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Cycle Tour 2023 - USA & Canada

Home Page > Bicycle Touring > North America > USA & Canada 2023 > Part 3 of 5

We continued climbing our rail trail for a further 16 km today. We enjoyed the ride, the trail felt like a proper rail trail, often with the land falling away on either side. We saw many deer and they were all curious. It was a beautiful morning, cold and fresh, about 2.5 deg C. It was to turn into the perfect summer day, warm and cloudless. There is a tunnel on this section which is now closed for safety reasons and we had to push our bikes up a very steep incline to get around it. The summit of the climb is at Lookout Pass where there is a ski resort. After this we were in Idaho. Then it was downhill! On the downhill section we turned through a small parking area at a trailhead and of course a large and fairly aggressive dog came for us. We shouted at it and then I expained to the owners that we have had so many dogs chase us and asked them please to control theirs. "Go back to California!" yelled the woman. Now see, to us this is a compliment, assuming we are Californian, as so far it is the state we have felt most at home in! We just laughed, quote of the trip that was! "Go back to California" :) makes me smile just to say it! Welcome to Idaho! We had only been in the state for about 2 km! New record. After this we continued downhill to Mullan where we would start the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes cycle route. This is a fully sealed 72 mile path to Plummer. We are not going to ride the whole thing but would recommend it so far. It was downhilll for us at rail grade and a perfect bitumen surface. The surrounding woods are beautiful. The interstate traffic whizzes by but nicely srparated. The backstory is that in the 1800's silver mining in the area caused a large amount of toxic waste, mainly lead and other contaminants. In those days they thought nothing of wrecking the environment and so these tailings just accumulated until they were used to build the railway. When all the mining closed down and the raillway ceased operating they decided to seal the trail as it was the best way of keeping all the toxins from ruining the surrounding countryside further. There is a river as beautiful as any we have seen, crystal clear and full of trout which runs alongside the path, however there are strict guidelines about avoiding the toxins. So you may not use the water at all, even if filtered, even to wash with, so no spa baths! You are not allowed to deviate from the trail and if you do so and walk on the dirt, you should cover your mouth and nose! You should only eat at the benches provided. And so on... seemed a bit ridiculous to us, particularly as we could not even fill up a drinking bottle with water in Mullan; there was no public facility i.e. water tap, available for this!

We were quickly in Wallace which is a pretty town. We bought some cold milk and breakfast cereal to eat and saw a bench outside the county courthouse to do so. A bloke came out to check us out I think, although he was friendly. He was also armed with a gun and tazer. We had a good chat. He had spent time in Perth and Albany when in the navy, and had even visited Uluru. He told us that Idaho is a Red State which in his words means it is conservative and republican, and that the crime rate is low because everyone is armed. Also that Washington, Caifornia and Oregon have deteriorated in recent years. He felt that the water in the river was fine and the local kids swam in it all the time, but said we were better off getting water in town. We did so at the miners park going out, but there was only the hand basin in the toilets, so luckily we carry water bags otherwise you could not do it. The bubbler outside did not work. We miss Utah where there were taps everywhere for everyone to use, even in such a desert like state. Here there is a raging river and yet water is the hardest thing to come by!

We stopped again at Kellogg and as there was a Dominoes pizza place I went to get one. "How much is a large pepperoni?" I asked. "$8.47," said the girl behind the counter. So I ordered one and went back to where Mike was sitting, to wait. When I thought about it I realised this was crazy. A large pizza had never cost us so little! I assumed it would be smaller than expected. When I went in to collect it, it was 14 inches. I said thanks and took it with the receipt, which said $16.99. I queried this, only to be shown the receipt in full which showed I had been given a $9.00 coupon! So basically the discount was more than the pizza! Winner! Very nice of the cashier to apply the discount without me knowing. We then stopped at the Walmart Supercentre which was also just on the cycle route, and then rode about another 5 km and found a spot to camp. The mosquitos obviously do not mind the toxins as there are a million of them!



We were woken after 23:00 by a dog barking aggressively and constantly very nearby. We could not figure it out but it seemed that someone was walking along the cycle path nearby with a dog. The barking continued for a long time and stayed in the one place. Eventually it stopped. You got the feeling that the passerby was having a look, otherwise why wouldn't they have called the dog off and gone on quickly? Weird! Anyway, it was not a great night's sleep. We woke at 04:30 as we have had a time zone change here. The light was the same as 05:30 so that was fine. We packed up and moved on a couple of kilometres to the next bike path vault toilets and picnic table where we had breakfast. It was a lovely day. Sitting there we decided to get the hell out of Idaho today, and into Washington. We have found this last week in northwest Montana and Idaho depressing. Everything just feels wacked-out here; we feel out of place. The route has been great from a scenery point of view, but we are made to feel that travelling by bicycle or even just being from somewhere else is viewed suspiciously. These conservative states or areas are not welcoming at all. I guess that is the coonservative or republican mindset, follow a narrow path and keep those blinkers on. Even the people who have approached us and spoken to us have done it as if to say "it's a little strange what you are doing". We decided to try to make it to Spokane, Washington State, today. This would mean a 120 km day. The weather looked good, bit of a headwind. We would not ride to the end of the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes in Plummer, but would leave it at Cataldo, go on to some minor roads, then hit the interstate for about 17 km. We would then go back on some minor roads to Higgins Point on the shore of the Lake Couer d'Alene and follow the North Idaho Centennial Trail to the state border where it links up to the Spokane Centennial River Trail. We have not had a rest day in over a week, so it felt a big ask but we thought we could do it. We would book a hotel stay for 2 nights as a bit of a reset.

