03-05-2010, 08:56 PM
Joined: Nov 2007
Location: Bisbee, AZ & Banamichi, Sonora
Awoke to the sound of raindrops on the tent so you know that's another day to get rained on. Today we're heading up to Whitehorse, the capitol of the Yukon Territory some 405 miles away. I've begun to worry about the condition of my rear tire and I'm thinking that Whitehorse may be my best bet for a replacement.
Before breakfast Houston lets me know that he and DD aren't coming to Whitehorse today, instead they'll be heading south on Hwy 37 just past Watson Lake.
After breakfast Houston lets me know that he and DD will be coming to Whitehorse but DD will stay in the hotel in Dawson City while he and I ride over the Top of the World Highway to Fairbanks where he will immediately turn around and ride back to Dawson City. Craziness.
I finally remember to wear my sweatshirt and am quite happy when we get going. Upon leaving the campground we come across a herd of buffalo and I'm able to get pictures.
Soon after the buffalo I see a bear off on the left side of the road and come to a screeching halt on the wrong side of the road to get some pictures.
Not 20 minutes later I see another one and have the same reaction.
In all today I see four bears, the last two sort of snuck up on me and I didn't manage to get the camera around for pictures.
After the rainy beginning to the day it's turning into a nice one. Other than the bears there's not a whole lot going on other than just enjoying the scenery.
Believe it or not at one point I'm trying to take a picture and get a bug right in the center of the camera lens. How on earth do I get so unlucky to have a bug his this little ¾ inch circular area? I have no idea.
A bit less than halfway to Whitehorse we come to Watson Lake, home of the signpost forest. This whole thing started with a worker on the AlCan construction crew who erected a signpost with distances and directions to his gang's hometowns, sort of like the one on M.A.S.H. As you can see his small sign has now grown to this “forest”.
My few pictures can't even begin to catch the size of this place.
We continue on and just revel in the scenery. You'd think it would get old rather quickly but I have a couple thousand pictures that lead me to believe that I was always seeing something that was amazing to me.
RV's were on the road but still nowhere near the numbers I expected.
We started seeing mountains again as well.
We stopped at the Continental Divide for gas; I have no idea if we're actually at a continental divide or if it's just the name of the gas station. It turned out people were raving about the cinnamon rolls here so of course I stopped to have one. Unfortunately they have raisins in them which I hate.
Houston asks one of the women working there if she'd heard anything about the condition of the Top of the World Highway and she tells him it's pretty much impassable. He says he'll ask someone in Dawson City for more up-to-date news on the road condition when we get up there. Her response was classic as she tells him that none of those people are going to know anything unless they just came off it. I can't help but wonder how she came up with her impassable news.
A ways further up I look over and I'm greeted by this lovely vision.
This has to be the longest bridge I've seen to date (okay I don't get out much). Of course it's that steel grating on the road surface so I'm clenching my cheeks together the whole way across as my tires try to follow some track that's different than where I want to go. One of these days I'll learn to relax and maybe it'll go smoother but I've just got to the point where I don my sweatshirt on a cold morning before I leave so I'm not holding out too much hope this'll go easier soon. We stopped at the gas station on the other side of the bridge, not necessarily because we needed gas but we definitely needed a breather after the bridge.
Construction is getting a little more common but we still make good time.
Houston and Desiree don't seem to mind it that much!
We got into camp fairly early but we still need to work on gas stops as we're averaging about 40 minutes.
The campground is ice, although the campsites are mostly dirt. I took a shower that only cost two loonies and did a little laundry while I was in there. Houston is still determined not to shower until he reaches Fairbanks and I've taken to making sure my tent is upwind of his. I go to the camp store and decide I want an ice cream cone; nothing looks all that great until I come across a flavor called Tiger Stripe. I stared at it for a little while then decided to go for it. Tiger Stripe is orange with black licorice stripes. I know it sounds horrid but it was really quite good!
There's a ranger program going on so I stop to see what it's about. The topic for the night is bears and how to prevent an attack; I'm all ears. Evidently there're two types of bear attacks that you need to watch out for; the defensive attack and the offensive attack.
The defensive attack comes about because the bear feels threatened by you and wants to scare you off. The bear will likely charge but you can tell that it's not really serious by paying close attention to its body language. If the worst happens and the bear actually attacks you, lie down on your stomach with your hands clenched over the back of your neck. The idea is that your skull is too large to fit in a bears mouth, at least a black bears mouth, so you don't have to worry about them grabbing and crushing your skull. However the bear can easily fit your neck in its mouth and snap it so lacing your fingers across your neck will protect that from happening. The ranger guaranteed us that although we might get scalped and have some of our fingers torn off and eaten we would probably suffer no lasting damage. In addition during a defensive attack you're supposed to remain absolutely silent and not fight back; if the bear rolls you onto your back you're to keep rolling until you're back on your stomach. Eventually the bear will decide you're no longer a threat and just leave. I almost got up and walked out when he came up with the “remain silent even though you're being scalped” part.
An offensive attack is different; in a offensive attack the bear sees you as food and is going to try to kill you and eat you. In this case you're to yell and scream, punch, kick, stab, etc. until the bear decides it's too much trouble to eat you.
Keep in mind that the way to decide between the two types of attack is to observe the bears body language and try to divine its intent by the way it holds its ears. Of course if cubs are involved then all bets are off. I think I'll just try to keep my distance, I'm glad I got my bear bell on the first day in Canada. You know what they say, the way to avoid a Black Bear is wear a bell and keep pepper spray ready to defend yourself; but you know you're dealing with a Grizzly if you come across its scat, it'll be full of bells and smell like pepper.
Our campground is nice but evidently it's where all the locals come to smoke dope; coming back from the bear pep talk I almost got a contact high from the amount of cannabis in the air, at least they'll all get tired and probably be quiet for the rest of the night. Houston wants to get an early start in the morning so we can get to Dawson City before nightfall, I suggested shorter gas stops but we'll see how it goes. I'm still a little jealous of my morning time as I'm on vacation, if I wanted to get up early I might as well be at work.
My camera card crapped out on me tonight, hopefully the pictures will be there when I try to download them at home. At least I have three more cards!