(June 9 – written by Dave)
Short but fun day to Watson Lake – we were in bed early last night and both slept well. We may be getting our rhythm – nice. We woke well before the alarm this morning but were slowed a bit in the AM by the army of mozzies trying to get through our tent lining. I dressed, grabbed my hat and swatted the majority away in a killing frenzy. We may start seeing more on the little buggers now that the weather has turned warmer. I’m happy to report that our Bugs-away and premetherin-soaked clothing worked pretty well around the morning prep time – they still buzzed us but biting was limited.
We didn’t linger in camp, getting on the road by 8:00 – which has to be a record for us on this trip. Right away was a 3k climb out of Big Creek but we didn’t mind. The wind was back on the nose but we’re sort of getting used to it and it does keep the mozzies down.
There was lots of up and down with several 2-3k climbs. Scenery was mostly distant views of hills covered in trees. Almost the same in every direction. We stopped at one high point to fix a loose bolt on my bottom bracket – it’s come loose every few days since the start so today I got out the lock-tight.
Not long after this stop we had the real excitement of the day. I was on the front and saw a bear run across the road up a ways near a sign. If I weren’t looking, I would have easily missed it. We cautiously approached the location and by then he was back in the woods. About 100 metres further up we saw another bear on the same side of the road. By now Nancy had her whistle out and was blowing non-stop. About 500 metres further up the road, on our side, just down the verge we spotted two more bears. None seemed overly interested in us but the whistle was getting a serious work out now. We rode slowly, with lots of scanning for the next few kilometres. So we went from one bear in Alaska to 4 bears in 1k in Canada – how exciting! Sorry – no photos!!!
We were not far from the junction of highway 37, our road south, we stopped at a place called Nugget City for a food break and a bear break. We had ham and egg rolls served by a waitress on her first day, we were her first table. Everyone in the restaurant seemed afraid of the cook (who may also be the owner) and you could see why. After our waitress went to ask him for the Wi-Fi password he came out to tell us in no uncertain terms that they did not have internet. They also only sell bottled water and will not give you tap water, with the menu espousing that they are doing this to benefit the environment and the long term stability of the planet and the place. Not sure how that logic works, with the contribution of many, many plastic bottles every day, but oh well. Perhaps it was just the time of day but there was a weird vibe in the place – we made the call to not stay there tomorrow on the way back through.
It was 22k from the junction to Watson Lake – with one really long hill. We were tired but still excited to reach Watson Lake. We really debated about not making the out and back trek but were glad when we did, finding some real treats in Watson Lake.
First stop in Watson Lake was the information centre and sign forest. The folks in the centre were super helpful about Watson and the road ahead. The sign forest was amazing. We spent a good amount of time hanging out, trying to find signs from any our past home towns. We were not successful but it was fun all the same. Samples below:
After a quick bite to eat at Kathy’s Kafe and a run through the grocery store, we made our way to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police station and the home of our host family where we met JM, Natalie, Sam and Amelia. JM is real Mountie, Natalie a school teacher. The kids are 7 and 5 respectively. JM virtually met us at the door with a cold, large, special release Yukon Brewery Discovery beer. Wow, what treat. We chatted for the rest of the afternoon before JM whipped up some moose sausage that we worked into wraps as JM prepared for his shift. He works 6PM to 3AM today with the station less than a 50 feet from his front door – a pretty good commute in my book. Later we shared some stories with Sam and Amelia about Australia – quite fun as they already knew a lot. Another great Warmshowers stop – so glad that we thought to check if there was a host here in Watson Lake.
Tomorrow we were heading back the way we came. JM has offered to drive us in his truck the 22k back to the corner. We’re in – we already rode that section and can spend the rest of the time on new roads. We’ll start a 700 mile journey down the Cassiar highway – with the first night being in Boya Lake – which JM and crew all say is great. Likely no internet or mobile coverage for the next several days, so new blog entries will be posted when we get access. Unfortunately it looks like we are in for some rain the next couple of days, which should make the camping interesting.