We set off towards Cataldo and surprised a moose who leapt over the low fence alongside the path and then gazed woefully back at us. He had two friends on the other side of the path. This was our first moose sighting of the trip and so cool that we were so close to them. Mike spotted three more moose in the distance later on. They were beautiful. After we left the path and rode along a quiet road alongside the interstate we could see that the west lanes were closed and so the whole road was single lane only, no shoulder, as they resurfaced it. It had us a little worried but we were so lucky that the roadworks ended just as we joined it! We had a 6 km climb along the interstate and it was busy and loud, and the shoulder not quite a wide as those in California, but it served it's purpose. On the way down, after our coffee break, Mike got a rear wheel puncture as the tyre picked up a large drill bit that went through the tyre's side wall, and both sides of the tube. Luckily it happened at an emergency pull off area so we had space for him to unpack and fix it. He replaced the tube this time as it had a double puncture and he also had to place a boot in the tyre. Leaving the interstate a few kilometres later, we had tremendous views of the Couer d'Alene which is obviously a toast of the Idaho panhandle. It is a large and beautiful lake and very much a tourist hotspot. We took a very minor road, which as one point was single lane only. We turned off it towards the lakeshore to get to Higgins Point, only to be met by, yes you guessed it, "Private Road, residents only". Nothing for it. Back up the hill to approach from another way. In the end we got to the North Idaho Centennial Trail which took us effortlessly round the lake, bypassing the town, several parks and many very unfriendly/miserable Idahoans. Even the cyclists on the path did not glance at us. The town and suburbs of Couer d'Alene is completely immaculate, plenty of green grassy lawns, flowers, pine trees, sparkling water, complete with "No trespassing" signs on the BEACH. It was a strange experience as it looks quite a bit like Sweden or Finland but it's sort of too perfect. Anyway, we whizzed along and took a break just after the town at a highway rest area which backed onto the bike path. We decided with 53 km to go at 12:30 that we were comfortable booking the hotel room in Spokane, which we did. We continued on the cycle path. I must say that the path is worldclass. The surface is very high standard and quick, and the path is very well planned, you barely have to slow down as it avoids many cross streets and so on. It is 23 miles in total to the state border on the path and we really enjoyed it.

We took another rest just before crossing the bridge to Washington State. We were really happy to leave Idaho, but for a minute I thought, "What if Washington is no better?". Well, we needn't have worried. The Spokane River welcomed us as we hit the Centennial Riverside Trail and it was beautiful. Within a few kilometres a cyclist, James, pulled up alongside us and proceeded to have a very animated conversation with us about our trip, asking all sorts of questions, very enthusiastic. He rode along with us for about 15 minutes! Then another woman on a bike had a chat, wished us a great ride! It was amazing and we have said it before; how can crossing a state border take you to a different world? We felt so happy! After this we passed many walkers and cyclists and everyone smiled and said hello! We stopped for a break and Kelly came over with his dog, Bella, and had a long chat to us about our trip and told us about places to visit in Washington. Even the dog looked happy! We just realised how much the culture of those other states had effected us. We weren't even able to put in long days on the bike, we were just subconsciously really down about it. We have had these experiences touring in Europe where you go from one country to the next and it is so different, well I guess the USA is really many small countries and some you will love and some you will hate. We rode into Spokane with a spring in our pedal stroke and the river trail was perfect. The city is very cycling friendly. Both James and Kelly mentioned the city issues with homelessness and drugs, etc. which that bloke at the County Courthouse in Wallace, Idaho also told us about. We just wonder about the conservative/republican view which he expressed "We don't have those problems here because everyone is armed". Is that not just a different sort of problem? We look forward to two nights in a hotel in Spokane and we are VERY happy to be in Washington!






