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The Adventures of LoneStar & The Iron Butterfly...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by LoneStar, Jun 22, 2016.

  1. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,265
    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    The small town of Eureka was our destination for breakfast. We'd been informed the night before that there was a "world famous" quilt festival going on and thousands of people came in for the event... thus the sold out motels and campgrounds in the region. Indeed the town was festooned with quilts, hanging on storefronts, posts, churches, rooves and any available wall space anywhere. People were wandering the streets and parking was difficult to find.

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    The small "Cafe Jax" was packed but we waited out the crowd and had a fantastic breakfast on the patio, people watching and just taking it easy. A middle aged couple from Canada and the wife's mom seated themselves next to us and we had a good conversation about Canada and routes to take. It was quickly apparent the mother was suffering from Alzheimer's but we had some fun and it was touching to see the daughter's care and handling. They had brought her down for a weekend out from her home in Fernie and had accidentally timed it right for her to get to see the big show.


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    We wandered the town for a bit seeing more quilts than I ever had a desire to, but it was something different. And now you get to see more quilts than you ever wanted to...

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    Unfortunately, the festival was marred by violence when the "Stitch Bitches" apparently sewed the colors of the "Teakettle Quilt Guild" on a quilt in defiance of local territory. There were reports of patches of blue hair strewn on the floor amidst bloody knitting needles, shattered tea cups and biscuits.



    But the real goal for the day was to get to Polebridge Mercantile to get a huckleberry bear claw and then south to Kalispell for a reset before hitting Canada. I've been trying unsuccessfully to get a replacement for my aging MacBook Pro to reduce weight, bulk and get a bit more processor speed. Getting anything while traveling has been amazingly difficult, due to lack of time, internet, location or things being out of stock when we find the right store.

    Also as we have traveled we've deleted some things and added a few. The process of living, cooking and staying organized while traveling has been a challenge. Some things work well as planned, others don't and needs change. As we have traveled, the evolution of gear and clothes has occurred and what once fit perfectly now doesn't. A simple change here and there completely throws off your packing and several times we've done "repacks" but still haven't gotten a perfect system down yet. I guess by the end of the trip we'll still be trying to perfect the kit.

    But back to the story...

    Just a few miles south of Eureka lies Grave Creek Road which leads east into the mountains and across to the valley of the North Flathead River, lying on the western border of Glacier National Park. A couple of years ago while at Polebridge I'd met a young guy from Argentina on an F800GS who was riding south from Alaska back to Argentina. We rode a few of the dusty forest roads that day and parted ways in Columbia Falls. I wanted to take The Iron Butterfly across the range to Polebridge for the experience.

    Luckily the day was cool and overcast, a welcome relief after weeks of 90-100 temps. We've been amazed that in 10 weeks of travel we've had bad weather only a couple of days in Colorado. Clear blue skies and puffy white clouds have spoiled us the entire trip - marred only by the exhaustion of heat and long days.

    The road started as a narrow blacktop that wound higher into the mountains and the trees on the edge seemed only an arms length away. Just after we'd gotten started I reached over to open the sleeves of my jacket at the wrists and immediately just below my elbow I started feeling painful pin pricks and knew something was up. By the time I got over to the side of the road and was able to beat whatever it was to death in my sleeve, my arm was stinging severely. I shook out either a yellow jacket or hornet, seeing only yellow stripes as it fell down into the engine area, and pulled off my jacket. Whatever it was had stung me several times, counting at least 6 or 8 reddening whelps in about a 1 inch area.

    We motored on until eventually the blacktop ended and the road narrowed a bit more. It was really a great ride, despite one brief moment where an old white Subaru wagon came rocketing around a blind corner at speeds way higher than he should have. The road was so narrow with so many blind corners it was by the grace of God we were in a wider spot when he came around. The only vehicle we saw in a couple hours of riding and he was out of control.

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    At the junction of Grave Creek and NFS Road 114, we stopped to adjust and double check. As we sat there a 4 wheeler came down the road and the driver waved, stopping briefly to tell us "There's a woman on a bicycle a couple miles up the road who'll gladly pay you $50,000 for your motorcycle. She's about done!" We all laughed and they sped off.

