RTW the Jamie Z Way: Winter Hiatus in Phoenix

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Jamie Z, Nov 29, 2020.

  1. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    September 1, 2021

    Highway of Tears.

    Screenshot_20210909-121901_Firefox~2.jpg

    https://new.spotwalla.com/trip/fad5-5fe4c-4716/view

    I did not sleep well last night. The room was great. Excellent WiFi. Clean bathroom. Quiet. But the bed was very hard and the hotel provided only a thin blanket.

    So I slept in, struggling to motivate myself to get up. After I woke I spent a couple hours catching up on my ride report, backing up photos, and updating apps and maps.

    Getting out of town took a while because of traffic and stop lights. I passed a Walmart and a Honda dealership. This is a big city. The thought crossed my mind to buy oil before it’s too late. An oil change is due soon, and from here I’ll be riding into remote territory. But as usual, I left that until another day.

    Eventually I left the city and looked forward to the open roads.

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    I stopped early for a snack. The road has frequent rest areas, some with bathrooms and picnic tables, others just a wide spot in the road with a trash can.

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    But I soon realized this was not a desolate road. It sure felt like I was in the middle of nowhere, but the wide road was filled with trucks, cars, RVs, but curiously no motorcycles.

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    I mention the traffic not because it was a bother. Yeah, there were a lot of trucks, but it’s not a problem. I talk about the traffic because when I looked at a map of Canada in the past and saw this road, I pictured it as desolate and remote, but that’s not the reality at all.

    I came into yet another big town with multiple gas stations, auto parts stores, and strip malls. I stopped for a little “sleep aid.”

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    It was a much different experience than Colorado where your identification is scanned before entry and your purchase is bagged up and stapled with the receipt. Here it was like buying a soda at a convenience store.

    I stopped for a few scenic shots.

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    And then yet another large town with shops and restaurants. I pulled into a Subway knowing I’d need something later for dinner. Canadian Subway still serves roast beef!

    On my way out I noticed a display at the government building across the street. Canadians reading this will know right away what I’m talking about. I’ve seen these displays a few times already, notably on Vancouver Island.

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    It’s a topic I haven’t brought up, but I think is relevant to my experience. In recent months, unmarked graves of hundreds of indigenious children have been discovered, stemming from a government system to assimilate these First Nations people into the white Canadian culture. Investigations are continuing, and more unmarked graves have been found throughout Canada.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ordered flags to be lowered to half staff until further notice. I have seen numerous places in front of churches and government buildings where people have left children’s shoes as a reminder of this tragedy.

    I’ve seen red clothing hanging along the road (and also visible in the photo above) though I don’t know the significance.

    Now with dinner, I could ride until I found a good place to camp. Continuing north on 16, the scenery continued to amaze.

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    In the town of Moricetown, I saw this disturbing sign.

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    I could be mistaken, but I think I listened to a Crime Junkie podcast about this area and the indigenious girls who have gone missing. [edit: it's here: https://crimejunkiepodcast.com/serial-killer-highway-tears/]

    Kiwi Canuck had messaged me recommending I stop in this town for smoked salmon. Sounded like a great idea, but everything in town was closed up.

    A little more scenery on the way up.

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    And then the junction with highway 37, the Cassiar Highway.

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    From here, the road was how I was expecting. Narrow two-lane through the forest with very little traffic.

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    I’d checked iOverlander for a place to camp for the night, and there was a highly-rated spot coming up, though I didn’t want to get caught out if they were occupied, so I watched along the road for a suitable backup.

    The sites were along a lake down a wet gravel road.

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    And of course, the spots listed in iOverlander were already taken. I thought I was going to have to backtrack, but then I found an almost-as-good spot a little ways further. There was no picnic table, and the ground was bumpy gravel, but I couldn’t pass it up.

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    A loon passed my camp as it got dark, and I could hear its mate calling across the lake.

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    (That may not be a loon, it was pretty far away. But I could hear a loon in the distance.)
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  2. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

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  3. ROAD DAMAGE

    ROAD DAMAGE Long timer Supporter

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    That looks like SASQUATCH country to me! :yikes

    :lol3

    Thanks for the great updates Jamie! :thumb
    RD
    Jamie Z likes this.
  4. Hill Climber

    Hill Climber Long timer

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    I’d say that’s definitely a loon in the pic. The head profile gives it away.
    EmmEff likes this.
  5. cprbusa

    cprbusa Been here awhile

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    I don't see it, it looks nothing like my mother in law...
  6. Delta_Rider

