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Old 09-05-2013, 06:47 PM   #16
Honkey Cat
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Location: SW Florida
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Great read and pics
My favorite philosopher is Cha Ching !
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Old 09-07-2013, 09:12 PM   #17
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Location: Tacoma, Washington
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Headed up that way on the 18th of this month enroute to Bella Coola. Enjoying your report. Keep it coming.
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Old 09-07-2013, 10:13 PM   #18
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Enjoying your storytelling. I've ridden through those parts twice in an event called the alcan5000. In fact I am entered again in 2014. It is a TSD competition that starts in Seattle and ends in Anchorage. Hits the Arctic Circle and the NWT as well on something called the North Canol Rd. Spectacular riding. Like a twisty roller coaster. 200 km one way from Ross River. The club spots us gas at the NWT border or we couldn't make it. Has some other great dirt roads like the Dempster, TOW, Denali Highway etc.

Anyway, part of it is a dirt road called the Blackwater, which runs northwest out of Quesnel for some 200km to hwy 16. It is basically a string of farm roads and you have to watch out for loose cattle. Great road, though.

I was struck how the further north you get, the lower the ridgelines and the smaller the pines get. Not many people seem to live up there. Pretty lonely I would think.
Straight ahead and faster -Bo Weaver 1970
"There I was..." -Griffin Niner Three Hotel
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Old 09-08-2013, 03:43 PM   #19
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Joined: Dec 2007
Location: BC, Canada
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The Alcan 5000 is one of my goals eventually! I've gotten hooked up a little bit with the rally scene here in BC, have helped sweep one TSD event and occasionally make it out to the rallycross events we have in the Lower Mainland. Good folks, those rally people.

I did the Dempster a few years ago and have been itching to get up again ever since. But you're right, it becomes more and more secluded the further you go. Humbling to roll up on an overlook and know that you could probably count on your hand the number of people living within your sight line.
Two wheels and half a brain. <- BC to ON and back: KLR650 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle <- 3 months of moto fantasticity
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Old 09-08-2013, 07:32 PM   #20
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Great report. I like that you are telling everything, the ups, downs, fears, and thoughts. I like your writing style.
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Old 09-09-2013, 02:56 PM   #21
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It was no use to be in a hurry the next day as I had travelling companions that really didn't have the same drive and necessity to get anywhere that day as I often did. Still, my body woke up in a hurry to get relaxing at 7:30, and I was left twiddling my thumbs as the girls were still dozing. Twiddling turned to wrenching pretty quick, as I had a couple things to deal with after yesterday's slow-speed mishap. First, a quick lube of the chain, and then onto tightening down my mirror perch.

The mirror had spun when it hit the dirt and my feeble efforts of tightening the machine screw which had a Phillips head made of some sort of cheese left me with a stripped head and a mirror that flopped back on me at anything over 80km/h. I pulled off my mirror mount and considered my options. The aforementioned cheese-headed machine screw was nothing short of buggered, so I grabbed an 8mm head from my front brake perch beside it. Promptly, I got that bolt stuck, not tightened, in my mirror perch clamp and just out of reach of my 3/8 drive socket. Minor panic ensued at the fear of being exposed as the slapstick makeshift mechanic that I am, but I got it out eventually with a bit of filing and some carefully placed hushed profanities.

My solution came as I was filing, with the realization that I could just file a slot in the old Phillips head.

Slapstick makeshift mechanic: 1. Cheese-headed machine screw: 0

Still waiting for the girls to rise, I took a wander down to Purden Lake, which is surrounded by pines leading to a brief rocky shore like so many other northern lakes,

and by the time I got back to the campsite, there were faint rustlings and the talk of blueberry pancakes, bacon, and eggs for breakfast. I think I could get used to road-tripping with a cooler.

We lazily rolled out of there at 11 in a mismatched convoy of a VW Jetta and my battle-worn KLR. The ride today was easy with lots of stops to chat and check out the scenery. We burned off the miles to McBride and slowed the pace as the rockies stretched before us.

Tailgating has never been this gourmet for me. Sausage, goat cheese, blueberries, and crackers. I don't think I touched a chunk of jerky or a had a swig of gatorade all day.