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    The road really narrowed and got a bit rougher, eventually becoming tight and twisted with larger rocks in the roadway. The Butterfly commented that the road and views were superb, and she was glad the larger rocks were embedded as opposed to being loose. It was an awesome road in the high country, replete with bear droppings on the road. Soon enough and at the highest point of the pass we saw the lady pulled to the side of the road and stopped to see if she was okay. She laughed when we told her the $50k story but said she was indeed beat from the climb. She was from Colorado and a few weeks into a ride south from Banff. She was glad to hear that it was all downhill from here and we headed on. A few miles further we came upon an F800GSA and rider talking with two bicyclists on the roadside. We stopped to check and he was from Canada, but didn't seem too interested in talking and went back to his discussions with the two cyclists.


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    The road continued to make us smile and eventually the narrow, twisty way widened signaling a change. After a few more miles we hit the road that turned south for Polebridge and eventually Columbia Falls or Apgar in Glacier. The 15 miles or so south to Polebridge seemed to take forever, as I'd been eating dust from Kim for an hour or two already and the speed increased so did the billowing white dust. By the time we made the turn in, we were both ready for a coffee or some form of caffeine.


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    It was hot outside the old store, and even hotter inside from the bakery but the rows of baked goods hot and fresh were worth the wait in the heat. She grabbed a huge huckleberry bear claw and I a fruit fritter with chocolate lovey chunks baked in. The shade of a tree at the cafe next door was the perfect place to hide the guttural pig-like sounds we made while consuming the little baked beasts, as well as a chance to cool down from the heat.

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    We found a spot to lay in some grass but as the day was late we needed to move on. Getting psyched up to gear up in the heat of the now direct sun was an effort and relishing the thought of another 30 miles or so of dirt roads and fading light was not a good thing. The little yellow bastard that bit me had done his job well, the bites now swollen into a flattened, hard, goose egg that itched like crazy on my forearm.

    Still, we got going and the stunning views of the North Flathead and the mountains behind them made up for the miles of washboard, fresh gravel and billowing, lingering clouds of dust from the occasional cars racing past the other direction. Having just ridden through an area so devoid of dwellings and especially night life, it was hard to figure out why so many cars and trucks were heading north on the road so late in the day.

    We'd gotten coffee before leaving Polebridge to boost our energy but it never kicked in and Kim was worn out well before we arrived in Columbia Falls. It was late and once again we needed to find either a campsite or even a motel - never an easy thing to do when traveling during vacation season up north and especially so that night. We made it to Whitefish to find something but hit a brick wall, all hotels being booked due to it being the "100th Anniversary" of Glacier. A hotel manager tried to help is find a spot but said it was a lost cause. Kim found a room in Kalispell but couldn't get it booked online with her phone. The manager who'd helped us offered coffee and a place to rest in the lobby, which we took advantage of until we finally got the Motel 6 in Kalispell on the phone and the room booked. I never thought I'd EVER pay $127 a night for a Motel 6 but it sounded like a bargain after the other motels said the rates were $200 to $300 a night.

    We headed out of the motel lot and had gone a few blocks when Kim realized she'd left her gloves on the back of her bike. The fatigue was showing both on her face and in her voice as she quickly pulled into a driveway to stop and see if the gloves were still behind her. As she slowed and put the stand down she turned to look and lost her footing just before the bike stopped, dropping it hard in the lot.

    I swung in just as it happened and tried to get off my bike quickly but snagged my heel on the rear seat duffle, getting caught momentarily. Luckily her leg hadn't gotten pinned but she hurt her shin in the fall. Her adrenaline was pumping and as I got over to the bike she wanted to try to lift it. I told her no since we had it completely loaded and we should take the duffle and cases off. In trying to do so, the first case wouldn't release and as we struggled with it a pickup rolled in and the two guys jumped out, concerned and wanting to help. The three of us lifted it easily and we thanked them for the help.

    As I struggled to straighten the right side case, having popped off the lower mount and the collapsing BMW case now jammed crookedly, I noticed a young girl parking her lime green Kawasaki Ninja about 30 feet away and walking to us. Her name was Megan and she was a real sweetheart, offering to help and wanting to make sure Kim was okay. She reminded me of a blonde version of Kim's daughter who rides a Ducati. I got a picture of her and we exchanged information.

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    Luckily the ride to Kalispell was easy and we both were beat from the long day and accumulation of long days riding.


