A corridor of mountains
Since leaving Dease Lake the route has taken me literally through a maze of mountains. Firstly through the Stikine Plateau mountains, then the Skeena Mountains and finally the Coastal mountains to reach the Pacific (at least a long arm of Portland Inlet twisting out to the Pacific).
As each gorge opens out the next range appears in the distance. First night out was a camp at Tatogga, as it turned out next morning just down the road from Tatogga Lodge, which provided an excellent display of wild life (stuffed versions). So for my keen Imagine Childcare followers at least I have some images.
After leaving the lodge a forgettable day climbed into a howling head wind focused on getting to Bob Quinn Lake. Finally the road sign appeared, a few buildings then the signs for the traffic from the opposite direction past. No Lodge, nothing that provided a half decent campsite (although I did eye the grass of the airstrip in desperation). Dinner the night before had been four sardine sandwiches, the extent of Iskut outpost store food offerings. On a ride like this food in equals well being (or not) on the next stage. Definitely not today.
I stopped to cook in a desolate gravel pit. To complete the scene wolves were howling on the ridge above. Large fresh bear droppings dictated the gravel pit was not an ideal camp site. Nine hours on the bike and the road crammed between steep cliffs and a river bed. Just as light was fading at 10pm a side track provided a perfect campsite. A race against the mosquitos to get into the tent with no more than a small massacre on the tents walls.
Morning dawned with warm sunlight, enough to dry the wet layers of the day before. Transformation in mood and ride. Great water from Liz Creek and just 30 kilometres to Bell II Lodge for an early lunch and a pleasant chat with the cafe worker. We were joined by two fellow cyclists Faez and his cousin from Iran. In today's security climate these two, with long flowing black beards and hair to match would probably spend a long wait in "special attention" queues at border crossings. Faez also carries a long didgeridoo on his bike to complete the improbable picture. But two lovely guys who loved to get on their bikes and ride.
Faez actually links back to the Dempster Highway where we met him at the junction. He actually rode from the arctic sea on the ice road in full winter conditions. At least he had the comfort as he huddled in his tent that the grizzlies were still in hibernation. When you think you are undertaking an extreme adventure, there is always someone else just a little further up the extreme scale.
I have learnt that the average bear territory ranges over 10 kilometres, if you find bear sign, ride on 10km to a safer site. Yesterday every 10 km there was a bear sitting in the road side ditch, a total of 9 bears for the day. So 130 km later I opted for a safe official campsite at Meziadine Lake, right at the junction to the. Stewart turnoff.
This mornings ride was a justification for changing from Prince Rupert as my Pacific touch point. Magnificent scenery including a roadside glacier. It has also recovered so days on my schedule.
Glacier on the road to Stewart
Finally had the courage to take the camera out for one of yesterday's 9 bears
Road side fox
Glacier melt streams
Wolves at Tatogga Lodge
Leader of the pack