    Delta_Rider Adventurer

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    Hello Jamie.
    I'm fairly new to the forum. I have read through all your report and am definitely in for the ride. Thank you for taking the time, and great pics along the way to keep us in the loop. Stay safe, and I look forward to more from your ride.
    Centerlane, Oldmanx, dano619 and 6 others like this.
  7. njmotophoto

    njmotophoto Adventurer

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    The "raised in Minnesota" in me says that is definitely a loon. Thanks for taking the time and effort to do this -- really enjoying it. Excellent writing, excellent photos. Outstanding adventure. Ride safe.
    Roads and Trails and Golden955 like this.
  8. kmag

    kmag Average Sedentary Man

    Joined:
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    Interesting seeing the price of gas in Kitwanga. CDN$1.48/litre. Translates to about US$4.40/gallon(US gal). That's what I'm paying in the Los Angeles area.
  9. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

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    I thought it would be higher than that up there, in the Toronto area it is $1.39 per litre.
    kmag likes this.
  10. Lou Skannon

    Lou Skannon Adventurer

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    Yep, definitely $1.47.9 for regular but $1.91 for premium. We must have passed each other along the way. I am coming back from Haida Gwaii.

    Attached Files:

    Jamie Z and rider1150gsadv like this.
  11. uncle m

    uncle m Been here awhile

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    Ouch, $1.91/liter is much higher than the average $1.69/liter I found for Chevron 94 or Shell 91 everywhere north of Lillooet. REmind me not to fill up at Kitwanga!! @Lou Skannon hope you had a great trip on Haida Gwaii!
    Lou Skannon likes this.
  12. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Joined:
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    September 2, 2021

    I make it to Alaska*!

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    https://new.spotwalla.com/trip/fad5-5fe4c-4716/view

    Last night after I went to bed I could hear an animal--maybe a beaver--loudly slap the water. I woke up earlier than usual, which for me is not very early.

    The road here has great pavement, and almost no traffic.

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    I saw some roadside plants which look like 1/10 scale versions of some of the trees in Baja.

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    I stopped to refuel at Meziadin Junction, the turnoff to Stewart and Hyder.

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    This becomes highway 37A, a spur to the coast and the border with southern Alaska. I recall a few years ago my friend Tyler told me about his trip to Hyder, and I read his ride report. That really put this place on the map for me.

    37A is a spectacular route.

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    There’s a viewpoint for Bear Glacier.

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    I’d hate to see historical photos. Bear Glacier is a fraction of what it used to be not very long ago, and I’m afraid it will be completely gone soon. Nonetheless, it was an awe-inspiring sight for me.

    I rode through the town of Stewart following the signs to Hyder. Before today, I thought Hyder would be a small bustling community. Tourist shops and fishing boats. Once again, reality is not how I pictured.

    At the border there is a small, but official-looking Canadian border station. An office shack sits beside a covered inspection area, and there are signs that everyone must check-in before entering Canada. The Alaska side has none of this, just a hand-painted “Welcome to Hyder, Alaska” hanging above the road. Today there is also a stop sign placed in the middle of the road, directly on top of the international border which says “Locals only. No visitors.”

    I made a U-turn and parked beside the Canadian immigration office. A uniformed woman came out and I told her I had been interested in going to Hyder, but now I see I can’t. She asked if I were a US citizen which led to my next question. I asked if I were to enter Alaska, could I come back into Canada.

    She told me that I’d have to have a negative covid test within 72 hours, and she started to tell me about the floatplane schedule where I could go to get a test. I shook my head. I just wanted a couple of pictures. So I asked her how far I could go without getting into trouble.

    A young lady was out walking her dog and she saw my Colorado plates and asked me a bit about my ride. She told me that she and her boyfriend live a few hours away but have never been to Hyder so they drove up for the day. We laughed a bit about the situation. I asked her if she’d take my picture.

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    There’s an international border monument just off the road and I walked over to have a look. Don’t tell anyone, but I stepped into Alaska out of sight of the border officials.

    I had another chat with a Canadian couple, they were retired and traveling in their RV. Ole and Vickie were quite interested in my trip and told me they had driven to Mexico a few years ago. Ole asked if he could have a picture of me with my bike. He was amazed that I had ridden my bike to Mexico.

    As he told me, he had a few friends with motorcycles like mine, big fancy BMWs with cases and lights, and then he laughed “I don’t think any of them have been out of BC on their bikes.” He wanted to show them my picture.

    I rode back into Stewart and stopped at the museum.

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    It’s a lot of stuff like “This shovel was found at an old mine site 10 miles north.” And “Kerosene lamp used in the 1920s.”

    I went to one of the grocery stores in town and got a sandwich and potato salad for dinner.

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    But never would have expected to see this across the street.

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    There’s a cemetery not far out of town and I pulled over to walk around for a bit.

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    The road goes back through Meziadin Junction. I didn’t stop this time, but I did take this picture.

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    I know it’s Canadian miles, but this gives a little sense of how big this place is as I kept going north.

    Along the Cassiar, there are countless unmarked two-tracks leading into the forest.