    From Kalispell we hit Glacier National Park the next morning, a return for Kim and I from a couple of years previous, but this time Kim was on her own bike and loving it. The weather was good and clear as we rode into the park, a lone BMW adventure bike right behind us in the entrance queue.

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    The park was as beautiful as remembered, and though busy it wasn't overrun as on my previous trip up. We swung into the small campground we'd been in before just to ride through and were offered a camping spot in the same bicycle site we'd stayed in before. We planned to ride on through to find camping on the eastern side for our entrance into Canada, so we declined and pressed on.

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    As we hit the Highway to the Sun again, we passed the GS that had been behind us parked on the roadside and I honked and waved. Further down the road he passed us at an overlook and honked and did a two-armed wave. A third time we passed him and the next pullover he pulled in next to us.

    We started talking and Gary said he'd ridden in from Denver and was camping in the KOA on the east side of the park. He said we were welcome to set up a tent on his site as there was nothing available anywhere. We exchanged info and he motored on.

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    As the day passed away we finally wound out and into the eastern entrance where we decided to take Gary up on his offer. We were getting tired and a definite site was a good thing.

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    When we pulled in, Gary was prepping his gear for the next morning's 6 am departure but was happy to see us. We stayed up talking until he finally had to say "Uncle" and head for bed. Gary was a super nice dude and one of those folks you are glad you connected with.


    Luckily the rains that the eastern side had received the day before didn't return and we slept well that evening.
    dondesmo, ShimrMoon, juno and 8 others like this.
  2. SpiritAtBay

    SpiritAtBay Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2014
    Oddometer:
    225
    Great stuff.
    LoneStar likes this.
  3. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    Canada! Eh?

    After a long time on the road in the western U.S., it was exciting to know we'd be hitting Canada this day. Jasper National Park had been our goal as the northernmost point before turning south for Central and South America, but we decided to cut short some of our explorations in Wyoming and Montana and try to squeeze in as much of Alaska as the weather would allow.

    It was chilly when we finally got the gear on the bikes and headed out in overcast conditions. The trip so far has been almost completely in sunshine, a miracle as far as motorcycling goes, but I told Kim we'd probably be in chilly weather and rain from now on.

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    We wove up road 17 after leaving St. Mary for the small border crossing at Chief Mountain in the very corner of Glacier National Park. The skies were gloomy and finally tossed enough rain drops to make us don rain gear just as we reached the border crossing. Several cars arrived and formed a line ahead of us before we could get back on the bikes and a small wait ensued - mainly due to paving construction right under the checkpoint.

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    Kim and I rolled up together to the border guard, a courteous and stern man who told me I needed to sign my passport, rattled off several questions to which I answered "no" except for bear spray and sent us on our way. Joy bubbled up in Kim's voice as we rolled away from the booth and we both started laughing. She was really pumped to be riding in Canada!

    The "Welcome to Alberta" sign was blocked by road construction crews but we cut across the fresh hot asphalt and lines to squeeze under it for selfies. To the west it was gloomy and misty but the mountains were beautiful.

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    As we goofed around, a road worker came over to talk and we discussed weather, Alaska and life in Canada for a bit. He wished us well and we headed off.
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    We wound north with Waterton National Park to our left along beautiful roads, with threatening black clouds as well, and eventually beautiful lush green rolling pastures to our right. My GPS showed weather warnings and I knew there were major storms up in Banff and Jasper from checking weather online, but it was black ahead. To save time I'd planned to go straight up to Canmore and over to Banff, but the weather warnings were severe so we decided to cross back west for Cranbrook on Hwy 3.

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    Stopping at Pincher Creek for coffee, wifi, gas and the info center to buy a Canada map we had a chance to meet a few locals, all very friendly and excited to hear about our journey. The time spent was worth it as the skies cleared to our west and we got going for Cranbrook.

    Hwy 3 was a nice ride with a couple of stops for layering up and down, as well as finding a cell signal to search for campgrounds ahead. When we pulled over at Frankslide, an amazing spot where a massive rockslide had roared down the mountain and left a lunar landscape surrounding the highway, a large black box truck quickly wheeled in next to Kim and two men got out, walking over and talking to her. They were very interested in seeing her on the roadside and wanted to find out the story. On the side of the truck I saw "Hutterian Brotherhood" and realized they were attached to the Hutterite communities I'd seen a documentary on on Nat Geo.


