Day 3 – Hyder, AK to Watson Lake, YT
Distance: 734 kilometers
Time Riding: 7:00am – 8:30 pm (ouch, long day!)
Temps: Low (8 degrees in Hyder/ 28 in Dease Lake)
Really good day of riding but a bit long after three marathons in a row.
Hyder is a nice and quaint little town. Quiet and old fashioned – late openings and early closings. No traffic and no noise. Lovely starlit nights. The Sealaska hotel was just fine – cheap, clean and had exactly what I needed a good fish and chips dinner, beer and a bed and bath – for $65/night.
The day started off fantastically well. Up before the sun and off to the Salmon Glacier about 35 kilometers from Hyder. Oh, My, God! Absolutely amazing sight. It’s a bit of a bumpy and rocky ride but man was it worth it. The road goes from basically sea level up to about 3500 feet. The end of the ride is a view perched over the glacier and it wraps around the entire mountain.
What was especially cool was that I had the entire top of the mountain to myself. Talk about a great place to just sit and gawk. The shear beauty and immensity of the glacier boggles my mind. It hangs there and defies reason. It’s a must see if you happen to be up this way.
Back to the hotel to get the American guy I met yesterday to continue to ride out to what we thought was going to be Telegraph Creek. The weather started to turn and the road has a bit of a reputation as being nasty at the best of times. So we elected to go right through to Watson Lake which ended up being a long day. I would have stopped at Dease Lake – but honestly there was no where to stay – gas station and a few buildings and not a particularly good feeling either. I’ll see on the way back down if I have time to go there as it sounds like a really neat little place.
The roads from Hyder got progressively worse the farther north we got. They started out better than most any road back at home and deteriorated into nasty gravel and construction zones. I guess there is a lot of maintenance to keep these highways drivable and usable. Some spots were bordering on scary for motorcycles with huge sharp rocks and fist sized ‘gravel’. But, we made it without incident.
The chip-sealed pavement is very hard on tires. My tires took a significant beating today and are showing marked wear after the roads today. I may have to stop in Alaska somewhere and have them replaced on the way up or for sure on the way back home. I do have enormous luggage (at least that’s what I tell all the girls) and it’s heavy so the wear is expected but maybe a bit quicker than I’d hoped.
Not a lot of animals today. A momma bear and cub at Dease River crossing. Cute little bugger – really pissed off momma. Apparently honking for them to get of the road triggers a nasty protective streak – bear gives cars and motorcycles the worst ‘stink-eye’ ever! 😉 No sign of Benito Moose-o-lini today although I’m sure we’ll cross paths eventually.
The long daylight is already making me want to stay up all the time. It gets dark, dark around midnight here. In a few days and farther north it’ll be light all the time.
Not exactly sure if I’ll follow my plan tomorrow or not. I have to check the maps and see where I’ll make it tomorrow.
Internet up here is so slow its only useful for my text posts and I haven’t been able to upload my images. Maybe once I get to larger towns it’ll improve.