Mac, I highly recommend Atlin. Of all the pics I took, only this one:
comes anywhere close to letting on how pretty it is. It's a small place, too - the population is likely only a couple of hundred, so there's a great feel to the place. Check it out next time you're passing by the turn off! And if you can do the Dempster on a Wing (and a prayer?!) you'll be able to do the road into Atlin on that same Wing standing on the handlebars with one arm and one leg duct taped behind your back.
I spent a couple more days in Whitehorse beginning to think about hitting the road again. I'm a runner but I'd not bought my gear with me because I just didn't have room, so for excercise I'd walk in a bush area out the back of kate and Shane's place. There were clear signs saying that no motorized vehicles were allowed in there, yet almost every time I was there there'd be at least one dirt bike that had squeezed through the gates, and I was pissed 'cos asshats that do shit like that give us all a bad name. One day a KLR was back there, and I thought about flagging the guy down to ask him wtf he thought he was doing. I can't see much harm myself, but that's not the point - all you need is some old woman to be scared when you ride past her too fast, or to upset her dogs, and now she hates all bikers and starts telling her friends about the Hells Angels she ran into that day, and as far as public relations between riders and the general public, we're screwed.
I finally set off on Saturday June 28th, having had breakfast with Shane and Kate at the airport restaurant, which is worth a visit for the waitress alone. Wowzers!
It was raining that morning and Kate and Shane tried to persuade me to stay for a day or two more until the weather cleared up again, but I was in the right head space to keep moving, and anyway had come up with a bit of a plan. On my way to Vancouver Island I had always been intending to go over the Duffy Lake Road (for those of you that don't know it, it runs from Mt. Currie to Lillooet in B.C. and is a fantastic dual sport road), which would mean I'd be able to stop and see my friends Robyn and Christiaan in Squamish. It had occurred to me that they'd probably appreciate it if I were to show up on a weekend, so I now wanted to be in Squamish that Friday night.
It was a reasonable goal, but I couldn't afford to waste too much time as I not only had a habit of spending a fair amount of time exploring trails and such that I'd see leading off the road, but I also found that much more than 500 kms in a day on the KLR started to eat into the fun.
Within half an hour of leaving Whitehorse the rain had stopped and the weather only became better and better. It would have been a perfect day but the wind was very strong and a couple of times I thought it was going to blow the front wheel right out from under me. I stopped for gas at Jake's Corner and the attendant there traced the outline of my license plate - he did wood carvings and wanted something to work from.
I made it as far as the junction of the Alaska Highway and the Cassiar that night. I was taking the latter of those two roads back south and was excited for what I expected to see - by all accounts the Steward/Cassiar highway is absolutely beautiful. But just a week or so previously Motomac had been rudely awoken by a bear clawing its way into his tent at the campground here (see last post on previous page) and I wasn't really keen for the same thing to happen to me, so I rode about 3 kms past the campground and found a nice spot in a pullout beside the road on the edge of a lake.
I usually like to be a bit hidden when I camp, but having spent the last week with friends I was hoping for some company that night and was happy to be within sight of the road. Within the first hour of my being there I must have seen ten bikes heading north (northbound traffic couldn't see me) and I could have sworn that the first of them was Hecktoglider. He'd told me he was going to take this road, but he'd have been heading south - it just wouldn't have surprised me if he'd agreed to guide a bunch of people back up north! Although they weren't all in one group, I think that these bikes might have all been together as they were wearing almost exactly the same gear.
After an hour or so a south bound bike slowed down a bit as he passed my spot and I waved, but I don't think I got a wave back. Five minutes later it had turned around and come back again, and this time it pulled up. The rider asked whether I minded if he set up camp there too, and I said by all means - I was happy for the company.
Kevin is a super guy. He's a lawyer from L.A. and was riding a Kawasaki GPZ 1100. He had taken that thing all over the world on bike trips and said he'd dropped it about 35 times, "All of which were on gravel". Kevin did not like gravel! We had a great chat - he'd been at law school with Obama, amongst other things, and his girlfriend worked at one of the swanky hotels in downtown LA and he told me celebrity stories. After another hour a mini-van turned up, driven by Wolfgang who had made it all the way from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island to that spot in 2 days. That's impressive. Wolfgang was on his way to Whitehorse to visit his son, who was home on leave from Iraq or Afghanistan. The three of us got on well and we had a good evening. Wolfgang slept in his car, and because the wind was still up I put several rocks in my tent to stop it from blowing away - the ground was too stoney to put pegs in.
Kevin and I agreed that we'd ride south together as far as Steward/Hyder at the south end of the highway, and the next morning (having thankfully had no bear incidents that night) we backtracked the 3 kms to the junction to gas up.
There we met dm_gsxr who was on his way back south from Alaska - on his Hyabusa! That's cool.
Kevin and dm_gsxr
The Hyabusa was doing a very solo trip and he sped off in short order, having first told us about how he'd got a flat somewhere in Alaska and had been ripped off to the tune of about $1200 by the time he'd got everything squared away and was on the move again. That's an expensive puncture!
Kevin and I were a few minutes behind him, and were to have a lot of fun over the next few days. Kevin is a class 1 guy, and I thoroughly enjoyed riding with him.