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    Making sure she was okay, they went on as did we for Crowsnest, Sparwood and Fernie, the latter being a beautiful small town with ski area. We eventually made the turn north on 93 for Fort Steele but missed the turn and ended up in Cranbrook instead. At a Wendy's for a dollar burger our gas ran out and we decided to grab a motel across the street for the night.

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    The next morning was overcast but not raining and we needed to find some chain lube, walking down the street to a small Harley shop to buy a can of chain lube. The weather forecast still showed rain in Banff as we headed north excitedly. At Radium Springs we stopped to top off and were immediately engulfed in conversations with other travelers from Canada, California and other places. As one conversation ended, another person would wander over and talk to us. We spent probably 45 minutes or longer trying to get out of the gas station, but that's also part of the fun of travel. Being from Texas it seemed we were somewhat of a rarity.

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    The road from Radium was stunning as we moved into the park and as the immense mountains came into view the tops were shrouded in majestic billowing clouds. The san came and went, as did the heavy showers that we skirted through in bouts of heavy rain for a few minutes. At the Junction of Hwy 1 we turned south for Banff and the heavy tourist crowds. The weather was threatening but we enjoyed Banff for a while as well as the international crowd there.

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    It was time to look for a camping spot, but we were told the tent campgrounds had been closed due to wolf and bear incidents. A quick search for hotels was futile as everything was booked, and a trip to the library and visitor center gave us differing versions of the wolf and bear stories. Finally, a guy said that the reservation system had failed, and the wolf issue had been taken care of and the Two Jacks campground north of town was open for tenters.


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    The ranger at the entrance said that indeed there had been wolf issues with a pack but it had "been taken care of" as well as the bear issues. I inquired about bear boxes as we'd been told there weren't any but he assured us they were there. A bit more comforting when tent camping in grizzly country. :O

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    We got set up in the wet campground and I filled my panniers with wet firewood at the wood pile, finally getting a nice fire going after a sudden rain killed my first attempt. Late in the evening we wandered up to the cooking cabin, to see a backpacking French couple camped inside, 4 bottles of wine, some bread and cheese on the tables as she washed his hair in the sink.




    It was a wet morning as we packed up, trading ride time for dry time as we waited for the tent fly and tarp to dry as much as possible. While we waited a camper came over from the next site to ask if we wanted waterproof matches and a propane canister since he and his son couldn't carry them on the plane home. We were happy to accept and talked with the two for a while, getting a pic with the bikes and his son Nouewen who appeared about 14 or so. They were very nice and we enjoyed the chat.

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    Hunger drove us to Banff for breakfast on the packed bikes, our budget breakfast at McDonald's shattered when we found they didn't serve breakfast, but a coffee shop around the corner saved the day with hot bagel sandwiches and coffee.

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    It was raining as we gassed up and headed north for Lake Louise and Moraine Lake on the way to Jasper. The scenery continued to stun, the milky turquoise rivers and streams looking false as we sped past between massive mountains. I warned The Butterfly that the crowds ahead would be thick, but the lake views were worth it. Indeed the traffic was heavy but the great thing about bikes is that you can squeeze in anywhere and we got spots right near the lake.

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    The breathtaking view of the water and glacial ice was not dulled by the throngs of people there, and it seems entirely false and difficult to take in. We watched the endless selfies, each trying to find a spot free of people. We did our best to get our own and in the process met a family of Indian descent who talked to us in length about our trip. The son told me his desire was to ride a Royal Enfield in the Himalayas and I told him our paths would cross there one day.

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    From Lake Louise we rode up to Lake Moraine and were blown away at the sight of the water - an even more intense aqua color than Louise. It really can't be described or captured but we took it in as we ate a sandwich on the lakeside.

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    From Moraine we headed north for Jasper, the road tightening and the views becoming even more breathtaking. Somewhere along the way we missed the turn for Jasper and had gone about 20 miles west towards Golden before I realized it. Even though we lost a good 45 minutes in a sidetrack, there were no complaints as the road was awesome.


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    Once were on the proper road again, our communicator chatter consisted of ever increasing "Wow. Unbelievable. Amazing." and so on. At the Columbia Ice Fields, minds were blown. Stopping to try and capture the images and immensity of views was an act of frustration. It simply can't be captured or conveyed in images but I half heartedly tried, content with capturing the images in my mind.


