July 3 and 4
Today is the day that Justin and Alla go off on their own so that they can get to the Icefields Parkway while I make my way to the Cassiar Highway. The morning in Skagway is very windy and cool. There are wind warnings on the water so it turns out that our ferry ride from Haines was fortunate. The wind and water were calm and the ride very smooth. When we arrived in Skagway there was one cruise ship docked and it was late in the day so many of the shops were closed. The next morning there were three ships docked and at 9am the shops were buzzing with people. It does not make sense to me that people will take a cruise and then shop in a high-end jewelry store, but they do. We were surprised the number of shoppers in these stores.
After breakfast and a trip to the park visitor center we said our goodbyes and departed company. Justin and Alla were going to ride hard to get to Liard River Hot Springs and I planned to see a bit more of the area before riding on. Skagway did not hold much more gold rush history so I went several miles further to were Dyea once stood. From Skagway the miners went over the White Pass and Dyea led to the famous Chilkoot trail. The townsite of Dyea was on the flats at the head of the inlet; today there is little evidence that thousands of people once passed through this place. I rode to the Slide Cemetery were victims of an avalanche were buried and that was about all there was to see without a long hike. It is possible to backpack the Chilkoot trail to Carcross and that would be an interesting thing to do.
I came down with a cold and have been dragging the last couple of days so hiking was not in the cards. I departed the Skagway area and rode up the White Pass. To the right the railroad right of way can be seen and the steam locomotive still takes passengers over the pass to Carcross. White Pass is really scenic, even in the cloudy, damp day that I passed through. Over the top the terrain is very rugged. It is very rocky and nearly barren because it is bedrock. It would be very hard to travel cross country up here but with snow there might be an easier time once the path is packed down. Tutshi Lake borders the trail and I imagine when frozen it would be the easiest path to traverse. The miners made their way to Bennett Lake where they spent the winter building boats and rafts and waited for the ice break so that they could sail across the lake and then the Yukon River.
The ride to Carcross was very scenic and then I cut east through Tagish to the Alaska Highway. The ride was cold and there was a bit of rain here and there and once on the Alaska Highway the scenery gets a bit more monotonous and I was back tracking until I reach the Cassiar Highway. I started about noon and so made it to Swift River by the afternoon. I found an RV park/campground and learned that they had a shelter under which i could pitch my tent and I even put my bike under. I was cold and not feeling well so after I ate I climbed in my sleeping bag and read before falling asleep. During the night it rained on and off and by morning it was a steady, light rain, woopie! It was 41 degrees. At least I packed my bike in a dry place and then rode on. The Cassiar Highway was about 70 miles away and I started south after a detour to Watson Lake.
The Cassiar is a much more scenic drive than the part of the Alaska Highway I was on. The right of way is narrower and the forest closer to the road which means animals are closer as well. The rode is twistier and undulates through the Cassiar mountain range. It would be truly spectacular if it was not raining and cold. The peaks around me had a fresh dusting of snow on them. I wanted to camp at Boya Lake and stopped to check it out. It is beautiful with its emerald blue water but with water falling from the sky it was not what I wanted to do anymore. I rode on the Dease Lake and booked a room for the night. I did not know how thoroughly cold to the bone I was until I got in the hot shower, it felt great.
Late in the afternoon the sun broke through the clouds a bit and the forecast is for no rain and weather in the 70s the next two days. I plan to go to Stewart Canada and Hyder Alaska. It looks like I will finally get a break and be able to loiter in a nice place. This area is known for the glaciers that come right down to the road and it is along the coastal Mountain range.
I am nearing 8000 miles on this trip and when I start back from Hyder I will have about a thousand miles to get back to the US border. I the weather holds I will take several days to make the trip. There are a lot of optional routes once I get to Prince George and I am still up in the air on which to take. I am leaning toward the route that goes to Whistler and near Vancouver. It looks like I will not be on the road as long as I intended because the weather chased me out of so much of Alaska. Everywhere I have been the locals have said that it is much wetter than usual for this time of year. Maybe next time the weather will be better.