After a somewhat disturbed sleep, nervous about Ursus Arctos Horribilis, we awoke early to the alarm clock of squirrels scolding us for laying on their cones. We also heard an owl hooting in the night which was very cool. Tent was down and bags packed in record time for the mosquito's were still everywhere. We had a quick breakfast of yogurt and protein powder, then hit the trail. It was really quiet on the Alaskan highway that morning, Saturday before 9. We were passed by a tractor and trailer, which had Walmart badging on the trailer. I thought this was odd, I can't imagine there to be a Walmart way out here, but who knows.
At the 20k mark we stopped for some more food and a stretch. The sun was starting to break through and the mosquito's were still buzzing about. Suddenly we saw two touring cyclists coming our way. We went to the road edge to meet them. It is Chris and Urse, two fellows from Switzerland, who met in Central American and decided to cycle together. Pretty cool. They are on there way to Cancun, Mexico via Anchorage. God damn what a ride. We chatted for a while, super nice guys. They were also planning on catching the same ferry as us to Prince Rupert, from Haines. They decided to carry on, and we did the same shortly after. I could see them in the distance, probably 2k away, the road was so straight. It reminded me of the line from the Allman Brothers song "One more silver dollar" where Duane Allman sings "and the road goes on for ever"
The first amenities we found since Whitehorse was a little store and RV park called Otter Falls Junction. Chris and Urse also found it to hard to resist, they were in having coffee. I was wanting one so bad, so I sat down with them and had a cup. More chatting, comparing notes and stories. The bathroom was a nice luxury and so was the water tap outside we used to fill our various vessels. Today was going to turn into a day of luxury, little did we know.
20 more kilometers to go to reach Haines Junction. The mountains of Kluane Park were so close it felt like you could reach out and grab one. The terrain was changing. The trees were getting more numerous, things were a little more green. There was actually a sawmill just past Otter Falls. I laughed at how small the trees were, they really are only about 20 feet tall. Its so funny.
Finally we made it into Haines Junction. It is a small town, with several small hotels and restaurants. I wanted to eat at the Raven Motel, apparently it is phenomenal, but it was closed. A quick visit to the Visitors Info was less than informative, so we wandered to the bakery across the street, which wasn't that appealing for lunch, but the scones looked good. We would be back. An American man was cycling to Whitehorse the opposite way was at the bakery so we chatted with him for a while. He had way to much to say, so we got away as quickly as possible. It was obvious he was on the road for too long by himself. Deciding to take a ride around we ended up at a Chinese Food place for lunch. It was perfect. A trip to the little grocery store for supplies and back to the bakery. Ice americanos and scones were another luxury that is so important on a big journey like this. About 5 it was time to end this little vacation in a vacation and hit the pedals.
The Kluane/Chilkat relay bike race was held the same day, but you never would know it. The road was empty. It was a big climb to get out of Haines Junction. I elected to not wear my riding shorts this evening, but I soon had to stop to change. My behind was getting very sore, after less than 200k, we still had double that to go. After climbing for about an hour, the road flattened out, and the pavement turned to glass. It was the smoothest pavement I have every ridden on. The bike just wanted to go. Add a tailwind and a slight down hill and coasting in the high 20's was easy. Thats the way to make time. We stopped at several places for photos, saw a couple of nice rivers, and met a husband and wife from Florida.
It was nearing the kilometer mark to the campsite and suddenly Kathleen Lake Lodge came into view. Without hesitation we went in, while briefly discussing the idea of renting a cabin. The Lodge is run by a nice couple and soon we were having water, browsing a menu and debating the merits of a cabin over tenting. The cabin idea won that one. And we decided to have dinner there too. Oh the luxury. So fantastic.The food was really tasty, the cabin rustic. The bed was kind of broken, we had to put a drawer under it to level the bed out. There was a lack of hot water. But it kept us dry, warm and helped to raise our spirits. It began to rain really hard during the night so it was the right call to rent a room. We were basically half way through the bike portion of the trip. Feeling good except for some saddle sore issues. Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings........