Day 8, I Think

It is June 9 and I am sitting in my tent with a light rain falling.  I am camped at Charlie Lake just outside of Fort St. John in British Columbia.  I spent five hours today riding in rain from prince George to Dawson Creek.

I awoke at about 5am in the basement of the house at the RV campground that the nice lady offered me the night before.  There was a light rain falling and it was about 42F.  I did not hurry to get ready and finally pulled my bike out of the dry garage at 6:59 and hit the road.  The rain was steady but not hard and after about 30 miles I knew I needed to stop and don the rain cover gloves I bought for this eventuality.  I found the perfect spot, a run down gas station with an overhang at the pumps.  I went inside to buy a cup of coffee.  It was a weak brown water brew but it was hot and had an aroma of coffee.  I drank it outside because I had several layers of cloting and did not want to overheat inside.  Many of the customers looked at me like I was a martian.  I am used to that.  A nice lad that stopped for diesel (they did not have gasoline) chatted with me and side it was going to get worse around MacKenzie.  Canadians are honest.

I had stopped at Bear Lake and as I made my way to Mackenzie the rain increased.  From MacKenzie it is 90 miles to Chetwynd and there is nothing in between except the mountains and the mixed conifer forest.  And it rained like hell.  I was fine for a while but got more cold as the miles wore on.  It turns out that my base layer of merino wool has a high collar and I let it stick above the collar of my waterproof layer so it wicked the rain down inside.  Doh.  the area I was in is probably beautiful when it is nice weather.  The forest went on and on and the rain brought out the scent of the trees.  The only wildlife I saw where the crows.  They don’t have sense to get out of the rain.  I was glad that the animals that could hurt me were not out because visibility wasa poor and my reaction time would have been decreased as a result.

There were a lot of oncoming trucks that roost up a lot of water.  A fully ladden log truck roosts the most water, and it is dirty.

About 30 miles west of Dawson Creek the rains diminished and then quit, for a bit, and then they were intermittant.  By this time I was very cold.  A few days before someone I ran across told me that the diner in DC that looks like a stainless steel train car is the best food there, so I sought it out.  The place was packed and the only seat was at the counter.  The decor was Elvis shit and the 50s.  If you like a bunch of fried food it is the best in town.  I was so cold I wanted to sit under the warming lamp just on the other side of the counter.  I had coffee and soup and salad.  The gear I had stripped off must have left a gallon of water on the floor.  I tipped well.

Just before I was finished eating it started to rain again and by the time I left it was pouring.  There is the ‘famous’ sign that marks the beginning of the Alaska Highway that I was supposed to stop and get a picture.  Eff that, I will steal one off the internet, I want to get were it is not raining.  Fortunately it was not raining in front of me and within about 20 miles it stopped; and it warmed up a bit and I started to not be cold.  There was some more inermittant rain but by Fort St. John it was dry and in the high 60s.  It was even 70 for a while.

I am learning to fill my gas tank at the end of the day so I don’t have that worry in the morning.  After that I wanted to find a nice beer for in camp.  In Canada you have to go to a liquor store for beer.  I finally found one and went in and spotted a black IPA from a BC brewery and chose it.  The cashier said next time I had to take off my helmet so that the cameras could see my face.  The reason she said was that they keep getting robbed, nice.  Fort St. John is an oil and gas services town so the citizens are not the finest, I assume.

I made my way five miles to Charlie Lake and pitched camp.  It is in the high 60s and was not raining so I was able to spread my gear out to dry.  The light rain that was fallig when I started this is gone.

I road along the Pine River most of the day and it was a raging, muddy torrent.  The creeks feeding it were all about busting their banks from the rain.  On the east side of Chetwynd the forest changed as if someone flipped a switch, it was now aspen trees with nary a conifer to be seen.  Here at the campground is a mix of aspen and what I think are spruce trees.  The forest floor is very lush and there are wild roses everywhere.  Some arches like to make arrows from the main shoots of wild rose because they are so straight.  Once you strip off the very dense needle-like thorns you are in business.

The area around Dawson Creek reminds me of rural Ohio with its rolling hills and diciduous woodlands.  East of DC is the Peace River and you cross it just before Fort St. John on a steel deck bridge.  The deck is a grating and I have not ridden across one before, scary.  Motorcycle tire wander with the grating and it feels like there is no traction, because there is none.  The knobby tires I have added to the fun.  The bridge was 500 miles long and I could not wait to get off.  In a car it is about ½ mile across.

The day ended soon after that and and traveled only 303 miles.  Tomorrow I plan to make it to Muncho Lake about 400 miles away.  Past were i am there is not much of anything for 200 miles so i did not want to start up that way late in the day.

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