Crank the Scenery up to Eleven!

I think it was just after our ride up the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park that Diana spoke the following line over our helmet intercoms:

“Yeah, um, I think I’m kinda over the whole mountains and trees thing.”

I cringed. We intended to spend the next six weeks or so riding to Alaska and back. Around six thousand miles of mountains and trees.

So yesterday was a welcome change, when she said, “These mountains are way different. They’re sharp. And they’re so BIG!”

We had left our campsite outside Houston (BC, not TX) and headed towards Meziadin Lake, but just on a whim, instead of turning right at the intersection, I decided to turn left and ride about 35 miles west to the town of Stewart. I’m not sure what made me do that, especially since it’s basically a dead-end, and we would have to ride the 35 miles back to the intersection again in the morning.

But it was worth it. What a payoff in scenery.

When I asked Harald (the owner of Shady Rest RV Park in Houston) if they had any tent sites available for Friday the 13th, his response was “Yeah, and we’ve got Jason locked up out back, so it’s safe.” Then after setting up our tent, I see this leaf on the ground. Kinda looks like a horror-movie hockey mask…or is it just me?

I can’t look at this sign without singing the first three words.

On the way to Stewart.

Bear Glacier, outside Stewart, BC

It’s a funky little town with a heli-skiing problem, and some great scenery.

It turns out that Stewart is about three miles from the border with Alaska. The road crosses to Hyder, Alaska, and then back into Canada to the Salmon Glacier, then ends. You can’t go anywhere else in the rest of Alaska from there by road. And as much as we would have loved to see the glacier, our recent experience with crossing the border into Canada told me I didn’t want to try it again in such a remote place.

It started raining last night, and the temperature dropped. This morning it was still raining, and 48 degrees when we left Stewart. We rode north on the Cassiar Highway in nearly continuous rain. Like the Alaskan Highway, the Cassiar sees a lot of damage over the winter, and work crews spend each summer repairing sections. So we rode through long stretches of dirt (mud) and gravel, and dodged enough potholes to make me feel like I was back in Mexico, all while the temperature continued to drop into the lower 40s.

By mid-afternoon, we were cold and ready for a break. We found a campground on Dease Lake that had a tiny cabin for rent (nothing like the cabin in Moyie Springs, Idaho!). It’s supposed to be similar weather tomorrow, but possibly less rain. We’ll head for Watson Lake tomorrow, and if we aren’t as cold by then, perhaps further.

Our digs for the night. Eventually we are going to have to give in and set the tent up in the rain (and tear it down in the rain as well). But (ahem) somebody was getting pretty whiny (she says she “doesn’t do cold well”), so I didn’t want to push it tonight.

On the way into Stewart yesterday, we had a couple of black bears cross the road in front of us. Today, Diana counted another eight black bears that were either crossing the road, or standing on the side of the road as we went by. Her new comment: “Okay, I’m over bears. I want to see a moose!”

One moose, coming up…

4 thoughts on “Crank the Scenery up to Eleven!

  1. Dianna: The best is yet to come. Breathe deep. Its awesome. It was -54 when I first met Alaska, Nothing like you will experience.

  2. I don’t “do cold” well either. Proper gear helps, and I always liked a near full face balaclava. I hear Seattle is having a heat wave, so you got out of town JIT. Some really scenic pictures. Enjoy yourselves.

    • It’s a bit like that saying about having a “drinking problem”. there are clearly severe adrenaline addicts here. We passed multiple helicopter bases within a couple hundred miles that served the ski industry.

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