My Biking Trip Across the Yukon and the Northwest Territories
|Day one : Whitehorse to Lake Laberge via Tahkini Hot Springs, 75km
After 26 hours riding the bus, I arrived in Whitehorse from Edmonton early in the morning. Once I got there I took my dissected bike from the box and put it together at the Greyhound station. ďWhere are you going?" said the bus station worker. ďI am going to InuvikĒ. Thatís quite a ways he said. Ya, about 1400 km. Once done, I went to the tourist office to get some information and did some more errands while waiting for the daylight. There were big hills to bike before getting out of the capital of the Yukon. This town is quite magnificent surrounded by the Rocky Mountains.
For the first hour I rode on the historical Alaska Highway, after that you bike all the way to Dawson City on the number 2, also known as the Klondike Highway. I felt tired and lacking stamina. My first stop was going to be at the Takhini Hot Springs( a small 10 km detour west of the highway and the only commercial hot springs in the Yukon). It was somewhat rustic but it was very pleasant worth every penny. I felt refreshed and rejuvenated and more than ready to take the road again.
On my way to my camping spot by Lake Laberge, I stopped at Momís bakery. An English garden and all sorts of northern mementos surrounded the bakery. The quaint bakery stood on top of the hill with a view over the lake. I had big, excellent cinnamon bun for $5.50. It was absolutely delicious.
My camping spot had an amazing view over the lake and the mountains. I made myself some supper on my new stove. I went fishing but did not catch any 20-pound trout in fact I did not even have a bite. The owner of the bakery had told me how she had caught a 24 pounder so big that it was pulling her kayak backward. I did not have such luck.
For a first day, I was quite happy. I had done 75 km and I was resting in an awesome place.
Day 2: Lake Laberge to Twin Lakes, 92 km.
It was quite windy during the night, and it rained slightly. I did not feel like getting out of bed in those conditions. I wondered if I was going to do any biking. I felt really lazy. I went to Momís Bakery for a moral booster. I left my pepper spray in my tent thinking that I would not meet any grizzly on my way down there. I did not.
The friendly owner, while I was eating my cinnamon bun, started telling me stories of her encounters with grizzlies and black bears. One day she had a grizz in her backyard, she backed up slowly and he left. Another time she had a black bear in her house. In those remote places help is far away; it was useless to call any officers. She grabbed her gun and shot the old, toothless monster. I left promising myself that I would carry my pepper spray with me at all times.
It took me 45 minutes to pack everything; in the next days I was going to improve in that time. I had to bike 4 kilometers to reach the highway all uphill. I was already exhausted, I had no clue how I was going to bike my 100 km my goal for the day. On the highway I had the pleasure to see two deer grazing.
While I biked by Little Fox Lake, I decided to try my luck at fishing. I always carry a telescopic rod in my bike bags. On my second throw, I had landed a small grayling. I did not know that fishing in the Yukon could be that easy. I was already dreaming of a great supper with half a dozen of them cooking on the open fire. I threw it out in the water. It was too small. It will be easy to catch some more at least that's what I thought. I lost two more and I ended my fishing trip with none. Oh, how I longed for the little bastard that I had thrown in the water. It would have made at least a good soup.
Later on I stopped at the Braeburn Lodge. I had a great roast beef dinner. It was humongous Ö and very tasty. This meal was probably the best I ever had. I also bought a cinnamon bun. Their buns are recognized as the biggest in the world. No joke, that one was the size of half a basketball it lasted me for 3 meals. In Yukon everything is big including the meals. You pay more but you get more. Surprisingly, the food is quite tasty.
After biking 92kms, I called it a day and I set my tent at Twin Lakes a territorial camping site. I paid, if I am not mistaken, $11.00 dollars. It poured all night. I had the brilliant idea during the evening while looking at the dark sky to pack my tent with dry wood for the morning. When I woke up all other campers were hiding in their cars to protect themselves from getting soaked. I put my raingear, made a fire and made myself some coffee. I was not the least bothered by the rain. Envious, all other campers in their fancy cars were looking at this biker having a great time while they felt miserable. I felt almost like a superior being. I was going to offer them a spot by my fire but I didnít want to rub it in.
I was also happy with the performance of my 5-pound tent from Mountain Equipment co-op. Not a drop of water had come in.
