Haines Highway

With Beaver Creek behind us we cycled into the sunshine (still a lot of snow around), after traveling 38 miles we spotted a sign for an RV site and cafe, with thoughts of hot tea we headed into White River Lodge just off the Alaska Highway. After walking through a lot of untouched snow and wondering around a slightly creepy campsite, we came to the conclusion that it had been abandoned or was still closed for the winter. That night we camped out in a canvas tent that was on site instead of setting up our tent in the snow, inside was a wood burning stove which we got going and then sat around in our shorts, while outside it was -8 and snowing.

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In the morning we cycled away feeling quite refreshed, however our food supplies were running quite low and cycling without much food is a struggle; at lunch we ate the last of what we had and carried on, reaching about 30 miles we felt totally exhausted and stopped and had another break. After getting back on our bikes the sunshine came out for the first time in ages and we rode past an open stretch of water (up until now it had been all frozen lakes) with ducks and an otter swimming past, it felt like a scene from a disney film. Feeling revived by the good weather we cycled on into the evening, reaching Burwash Landing 72 miles away at around 10pm, having started so slowly we ended up cycling further than ever before.

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The next day we woke up and had a breakfast of eggs and pancakes covered in super sweet syrup, cycling 10 miles up the road we reached Destruction Bay, one of the remotest communities in Canada, with a population of 40. We decided to spend the day there, exploring the frozen lake and checking our emails.

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The next day we got up early after camping next to a Truck Stop with more dog crap on the floor than grass, met a guy called Malcolm outside and chatted about our trip for a little while. Leaving, we cycled well up until Martin's chain snapped and we spent a little while doing some road side repairs, a truck pulled up and Malcolm the guy from earlier got out and asked if we were OK which was nice, Canadians are really nice people. With the sun shining we cycled 75 miles to Haines Junction, pulling into town we spotted a place to eat and noticed Malcolm standing outside, we ended up having some beers with him and finding out about the Yukon and Canada.

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After a day off in Haines Junction we set-off for Haines where we would catch a ferry down to Prince Rupert, skipping out some of our original route in the Yukon but also avoiding some seriously bad weather. The difference in distance would be minimal as we would have to cycle 500 miles inland to Prince George before heading south again towards Vancouver. We ended up only getting 40 miles down the road before we were invited into a cabin for some tea from a park ranger. We asked about our route to Haines along the Haines Highway and learnt that we would have to cycle up and over a mountain pass before reaching Haines, we decided to save our energy and camped next to Kathleen lake just down the road.

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The next day we cycled onto a place called Million Dollar Falls at the base of the Chilkat Mountain Pass, we setup camp in a snow covered and a very closed camp site. Looking around we found a closed gate which led to a truly incredible waterfall that seemed to be bursting at its banks due to the amount of melting snow coming down from the mountains.

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Waking up early we set off up the mountain pass, unsure of what to expect we kept cycling uphill for most of the day, every mile we cycled it got colder and colder, and the landscape more empty. After cycling for 6 hours and 50 miles up hill we reached the summit and proceeded to head down the other side at 40 mph for 15 miles, passing through the US border back into Alaska. Completely exhausted we had a beer and some crisps to celebrate our first mountain pass, watched some hummingbirds feeding and then passed out into our tent.

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We rode into Haines the following morning, washed our clothes and stocked up on food. We spent our first evening in a local bar where once again the locals took it upon themselves to be ultra hospitable and bought us drinks all night (thank you!). Having few days before our ferry we took time to visit the local Hammer Museum (closed so we looked through the window, hammers are cool), play pool, steal WIFI from the local hotel, and eat possibly the worst lasagne on the planet. We left Haines Thursday morning on a ferry headed to Prince Rupert.

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The ferry journey lasted for two days, passing through the small inlets and tiny islands covered in trees, reminiscent of Jurassic Park.

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Location

Haines, Alaska

Date

03 May, 2013