We had a great day off the bikes in Spokane. It is a lovely city. The views of the massive Spokane River which rushes through rapids in the city centre is amazing! The weather is perfect now. We set off at 11:00 from the hotel and it was a super short ride to Dragoon Creek. Washington State has a really good system for recreating in state parks and forests. There is an annual fee of $35 for a Discovery Pass. There are many campsites in areas managed by the Department of Natural Resources. If you have the Discovery Pass then you can camp for free. If you travel by bicycle then you do not need a Discovery Pass. So we have picked out a few of these campsites to use as they have all the things we need, drinking water, vault toilets and each campsite has a picnic table (usually), and fore pit. The campsites vary in terms of how many sites there are etc. and they are almost all first come first served. So this suits us very well. The state parks do have a camping fee, but for hiker/biker this is usually $12 per night. It is great that they cater for cyclists as in other states the forestry sites have usually cost $20 or more and this can be for two vehicles and 6 people or just one cycle tourist, so it's not equitable. Washington State scores highly for this reason! The campground here seems full but the people are quite quiet and there is a good atmosphere. Mike did some bike maintenance during the afternoon. As we have cycled over 5000km (Mike's Rohloff has done about 1000km less) the oil needs to be replaced. He drained the old oil out and put in cleaning fluid which we will ride with for about 20km tomorrow and then he will drain that and put new oil in. We are now travelling at an elevation of less than 600m which is the lowest we have been since the early days in California.

Tomorrow we head to Newport and then we are going to cross the state to the west, right to the coast before getting a ferry to Vancouver Island and Canada. This is a change of plan as initially we were going to enter Canada by land and not go so far west. We have decided to incorporate Vancouver Island into the trip as we had planned to ride there during the Covid cancelled 2020 trip.


Our sleep was disturbed around 02:30 with the sounds of someone driving a very heavy/old/in poor repair vehicle somewhere in the campsite and maybe chopping wood, some loud banging. When our alarm woke us at 04:30 we decided to sleep in til 05:00. It is light at 04:00 and as the weather will be warming up to 30-32 deg C over the next few days we should probably make the effort to get up at first light. In any case we set off around 06:20 to a beautiful morning which promised to be a beautiful day. We would ride a road which ran alongside the US 2 route and it was a lovely ride and a pretty road, very quiet. It makes a refreshing change that the signs at the gates of rural properties now say "Surveilance Cameras in Use" and not a picture of a gun. We stopped at a church at Elk where there was a bench for our morning coffee. After that, we had a bit of a climb and felt quite sweaty but then descended into Newport. We bought lunch (fried chicken and Canada Dry) at Safeway and went to a lovely park with undercover picnic sites to eat.

Newport is on a river and we popped over to the eastern side (and to Idaho; eek) to ride to our overnight campsite. The 20 route runs along the western side of the river. We were only in Idaho for a short distance. The views of the river were beautiful, it is a very large piece of water. As it was such a perfect day, we wondered if there would be a campsite available at DNR's Skookum Creek campsite, and were really surprised when we got there and only one of the ten sites were taken! We picked a site which is really tucked away and we could have a dip in the creek. There are quite a few mozzies but we have our coils and Ben's 100% DEET spray which seems to do the trick! As we arrived at 13:30 we had plenty of time to relax and read. It is a very quiet place with amazing insect life - many different kinds of butterflies and dragon flies. The only hiccup was that although the site is meant to have drinking water, the taps were dry, but we could filter water from the creek.

Around 16:00 a strange thing happened. A Car came driving past which we recognised from the campsite last night as it had a rear window knocked out and filled in with plastic sheeting. Last night this guy had driven around the campground on loops in the early evening but then we did not see it again. Anyhow, here he was. He parked it in a site around the corner and has been pacing around it, smoking and talking loudly to himself about his wife and a campground and a warrant. Another American Nutter!! Another couple stopped in the site next to him and seemed to speak to him. Anyhow, let's hope he shuts up. Crazy town.


Things went downhill with man-who-talked to himself. Firstly, he paced around, loudly talking to himself for about 3 hours. Then he started playing music from his car sound system. Loud music, mainly rap music with offensive lyrics. This carried on for a few hours. He would turn the music down and then it would be blaring again, heavy base. We started to wonder what to do about it. No way were we going to approach a bloke who was clearly in the midst of some sort of psychotic episode. The whole situation was so odd, that we had wound up at the same campsite twice. Many people drove around the camping area as the evening wore on, looking for campsite. He wasn't pitching a tent and no one wanted to camp in the other spot next to his, so that was really unfair on other campers. Two people set up camp in the day use area. Eventually at 21:00 he shut up and we heard no more from him until about 03:00 when someone was smoking a joint nearby in the still morning air. We assume it was him, when we left at 06:00 he was gone.

We crossed over the bridge and onto State Route 20 where the Kalispel Indian Reservation began. This is the village of Usk which has a good general store and a timber yard. Also a statue of Saskwatch. Route 20 is great and we had a really good ride today. It is a real cycle touring road. We passed Riverview Bible Camp (these camps are pretty common out here) complete with a target shooting range and two black bear models to practice shooting at. Goes well with the sign we saw earlier: "God, Guns and Trump", right? It all felt a little "red" (nutty) again. The riding was easy, the road was quiet and we stopped for a rest and lunch at Tiger. There was a bench to sit at and a couple from Sonoma, California had a chat to us, as did the couple of volunteers who came to mow the lawn and lived in Ione. We were only kilometres from the US/Canadian border. We continued on the State Route 20 and had a climb up into the forest. There were a few lakes up there and we had a choice of two DNR campgrounds. We stopped at the first to check it out and it was perfect, the best one yet! Our campspot is a short walk from the creek and we had a refreshing swim. We spent the afternoon relaxing. There are only a couple of other campers, it's brilliant. So far crazy man has not showed up!