Day 3: Twin Lakes to Bushcamp one, 100 km
After my positive experience by the campfire, I was ready to take the day. I was happy that for the first time I did not have to climb a hill first thing in the morning. It was damp though. Sometimes it would rain, sometimes the sun will come out and later the rain would start again. That makes it difficult to figure out what you should wear. You donít want to put away and take out your raingear all the time.
After 50 km of easy riding I arrived in Carmack. In the map most towns in Yukon are in bold letters, you sometimes expect a metropolis but actually they are very small towns or more like a one road village. I bought a fishing license to be in order with the law, I also bought rice and steak for supper. Later on I went to the Gold Panner for lunch. I had a tasty buffalo burger.
Most towns in the Yukon are by the water down the valley. Itís all down hill going in but going out itís all going up. It is not easy to climb those mountains because they can be pretty steep and long. Above the view of the Yukon River kind of cheered me up.
This was my first night in the wild by myself, I was more nervous than I should have been. Any noise made me nervous, even the noise of turning pages made me jump. I had to learn to relax. I took my usual precautions about bears; I cooked away from the tent. I had my great steak, a can of green beans and some rice. A five star meal. Before going to bed I put my food up on a tree.
Day 4: Bushcamp one to Bushcamp 2 pass Pelly Crossing, 90-100 km
Few hours later, I stopped at the beautiful Minto Lodge, I was able to have some coffee and pastries. The place is by the Yukon River and you can have cruises to Fort Selkirk.
My next stop was at Pelly Crossing and I bought some more supplies. I talked to a few tourists. One of them had a son who crossed Canada on a $700 budget eating cans of beans. It did not seem too much too me. He broke his bike when the bags fell in the wheel in Brooks, Alberta. It was a Sunday and everything was closed. Locals sent him to a teacher, a cyclist aficionado. He fixed his bike for free and he was on his way.
That story kind of scared me. I started to check my bike diligently after every stop. While I was examinng my bike, I found a missing screw on my rack and I added another one.
I could not make it to a legal camping so I found a spot by the road. Like usual, I made sure that motorists could not see me from the road. It looked like an old camp. I walked around to see if I could find any old bottles but everything was priceless.
Day 5: Bushcamp 2 past Bushcamp 3 pass Moose Creek Lodge 110 km
I finally woke up in the sun, no rain this morning. Wow! Something to cheer you up. I was late in leaving; it was 10:15 when I hit the road. I hate late starts. Itís good for the moral when midday comes and you have at least 50 km done. Less than that and I am not happy with myself. After 40 km, I reached Stewart crossing. I had a great breakfast, a huge plate of steak and eggs.
Again I met a lot of tourists. One group even offered me some pie and they took a picture of me. I went to the store but I could not find anything besides junk food. 30 km later, I arrived at Moose Creek lodge. Itís a very rustic and beautiful place. They even have a trapperís cabin on display. The girl there made me some fresh bread. She said "itís free for cyclists". What a blessing, when I started my trip I was not expecting to be treated so well.
I had a crow follow me for 10km. I would call him and it would come to get some bread. I enjoyed the company. Sometimes, the crow was very far away and as soon as I threw a small piece of bread it will spot it and come to feed on it. Its powerful sight amazed me.
I biked 110 km. I picked another spot in a wild rock quarry. In the middle of the night, I heard doors of a car slamming that scared me like crazy but they were tourists. Here, I thought that I was well hidden.
Day 6 Bushcamp 3 near Moose Creek Lodge to Dawson City, 80 km
I hurried up. I was quite excited that I was going to reach Dawson City. I had a lot of climbing to do at first but I reached the summit of a pass and I had an incredible view of the surrounding mountains. I met with the North Klondike River and there was a lodge not too far. It was the first facility after 80 km of biking.
At the lodge, I asked the guy what a Reuben sandwich was which was the special of the day. He was in shock that I did not know what it was. He made me feel really stupid. It was actually a mix of roast beef with sauerkraut. It was great and the soup was also excellent. Triumphantly, I rode to Dawson City. No hills to climb, the road was flat and loaded with raspberries bushes.
Before getting to town you reach a moonlike landscape, land turned upside down by the gold diggers. Dawson City is indeed an amazing place. The town looks like a Hollywood set. You might think you are in the Far West in a western movie.
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