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    At a gas stop for a quick snack I read the guide for the area and saw that National Geographic had described the highway as one of the top roads in the world. Easy to see why.

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    As we headed for Jasper in the fading light and threatening skies I began to stress about finding a camp spot ahead. Each of the few had full signs as we passed and it was nearing dark as we exited the park at Jasper. I spun around and went back to the entry booth to ask the attendant if he had any suggestions for camping. He said all campgrounds were full in the area but then got on the phone and found us a spot. There was a spot left at the Wabasso campground and he had asked the girls there to hold it for us.

    I was greeted by "Bonjour!" at the window, to which my Texas accent version of "Bonjour" brought a smile. The two girls were intrigued to see Texans at the campground and even more so that my last name was French.

    We set up camp and got a small fire going before the fatigue of the day caught up. We both had reached saturation points as to the beauty of the ride - much as when you've laughed so long at a comedian that you can no longer laugh - and the thought of trying to talk of what we'd seen was overwhelming.
  4. Zapgarou

    Zapgarou Ripper Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2011
    Oddometer:
    112
    Location:
    Abbeville
    I'm really enjoying your ride report and the photos.
    It's given me a lot of inspiration for a ride I'm planning on taking on my old airhead from Louisiana to the Grand Canyon in the fall.
    The info on the gear you are using is also very helpful.
    LoneStar likes this.
  5. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,265
    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    Hey Zap thanks man. I'm about to post some gear reviews and gripes. Some gear is working very well, some expensive gear is not and some things I thought frivolous have turned out to be quite important
  6. LookingHard

    LookingHard Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2011
    Oddometer:
    125
    Location:
    USA
    LoneStar,

    Speaking of equipment, I would like to know how you feel about your helmet... Schuberth is of course a great brand, but is this your first 'flip-up' and has it met your needs?

    I am really enjoying your photos and RR.

    Thanks,
    LookingHard
  7. BELSTAFF

    BELSTAFF ADV NOMAD

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2009
    Oddometer:
    8,612
    Location:
    Arizona--Semper Vestibulum
    You are rapidly reaching the extent of my travels, I made it as far as Yellowknife before turning around -----SOMEDAY-----
    I will go back & head on to Alaska, Tonk, Dawson, Chicken are on the list, Artic circle & Anchorage then I can die a happy man. But I'll stay with you as this is the ride of a life time.
    TheIronButterfly and LoneStar like this.
  8. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    Currently sitting on a picnic bench in Smithers, BC posting by phone. There is camping in the municipal park by the river if anyone comes through here...

    Hyder, AK is next but currently 39 and raining heavy so it's tempting to camp another night here in Smithers :D

    LookingHard, frankly I'm disappointed in the Schuberth Guardian. I've been waiting for a flip face that had the sun visor, having made versions previously with mountain bike visors attached to the shield and when Schuberth announced theirs I figured it would be great. Ordered it from Europe before it hit here and initial rides showed visor vibration but I could live with that considering it had the flip face features I love.
    Having logged 12 weeks of riding with it and six or seven thousand miles, I am not happy. The visor vibration is so bad that it blurs my vision and the face shield will not stay open at any position constantly requiring you to try to flip it open above 40 miles per hour. On shorter rides those aren't deal-breakers but all day every day it becomes an issue. Worse than that the two locking tabs for the visor broke off after 2 weeks and in looking at it they are made of plastic less than a sixteenth of an inch thick so it's absolutely no surprise they snapped off. I was very disappointed that Schuberth would produce such a substandard visor attachment for their helmets. I've had an Arai XD3 and a Nolan X Lite 551 previous to this. The Nolan had zero vibration, was very well built and I wish I'd worn it. Kim has the regular Schuberth with MTB visor attached and likes hers other than the face shield not staying open. Your mileage may vary but I'll probably toss the visor before the trip is done. Otherwise the Schuberth is good and fairly quiet.
    MrKiwi likes this.
  9. Road Hound

    Road Hound Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2011
    Oddometer:
    205
    Location:
    Atlanta, Ga
    I'm enjoying your photos and your words. I rode that route through Yaak last year and it was very enjoyable even if there was a lot of smoke.
    Hope you continue to have a very good ride.
    LoneStar likes this.
  10. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
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    Well we made it into Hyder and are currently in a hotel in Stewart warming up - rained on and off from Smithers area and then heavily from Meziadin Junction all the way but man what an awesome area! High mountain walls with clouds and mist, what seemed to be hundreds of waterfalls pouring off the cliffs, roaring swollen rivers, incredible views and a brilliant double rainbow for a few moments when the sun poked a hole in the gray sky...
    TheIronButterfly likes this.
  11. Kodanja