We had a lovely, peaceful night at Sherry Creek. Such a good sleep! No crazies. There were some pretty tame deer at the campground that were happy to come very close by. We continued our beautiful ride along the State Route 20 this morning. It would be very much downhill for most of the day, we would actually drop 500 m to the Columbia River. We enjoyed our morning coffee at the Crystal Falls and it was a 40 km ride to Colville where we spent HOURS, first buying delicous fresh bread and salads to eat in a gorgeous park, then going to an outdoor store, then to Walmart of course. A bloke chatted to us at the park, we were just leaving and he was sitting in his car. He asked about our trip. As we were leaving the outfitters he pulled up, concerned we had taken a wrong turn. Then later when we had left Walmart and were waiting for the traffic lights to change, he drove across the intersection and waved with glee. It was hilarious. Such friendly people here in Washington State!

We stopped at Kettle Falls to fill up with water. We struggled to find a water tap in Kettle Falls -- usual story, the river rages but no water is made available. We found a bubbler which was broken but the mains tap to it worked, except it pointed upwards and when you turned it on it sprayed water everywhere, like a fountain! Mike managed to use a water bag and filled it up a few times to fill our bottles. We can of course filter any river water we find, however first you have to find it and be able to access it easily, and if there is town water we will aways pick up some.

Eventually we were on our way again. It was about 13:30 when we set off from Kettle Falls. On our way out we stopped at a fuel station to fill up our MSR fuel bottle with petrol. Crossing the Columbia River was pretty impressive as it is HUGE with a beautiful steel bridge! There are many logging trucks about as timber is a massive industry in Washington State. We turned off the US 395 onto State Route 20 again. This is the Sherman Pass Scenic Byway. Our plan was to head for Canyon Creek Campground, which would mean climbing about 300 m of the 1300 m high pass, however we found this terrific bushcamp right at a creek with shady camping and a river swim on offer! Couldn't turn it down! It meant another early finish -- 14:30 this time. We are really enjoying this slower pace and relaxing afternoons. The weather it perfect and sunny, the mornings still cool.


First order of business was to climb Sherman Pass, which is a climb of over 1000 m. It started gently and ramped up so that the last 10 km were pretty steep in parts, but never over 8%. The road was beautiful, shady and cool and not much traffic. There are logging trucks about in this area, but most ride a pretty tight loop and we did not encounter many. We stopped at two picnic grounds on the way up, the first was the Log Flume Interpretive Trail and the second was Camp Growden CCC site which told a really interesting story of the role of the CCC in the western USA, buiding trails, roads and recreational sites in the aftermath of the Great Depression, which was still in use today. This was a strategy used by the Roosevelt government to assist the American people hardest hit by the economic collapse in the 30's. These workcamps were for unemployed men aged 17-25 years. They were paid $1 per day and $25 per month had to be sent back to their families. They received full board and lodgings. The work was manual labour and the army was in charge of the men and the camps.

About a mile short of the summit is the Sherman Pass Overlook Campground and picnic area where we stopped for a break around 10:00. The campground was still closed for the season, but it seemed as if the maintenance work had already been done and it looked perfect. A very beautiful spot. We ate and relaxed for an hour. The information board said there was potable water in the campground, which we had not expected. Mike went to find it and all was in working order -- it was a hand pump and the water was icy cold and crystal clear. The best water we have had in ages. We had a bit of a think about it and decided to camp here for the night, even though we had only cycled 30km! It was still a 3 hour 30 minute ride and pretty tough, and we had climbed over 1000m, so that was a solid effort. So we picked a site, had a lovely COLD shower using our shower bag and rinsed out our cycling gear. The last few days have been so enjoyable and restful, doing short days, having great (almost always) campspots and just free time to relax and do little jobs that make life more comfortable.

A bloke who was driving by stopped to chat (having seen our washing hanging up). He was in the wilderness fire service and knew the area well. He could not believe that the campground was still closed for the season. Funnily enough, a few hours later a ranger arrived and put up all the signs to indicate it was now open, together with fee applicable and payment envelopes. We happily paid $6 (it is so cheap!) and set up our tent. We have one neighbour, a single man in a little caravan. It is perfect!



