Crag, Chootla, Bennett Lakes
from the ridge above Crag Lake
We left Valdez about 2:30 in the afternoon. Terry and I left before the main group as we wanted to stop a bit and take some pictures on the way out. The group caught up to us just as we were near the top of Thomson Pass. It took us some time to catch up to them after our pictures were taken, and we went on to Tok as a group. We hit a bit of rain in the mountains just before we arrived at Tok, but otherwise the trip was in sun and nice conditions. The trip thus far as been generally cool, typical daytime temperatures have been in the mid-teens and mid single-digits when overcast and/or raining. We saw lots of fresh snow on peaks after the rain ended and the clouds lifted.
We stayed in Tok at the same place on the way out, had supper at the same place. Not many choices there. The next morning we left for Haines Junction. The Alaska highway on the way to and beyond the border was in rough shape. There were sections that were being worked on, and progress was slow. In our first three hours on the road,
RCMP BBQ on Canada Day
Beaver Creek, Yukon. Westernmost town in Canada
we only did about 180 kilometers. We passed by the American Customs which was right on the border, the Canadian customs was about 20 km further into Canada, close to the town of Beaver Creek. Beaver Creek is apparently the western-most town in Canada, like St. Johns Newfoundland is the furthest east. I can now say that I have been to both. It was a coincidence that we returned to Canada on July 1, Canada Day. The RCMP in Beaver Creek had a barbeque going and were serving up free hot dogs and hamburgers. It was about lunch time, so we stopped in and helped celebrate. After the hot dogs we walked down to the visitor centre and had some birthday cake. About an hour past the border, I got a flat rear tire on my bike. This wasn't unexpected as the tire was showing signs of significant wear. It is difficult to gauge just how long a motorcycle tire will last. When I left Edmonton the tire had about 6000 kms on it, at it still looked in good shape. The last few days before I had the flat, I was beginning to worry about it. We were on
Roadside Tire repair
Melting the plug into the tire
some wet gravel when the bike suddenly became difficult to handle. I radioed back to the guy behind me to look at my rear tire and he confirmed it was flat while I was pulling over. I was prepared for a flat, I had a tubeless repair kit, a can of sealant to spray in through the valve (affectionately known as "gorilla snot"), and a small electric compressor. I had lots of help from the group, and before long, was on my way again. My next opportunity to buy a new tire would be Whitehorse, which was still about 350 kms away. I spent my last night with the group in Haines Junction, a very beautiful location up against a mountain range. In the morning I checked the tire pressure, it was down a bit so I pumped it up again. I said my goodbyes to the group, we did a group picture with the mountain backdrop, then I was on my way. I had no further incident on the 160 kms to Whitehorse, the road was very good, with only a few short gravel stretches that were being worked on. While in Haines Junction, I looked at the yellow
pages and made a list of motorcycle dealers in Whitehorse. There was no Suzuki dealer, but the Yamaha dealer (Yukon Yamaha) looked to be a good bet, and it was easy to find on the Alaska highway. I had a stroke of good luck as they not only had the tire I wanted (Metzeler Tourance), but someone didn't show up for an appointment so they were prepared to put the tire on right away. Their customer waiting area had been stocked that morning with fresh fruit and things, so I had lunch while waiting. The Metzeler tires had good ratings on the internet from other V-Strom riders and I had intended to replace the original tires with them when I got home. I didn't expect to find one in Whitehorse, and was prepared to accept whatever they had that fit.
I left Whitehorse and traveled south for about an hour to the Carcross area, where I had been to a couple of times earlier in my trip while staying at Whitehorse on the way up. This time I had a reservation at the Spirit Lake Lodge, about 10 minutes drive north of the town of Carcross. The next day
I visited Noreen Schaefer and her husband Jim, who live on Crag Lake, about 15 minutes drive east of Carcross. I worked with Noreen at SHL/EDS years ago, she and her husband moved up here about 5 years ago and live in a waterfront log home on the shore of Crag Lake. It is a beautiful location, surrounded by mountains. We went on a hike up the mountain behind their place for a better view of the surrounding territory. We sat around and talked the afternoon away, then had a moose pot roast for supper. It was delicious! Noreen has found a way to keep working in the computer business and still live in the Yukon by commuting to Calgary periodically. She has high-speed internet to her house, so she can do some work from home as well.
The next day, I left for Watson Lake in the morning. It looked threatening to the east, but I didn't put my rain gear on right away - I did this twenty minutes later by Tagish. I rode in the rain for another 20 minutes or so to Jake's Corner where the Carcross road joins up with the Alaska Highway, got
View from Balcony
some gas and had breakfast. I met two other bikers from Saskatoon there, and was told a familiar story. While we were in Tok, conversation around our breakfast table included a story about a guy on a vintage Goldwing who had a broken clutch cable, and the problems he was having starting and keeping his bike going. Turns out the guy who had this problem was having breakfast with me! His problems were later compounded when he lost control of his bike and wound up sliding down into a ditch beside the road. He was uninjured, but his bike was scraped up and the windshield broke off. He did manage to get the clutch cable fixed in Whitehorse by finding someone who owned an old Goldwing that was not being used anymore and salvaging the cable from it.
After breakfast, I left Jake's Corner and rode all the way to Watson Lake with only one brief stop, it rained the whole way - 360 kilometers. I stayed again at the Air Force Lodge in Watson Lake - the same room I had on the way up. They have good internet access, so I caught up on email and got
this blog posted. Checking the weather for my trip down the Stuart-Cassiar highway shows the next 3 days will be cloudy and rainy. Doesn't look good.
I decided while in Carcross that I will come back to the Yukon in the future and spend a whole summer up here.
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