    Kodanja Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2005
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    739
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    Thoroughly enjoying your report! Great commentary and photos.
    TheIronButterfly and LoneStar like this.
  12. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
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    north vancouver bc
    great report. thank you for posting.
    TheIronButterfly and LoneStar like this.
  13. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    It was an overcast morning as we packed the bikes and headed from the campground into Jasper for gas before hitting the road. The two gas stations were slammed with RV's and cars and seemed to take forever to get gassed up. We ended up eating breakfast at a restaurant after gassing up, and the waitstaff were pretty rude, as were the cashiers at the places we visited. Generally as we have moved northward the people have proven to be less and less friendly.

    It felt good to be moving again, our destination Prince George as we had decided to go west for the Cassiar highway and Hyder, Alaska. The beautiful terrain slowly changed as we hit the McBride area for a stop to take a break at the old train station.

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    After a quick lunch on the outside bench we wandered over to a little community market, talking with several of the ladies selling home canned goods, knitted things and such.

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    As we talked over the headsets on the road west, I suddenly heard Kim shouting "Bear! Bear!" and caught a glimpse of a black and cubs eating on the roadside as we shot past. It was a surprise as we have seen almost no wildlife on this trip...

    Another great couple who wanted to talk to us and make suggestions on where to go with big hugs when we left. So many roadside encounters like this...
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    The day passed as we rolled through rolling hills and nearby rivers until we finally hit Prince George, an industrial town that lacked personality or character but likely provided the influx of money needed n the region.

    We grabbed a cheap motel to get batteries charged, clothes washed and to get a massage for my frozen neck. I'd somehow pulled a muscle in my neck and the pain had been excruciating for a few days.




    We left Prince George the next morning for Smithers, the terrain becoming more mountainous and beautiful along the way. Smithers proved to be an interesting town with a good vibe, especially after Prince George. We stopped at the local outdoor gear store to ask about campgrounds and the sales guy told us to hit the city park on the river. It turned out to be a great spot along the river with both tent and rv spots, as well as wifi.

    The forecast had been for rain but it never came. We headed down a trail along the river and shortly were approached by an Australian woman telling us that a bear had been spotted a few moments earlier on the trail. A quick trip back to the tent for bear spray and we were on our way for a great hike before ending the day by the fire.




    Our next destination was Hyder, Alaska, and the weather showed it to be 100% rain and 39ยบ, so we debated waiting another day in Smithers or continuing on... we headed for Hyder in the Smithers sunshine.

    Rolling westward, the terrain got more interesting and mountainous, each day in Canada bringing more beauty and scenery than ever imagined. Stopping at river crossings salmon could be seen amidst the rapids and white foam. Fall was definitely in the air, pale yellows appearing in the trees on the mountainsides and leaves flickering down on us as we rode.

    At the Petro-Canada station at the junction of 16 and 37, where we would turn north for the Cassiar and Hyder, the rain was coming in spats. While refueling I spoke with a woman who ran adventure tours in Canada who's just returned from the Dempster Highway. She said torrential rains had wiped out a portion of the road just as she got out and it was closed for repairs. She said the weather had been rainy her entire time in Alaska and warned us to prepare.

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    We crossed the Skeena River north and continued to Meziadin Junction where we topped off with gas, a lone Harley rider pulling in beside us. I asked where he was headed and he said "Home. I've been to Sturgis." and rode off north.

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    The sun had long disappeared in the gray threatening clouds and fits of rain up to Meziadin, but as we turned west on 37A for Stewart and Hyder, the rain begin to come in earnest. The ride in was with chills and cold air, rain, mist and exclamations of wonder. The road in was between tight high mountains with billowing fog and clouds. The river along the way was swollen and muddy, roaring along the roadside and at points seeming about to come over the road. From high above waterfalls cascaded down sheer walls, some white and others reddish brown with muddy torrents from on high.

    [​IMG]




    [​IMG]






    [​IMG]





    Rounding a corner to the view of a blue and white glacier across the river was an awesome sight causing us to peel off the road onto a gravel waiting area. It was an amazing sight for our Texas eyes, the rain not dimming the sight.