We had a mile of the "Sherminator" still to climb and then it was down, down, down for 28 km to Republic. It was strangely warm this morning up on the summit. At 06:00 it was 12 degC and Mike said maybe we would encounter a temperature inversion, which we sure did. After a few km downhill we were freezing! Gloves on, etc. We were shivering! Got to Republic at 07:00 so that was a quick 30 km! We had a second breakfast and set off to climb Waukonda Summit. This climb is half the length of the Sherminator, but still took 2 hours 30 min to get up. About halfway up we took a rest and met George and Kerry from Wisconsin who started riding the Route 20 in Anacortes (we will get there within the week) and will ride all the way to the East Coast. It was so great having a chat to cycle tourists. They said (with a smile on their faces) we would soon be leaving Trump country, which is good to hear. After reaching Waukonda Summit it was downhill all the way to Tonasket, about 46 km! So although the day was long on paper, we just held on for most of that distance! We saw another pair of cycle tourists cycling towards us who shouted "Allez, allez!" this could mean they are Canadian I guess. As we descended it got warmer and warmer and the landscape more and more arid. We could not believe it when we popped out into a wide valley with vineyards climbing bare hillsides and not a conifer in sight! It felt like we had arrived back in California or Arizona! Totally different. The natural diversity of this country is astounding particularly when you experience this sort of change in less than 100 km! We had a pizza for lunch and then came to the Chamber of Commerce RV Park which has a small lawn and charges $8 to camp for the night. Not bad when you are in a small town. There are no showers or restrooms, just a portaloo, but there is lovely cold water and we had a refreshing bag shower. It is very hot today, over 32 deg C. We are hanging out in the shade and trying to stay cool.


It was a hot and humid day, very uncomfortable. Fortunately it was all downhill from Tonasket to Omak where we did some grocery shopping at Safeway and an outdoor supply store. The town was pretty quiet at 08:00. It was still downhill to Okanogan. It is amazing to think that after all those weeks at 1500 - 2000 m usual elevation, we are now at 300 m! After this we began the climb up to Loup Loup Summit, a total climb of 970 m. This is where the discomfort really hit, very sweaty, dripping off our chins, hands, knees and so on. Also very hot. We decided to aim for Leader Lake which is a DNR site. We did not want to do the whole climb in one go, with the heat we didn't think it would be advisable. As it was Thursday, we did not think Leader Lake would be busy. We had had good luck (mostly) with the other DNR sites we had used. We stopped to mix up some Gatorade. The area we cycled through today has many fruit farms and it was nice to see cherries ripening on the trees. We saw a cycle tourist today! We avoided a steep part of the route with no shoulder by diverting onto a gravel farm track which was slightly longer, but less steep. After this the fluid loss got to me, in the baking heat we had lost a lot of liquid. This has happened to me a few times on this trip. I felt quite bad, even struggling to get a deep breath in. Mike had to keep stopping and waiting for me. Even though we had only 1.6 km to go to our turn off to the lake, it was the longest mile ever. I was counting it down by 100 m stints! The road to the lake was sealed and when we got to the lake it was a little unclear where the camping sites were. There were two on top of a steep hill, but one had a caravan with a some kind of strange bonehead flag flying, so we avoided that one. We ended up having to cycle up the steep hill (well Mike cycled, I walked) around the top and then steep down to a camping area. It was pretty busy with what looked to be people who were long-term residents. You are only permitted to stay 7 days in a 30 day period, but this is not policed at most sites. A ranger did do a driveby later in the afternoon, not too sure what they look for. Overall it seemed okay, we got a site away from the other inmates, close to the lake so we could have swims whenever we wanted to. There was a bit of shade and we survived the afternoon with regular dips, our mosquito coils and snacks.

As there is heavy rain forecast for tomorrow, we were prepared for a rest day, which we are due. We put the tent up when there was enough shade, around 18:00, and were relaxing inside. A bloke pulled up between us and a semi-flooded campsite on the lake shore, music blaring (what is it with these boneheads and rap music? Does not seem to fit, all than "N" word stuff) and let his big dogs out to swim in the lake. After a few minutes of the music blaring, I got out the tent and asked him to turn it down, he of course allowed one of the dogs to run at me, usual story, "She won't bite" with a smile, enjoying watching you get a bit anxious. I glared at him and walked back, at which he just unravelled, yelling at us agressively and announcing to the entire campsite that we were arseholes. Then gets back into his truck and spins into reverse almost into our campsite on the gravel, wheel spinning, etc. Jeez, these rednecks are highly strung! We have lost count of the number of really negative interactions we have had with Americans. There was another family who had parked their car in a vacant site and had a fire going, when I walked by on my way to the toilet the guy just stood with his hands in his pockets and glared at me. We have stayed in campsites all over the world and that is not normal behaviour!

The weather came in and there was rain, but it was still hot overnight.



