortable. No rain and very little construction.  

Hit a bit of traffic in Vancouver but still crossed into the US quickly at Sumas.  The immigration guy didn’t want to let me go…he wanted to hear all about the ride.  Too cool.  

I got a room right across the border and grabbed some chow and drinks.  Kinda neat, I stayed at the same lodge where Dan and I stayed when we crossed here in 2014.  I ordered the requisite tequila, toasted my current and former riding partners, Steve and Dan, and called it a night.  

A little over 400 mostly beautiful miles today.  Glad to be back in the USA but already missing Canada and Alaska.  

NOTE: Steve made it to a campground near Banff.  He said Jasper is a cool town. His ride today was filled with glaciers.  

He saw a back bear with two cubs and a bunch of sheep.  Probably gonna cross back into the US at Bonner’s Ferry, ID.  

He did 411 miles today and had some great weather. 


Topley to Prince George: Different directions

We’d planned to make it to Williams Lake today.  But, over breakfast at an A&W restaurant in Burns Lake, Steve struck up a conversation with two Canadians at the next table.  

“Where ya heading?”, they asked.

Well, one thing led to another and they told Steve that Jasper was only 6 hours away.  And that he just COULDN’T miss Jasper.  We hemmed and hawed but the end result was, Steve was going to see Jasper and Banff.  

We decided to continue together on Highway 16 where I would turn south on the 97 and he would continue east.  We rode another hour or so then stopped for gas.  

We’d gone about 9k miles together over the past month.  It had been a good ride.  I knew we’d eventually have to go our own ways but the inevitable just happened so quickly.  We said good-bye and rode off in different directions. 

Adiós, amigo.  Safe travels.  

I made Williams Lake by 3pm and stayed with fellow motorcyclists in the Bunk-a-Biker program. Steve passed through McBride and found a campsite in Fraser-Fort George.  

I know he’ll see lots of beautiful scenery—and plenty of bears—on his was back to Buffalo.  

I’m planning my next few days.  I may or may not make the border tomorrow.  We’ll see.  


Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Stewart to Topley

Another excellent day of riding.  The roads were in good condition, no construction, and the temps were in the mid 60’s to low 70’s.  

We’d planned to stop in Smithers but didn’t see much so we continued on to the small town of Houston for a late lunch.  While there we looked for camp spots, deciding to try Sunset Lake near the twin of Topley.  

We rolled in and parked right on the water’s edge.  Just a beautiful little lake.  I took a swim at sat in the sun.  Perfect day.  

We set up tents and were asleep early. 

Total mileage for the day was under 260 miles.  

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Dease Lake to Stewart, Canada/Hyder, AK

Today was a very good day of riding.  I was hoping the Cassiar Highway was as good as it was when I rode it in 2014…and it didn’t disappoint.  Mountains—many snow-covered, lakes, rivers, even a couple black bears 🐻 along side the road.  The road was in decent condition and there was very little construction. Truly a fantastic ride.  

Temps remained in the high 50’s to mid 60’s and the sun was out almost the entire time.  

We stopped for some soup and a sandwich at the Bell 2 Lodge about mid-way down and got right back on the road.  

Between the Stewart/Hyder turn-off at Meziadin

Junction and Steward, we stopped to view the Bear Glacier.  Truly awesome.  We’ve seen more than a few glaciers on this ride, but this was the closest one so far.  

We arrived to Stewart, British Columbia, by 3pm and rode right through town to the Alaskan border; there’s no immigration or customs checkpoint.  Per my buddy Brad’s suggestion, we stopped in at the Glacier Inn bar and got “Hyderized.” That’s a quick shot of Everclear that the bartender then lights on fire on the bar.  

We had to try the famous halibut fish and chips at Premier Seafoods—it’s a small shack off a side street run by a local lady—and it was tasty.  We sat with a group of Italians and talked about our travels.  

We rode over to the Fish Creek bear observation site where bears come to fish for salmon and you can watch them from a raised platform. Didn’t see any bears, only some German tourists and lots of salmon.  

Now, getting BACK into Canada was a different story.  Even though we’d only been in “Alaska” about an hour and even though the towns are 50 yards—oooh, sooory, 50 “meters”—apart, the immigration guy was all business.  Almost comical.  But we did our part and were back in Canada like we’d never left.  

Luckily, there was a helpful sign explaining the metric system to us as we re-entered the Great White North.  

We found a campsite in Stewart and set up tents before 7pm.  Firewood 🪵 was $5 an armload…and we have big arms 💪 so Steve had a roaring 🔥 in no time.  

Under 250 easy, fun miles for the day.  Steve referred to them as glorious miles, and I would agree.  

Whitehorse to Dease Lake

We left Whitehorse under beautiful skies.
  No rain predicted and temps in the low to mid-60’s.  

Easy ride on the ALCAN Highway, passing by places we’d seen on the way up.  

We made it to the Highway 37 cut-off…the Cassiar! We fueled up and ate lunch at Nugget City.  Ah, the memories…

Quick side story: I stayed at the Nugget City campground, at the corner of Highways 1 and 37, when I was here in 2014.  It stared to rain so I got in my tent and was reading.  My tent was moving around quite a bit, which I attributed to the wind and rain, so I ignored it.  I heard lots of yelling from fellow campers but ignored that, too.  A few minutes later, I heard two gunshots.  Didn’t ignore that.  

When I opened my tent, a group of campers came running over and told me that a black bear had been trying to get into my tent.  “Didn’t you hear us yelling?,” they asked? They’d called a ranger who’d chased the bear away, then shot it.  

When I spoke with the ranger, he told me that they spray paint “problem” bears and relocate them.  If those bears again interact adversely with people, they have to put them down. So, so sad.  

Anyhow, I saw the site where that occurred and it brought back that memory.  

We headed south on the Cassiar and immediately saw a couple bears, a black and a grizzly up close.  We started to look for a place to stay, either camping or a hotel, and ended up riding to the town of Dease Lake…a 400-mile ride today.  It started to rain just as we checked into a small lodge in town.  

Great day of riding.  We passed Marsh, Teslin and Dease Lakes. Each one more beautiful than the next.

We just might make Steward, Canada and Hyder, Alaska tomorrow.  

Photos to follow when I find some wifi or decent cell service.