I've got an approaching storm that I am trying to stay ahead of so I will keep this brief. Currently in Teslin, Yukon where i cleaned my air filter and found that my clutch has fallen apart. Fortunately I have a spare and was able to swap it out. The scenery is remarkable and the snow adds a certain grandeur that is not lost on me. Next stop, Whitehorse.
I enjoyed a comfortable and relaxed weekend with my cousin Morgan, her husband John and their son Case on the family potato farm. It was nice catching up and airing our some damp gear to dry in the abundant sunshine. Speaking of which, the weather forecast looked dry and sunny for most of BC moving into next week. Brilliant travelling weather.
Intent on taking my time and smelling the roses, I crossed into BC at the sleepy border crossing of Lynden where my scooter drew the attention of many agents. While inside as they made sure I wasn't going to Canada for work, a crowd gathered as they nudged the bear spray and joked about the stickers. Coming outside I gave them a brief primer on La Tortuga then saddled up and rode into the land of double-doubles maple leaves and stampedes. It occurred to me to ride up into Vancouver and through Squamish and Whistler but with the Victoria Day weekend in full swing, I knew the only highway would be crowded. Instead I followed the Fraser River Valley winding my way north. The many boom and bust gold mine towns dot the roadside and I feel as though tracing the path of history from first nations trails to Hudson Bay fur traders, wagon trains, stern wheelers and the railroad. The story of BC is wrapped in this major artery between the lumber floating downstream, cattle ranches lining it's terrain and oil cars on the railway moving south from the fields.
Abundant sunshine was a real joy as I was able to dry out my damp tent and sleeping bag each day.The many BC Provincial Parks and free lakeside campsites made for fabulous 100 mile days. Some days it warmed to 80F and felt hotter in the sunshine. Eventually I crossed into the drier eastern side of the mountains where Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir and sage grew on the sandy arid slopes. It felt like eastern Oregon or perhaps SoCal in the winter time ;)
The streak of warm weather continued and I followed Hwy 99 and 97 northward admiring the change to a wetter greener plateau where larch and alder grew among the fir and pines. Lakes carved from the retreating glaciers appeared on my GPS dotting the landscape. Many such as Beaverdam Lake were a greenish tinge from algae and reflected the deep blue sky and swift cumulous clouds drifting past. Winds whipped up to 30mph and the trees began to bend ominously towars my tent. A cold front was pushing in and the laden dark clouds racing in from the north found me hurrying to finish my sweet potato foil wrap cooking on the crackling campfire. I scarfed the curry concoction down and hid in my tent with a good book and mug of hot tea.
Mountain Loop Hwy
One of the more spectacular national forest loop roads in Washington is the Mountain Loop Hwy from Granite Falls to Darrington. The low speed road climbs from 500 ft to around 3000 ft as it winds up the Stillaguamish River. There are countless campsites along the road beneath the bows of douglas fir, sitka spruce and western cedar.
There was once active silver, lead and copper mining in this area which prompted a boom in the late 1800's when a railroad spur was established up the valley. Mine portals exist around this landscape and the remnants of cabins and mining buildings preserved against the extremely rainy climate still stand. Despite the sunny day, everything in the forest remains damp and dripping. Ferns grow atop moss which grows on a limb of a tree. It is a truly remarkable environment with a rich biodiversity.
At the base of Big Four Mountain are the remnants of the snowpack which melts down the near sheer face in spectacular waterfalls. The reality of Avalanches here is pressed upon me when I hear the distant rumble and crash from my hammock this morning. Below is a shot of the snowfield where the ice caves form later in the season. Right now there is still too much snow for the caves to have formed.
After a few days hiking and exlporing the Douglas Creek area, I was ready for a change of scenery. I took advantage of a warmer day in the 50's to ride further east toward the Jameson Lake area. Another coulee created during the great Missoula flood, this canyon offers a nest site for migratory ducks and Canada geese which make their temporary home on the inaccessible cliffs. The wind picked up from the west and I was happy to find a hill to tuck the tent behind with a eastern view.
It was very quiet here in regards to people. Most fisherman and RV campers stayed on the other side of the hill and kept to themselves. The honk of geese echoed across the water and off the steep basalt walls providing a unique alarm clock. An occasional passenger jet would streak across the sky but otherwise it was a relaxing and quiet place to pass a few days. Meanwhile in the mountains, it was pouring inches of rain.
Finally, the weather looked like it would improve so I returned to the mountains and wound up getting hailed on and then sleeted on. Come morning, the hillsides surrounding my campsite on White Pine Rd were blanketed with fresh snowfall. The road was a mucky mire from the logging trucks and every hour or two the Union Pacific would rumble past with a squealing of disc breaks and a clack of rail and ties. A few days of that and this morning I decided screw the weather, I'm going over Steven's Pass even if it is snowing. The fog was quite thick and just near freezing as I crested the pass. I could hear the beeping siren of a backhoe nearby clearing snow, it's orange light glowing a muddy beacon in the whiteness. My numb fingers wiped the inside and outside of my visor without hope in the 100% humidity. The descent quickly brought warmer temps and showers but I felt a progress to the journey. The next day will find me camping on my favorite gem Mountain Loop Hwy east of Granite Falls among the Doug Fir, Cedar, Hemlock and Sitka Spruce. Making a campfire with the soggy wood in this rain forest is a bit more challenging though than the good ol' sagebrush desert but I'll make do.
Next week I hope to cross into Vancouver and continue north with my plans for Inuvik and finally Alaska. Hopefully I can keep this blog updated on the way. Thanks for reading and following along on my second trip to the Great White North!
In May 2014 I quit my job to ride a Honda Ruckus over 69'000 mi and counting. Wild camping most nights and cooking most of my own meals, I keep the costs low and the landscape changing.