After stopping for nearly half an hour a little ways out of Jasper, it became apparent that we'd relaxed maybe a little too much over the day. The time changed as we hit Alberta, and what was a tight timeframe became tighter for the girls who still had another 3-4 hours of driving to get to their beds for the night in Edmonton. We parted ways at around 7.

Peace out, Kat and Erin! What a great vacation-within-a-vacation!

I stuck around town, got some cold beer (one luxury of camping close to town) and cigars and found my way to a nearby campground. The clouds were rolling in as I pulled up to the payment station, just as a Tiger Explorer with Alaska plates ahead of me was finishing up paying the atrocious $28/site fee that national parks can somehow justify charging. The rider (a Kiwi, I learned later) was a bit alarmed at the price and I rolled up beside, suggesting we split the cost of a site.

With that, we each made a new friend and we set up camp hastily as the clouds loomed ever more threatening. We got food together just as the skies opened and spent the rest of the evening huddled under trees and raingear, eating rehydrated Jamaican chicken mush, smoking cigarettes, and drinking cold beer. The rider's name was Peter, and we hit it off well. We'd see what the next day would bring, but our trajectories seemed to match well, so we considered experiencing the Icefields Parkway together.

We'd see what would come the next day. For now, it was welcome sleep in a drippy tent under a black, very wet, sky.
Two wheels and half a brain. <- BC to ON and back: KLR650 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle <- 3 months of moto fantasticity
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Old 09-09-2013, 08:58 PM   #22
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Enjoying living vicariously through your travels. Looking forward to the next installment!
"My biggest fear, is that when I die, my wife will sell all my stuff for what I said I paid for it." ...
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Old 09-20-2013, 09:27 AM   #23
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Day 7: Rocky Mountain High

That gosh-darn rain that started in the evening lasted through the night, and at one point, I woke to pesky drips tap-tap-tapping directly on my pillow. I was far too lazy, wussy, and tired to get outside to readjust my fly, so I did what any normal human being would do and just switched ends of the tent to escape the water torture. Morning couldn't come soon enough and I rose as the light started peeking through thick, low clouds.

Peter was up 'round the same time, and we took down camp in groggy silence. Truth be told, I'm pretty competitive about most things, and I always have myself a secret race with anybody I'm taking down camp beside to see if I can get my stuff together before they have their tent down. It's stupid, I know, but this is how simple minds amuse themselves.

Anyway, I lost.

Moving on.

Another benefit to camping close to town is the option of grease-laden eggs, bacon, and hash browns in the morning. The option was approved by Peter, so we popped in for some delicious cholesterol (remember, folks: fat=flavour!), then got saddled up.

Hi Peter! Nice lookin' bike you've got there.

It was time for the Parkway. I've done the Parkway twice before, but I was probably most excited about this round because Peter hadn't been to these parts for a couple decades at least. There's something really fun about guiding a visitor through a place you'd been before and know is awesome, and I couldn't wait for the views as the Parkway carries south and seems to get better and better.

Now, if only those pesky clouds will burn off.

The first section of the Parkway isn't exactly the most spectacular, so the foggy shroud surrounding us was actually a welcome addition. Every so often, the clouds would part, revealing a looming mountain in the distance, which gave a distinct feeling that we were riding among giants that were in their own world, just out of view.

The clouds thinned as the country got bigger,

and bigger,

and bigger,

and soon enough, we were near the end.

There's really not that much to see about the Icefields Parkway that hasn't been said before, but here's the gist: if you haven't seen it, see it. You'll be socked in my those damn RV-driving tourists at times, overjoyed to get a passing opportunity, and then you'll pull over to get an incredible picture (taken hundreds of times before by other camera-toting travellers), only to get overtaken by that RV you were just behind.

Okay, I make it sound horrible. I guess my point is that although a lot of folks have done it, the Icefields Parkway is a must-do section of road for the sheer magnitude of scenery all around it. You don't do the Parkway to make time, and if you do, you won't be making friends. You do it to soak in the incredible country that we're blessed to be able to experience.

When we hit Lake Louise, it was time to say farewell to Peter, whom I had gotten to know for less than 24 hours, yet felt privileged to have met. We exchanged contact info, got all those pleasantries out of the way, and then he was off to Calgary to try to get his leaky fork repaired, and I was on Highway 1, knowing that Golden would be my next landing pad.

But, since time still wasn't an issue (it wasn't even close to 3pm!), I stopped by the "Spiral Tunnels," which seemed like a proper touristy thing to see.

