Joined: Feb 2008
Location: Playing Hooky
Day 4 - June 18
Slept well. As far as remote motels go, I do have to say this one is clean, comfortable, and even has satellite TV and phone. Woke up to heavy rain about 5 AM. Vindicates my decision not to tent, I think, but now I have to think about the road. Wet, it will be nearly undrivable on my tires. If only I had TKC-80s installed! Oh well - they wouldn't handle the pavement well. Forecast is for weather to improve all day and then sun starting afternoon. Couple of options:
- stay here another night. Motel is too expensive but I'm all dry now, if I set up camp at the campground I can stay that way, and the road will have dried out.
- take off morning and try my luck. If I make it out ok, down to Fort Nelson, refuel, then north to Muncho Lake area.
- pack up, and hang around until late afternoon or early evening. Road will be mostly dry by then, and it's light to midnight - then only plan on getting to Fort Nelson and camping.
Breakfast is the usual of oatmeal, crasins, and coffee. Pack up and head out about 10:30 to check conditions.
I also took the time now to check out a few more things in the town.
Confluence of Liard and Petitot Rivers - look at the difference in amount of mud! [Canon SX130]
In particular, there is an old wooden church built by the Oblates:
The present Mission building was built from 1913 to 1921. Father Mathurin Vacher, o.m.i., took nearly eight years to complete the building because he was practically alone to do the work. He even had to hand-cut his own lumber. At that time, most of the people lived out on the land, in the traditional way, coming in only to trade.
The foundations of the mission were rebuilt in 1957 and the building was renovated in 1965. Even today, the Mission serves as a place of worship. No visit to Fort Liard is complete without a visit to Mission." (http://www.fortliard.com/history.htm#mission
Well, I don't think it looks like it's still in use, now... not with this hole in the roof: [Roliflex 6008i]
Bell from the church [Rolleiflex 6008i]
Updated forecast in store is 60% rain all day and 30% overnight. So, not going to get better towards evening. Right now, hasn't rained for several hours and may be best chance I get. Time to head out and try.
Section from town to highway really slick.
I reached the bottom of the mud hill coming up the town the few km back to the gravel highway. As you can maybe see in this photo [Canon SX130], the right side for whatever reason looked a lot slicker / goopier than the far left. I considered going up the left, but with a blind crest, that didn't seem like a smart idea.
There was a flatbed coming up slowly behind me as I slid around towards the foot of the slope, and I paused to let him go by - and guess what, he took the left side of the road. Great for me - I just got right in behind him!
Thankfully big flatbed goes by on wrong side of road, a lot drier on that side, up the hill out of town. Follow him, don't worry about oncoming traffic! Once on the highway, the gravel is not too bad. Cold but not windy or raining. A bit squirrely in places but try to stay calm and not tense up, let my balance flow with the bike.
Liard Highway, pausing from sliding around the mud and gravel on my southward return. Not a lot to see here. [Canon SX130]
Count the distance on the odometer. At 10:31 back in BC and pavement! Getting colder, good place to pull over and add the down shirt.
After about a half hour pull over again and put on grip heaters.
Yes, "put on" grip heaters. I have the temporary, overwrap kind (Oxfords). I can put them on in about a minute when needed, or take them off. It was definitely nice to have them today. [Canon SX130]
Intermittent cold rain. Bison on road twice - come around a corner and startle one, but he runs off the road. Next group don't startle but also won't get off road. Take a few photos from safe distance, then carefully creep by.
Again, photos were taken from a ways back... then I had to roll by very slowly. This one was barely the width of the road away, watching me, with this big line of drool hanging out of its mouth as I edged past. [Canon SX130]
Rain gets hard in last 50 km to Fort Nelson and finally starts to get through suit. Cold by time I hit tourist info center. Gear is wet, if $79 will get me a room and dry out it's worth it. Chat for a bit to Lisa, from Idaho on her way to Fairbanks. She's heard good things about Toad River hot springs, maybe I should check them out tomorrow, too.
Shannon Motel is cheapest in town. Turns out to be $89 when I check in - make that $100 even with tax. Still I go for it (tenting down the street is $25; is drying my gear out worth $75? Probably "yes".) Into motel by 2:30 local time, gear hung up to dry and make some hot soup (again with the coffee maker). There's wifi but for some reason my iPhone doesn't seem to want to connect? Well, I can walk back over to tourist info center later if I want to send any emails.
Head out and get a can of beer and some chips, then back to the motel. My phone finds the wifi now so send a few more emails and check the weather forecasts for Watson Lake and Whitehorse. Looks like it should be good from tomorrow on. Relax for the afternoon and watch the one movie I brought along (Bad Day at Black Rock),
I'm not really a big iPhone fan - I own one because it was a cheap deal with my wireless provider. Having said that, the iPhone was really handy on this trip. I used it as a GPS, including sending positional updates any time I found a wifi signal I could get (which now, occurs almost everywhere - places have satellite internet and wifi available, narrow bandwidth but fine for a quick email or upload a GPS coordinate). I also used it to watch a movie, here, and I'd brought along a novel to read on it (Atlas Shrugged. Don't know what made me decide to bring that particular one this trip, but it was a fantastic choice. I've seen far too much of what is caricaturized in it not to enjoy it in a very cynical way. It was what I did most nights in the tent, until I got too tired). I also took photos with it, occasionally, I wrote the trip log (the italicized bits of this) on it, exchanged iMessages with a few friends, and checked weather forecasts. Having one hand-sized device you could do all that on, and be able to charge quickly off the bike's battery, was really handy.
then make some supper again using the coffee maker hot plate. In the end this doesn't work very well for pasta; the pesto penne with diced turkey is edible but hardly good. Note to self, dehydrated foods better for coffee maker cooking than ones usually boiled for any length of time.
Sun comes out about 8 PM, looks like forecast will hold true. Talk a bit to another rider on a 650 GS who's taken a room just down from mine. He's done the Dempster before (on street tires, he says) and we discuss the impact of weather on these gravel roads.
Ok, ok. I still want to go to Inuvik. I think for me though, will be on a set of knobbies.
Make it an early night. Total: 216 km