Day 15 – Liard River, YT to Dawson Creek, BC

Distance: 813 kilometers
Time on bike: 7:30 – 5:30
Temp: 8 celcius to start / 24 end of day in Dawson Creek, BC

A fantastic day of riding again. I was a bit concerned this morning when I woke up, more on that in a second, and saw dark clouds and spitting rain.

Let’s start with the camping experience last night. I say ‘camping’ since it in no way resembled any form of camping I’ve previous known.

I was able to sneak across the street after 8:00pm for the ‘free’ dip in the hot springs -which was awesome. When I came back I had a quick chat with a couple from Montréal who were just coming back from Alaska and their attempt at the Dempster highway. They had the same luck – they turned around the day before when it started to rain. They rode in for 6 hours turned around and straight back out the same day – 14 hours in total back to Dawson. Wow! That’s full day.

Got everything set up and hung out as long as I could outside before the bugs started to drive me crazy. Not biting or anything just plenty annoying. This has been the exception to the rule up here – the bugs haven’t been that bad, in my opinion. So I took a book and huddled up in the tent to read for a while before bed. That’s when the ‘camping’ experience began….

First of all the place is run on a giant diesel generator. Fine by day, unfortunately, they don’t turn it off at night. I figured about 10-11 pm they’d shut it off for the night – not a lot of call for power. But, they didn’t. Luckily it’s a consistent sound so I feel right asleep. That is until a band of idiots rolled in at midnight. Four tents with adults, kids and complete chaos. One would think that if you rolled in that late at night you’d try to be as quiet as church mice. Not! Finally at 2am I’d had enough. If you’ve ever heard my “oi!” at the top of my lungs you’d know that all bets are off and I’m pissed off. Apparently, that was the sign they were waiting for as they were completely silent for the remaining 4 hours before I had to get up. Thanks guys!

They came by to ‘apologize’ in the morning to which they were greeted with a waving hand as in ‘talk to the hand, Hammerhead!’ Not impressed.

The day went very well from that point on though. The ride from Liard River through to Muncho Lake and into the Rockies is really fun! It’s a great curvy and twisty road for several hundred kilometers and is very scenic. There are lots of glacial moraines and plenty of changes in altitude right up to 1300 m (3500-4000 ft).

I stopped in Muncho Lake for gasoline. The lake is a lot like Lake Louise with the opalescent blue waters and the rock lined shores. It is also the home of Canada’s most expensive gas – I really needed gas and they really wanted to sell it to me – for $1.89 per litre (for you Americans that’s approaching $7.50/gallon). Ouch! I have to remember though that if I’m by there again that the lodge looks like a great place to stay – a wood log cabin.

I hadn’t realized that this would be it for gas stops. Many of the other places on the map were just that, on the map. They were little mom and pops that have been deserted. Kinda sad really to see all those small businesses left for dead.

Quite a few sheep sightings along the way today. I know I’ve seen them a million times on rides around Calgary but I still like to stop and see them. There were some youngins that were strutting there stuff alongside the road. Pretty cool to watch.

After several hours the mountainous backdrop starts to change to more deciduous trees and eventually back to rolling hills. This is where the day turns into making distance and less about the scenery. It’s a long way to Dawson Creek.

Not much to see for the last half of the day. Treelined highway with no views to the horizon. This is when the iPod is a lifesaver. You can pass time a lot better when you can sign along with your fave tunes in your helmet. Trust me, it works!

I stopped in what is the most interestingly named place thus far – Pink Mountain. I’ll have to look and find out how it got that name because there is nothing pink around. Haha. I got to meet the local guard dog at the gas station a Coon Hound that apparently was on break and taking a nap on the porch.

I kept pushing along kilometer after kilometer and made it to Fort St. John and decided I might as well push on to Dawson to save about 75 K for the next few days riding. It’s pretty odd after spending two weeks surrounded by mountains to suddenly be out in a yellow field of flax. It seems to happen so quickly but it’s been coming for days. Things are starting to look a lot more like things around home.

One last butt pucker moment. In the town of Taylor which has a really long and high steel grated bridge deck. These are pretty challenging as they grab the tread of your tire and cause the entire bike to oscilate or wobble back and forth. There are a few of these along the way and I’ve ridden over them before but this one had another challenge – wind. Strong, wind. Gusting winds pushing the bike across towards oncoming traffic as the bike wobbles. That really tests one’s intestinal fortitude! Whew!

Wheeled into Dawson Creek and found a room at the Lodge Motel – $85.00 seems to be the going rate for a decent room.

I’ve mapped out the final two days of the trip. 1000 kilometers is too far for me to go comfortably on the KLR (I could easily do it on my VFR). So two 500 K days should do it. Tomorrow through to Grand Cache and down to Hinton, AB. It’s supposed to be a really scenic ride and it’s one of the few in Alberta that I have not done yet. The last day will be back over through the Icefields or Nordegg and back to Calgary.