Day 8 – Stewart, BC to Boya Lake Provincial Park, BC Our stay in Stewart had been fantastic, and our down day during which we visited the Salmon Glacier was a great addition to the trip. Count me in if this is what adventure touring is all about! I was also very pleased with how the big Beemer handled the road up to the Salmon Glacier. I’m sure it would be considered an easy road by most standards, but this was my first foray off the tarmac with the GSA. I had read countless comparison of the R1200GS versus the KTM990, so I didn’t expect the Beemer to perform as well as it did. So much for those comparisons. We were anxious to get back on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway, but had to decide on the day’s route during breakfast. Telegraph Creek or continue north toward the Yukon Territory? The rain forecast called for a 60% probability of rain for the next two days, so we decided that going to Telegraph Creek under those conditions may be too ambitious for these adventure noobs. Black Bears, a Red Fox, and… Chicken? We had been very disappointed that we weren’t seeing nearly as much wildlife as we expected to. Each morning as we’d hit the road I’d get on the radio and make my official estimate how many animals we’d see that day. Two black bear, a moose and some chickens was my estimate for this day. Chickens? The guys would laugh about my comments about seeing chickens, but would soon learn that we would in fact see some ptarmigans (chicken-liken fowl) near Chicken, Alaska. Up until this point we had been disappointed that we hadn’t seen much in the way of wildlife. Things would finally change on this stretch of the Cassiar though. We were vigilantly looking up ahead for animals as we rode this very remote stretch of the Stewart-Cassiar highway. We did in fact see two black bear and a moose along this stretch of the road, but there were no opportunities to take pictures as the animals scampered away as we pulled over to get out our cameras. At one point I announced that there was an animal in the middle of the road ahead and, as we got closer, I recognized that it was a red fox that appeared to be checking out something that was on the road. Surprisingly, the fox didn’t run away until we were almost right upon it, and then remained close to the side of the road for a while before going in to the woods. Was it curious about us, or was there something keeping it there? As we turned our attention to what we assumed was road kill, we quickly realized that it was actually a baby fox that had just been killed. Not much larger than a domestic cat, this was a precious and gorgeous little animal. It was now clear why its mother had been reluctant to run away from us, and we assumed that she was still nearby waiting for us to leave. There was no more banter about animal sightings for the remainder of the day, and our mood was very somber having witnessed such a tragedy. The northern stretch of the Stewart-Cassiar Highway wasn’t updated or as well maintained as the more traveled southern section from Kitwanga to the Meziadin junction, but it was satisfyingly remote and secluded. While most of the roads up to this point had been in exceptional condition with wide cleared shoulders, this road was seemingly still unchanged from its original construction in the 1960 / 70s except for pot hole and some deep frost heave repairs. Narrower and not built up as high to insulate it from the permafrost, frost heaves and pot holes were taking their toll on this stretch of the highway. We slowed the pace a bit and were actually enjoying the up / down waves of the frost heaves. The scenery was spectacular with lakes and rivers seemingly everywhere. It’s the kind of road that gives the rider such a visceral experience that, while you’re mesmerized by the natural wonder that is all around you, you can’t help but wonder what awaits you around the next bend or over the next hill. I cannot imagine a more beautiful place to ride. We didn’t have a destination for the day, so we turned our attention to finding some place to settle in for the night. North of Dease Lake towns were non-existent so we thought we might have to travel as far as “Junction 37”, the junction of the Cassiar Highway and the Alaska Highway just inside the Yukon Territory, to find some place to eat and bed down for the night. About an hour’s ride from Junction 37, we spotted a sign for the Boya Lake Provincial Park off the highway. Don, who was leading at the time, asked if we wanted to go check it out. I mentioned that I had tentatively flagged that as a back-up location in case we didn’t go to Telegraph Creek, and I was aware that it was a beautiful setting. I wasn’t quite ready for the beauty that would unfold through. As we rode our bikes through the campground toward the lake’s edge we came across this beautiful scene, except that there were three young women in bikinis that were sitting on the edge of the little dock. Seeing us coming down the road toward them, one hurried to put her bikini top back on. We stopped to look around and take in the scenery. This setting was something you would envision seeing in a movie or on the cover of a travel magazine. Places like this really do exist! The water was crystal clear and had an aqua-marine color to it. It was so calm that you could see a perfect upside down reflection of the sky and clouds. I don’t think you could take a bad picture here. A few hundred feet or so down the shore we came across a vacant campsite on a knoll directly on the water with impeccable views. We had traveled about 340 miles for the day so far, and it was about another 55 miles to Junction 37, where we assumed that we could find a place to eat and camp. However, what would it be like? Could it be anything like this incredible place? We inventoried our food and found that we had a few canned items and a freeze-dried meal. It only took a few moments for us to decide to stay here for the night. We had found the perfect campsite. We dropped our $20 CAN (about $16 US) at the collection booth at the entrance to the park and set up camp. The camp hostess came by in a golf cart to welcome us and mentioned that this was the best campsite at Boya Lake which had just been vacated. Perfect timing on our part. For those that have never moto-camped before, this is likely the perfect commercial for it! Try to envision the amazing experience of sitting on this lake and taking on the views and sounds of nature. Staying in a motel is certainly easier, but the experience of being in such a setting is something that you never forget. Don figured this was the ideal time to break out the aged scotch that he had brought to share, which made this experience even better. Before turning in for the night, I took one more picture. While it’s a great picture that seems to capture the essence of this land, it falls short. The best picture, and the one that I will always treasure, is ingrained in my memory. Tomorrow, we’ll finish up our travels on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway, and be in the Yukon Territory! Riding up through British Columbia has been an amazing experience, but many adventures await us in the Yukon.