In short, that train is passing under itself in a giant 270 degree tunnel that's carved directly into the mountainside. To navigate these mountain passes at train-appropriate grades, this was the most reasonable and cost-effective means of doing so. Mind-boggling, and super cool to actually see a train go through.

Golden was next and I made a quick stop to reprovision with water and battery juice, while catching up on the journal during the wait. After wandering around town (I could get used to living in Golden), I got some information about the forestry service roads heading south towards Invermere, then set off to find some dust and perhaps a nice camping spot. It was 3pm.

Lake 1 looked promising:

but it was far too early to tuck in for the night. Onward over bridges,

and down logging roads with such names as Spillmacheen, Driftwood, Bugaboo, and finally Leadqueen. The country was as fascinating as the nomenclature. I only got turned around once for a mild detour of 10km, and then found a route that didn't look promising (that grass median showed up again), yet popped out on a gravel superhighway. Out came the map book, I got my bearings, and found my way to Cartwright Lake.

A burst of moist air from my drybag reminded me of the wet night I'd had before, and I set out setting up a clothesline to get some of my gear dry before setting up camp.

The rec site at Cartwright was surprisingly packed with summer revelers ranging from families to a young party group that generally kept to themselves. I had found a spot near the back away from the ruckus and was instead treated to the din of the working class of the woods. Bees, wasps, hornets, or whatever they were, they set an electric tone as I ate supper and reflected on the day.

It had been full even though the mileage was lower than usual for me. I was glad to have found a happy medium between packing on distance and stopping to smell the roses. After a cigar and a nip of whiskey, I got the rest of my camp in order and hunkered into my sleeping bag. It wasn't even dark by the time my lids closed, but I slept soundly for over 10 hours. I don't exactly know why, but I guess I'd needed it.
Two wheels and half a brain. <- BC to ON and back: KLR650 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle <- 3 months of moto fantasticity
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Old 09-20-2013, 10:09 AM   #24
Joined: Mar 2013
Location: Nevada City, CA.
Oddometer: 389
great report

Great report!
great pics of great scenery
good writing
and a good sense of history!

Love the time traveler -passing him along...

Nevada City, CA
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Old 09-29-2013, 06:29 PM   #25
Hamon OP
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Joined: Dec 2007
Location: BC, Canada
Oddometer: 289
Day 8: Disappointment and Dust


A good sleep makes all the difference. I was up, chipper, and dry, before the winged woodland beasties started their chorus. Camp was rolled up, water boiled for oatmeal and tea, and I spent a bit of time catching up on the journals. I didn't have a huge agenda today: get to Invermere, make a phone call, then either on to Fort Steele or Kimberley, depending on timeframe and whatnot.

The owner of the inquisitive pooch above was in a neighboring campsite and we were chatting about the area. I mentioned my intent of the trip (exploring ghost towns and historic sites), and he told me about one lake (Leadqueen I think) to check out that had at one time been a minesite. Supposedly there were all kinds of buildings left up in the woods nearby, but my explorations yielded nothing but fine gravel roads,

and hoodoos.

Whether it's worth mentioning or not is debatable, but since it's part of the trip, I figure I'll share it. I've been in the application process for the police (the organization doesn't matter all that much) for approximately 3.5 years. I was told to reapply in May of 2011, and that's what actually spurred me on to take a 3 month trip last year from February to early May. When I got back, I reapplied and was going through the motions again. Things had picked up slightly before I left on the trip, and the day before, I'd received a message in Golden that I was to call my contact in recruiting. It'd been too late in the day at that point, so I knew today I'd hear the news.

Getting to Invermere, I found a nice picnic table at the local museum.

Without going into too many dull details, the phone call ended with me once again deferred, this time until July of 2015. To say I was frustrated and angry would about sum it up. Their reasoning: having admitted to speeding excessively (not ticketed, mind you, just admitted to it) in the past few months (that's anything north of 40km/h over any speed limit here in BC), my attitude towards speed was not fitting for a police officer. I'm sure my young mind will at some point look back on this summary as bratty and bitter. Maybe you already see it. That's where I'm at, anyway. It is what it is.

