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Alaska: Colder Weather

Mile 2280 to 2440

That glimpse of blue sky that was found as we approached Haines, Alaska was not to last, but more on that later. Straight off the ferry the is nothing in way of services. So you ride down the road to Haines where there are a number of small restaurants and shops but not a whole lot else. A couple other riders from the ferry skipped past town, driving past the Alaska Bald Eagle Preserve on Haines Highway before stopping at the 33 Mile Roadhouse for lunch. I kept local for lunch the first hour on land and then hit the Haines Highway. This road is one of the breathtakingly scenic drives in America. It is east of the largest non-polar ice field that is left in North America and follows old trade routes from the Klondike Gold Rush.

At mile 40 you reach the Canadian border station which is generally uneventful if you have all your items in order. The outstanding scenery continues for many miles beyond. Some tall peaks and awe inspiring vistas surround you as you cruise first into British Columbia and then the Yukon.

As the bike reached the Alaskan-Canadian border stations, the temperature noticeably dropped. Which was still manageable with a few more layers. Unfortunately as the road curved into the Yukon Territory (about mile 85) the clouds started to open to a trickle of rain. It ended up being one of those deceptive rain events that seemed pretty light, but then kept going and going and going. So, by the time I sort of realized I was getting wet enough that I should put on some rain gear, my boots were already soaked.

One anecdote along the way was provided by a Harley Rider from Texas. He was off to the side of the road and waved his hand, so naturally I pulled aside to see if he needed any help. The road was completely empty for miles and I was a little afraid he had a Harley breakdown and would need me to round trip to the nearest town for him. Instead, he was just a little lost. He said he had been all around Alaska for the past few weeks (which he said contained constant rain) and was headed back to the lower 48. He wanted to know if this road would get him down to Vancouver. I didn’t quite gather how he could get this far without a map from the Milepost, but I educated him that this road ended at a ferry junction that could only take him onto a ferry south, or over to Skagway. And if he went to Skagway to route to Canada, he may as well turn around now and just get back on the Alaskan Highway to take it South. My guess was that he was using his cell phone to navigate and we were squarely in the no-cell part of Canada.

My stop for the night was the Wanders Inn at Haines Junction, YT. A small little hostel that ended up being a cozy old house that a couple of locals had renovated for extra income. The wife was a wildlife biologist, and she and her husband (neither of whom stayed in the hostel) were really open with their time, spending 2 hours or so that night sitting around chatting with me and the other guests and talking about the area.

One guest was Terry, a Canadian from Alberta taking a solo driving vacation through Alaska. Then, shortly after I arrived, the dentist from the tent next to me on the ferry randomly arrived as well. Then, a couple hours later, Scott (from the other orange tent next to us on the boat) also randomly showed up. Which does tell you something about the number of lodging options in the area but fun nonetheless. Scott, as I mentioned before, had recently quit his job and was driving his pick-up solo to the Arctic Circle. He was planning to meet his dad afterwards in Fairbanks, then drive back to the lower 48 before possibly moving to Denver to start of new life. Which seemed to be an underlying theme (that being ‘starting a new path in life’) of a great many travelers met so far on this journey to Alaska. I set the wet boats on the heater and prepared for the next day’s drive towards Dawson City.

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