Day miles: 890
Trip miles: 5680
I got up early and headed south. The trip was pretty much over, but I was still a long way from home. Given more time I would have taken the Robert Campbell highway out of Carmacks, but it was too tough for the distance I had ahead of me. I had really wanted to go up the Dempster Highway to Inuvik, and had considered it earlier in the trip after getting off of the Dalton Highway. Alas, flying out of Talkeetna had won out.
I did want to head south on the Cassiar Highway though. I had skipped it while heading north and taken the entire Alaska Highway out of Dawson Creek, partially because there were reports of delays for forest fires in the northern areas of the Cassiar. A rider in Dawson City who had come up on the Cassiar had told me the road was clear now, but there were a lot of bears. I found this odd, as I had only seen a single bear on my entire trip so far.
I worked my way back to the Alaska Highway and stopped for a late lunch at a familiar joint. There, a couple told me about a motorcyclist who had to be airlifted off the Cassiar a couple of days earlier after hitting a bear. I wasn’t sure what to think now. Right after I turned onto the 543mi highway, there was a large sign that reminded drivers it was illegal in British Columbia to have loaded weapons in your vehicles. This seemed quite odd, but before I could make much sense of it, I started passing bears. I saw three adults and a cub within the first 15 miles.
At this point I started wondering what you do when you’re on a motorcycle and a bear in the road doesn’t want to move. You don’t have any protection. There is no reverse and you couldn’t turn around quickly on this narrow highway. I was tired and stopped for a nap at a rest area. Here I decided it would be best if I rode with some shotgun shells in my jacket pocket and kept the trigger lock off the shotgun, just in case.
I hadn’t had a problem finding fuel so far, and had planned ahead for the stretch of the Dalton Highway where the distance between service stations had required more fuel than my tank would carry. I had been following the rule of filling up whenever possible, so when I found the first town around dusk, I stopped for fuel. Unfortunately they were closed, and the pumps were too old to take credit cards. I continued on, now after dark, to the next town. No joy there either. I looked at my map, did some math, and figured that with my spare fuel I could make it as far as the next service station.
This next stop was a lodge for heli-skiing. Unfortunately, they were also closed. I couldn’t go any further, and it was only a few hours until morning now. I wandered around the lodge looking for a good place to lay down. Behind the lodge was a shack where the returnables were stored, and the door was covered with large spikes to deter the bears. This didn’t make me particularly comfortable, so I ended up unrolling my sleeping bag in front of the lodge and setting my alarm for 30 minutes before they opened and I slept with my shotgun that night.