Misty mountains coming into Smithers today
In spite of the warnings of veteran Alaska cyclist, Mike Vermeulen, I never quite grasped the scale of the problem. Cooking in the outdoors in this region attracts a flotilla of flying things. Led by Mosquitos, but ably backed up by legions of smaller biting flies, big biting flies and nuisance value smaller black bodies. It is best illustrated by the sound in the tent at night which sounds like heavy rain, in fact it is just a continuous kamikaze bombardment of these various insects.
So trying to to eat from a hot billy of food quickly becomes a dilemma. Do you extract the last mosquito dive bombing into the food and risk 20 more as you fish it out, or do you just grin and enjoy the extra protein? In fact it is even better, because the mosquitos are bloated with my own blood it also becomes a form of EPO replacement. I never thought I would be coerced so easily into the world of drug enhanced athletes (or at least drug-enhanced slow cyclists).
I am now 330 km south of Stewart where I touched the Pacific. On the advice of a German cyclist I stopped at the village of Gitanyow site of some massive beautifully carved totem poles. I and chatted to the locals until I discovered the invitation to camp in the village common as described by the German cyclist was more of a self-invite. I headed further south to Kitwanga, I found a beer and a lovely grass campground with a shower plus a broken clothes drier to store my food.
Hitting the junction of remote highway 37 and the busy highway 16 between Prince Rupert and Prince George was something of a culture shock. Firstly continuous (it seemed) highway traffic, houses by the roadside, towns less than 600 km apart. It didn't help that rain was heavy and cold, the verge limited and the traffic oblivious to the cyclist. The highlight was spotting an elk just after the town of Hazleton.
A puncture and the necessary off-load/repack to fix shortened the day further so I called a halt at 88 km after establishing that Morricetown had a campground. Well, almost, after the steep climb up the camp owners apologised, camp closed for renovations. Camp at the canyon they said, it's free. I had not even noticed the canyon on the way up, but it made an excellent campsite. I was made even better when two ladies stopped and provided dessert, they had driven continuously from Saskatoon (15 hours) to pick up their mother then were immediately heading back. One way to spend the Canada Day holiday weekend.
More rain this morning and the legacy of 8 continuous days riding caught up with the need for a warm dry place for the night. When Smithers appeared after a short 30km with a motel room within rest day budget there was no protest. I will celebrate with a shower and warm dry clothes.
Unpacked the bike to ride the convoy lead truck through the dust out from Stewart (thanks to to lolly pop ladies who insisted)
One view I missed on the ride into Stewart
Coming back out from Stewart
Yes I have met most of them
Gitanyow totem poles
The canyon camp last night on left hand side