We slept in and got going around 09:00. This time we pushed our bikes along a short walking trail and avoided the steep climb and drop down. We could not contemplate a rest day with these nutters. We would complete the remaining 20 km of the climb up Loup Loup and camp in the forest at a spot Mike has picked as a potential end point for yesterday's ride. The climb was pretty fair, not too steep. It was unbelievably humid. We were absolutely soaked through, we could barely change gears as our gloves were so wet and our hands too. We did not have that baking sun like yesterday though. As we reached the summit, four cycle tourists came down the hill toward us! They were all encouraging and friendly so we assume they were from somewhere else. As we dropped down we found the dirt road which we took through a gate (US Forestry sign said "Please close the gate" which was a nice change!) and we found a place to camp. We pitched the tent and had a shower from our shower bag and then it started raining. We are enjoying being stuck in the tent anywhere other than at Leader Lake! The temperature has dropped a lot. This route to the Pacific Ocean and Olympic National Park has four big climbs and we have completed three of them this week, no wonder we are tired!


Such a peaceful night in our little bush camp on the dirt track! It was especially nice having that gate. We did hear a car pull up to it but they turned back, too much trouble opening the gate we guessed. It was a 10 km descent into Twisp and over 500 m loss in elevation which saw us in the Methow River Valley where we stayed until Mazama at which point the climb up Washington Pass begins. Winthrop was a lovely town with nice touches such as a Native American Garden and a lot of woodwork. It feels a world away from the Okanogan Valley, the people smiled and greeted us in the street. It's amazing how one valley to the next is so different. We filled up with water in a park where the Saturday morning market was setting up and a couple chatted to us about the road ahead, recommending Cutthroat Creek Campground and a lake on Rainy Pass. The woman told us about the good quality water in Cutthroat Creek. It was a pleasure speaking with someone normal! It was a much cooler day and there was definitely rain about so still humid, but bearable.

The climb up Washington Pass is 1186 m and it was all fair and consistent, generally a 6% grade. There is a very good shoulder and it was quiet, probably the weather had something to do with that. There were no logging trucks which we assume was due to it being Saturday. Logging never seens to happen on the weekend. We saw two cycle tourists, a couple, man and woman, coming towards us. We even had a slight tailwind! We actually loved the climb. It rained for the last 14 km, but we were soaked with sweat anyway due to the humidity so we didn't even think of raingear. As we neared the top, the visibility was very poor due to the misty cloud, at worst probably only 50 m. The cars drove very slowly for this reason. It was weird as you would get sudden patches where it was clear. Unfortunately we did not get that sweeping vista view just as you round the last part of the climb, but we actually liked the mist and rain, a bit different for us. Surprisingly, there was heaps of snow and ice about. There is an Overlook Area which we pulled into and cycled through as there is also water available there. The taps are at a very nicely designed restroom complex, alas, all was closed, water switched off. No explanation! We had seen so much water gushing out of the mountainside today that we weren't worried about it and there is snow to melt. It's hard to think but two days ago we were so hot we were just hunting for shade and now it is cold again, beanies and socks back on in the sleeping bags! We had hoped to find a place to pitch our tent in the forest at the Overlook Area, but there wasn't really anything suitable an the forest itself was pretty water logged in parts. We started the descent and found a spot immediately below the road, it's level and anonymous, and the road should quieten down. No shower or swim tonight, we did a wipe down with our wet towels (left out in the rain yesterday afternoon) which is not our preference, but it's only one night. We are now within 350 km of the ferry crossing to Canada and pleased that it is in our sights!

As far as the passes on Route 20 go, that is 4 out of 4 done now in the last 5 days: Sherman Pass, Waukonda, Loup Loup and Washington so we are pleased so have completed them all!





The descent down Washington Pass, over Rainy Pass, was a trip highlight. The steep sided canyon walls which tower over you and pounding river and waterfalls everywhere are highly impressive. It is clear where the name North Cascades National Park comes from! We had much clearer views today as not much rain or mist about. We had wonderful overlooks of alpine lakes, truly impressive stuff! We saw two more cycle tourists (from a distance as they rode past when we were having a break at a lookout point).This is the most popular cycle touring route we have seen. We spent most of the day going downhill which we appreciated! We stopped to pick up water at Canyon Creek Campground which was really busy. We met Isu (apologies for the spelling) and his son Stanley from Seattle and had a long chat about bike riding, hiking and touring. They are experienced cyclists and recommended Taiwan to us as a cycle touring destination. They also recommended cycling the Oregon coast as so many people have. It is great to get recommendations from people with experience!

When we set off again the road was busy and getting busier. The shoulder was quite narrow now and as it was after 11:00 on a Sunday, many people were leaving the park for home. There were many RVs and campervans as you would expect. The drivers were considerate, but the road is pretty narrow. There were two tunnels, one short and the other has a pull off for cyclists to put their lights on and press the "bikes in tunnel" button. The tunnel was dark and I panicked when I could not see, then realised (prompted by Mike's yelling) that I was still wearing my sunglasses! Idiot! We were grateful that we had ridden the road in the direction we had as going uphill with this small shoulder, possibly with traffic, would have been a bad experience. We stopped at a magnificent viewpoint, a bridge over a narrow gorge. The water cascading down looked so inviting! It had turned out to be a warm and sunny day.

