07.08.16-08.08.16, Fort Nelson, British Columbia to Watson Lake, Yukon. Canada
It was an emotional parting yesterday morning. Jane and Nick were making the turn to head back South through Jasper Park and Icefields Parkway, for another 5 days, and we were setting off for another long day’s ride North. As Jane turned away, rather than look when we left, I’m guessing she feels the same.
If all goes to plan, it will be another six months or so before we see anyone from home, and that can feel very overwhelming at times. Paul and I both seem to manage it by only looking as far as the next couple of days riding, or planning, just so that it’s small chunks of time. As we well know, everything can change in an instant. This also means that hopefully, we enjoy the moment and are not always excited about the next best thing coming.
As we left the town of Fort Nelson, a great mist descended thickly over the tree-lined roads, causing wet screens and visors, but not enough to be raining. The temperature was at about 12.5 degrees Celsius, and the midges were definitely raging.
After about an hour, we came very suddenly to the end of the mist, and popped into high blue skies and bright sunshine. The temperature then began rising until it peaked around 25 degrees Celsius, much more pleasant.
Our ride today was to be 325 miles long, approximately 100 more than we normally ride, and although the roads are straight and direct, there are still quite a lot of construction parts, with gravel, and speed limits. This mileage is essential though, because the distances between settlements is huge. There are stretches of road, the like we’ve never seen at home, which are just tree-lined, and green. I’m guessing you have to be bred tough to live your life in these parts, and extremely self-sufficient. Our first stop of the day, at a service area in the middle of nowhere was at Stone Mountain services, where we were offered coffee and home-made cakes. Paul plumped for the chocolate haystack, and was most pleased.
Whilst sitting, recharging, we met Johnny, a Canadian from Vancouver, who had been riding happily alone in Alaska for one month. Johnny was excited and enthusiastic about his travels, and happy to share where he had been with us. I think, really Johnny would have preferred to turn around and head back North behind us. It’s so great to meet people who have been where we are going and had a great time.
As is often the case, we find, when people live near to borders, or out of the way places that people visit, they will start telling us, ‘oh, you don’t want to go there, it’s boring/the road’s rubbish/it’s full of bears/there’s nothing to see’, that kind of thing. We’ve learnt to take it all with a pinch of salt, so when we meet someone with genuine enthusiasm, it’s an absolute joy.
The highlight of the day, was the ride in the sun, seeing two bears at the roadside, and an elk running alongside us.
Last night, and today we are staying in Watson Lake, which could be described I think, as a two horse town, with a beautiful lake, and the most interesting Signpost Forest, which has more than 75,000 visitor’s signs pinned up. Signpost Forest was started in 1942, during construction of the Alaskan Highway by Carl K Lindley of Company D, 341st Engineers, who put up a sign with mileage to his hometown of Danville, Illinois, and has grown from there.