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    [​IMG]

    We rode on in the rain, and between comments on the sights Kim told me her boots had finally leaked and her feet were soaked. I could feel a bit of clamminess in my Formas and had the feel they were weeping slightly near the toes but it was not major, thankfully.

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    To the right of the roadside lay a huge pile of logs from a rolled logging truck and on the river beds lay huge piles of logs and dead trees washed down in the torrential rain-swollen floods.


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    A rain soaked sign for the "Bear Festival" showed us that we'd missed it by a day or so as we rolled into Stewart, a quaint and interesting little town. As we arrived the rains lifted and we could see the tidal plain and past to the fjord, according to the guide book one of the largest in the world.

    As we passed the couple of miles into Hyder the rains came back heavily. It was a surprise to see no US Border checkpoint. The little town was mainly abandoned and looked even worse in the heavy rain. We rode around the few streets, finally spotting a hotel with an adventure bike parked under the stairs to shield it from the deluge. I knocked on the lobby door and an old man answered, saying the motel was full for the evening, despite the fact there were no cars in the lot. I distinctly felt he just didn't want to be bothered and stepped back into the pouring rain where Kim sat on her bike. The man had suggested trying the Sealaska Inn, but telling me to go bang on the door of the log cabin behind the inn and try to roust the lady who owned it.

    As we pulled up, the hotel looked closed and derelict and we didn't bother even trying. One more stop at a building that said "B&B", "Pawn Shop" and other things proved interesting - the door opened and I eventually found a grizzled guy in the back near the guns and when I asked about the "B&B" he said nothing was available - again the sense he didn't want to be bothered and continued smoking his cigar, a bit irritated I'd come in.

    Anything that looked like it offered accommodations was our target
    [​IMG]

    We finally bailed on Hyder to check Stewart, and as we rolled up to the Canadian checkpoint, the rain ceased and a spectacular double rainbow appeared. It was very intense and both the border guards had stepped out of the building with their cell phones to capture a pic of it.

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    The female border guard was friendly and we passed back into Canada where I was able to capture the last bit of the rainbow from the roadside by the tidal plain.

    Stewart seemed like Manhattan after Hyder, and we found lodging at the Ripley Inn, a cool series of old buildings converted into rooms and cabins. It felt good to get out of the soaked gear and warm up.

    [​IMG]
  14. Kodanja

    Kodanja Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2005
    Oddometer:
    739
    Location:
    Boise, Idaho
    Spectacular! Very well composed photos. On our trip to Jasper years ago, we stopped in at the visitor center to look at a local map to Edith Cavel. When I asked how many miles it was from Jasper, she immediately got defensive and said, "It's 'Kilometers' here, not miles!" She was very unpleasant and didn't like dealing with us Americans. Overall the Canadians were friendly except at places where they served the public.
    LoneStar likes this.
  15. PsammonOfDoubt

    PsammonOfDoubt Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 11, 2010
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Tennessee
    fantastic photos & writing!
    LoneStar likes this.
  16. rebelmark

    rebelmark Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2016
    Oddometer:
    95

    Try the new Scorpion ADV helmet. It is a flip up with visor and it is awesome!
    LoneStar likes this.
  17. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,265
    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    Yes, we've met so many friendly folks in Canada, it's just that we've noticed a change in attitudes as we've moved further north - usually I don't give it much credence but TIB has been commenting on it as well :D
  18. advrockrider

    advrockrider Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,039
    Location:
    Norcal
    Love you writing style, and the pictures are awesome. Maybe I missed it but what kind of camera are you using?
    TheIronButterfly likes this.
  19. TownPump

    TownPump Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 3, 2005
    Oddometer:
    906
    Location:
    Huntsburg, OH
    Superlative photos and strong writing. As I sit here deskbound, the envy is strong. I now officially have Alaska fever as I find myself idly mapping routes and fantasizing about how I can accomplish it someday.
    TheIronButterfly and Allucaneat like this.
  20. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,265
    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    Hey bro - the camera system I brought is the Lumix GM 5 and GF7. Chosen because they are miniscule but still 16mp micro 4/3. Two size zooms and a prime. They aren't easy to shoot with due to size but much better than just a pocket cam and they take up so little room

    [​IMG]

    BC, Yukon and just the little bit of Alaska we've seen are amazing.