The Cassiar Highway, Canada

The Cassiar Highway is a lovely piece of road The entry below notes the lead up run down the AlCan from Whitehorse which was uneventful and not such a lovely piece of road.

Day 35 (110km) (Whitehorse – Gov Campsite)
Day 36 (75km) (Campsite – Teslin Motel)
Day 37 (124 km) (Teslin – Continental Divide Lodge/Camping)
Day 38 (115km) (Continental Divide – turn off short of Watson Lake)

With my arrival at the turnoff to the Cassiar Highway on the border of The Yukon and British Columbia, I now declare myself a seriously hard-core northern adventuring global solo cyclist.  Conqueror of all Alaska and master of all of The Yukon; from the tundra of the Arctic north to the shrubberies of the Canadian forests; undisputed heavy duty cycling demi-god of all of the little fury things and the large hairy things that inhabit the north of the American continent.  I now further my quest for glory southwards into British Columbia, …after having had a little rest for my sore legs.

Day 40 (120km) (AlCan Turn off near Watson Lake – Jade City)

Day 41 (115km) (Jade City – Dease Lake)

Day 43 (98km) (Dease Lake – Tatogga Lake)

The Alaska-Canada (‘AlCan’) Highway as I understand it used to be imbued with romantic notions of serious northern adventure travel.  Now it is a sealed modern and tamed national trunk road that conjures little but the desire to be done with it.  That is why it was with some relish that I took a right turn off the AlCan just prior to Watson Lake and headed down the Cassiar Highway.  Even more fortuitous was the timing in that the road has been cut by excessive rain (near Bob Quinn and Bell2) and resultant flooding which also washed a couple of bridges and verges away.  I therefore had the road virtually to myself for much of the way apart from some local vehicles and a couple of trucks heading down to repair the road. The fainter hearted, faced with lengthy delays or being turned back might have been tempted to go back around and back onto the AlCan but not your hard-core intrepid correspondent.  I battle southwards ever southwards come what may (“come hell or high water” literally).  This highway is popular with cyclists so after having seen only three cyclists on the entire road from the top of Alaska, in the last two days I have seen seven.  Am happy to report the belated sighting of bears.  After much talk of bears (maybe too much talk) and bear avoidance and defense tactics, I actually saw a mother and two cubs.  Came across a caribou and kid who were too stupid to run off the road so I chased them down the road for a good three kilometres.  Then last night as an added bonus outside the lovely Tatoggo Lake ‘resort’ I also got to see the northern lights in a huge swathe across a clear sky.  The good folk of the local hunting community here are full of rumours of highway closure and when it might open again but I will head south tomorrow and see what happens (such is the happy-go-lucky adventurer that I am).

Day 43: Tatogga Lake: Hanging out with the moose hoping that the highway opens.

Stuffed Moose

Day 44: (144km) (Tatogga Lake – Bell2):  Today’s ride deserves special mention in that it had to be the best day’s ride of the trip to date. Clear weather, beautiful scenery (refer video log), no wind and a lovely surface on a winding road devoid of traffic which loped down through picturesque valleys bound by snow peaks either side. Couldn’t ask for much more really so took full toll for 140km.  At 60km down had to negotiate the first road closure barricade but talked my way through.  Three more bear sightings.  Two adult black bears and a cub on the road and on my approach they too approached!  I tried to “make myself large” as instructed and wave the arms around and made growling sounds but two of them just stood up and looked curious.  Not sure what the next move was going to be (probably ‘run away!’), but happily a helicopter happened past overhead and this confused the bears enough for them to take to the bush rather than deal with the large wavy growly thing.  Trundled down the road at a rate of knots and had to parry away another two ‘pilot’ car drivers who were insisting that your correspondent put the bike in the back of the car and ride to Bell 2.  ‘Not on your nelly’ for this hard-core adventurer is not going to dot the line just because of some road works.  From the conversations it became apparent that they didn’t actually have the authority to insist that I load the bike, so load I did not.  It turns out that the road is just about back in repair and there were only minor works to negotiate.  The Canadians have a thing about ‘piloting’ vehicles through road works which is just silly.  They also are way too conciliatory in trying to get hard-core solo adventuring cyclists to bend to their will.  Regardless, I had none of it and find myself at the Bell 2 ‘resort’; camping  but able to get laundry done and have a good feed.

Day 45 (93km) (Bell2 – Meziadin Campsite)
Day 46 (123km) (Meziadin – Camping near Gytanyow)
Day 47 (70km) (Camp Gytanyow – Hazelton)
Day 48 (69km) (Hazelton – Smithers)

The bottom half of the Cassiar Hwy has been a lovely roll through the low hills still with minimal traffic from the road closure.  A pity that the side road (37A) to Stewart is completely cut due to a bridge about 10km from Stewart being washed away entirely.  Spent the last camp night with Amaya and Eric from France who have been cycling for 5 years and are heading for Vancouver and then China to continue their marathon ride around the World to every country.  With the departure from the Cassiar Hwy the road is busier heading towards Prince George.  In Smithers there will be a day’s break to rest and reassess.  Can report a number of bear sightings and almost ran over one. At one point you couldn’t swing a dead bear without hitting a bear so the bear novelty is quickly wearing off.

Day 49 (Smithers)

Day 50 (66km) (Smithers – Houston)

Day 51 (78km) (Houston – Burns Lake)

Day 52 (128km) (Burns Lake – Vanderhoof)

Day 53 (94km) (Vanderhoof – Prince George)