Daily Archives: August 10, 2013
Next up: into BC.
Made it so far from Whitehorse down to Prince Rupert. This included a two-day ride from Whitehorse down to Skagway, then resting in Skagway, hopping over to Haines for a day, and taking a ferry down the Alaska Marine Highway from Haines to Prince Rupert, a 2-day ferry ride. Thoughts from these stretches:
Riding from Whitehorse to Skagway:
Descent into Skagway: brilliant. Just spend two days first pedaling into fierce, 35km/hr headwinds to get to the top of White Pass. The top of the pass is up in the clouds, constant mist, visibility so poor you can only see 10ft in front of yourself. Scary then, hope for no traffic, put the rain jacket on for visibility and warmth. This is truly a mountain, not like some of the hills before. Eventually come down from the clouds, start to see the landscape all around, bits and pieces at first then it all comes back to life. Hard to believe that the area near the top is part of the same land as the last few weeks, looks completely different. Scraggly clumps of bushes, boulders everywhere, small lakes shining luminescent green. Could be Scotland maybe, but Alaska? Unbelievable. Zoom down the descent, 8 miles to US customs, wait in line, border agent doesn’t believe I biked from above Fairbanks. Others attest later that the agents at this border are notoriously skeptical. The road keeps descending after customs, still a descent but not as long. Skagway definitely a tourist town, worth staying a night if you can find the man in the mountaineering gear store who lets cyclists camp on his lawn, otherwise just hop right on the ferry to Haines, a similar small town but with much fewer cruise ships. Kind of crazy that the US owns a significant chunk of this coast down along the side of British Columbia, which makes no sense geographically. Go a few miles inland from any of the port towns and you’re back in Canada. But good to be back in the US, much cheaper to send post cards.
Ferry ride from Haines to Prince Rupert:
Everyone recommends taking the ferry down the Marine Highway for at least a portion, no other way to get to some of the small port towns and ferry is well organized, clean, even has showers. Good way to get to Prince Rupert, town farther south on the coast of British Columbia. And since everyone recommends the ferry, there ends up being plenty of other cyclists on board. Two Germans riding to Calgary are at Haines ferry terminal when I arrive, as are two Quebecois who’ve been riding across Canada and are now turning south, heading to Argentina. We settle into the solarium on the top deck of the boat, our home for the next two days. We claim the reclining chairs where we’ll sleep, under cover and under heat lamps if it gets cold. For the next two days, all we do is eat, nap, read. Resting and building up fuel stores to cross British Columbia. Our next big city goal is Banff, so we’ll start riding together from there. Two Mexican cyclists riding home from Alaska get on the ferry at Juneau, disembark at Ketchikan though, taking another ferry to Prince Rupert the following day, they might catch up to us on the road, though they’re taking a slightly different route and not going all the way to Banff. Looking at dates, I’ll be back in the US around Sept 1, coming into Idaho and Montana then heading south. From a short morning exploration of Prince Rupert, BC looks like a really exciting province. Should be a fun ride.