It was five and a half days of riding between Skagway and Watson Lake. We loved the first two days of riding! Skagway is right at sea level, so the first order of business was climbing straight up and over the 3,292′ pass. The climb was only 12 miles long! Luckily for us, it was a breeze – literally. A very strong tailwind pushed us up and over the pass in less than three hours. I will speak a bit about the climb and the summit, since they were truly the highlights of this section.
As we climbed, we stopped often to enjoy the stunning scenery. The White Pass and Yukon Route railroad winds along across the river from the highway, and we enjoyed stopping to watch locomotives pulling passengers up the mountains. I think we saw three trains, each pulling a dozen cars of tourists! That is hundreds of people. WOW! Once I (Daisy) stopped my bicycle too quickly and Jason ran right into it and fell down. Yikes – he skinned his knee but was otherwise unharmed. I think I was a lot more shook up than he was.
Also while climbing we paused at an overlook… and were immediately overrun with tourists unloading from two buses. This turned out to be a blessing though, as we happened to meet a woman from State College. Small world.
We reached the summit, took the obligatory photo, and descended a small bit into a magical land of moonscape. That sounds dramatic, but the scenery was so different from the lushness of the coast. I will let the pictures speak:
The customs guy was friendly as we re-entered Canada, and we settled down for the night at a boat launch on a lovely lake. I am not sure if you (reader) know this, but I rode from Skagway to Montana by myself four years ago. This was before I met Jason. This Skagway to Watson Lake section is something I already rode, then, so it was really fun to camp exactly where I camped before. It was much much better with Jason with me this time around!
The following day we visited the historic town of Carcross. We ate delicious date bars, drank extra helpings of the free coffee, and began a caffeinated ride out of town. We went a bit out of our way to see the Carcross Desert. It is not a real desert, but actually a small area of sandy dunes left behind by an ancient glacial lake. How neat!
We went past the tiny town of Tagish, ate dinner at a beautiful spot on Tagish Lake, and rode toward the Alaska Highway.
Wow, the Alaska highway. For so many, this road encapsulates adventure, wilderness, etc. etc. To us, it is a parade of RV’s, campers, and semi-trucks. Don’t get me wrong, the scenery is very pleasant, but it’s not breathtaking like the Glenn Highway, the Haines Highway, or the road from Skagway. We spent a long few days ticking off the miles, watching the trees pass. We saw two bull moose, two black bears, and had a nesting pair of swallows try to scare us away from their nest.
The best interlude on the road was a chance meeting with another cyclist, Paul, at the grocery store in Teslin. He invited us to camp in his yard, and we spent a wonderful evening chatting with him. What a treat to have a place to camp, a shower to get clean, and to make a new friend.
On the fifth day out of Skagway we finally made it to Watson Lake!, home of the infamous signpost forest. More importantly, we met my parents!!
My parents drove up here from Bellingham, WA and will be our companions for the next two weeks while we head south along the isolated Cassiar Highway. Yes, they will carry our heavy things for us during the day, and meet us in camp each night for dinner and fun. This is so exciting for us, and we can’t wait to finally start heading south in earnest.
Internet sites are few and far between in this area, so it may be a while before we can update. Be patient our friends!