RTW the Jamie Z Way: Winter Hiatus

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

  1. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
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    Location:
    Around Denver
    September 2, 2021

    I make it to Alaska*!

    Screenshot_20210909-183239_Firefox.jpg

    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.
  2. MrBob

    MrBob Long timer Supporter

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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.
  3. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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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.
  4. Hill Climber

    Hill Climber Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2007
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    Location:
    Kaslo BC summer, Yuma AZ winter
    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.
  5. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    11,399
    Location:
    Around Denver
    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.
  6. fullmetalscooter

    fullmetalscooter Let me take this duck off

    Joined:
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    Location:
    BC
    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.
  7. MrBob

    MrBob Long timer Supporter

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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
  8. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
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    north vancouver bc
    small world.
    i sold Annabelle that Yamaha scooter.
    jon_l, gpfan, borderlinebob and 2 others like this.
  9. uncle m

    uncle m Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    B.C.
    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.
  10. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    September 4, 2021

    I eat caribou!

    Screenshot_20210910-093922_Firefox~2.jpg

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

    Sometime last night a truck had pulled over at the rest area adjacent to where I was sleeping. All night long the diesel ran. Periodically it would rev up. It must have been powering a reefer unit.

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    And it rained much of the night. Despite the clear skies at midnight, I’d put my rainfly on, and I’m glad I did. I packed up my tent, still soaked.

    I rode into Watson Lake and stopped first at the signpost forest. It’s a must-stop.

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    It’s much larger than I was expecting. I was really astonished at the variety and quality of signs here.

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    Because I had a phone signal here, I posted a picture of my bike at the signpost forest on Facebook. Within a minute or two, one of my cousins commented, “I’ve been there!” And then a couple minutes later I got a random message from a person I didn’t know. The message said “Come on over!” and an address in Watson Lake. WTF?

    Slowly I put the mystery together. My cousin and her husband are big game hunters, and they have come up to the Yukon a few times for hunting. They have friends here. And that’s how I met Ruth and her husband Terry!

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    First thing Ruth asked me was, “Do you have any laundry you’d like to put in the wash?”

    Terry offered to cook up some caribou. I’ve never had it before.

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    Wow, some of the best meat I’ve ever eaten.

    I visited with Ruth and Terry for about an hour. They told me about some of their travels, including Mongolia, and Ruth had a lot of questions about Cuba. Terry told me that bears are not a problem this year because of all the available food in the wild, though he did warn me to keep a distance from the bison.

    Ruth told me I should ride out to the airport, the terminal is built from logs. When I left, she sent me with homemade cookies.

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    There’s a plaque describing a plane which crashed into the lake 60 or 70 years ago. The plaque says that the wreckage is visible along the shore, but I never did figure out where it was.

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    Before I left town I stopped at the grocery store deli for a sandwich and then across the street to the liquor store for a bottle of wine.

    The Alaska highway is wide, with full-width shoulders and trees cut back well off the roadway to minimize animal collisions. Now I was heading south. Watson Lake was my northernmost point, ever.

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    iOverlander recommended a spot a few clicks off the highway into the forest. The road was a little wet, but not bad.

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    The campsite sat on the bank of the Hyland River. I didn’t figure anyone would bother me out here. Like a lot of iOverland sites, this is a good spot for vanlifers, but not great for tents. The ground is uneven and covered in thick gravel, but it’s still a pretty good spot.

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    I gathered up some firewood, far more than I thought I would need and got a fire started, for the first time on this trip, I think. Then I busted out the wine.

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    I sat out until well into the night, occasionally putting more wood on the fire. With all the signs and talk about bison, I was reminded of the movie, Dances with Wolves, so I got my tablet out to watch it.

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  11. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Around Denver
    September 5, 2021

    South along the Alaska Highway.

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

    As usual, in no hurry to get up and going in the morning, I stayed in the tent for a while after waking up. I heard some movement outside and saw a crow eating what was left of a few crackers I left outside.

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    Not long after that, a guy on a side-by-side drove past. I took that as my sign to get dressed and get up out of the tent. He returned not long after and stopped for a chat. I packed up my tent after he left. It was still pretty wet on the outside.

    On the ride back on the logging road, I passed a group of ATVs. This road was quite busy!

    I continued south on the Alaska Highway, though it tends more east than south in this section.