Suddenly we were through Newhalem and leaving the park. The Skagit River which flows through the park and which we followed downstream is crystal clear and brilliant turquoise in places. We planned to camp at a small campsite in Marblemount, however the perfect bushcamp presented itself and we grabbed the chance! There was a small turn off the road onto a track but large boulders placed across it meant that there was no vehicle access which is perfect. It led into a flat area, mossy and tree lined with traces of bitumen from the old road. It led further to a fabulous spot for a river swim in the large tributary to the Skagit. We had the most amazing swims and a great afternoon, everything drying out in the sun.




We were awake at 04:00, so decided to get up. We were on the road at 05:30. It was pretty misty or cloudy and there were a couple of logging trucks. We were happy to be on the road early and very happy that we were not contending with the Sunday afternoon traffic we saw yesterday! The route today was pretty flat and straightforward, a little undulating until Concrete (strange name for a town but it looked like it was built to last in it's heyday!). The welcome sign stated "You are entering concrete"! We stopped there for morning tea and had our next stop in Sedro-Woolley for Domino's Pizza. It opened at 10:30 and we reached the town at 10:00 having ridden 75 km, so we bought a 2 litre bottle of Canada Dry and started drinking that at some tables outside the supermarket. A guy came along on a bike with music blaring from a wireless speaker, called us "fellow bikers" and asked if he could join us. After he sat down he turned out to be a total idiot and just started criticising us. "That's a lot of gear", "Why are your water bottles down there, you won't be able to drink from those when you are riding" and "Where do you come from?", "Australia," I replied. "Well you couldn't have come from there on a BIKE". This was our cue to remove ourselves. "Where are you going?" "Canada, and we will swim to get there!". We went to get pizza and ordered a large pepperoni online to get 50% off. We ate it so fast that we ordered another one. The manager even came out to where we were sitting to make sure that the second one wasn't a mistake!

After eating, the route to Bay View State Park and the Pacific Ocean through the outskirts of Burlington was brilliant and quick. It felt like a German or Dutch cycle route, criss crossing through farmland. The US Cycle Route 10 was even clearly marked with road signs and arrows showing you where to go! That's a first! The kilometres passed really quickly! The park is lovely, with a coastal overlook. There are three hiker/biker campsites right at the front gate which each have a tent pad and table (also a fire ring). It was a beautiful day and we were there at 13:00 so had an enjoyable afternoon relaxing. The site was only $12 per night and we had hot showers which was great! The clientele also seems better than those who use the DNR sites, so we are far more comfortable. The funny thing was, during the ride I commented to Mike that it would be relaxing not to have to worry about bears for the next few nights as we will be by the coast in more built up areas. When we arrived each hiker/biker site has cupboards to lock your food away in due to racoons stealing it! So no bears, but now racoons to worry about!



It was overcast today with some rain but no wind. The ride took in many coastal views of little bays and inlets as we travelled south around the Deception Pass area. As usual with island and coastal areas it was very quaint and picturesque and also full of short, sharp hills. The route took us off route 20 most of the time, but when we were on it around 07:00 - 08:00 it was exceptionally busy with a very narrow shoulder. There was a lot of truck traffic about which made it unpleasant.

We stopped for a meal in Oak Harbour. Mike could not help but point ot the sign at Safeway supermarket, put up over a bench for public use, which pretty much sums up our experience of America -- "Here's a bench which you can use if you can do so without loitering or trespassing"!! What?! How do you NOT loiter when you sit on a bench? Crazy.

We caught the 13:15 ferry to Port Townsend which had many cyclists on it, at least 8 to 10. We stopped at Safeway to buy a meal and then it was a quick 8 km to our campsite along the Olympic Discovery Trail which seems an excellent multi-use pass. We were pretty tired by the time we arrived but also very impressed by the campsite. It is in what must be old growth forest and the setting is very picturesque. The hiker biker campsites are tucked away in the forest and it was a very peaceful few hours there. As I write a group of three bikers has arrived to set up which is the first time we have shared a campsite with other cycle tourists.





The Olympic Discovery Trail only really became a consistent pathway after Gardiner, before that it was mainly on the road which had a good shoulder from where we joined the 101. Before this it was a bit of climbing with only one motorist blaring their hooter from hundreds of metres back, with us in the shoulder, and no oncoming traffic. Just another American idiot on the roads!

