Joined: Feb 2008
Location: Playing Hooky
Day 2 - June 16
Slept well. Wore fleece pants and down shirt inside light sleeping bag - very warm, would still be ok colder out. I have the thermal bivy sack if it gets even worse.
Part of my enjoyment of these trips is in being comfortable with the minimal set of gear I can bring, and in seeing that the selection of gear items work well together to achieve this - so I'll digress a bit into gear here. In the interest of compactness, this time I brought along a very thin and not very warm, but highly compressible sleeping bag. To make up for this I brought, and expected to wear most nights, an Eddie Bauer down shirt. This had been quite expensive, but again was very compact, and was extremely comfortable and warm; and since I could (and would) use it under the armour as needed on some cold riding days, it gave me a lot of flexibility. It turned out to be a very good choice and this shirt will be a regular part of any outing gear stored on the bike. In addition, I also carried a thermal reflective bivy sack, and as an 'alternate/emergency" sleeping bag, and if need be to use in layering with the sleeping bag. Again, very compact, and in this case also quite cheap. As I found, this combination worked very well, was adaptable to a range of temperatures, and took a combined space less than a single, less adaptable, warmer sleeping bag would have done.
Up 6:30. Breakfast oatmeal and coffee. The Starbucks instant is pretty good. Pack up, on the bike 8:10 under sun, toward Chetwynd.
Again for the sake of compactness, this trip I opted to use a home made 'beer can' stove for my cooking. Cheap, easy, and fun to build - and tiny, light weight, and effective. Down sides are only one setting (full on), and you have to learn to judge how much fuel to load into it for a meal, since you can't put it out. Normally I used it with a small folding foil windscreen, but it's shown here without. The stove and small stand I built both neatly nest inside the Pinnacle Soloist titanium cookset I use, and weigh far less than e.g. an MSR Whisperlite or a JetBoil. There's also nothing to go wrong, and my single 500ml of methyl hydrate lasted the entire 15 day trip - cooking two meals most days, with a handful of exceptions that will arise. [Canon SX130]
8:45 wildflowers along Heart Highway.
And caterpillers... [Canon SX130]
9:15 photos Bear Lake.
Finally time to break out the medium format camera and start using it. Unfortunately due to space issues I only had room for two lenses, and in the end, 8 rolls of 120 film wasn't enough - but I think I got a few decent shots. Here's Bear Lake in the morning sun. [Rolleiflex 6008i, 50mm Distagon]
10:20. Gas at Mackenzie Junction. Only regular available - but only getting half a tank to top up. Will be harder to get premium from here on anyhow.
It was around here that I really began to notice something at the sides of the road, where it was brush cut - wildflowers. Well, it's not that you don't normally see some flowers at the side of the road, but I seemed to have caught the brief period where there was a huge number in bloom. Along this section, it was dandelions, in solid eye-popping yellow blankets on both sides of the road. [Canon SX130]
Lunch at A&W in Chetwynd, $5.25 for a burger but free wi-fi. Parked in front of next door Subway is a moto guzzi with Australian plates, which I'd passed just before Mackenzie Junction. Introduced myself to Mark - he was heading north as well. Rode with him as far as Hudsons Hope then he pressed on. Top up gas.
A little ways before Mackenzie Junction, I spotted a motorcycle up ahead of me - and even from way back I could see there was something unusual about how things were loaded onto it. I slowly gained, passing it just before Mackenzie Junction, and saw that the gear was tied in this big spherical lump on the rear. I waved as I went past and caught a quick glance of an unusual license plate but didn't recognize it.
When I spotted the big lump of luggage again in the parking lot in Chetwynd, it was easy to recognize so I thought I'd go over and introduce myself. Mark had bought the bike as a rebuilt in Florida and was riding his way northward - no particular destination in mind, although he was thinking about the Dust to Dawson rally in a few days.
Here's his Moto Guzzi and luggage lump: [iPhone 5]
Get some photos of Peace River valley just before Ft. St. John. [Rolleiflex 6008i, 50mm Distagon]
On to Ft. St. John, or highway junction just outside it. Still pretty early, so top up gas; fill spare tank; head north. By Pink Mountain starting to get a little tired. Pull in at RV park / liquor store / post office and ask about tent sites. They don't have any so on northward (after buying a single beer, $3, for later).
Few km later see Sasquatch Crossing restaurant/ crew base camp / RV park. Ask about tenting. Success! They tell me to set up in a grass corner by one of the crew dorms - free. At that price I'll patronize the restaurant! Set up under beginnings of rain shower but all set before all but a few drops. Into restaurant - Huge burgers for $12, and they even have free wi-fi!! This is awesome!!
I really do mean a huge burger. An older couple with an RV on their way to Alaska stopped in, and the husband ordered the same. When it came out, he asked the waitress is it was a joke, or one of those "if you can eat this, it's free!" things. She was a bit offended I think - she replied that people around there were able to eat it (sure, they're 23 year old oil rig workers!) When I managed - just - to finish mine, she pointed that out to him, too, but as I said "Yeah, but you notice I can only waddle now?" [iPhone 5]
Two half-pound patties plus cheese, bacon, AND a thick slice of ham later, I waddle out to the tent and enjoy my beer. Patchy clouds but no rain at the moment - in fact sunny and hot. Charge the phone off mc aux socket and just relax.
Today's total: 584.9 km