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    And saw several closed up hotels, gas stations, and restaurants. I’m only guessing, but they all looked like they had been closed up for quite a while, and not victims of covid.

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    I stopped at Contact Creek based on the recommendation from Ruth. I didn’t really need anything, but bought a bag of chips and a coke and sat at the counter to chat with the owners.

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    The lady here is working on a 33,000-piece puzzle. She said when it’s finished, it’ll be fifteen feet long.

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    It’s a cool spot. I’m glad I stopped. They said business has been spotty, but with lots of US military traffic.

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    The Alaska Highway crosses into the Yukon briefly and I stopped to take a picture of the sign. I love all the stickers.

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    I stopped at an overlook of the Liard river.

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    And met the driver of this rig on his way to Fairbanks and hunting along the Yukon river. He was pretty fascinated by my bike.

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    I rode down a random side track and ended up on the shore of the Liard river. This would be a perfect campsite, but it’s early and I’m not ready to stop.

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    I did spend about an hour here walking up and down the shoreline and skipping rocks. It’s a stone-skipping goldmine!

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    Down the road a ways, another closed-up motel.

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    And another stop at a would-be campsite along the river.

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    I stopped for fuel at Coal River and soaked myself trying to fill up my water bottle at the spigot outside.

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    I like stopping at these places. It really gives me a sense of how far I am from anywhere. When I get off the bike and look around, all I see are trees and hear the wind. Nobody is around. An occasional truck speeds by pulling a double trailer. It can sometimes feel like an apocalyptic world enhanced by my wearing armoured gear.

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    I turned in when I saw the sign for Smith River Falls. There’s a narrow road leading back to a small parking area. The falls are visible from there.

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    There is also a hiking trail to the bottom; the information sign at the top says it takes about an hour out and back. Because it was getting late in the day, I skipped the hike, but made a mental note that I might come back tomorrow morning.

    Back out on the Alaska Highway, a herd of bison grazed. And I kept my distance.

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    I found a section of “Old Alaska Highway” and followed it a couple hundred meters until I got to a chain and had to turn back.

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    The campsite I was seeking was situated next to the Liard River Airstrip.

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    A few other campers were in the area, but I found an unoccupied spot on the bank high above the Liard river.

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    With the wind howling, I retreated to my tent early and watched 1917. Though I thought it was fascinating that the whole movie is one long shot, I didn’t really get into it.
    DC950, jon_l, falcofred and 65 others like this.
  12. bjor1978

    bjor1978 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2019
    Oddometer:
    38
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    Cromwell, CT
    Continuing to love this report.

    Wonder what the story is on the old mercs at the Fireside motel? I owned a '76 W123 in South Africa, never seen as many grins and thumbs ups from other road users.
  13. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
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    2,864
    Location:
    GTA, ONT, CANADA
    If you can bottle that and sell it, the world would be one big happy place. What a great shot Jamie.

    [​IMG]
  14. BarryB

    BarryB Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2004
    Oddometer:
    946
    Location:
    Texas Hill Country
    Thanks for continuing to remind us what a beautiful country that is. I must go back. Your photos and story are very entertaining!
  15. MusicRider

    MusicRider Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2013
    Oddometer:
    36
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Absolutely beautiful pictures. Thanks for the RR.
  16. Krabill

    Krabill Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
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    7,109
    Location:
    Tulsa, OK
    The Canadian scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Thank you for all the photos.
    olderigetfasteriam and simmons1 like this.
  17. wpward

    wpward Stalker

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    Apr 24, 2014
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    24
    Location:
    Minnesota
    One of my favorite movies! How do you have such a variety of movies with you?
  18. Baroquenride

    Baroquenride Everyone dies, but not everyone truly lives.

    Joined:
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    Clark Co, Wa
    Please say hello to Emily from Baroquenride! :raabia

  19. MrBob

    MrBob Long timer Supporter

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    olderigetfasteriam and Jamie Z like this.
  20. Hill Climber

    Hill Climber Long timer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2007
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    1,301
    Location:
    Kaslo BC summer, Yuma AZ winter
    "I like stopping at these places. It really gives me a sense of how far I am from anywhere. When I get off the bike and look around, all I see are trees and hear the wind. Nobody is around. An occasional truck speeds by pulling a double trailer. It can sometimes feel like an apocalyptic world enhanced by my wearing armoured gear."

    What a great description of a still moment in time!
    liv2day and Sunday Rider like this.