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    I followed a few of them. Some go back a couple hundred meters and stop. Some have a gate. Others go on and on and I follow them until I get bored and turn around.

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    Though I didn’t need it, I stopped at the Bell 2 lodge for fuel. I went inside and purchased a bottle of water.

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    The rain had been off and on for the last couple of hours and the temperature dropped. It was a cold, wet, and overcast ride.

    I hadn’t seen many animals so far. There were signs posted warning of moose, elk, caribou, and bear. Yesterday I caught a glimpse of a bear as it scurried into the woods, and that had been my only sighting.

    Today I passed a bear perched on a hill beside the road. He didn’t run off like most bears I’ve encountered. I had time to stop and pull out my camera for one quick photo.

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    Afterward I started watching for someplace to stop for the night. I pulled off at one of the many rest areas along the highway. There were a couple picnic tables over in the corner, and though I don’t know if it’s allowed, I thought about pitching my tent beside a picnic table. Unfortunately with all the foot traffic, rain, and because of the large parking area, the ground was wet, rocky, and muddy.

    Instead, I sat at the picnic table to eat my dinner, then I carefully washed my face and hands with wet wipes I’m carrying and I disposed of all the food containers in the trash nearby. I rode across the highway into a level clearing and found a spot for my tent next to a creek.

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    I was cold, my riding gear wet, and I was a bit nervous about bears. I got into my sleeping bag and slept fitfully.
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  13. MrBob

    MrBob Long timer

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    Jamie, did you need to make any changes to have your cell phone working in Canada?
    Also former Minnesotan and BWCA regular - Loon - unquestionably. I miss that sound.
    Cloud-9 likes this.
  14. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Joined:
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    September 3, 2021

    Watery day, above and below.

    Screenshot_20210909-190823_Firefox.jpg

    https://new.spotwalla.com/trip/fad5-5fe4c-4716/view

    There are few things in life as comfortable as waking up warm and snug in a sleeping bag while rain falls on the outside of the tent. The only thing which can ruin that feeling is knowing that eventually you’ll have to get up and go out in the rain.

    This was this morning. The air was cool. I could hear raindrops falling on the tent. But as I’ve learned through experience, it’s never raining as hard as you think it is. I had to pee, and when I got up out of my tent, the rain was just a light drizzle. The day looked promising.

    Nonetheless, I stayed wrapped up and warm late until eventually the sound of the rain stopped.

    I packed up as quickly as I could; my tent was completely wet and a heavy downpour could soak me and the rest of my gear. I packed up safely and got back out on the road, north.

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    Soon the road unexpectedly turned to gravel.

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    I’m not sure if there’s simply an unpaved section of the Cassiar, or if it’s part of a construction project. In any case the gravel sections were well-maintained and I was able to keep up my regular pace.

    I stopped at a Provincial Park for a short break.

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    The gravel continued.

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    When I got to the town of Iskut, the roads leading into town were blocked, some with a gravel berm, others with large trash containers.

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    The main entrance had a guard shack with a gate.

    Nothing like a wet steel grate bridge!

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    There are a lot of these bridges, this one over the Stikine River.

    The road goes up over a pass, and I like getting pictures like this. The temperature was above freezing here, but only barely, and I’m surprised it wasn’t snowing.

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    I stopped for fuel in Dease Lake. Just as I finished up, a fellow on what I thought was a KTM pulled up to the other side of the pump. We exchanged a quick greeting. Based on his very light luggage load, I assumed he must be a local out on a day ride.

    He asked me where I was headed, if I were on my way to Alaska. I told him I wasn’t going that far, just up to the Alaska Highway, and then south. “What about you?” I asked. He told me he was on his way to Argentina… just waiting for the US border to open.

    He went inside to pay for his fuel and I marveled at his packing job. I had a better look at his bike, a Yamaha Tenere 700, same as my friend Jack rides.

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    When he came back outside I told him I could learn some things from him and his gear. He shook his head, “No, no. This isn’t all my gear. I have a lot more stuff with me.” He explained that he’d met a German woman in the Yukon traveling in her car and since then they’ve been traveling and camping together. “She’s carrying half of my stuff with her.”

    He pulled out his camera to show me a picture. Yeah, I also thought he was going to show me a picture of the woman. Instead, he showed me what his bike looked like fully packed.

    David is from Montreal and left home in July. He rode up as far north as he could but got stopped at the border to Northwest Territories. He showed me a few pictures of the scenery. Wow!

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    We chatted for about an hour. He told me he’d had a couple encounters with grizzly bears in the far north. He was heading south now, meeting up with the woman at a campground not too far away. He said he was trying to figure out how to get himself and his bike into the US.