Anyway, the next few hours were a bit sulky. I reprovisioned at the grocery store, a little numb and dazed that something I'd set a lot of energy and hope on could be dashed so fast, got back to my bike (it was bloody hot by this time), and rode onward. The next hours riding were through scenery that fit my mood: bleak and uninteresting. Maybe it was just my mood that made the scenes such, but I remember nothing more than generic treed highway through uninspiring country. High speeds, low traffic, and the type of roads you just need to endure to get to the next fun bits.

A splash of colour on the roadside alerted me of change,

and I rolled into Kimberley for food n' fuel. Being the pouty kid I was at the time, I'd resolved to spend the next few nights at Toad Rock campground, a favorite of mine. It's a sure place to find some fellow riders that'll tip a couple beers with you and make you feel at home. That's what I kinda needed: a bit of home.

The other great part about Toad Rock is it sits just on the other end of the Kootenay Bay - Balfour ferry, which happens to be positioned within just a few clicks of the outlet of the Gray Creek Pass. This is a wee 80-ish km shortcut that takes you up and over a mountain pass rather than dogging it down to Cranbrook, around to Creston, and up to Kootenay Bay along highway 3A, which is rated as the #1 paved motorcycling road in BC, but has far too many opportunities for excessive speeding.

Signs gave mixed signals of whether the pass was open or closed, but I'd been through it once before when signs had clearly said closed. That time, although I'd had to wait a little while, I still made it through.

Anyway, enough typing.

I was treated to a reminder that the world goes on even through my own hissy-fits as the elevation gained:



Indian Paintbrush


Just after the summit (passed a cyclist who I learned later had been conned into thinking that it'd be an easy ride over the hill), there started to be signage,

and after some dust, came to a washout being repaired by an excavator.

Also at the washout was a couple, Paul and his wife, who were on their way (and well on their way through a bottle of something) to a jazz festival in Kaslo. For the next half hour, I heard tales of restraining orders and disturbing-the-peace complaints, government conspiracies, and a general distrust of any authority in general. The Kootenays seem to attract this type of folk, and, to be honest, I'd had enough of listening to their slurred rambling about a minute into the conversation.

As luck would have it, a well-outfitted 800GS showed up in a cloud of dust and my own relief, and my focus shifted from gazing off in the distance to Brian, who'd just been down to Vegas and was looking for a bit of dirt on the way home to Vancouver. We chatted about routes, learned that we had a few riding connections through the Lower Mainland network, and waited just long enough for an excavator to put a couple buckets of dirt over a culvert.

Let's blow this popsicle stand.

We raised dust and cruised asphalt to the ferry lineup, only having to wait a few minutes before boarding. As we were rolling on, our lovely sloshed couple just pulled up behind us as our helmets were already donned and earplugs in. A shame, really.

The ferry landed, Brian and I went our separate ways, and I tracked down some beer at the Balfour grocery. On the way in, I was flagged down by a younger tattooed woman in an older Chevy Tracker. Out her window, she commented, "I just had to stop and tell you that I saw you on the ferry and you have a wonderful smile. The way your eyes wrinkle is just great. Anyway, gotta run!"

Well damn, if that's not a way to end a crummy day, I don't know what is. Toad Rock was as it was: bikers, beer, and plenty of cigar smoke (I'm sure there was other smoke elsewhere. I didn't bother to look). More on Toad Rock next update. I spent a few days there.

Two wheels and half a brain. <- BC to ON and back: KLR650 <- Inuvik 09: KLR650 and DRZ chronicle <- 3 months of moto fantasticity
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Old 09-29-2013, 07:24 PM   #26
Deseret Rider
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Location: East Central Utah (Deseret)
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Oh Man----I've just happened onto this thread---

And I think it's going to be good-------I've only read the opening though---and even though 'Red Bike' is probably a KLR I like this guys style---So count me in.
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Old 09-29-2013, 07:54 PM   #27
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2015 DR 650
We can handle it....We're Canadian
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Old 09-29-2013, 08:18 PM   #28
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Great post! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 10-02-2013, 08:06 AM   #29
Honkey Cat
Tailights Fade!
Joined: May 2011
Location: SW Florida
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Good stuff, love the pics
My favorite philosopher is Cha Ching !
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Old 10-02-2013, 03:37 PM   #30
Joined: Aug 2010
Location: Tacoma, Wa
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Good Stuff

Thanks for a great report thus far. Really appreciate your writing style-just enough words. And great pics too! Cheers
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