    As I rode north, I considered my plans for the evening. I had a cold and wet day of riding yesterday. Today was still wet and cold. I thought when I got to Watson Lake a few hours away I’d pay for a hotel room.

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    Just before entering Yukon Territory I passed this excellent campsite.

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    I saw this painted on the highway. I’ve seen other signs with the same slogan, but I’m not sure what it is.

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    Entering Yukon Territory was pretty cool.

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    Where the Cassiar meets the Alaska Highway I pulled over by the gas pumps. “Store” was closed. I had been thinking back to that roadside campsite, but I needed to find something for dinner this evening.

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    There were some signs directing travelers to an RV park up the road.

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    This wasn’t much of a store, but he had sandwiches and a fridge with beer. The guy asked me what kind of bike I had. When I told him he shook his head, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those.” Dinner secured, I rode back south a short ways.

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    And to the picnic area where I planned to stay the night.

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    My tent was soaked. I set it up and opened the doors hoping it might dry out a bit. The floor had small puddles of water. I ate my sandwich and drank beer. An hour or so later as the sky cleared, my tent hadn’t dried out at all.

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    With a clear sky to the north, I stayed up past midnight hoping to see some northern lights… but I didn’t see anything.
  15. Hill Climber

    Hill Climber Long timer

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    I'm amazed that you're able to keep up with your RR !!
    If you were paid by the hour to do this, I think you'd be a rich dude by now....
    I feel for the guy from Montreal, hoping to cross into the USA as soon as the border opens..... maybe Sept 21, maybe Oct 21, maybe...,.,,.
    liv2day and Sunday Rider like this.
  16. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Joined:
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    Q&A, edibles version.

    Awesome, added to my map.

    I do! I probabaly won't do any sort of gear/equipment review for another month or so, but I do want to talk about how things have worked out and held up.

    It was a lot of fun to join the family ride, thanks!

    So far, so good. Nobody has said anything like this to me yet.

    You, too! I forgot to give you a sticker.:doh

    Thanks for keeping up and the feedback!

    Thanks David,

    I was trying to catch up with the weather... forecast for Hyder was clear for the next two days, and then rain.

    There may be better center stands out there (but I don't know, I've never tried any others). The SW Motech works, but the spring is barely strong enough to hold it up, and when the bike is sitting on the center stand, I feel like the feet are too close to each other. The bike is still a little wobbly.

    Guess I should check that... but I planned to cross back into the US with it. Maybe I'll make a point of going into northern Montana.

    Oh wow. I didn't realize how lucky I was!

    Are you saying I have to go back?

    Fellow CBX rider!

    I really have no plan. I usually don't know what I'm going to do when I wake up in the morning.

    Glad no one told me that while I was there.

    Thanks! I think...:uhoh

    I figured out that the tap-to-pay terminals accept mobile payment, so that's what I've been using.

    Nice! I've got Mt Robson Park on my map and planning to go there.

    Example?

    Thank you for the link.

    I think it's important to pay attention to what's going on in the country, whether good, bad, controversial, or otherwise. I notice a lot of cultural patterns. The first time I saw a red dress hanging off the side of the road, it was near an RV and I thought the occupants were drying the laundry. And then I saw more of them and it got me more curious.

    A Sasquatch with health care!

    My first thought was that it was a loon, but it looked kind of small to me.

    In the US I have a Verizon plan with unlimited data. Before I left I gave them a call to ask about Mexico and Canada. My voice/text plan covers all of North America, but in Canada and Mexico I am limited to 500MB of data per day. Usually that has been plenty, but a couple of times I've hit my limit, and of course it's late in the day when I'm trying to search for a hotel.
    y2blade, Bapeter11, gpfan and 7 others like this.
  17. fullmetalscooter

    fullmetalscooter Let me take this duck off

    Joined:
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    what you were in steward and did not stop to see the world largest collection of vintage toasters . No Toast for you LOL .
    Need For Speed likes this.
  18. MrBob

    MrBob Long timer

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    "Nice! I've got Mt Robson Park on my map and planning to go there."

    https://bcparks.ca/explore/parkpgs/mt_robson/

    There are partial closures in Mt. Robson park due to flooding, per this link. Also, I can tell you from experience, there is plenty of bear activity in the park, including Grizzlies. When I was hiking there I made sure I could run faster than my partner. :lol3
  19. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

    Joined:
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    small world.
    i sold Annabelle that Yamaha scooter.
    jon_l, gpfan, borderlinebob and 2 others like this.
  20. uncle m

    uncle m Been here awhile

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    Sep 20, 2014
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    The closure only applies to the Berg Lake trail past Kinney Lake and does not affect anywhere a motorcycle is permitted to go. The trail is still open for the 4.2 km one-way to Kinney Lake. There is no more bear activity in Mt. Robson Prov. Park than anywhere else in the Rockies.
    gpfan likes this.