We had our coffee break at a lovely public garden in Gardiner. The trail is well built and sealed from here and mostly a pleasure to ride, especially around Sequim where we stopped for more refueling at Safeway. We rode past a church with a sign at the road saying "Love God. Love people. Love Jesus", next to it was a sign on a pole saying "Suspicious people will be reported to law enforcement". Seemed a bit of a contradiction. That's not reporting "suspicious behaviour", but "suspicious people"; paranoid!?. Who decides who is suspicious? Certainly we have fit the bill in some parts of this crazy country! As the trail nears Port Angeles the trail does some crazy things, for example, taking you down a steep slope, across a lovely specially constructed footbridge and then up an unrideable incline, back to the road just to avoid a road bridge which itself has an excellent shoulder. It winds through some very pretty forests and had portaloos and benches at regular intervals. Our legs were pretty tired by the time we descended to the Pacific Ocean proper! We saw 6 cycle tourists on tandems today! Can't think how that would cope on those little climbs! It was a beautful day down at the coast. Many people were out and about walking their dogs and themselves.

We got to Port Angeles around midday and went to the visitor's centre as I wanted a map of the town and perhaps one of Vancouver Island as well. Seeing nothing obvious on the shelves, I waited behind two parties each being helped by the extremely diligent volunteers who run the place. After about 5-10 min I left, I did not want to seem rude but we had laundry to do. People have different travel needs, nothing wrong with wanting to know where all the best gardens are to visit, it's the season for it afterall! We headed for Peabody's Laundry to wash our clothes. It went well and took an hour. For interest, it costs us about $10 to do two loads of washing and drying. I have learnt from experience not to try to get away with one load, it doesn't wash as effectively. They do have MASSIVE driers here though and these are very cheap. Also for dubious interest, never thought we would practically get undressed on the pavement outside a public laundry to ensure all my cycling gear goes in the wash. Mike shielded me from passersby! You get to the point where you are always living in the open and you just don't really care anymore.

Our motel was around the corner and we had a bit of a wait for our room, so Mike went to the post office to collect a parcel of straps for bottles on the bike and a new pair of cycling boots and pedals for me. My Lake leather boots have started falling apart after 20 000 km (you can't fault that) and they are now so expensive and hard to find that I have decided to forgo clipping in and now have platform pedals and Keen Targhee boots. Together they were cheaper than replacing the Lake shoes. I will see how this goes, I have not felt comfortable clipping in for a while and usually have my right foot unclipped anyway. It seems an advantage riding platform pedals as you can ride in any shoe, even my Keen sandals! This motel has a ramp up to the first floor which is a pretty cool feature as you can just wheel your bikes up! No aircon, which we did not even think about, but you can open the window and there is a fan, also it's not warm. We headed out to Safeway for our new favourite deli item, chicken teriyaki and sweet and sour chicken and fried rice and noodles. It's funny as they call it Chinese Food, which I suppose it is, alongside the fried chicken. I don't know why we find that strange, only in Australia it would just be chicken teriyaki or whatever. They do lovely egg rolls too. We had a rest day in the hotel too, which was so good and relaxing. Ate another Domino's Pizza, went to Safeway again, and a great outdoor store called Swain's which has a great selection of gear and clothing. We are saving ourselves for the Fjallraven store in Canada which we will go to tomorrow though. We did buy a bear bell (ting-a-ling) which I will attach to my bike. We have been blowing our whistles loudly when going downhill on twisty dirt roads in the morning (so as not to suprise a bear) but it isn't really practical. The bell will alert them as it swings from side to side as I ride. We also planned our route through Vancouver Island and then the next exciting installment into remote BC. Stay tuned! Bear bell will come in handy there for sure!




We left the "lower 48" in the US having cycled 6200 km which seems a lot even for us having done it! We were up early for the 08:20 ferry to Victoria, Vancouver Island. The ferry trip is 90 min long and we met and chatted to a motorcyclist from Florida on a big trip and a man from Oregon. We sat outdoors and it was quite breezy and cold! There were a few other cycle tourists on board going over to the island for some travel by bike. We disembarked at Victoria and were interviewed by Canadian customs, the official was very friendly and told us that Canadian bears don't eat Australians, they eat Americans! We were happily welcomed into the country. Victoria is a nice city with beautiful buildings and gardens. It feels good to be here. We walked our bikes to the Fjallraven store where I got a pair of dungaree shorts which I wanted and had seen online. Mike had wanted to replace his cycling shirt, however they had none in stock. A bloke came into the store with his dog and helpfully advised us to use the "Bike Valet" for secure bike parking as the downtown area sees some crime. We thanked him and went over the road to MEC (outdoor store) to collect some sleeping bag compression sacks we had ordered. (Their sacks are brilliant -- we bought two on our last trip to Canada and can highly recommend them, they are the MEC housebrand and the best we have ever had). As we leaned our bikes up against the wall, one of the MEC empoyees came out to tell us we could park our bikes in their yard as it was safer. After we collected our order we decided to go over to the Bike Valet, where we met the lovely Rihana (apologies for spelling) and the ELECTRIFYING Zalton who work there. The Bike Valet is set up next to City Hall and funded by the City. It is a great service, they take your bike and park it in their large undercover area and give you a luggage tag which you then return to get your bike back. Zalton was so enthusiastic about our bikes as he is an avid cyclist himself. He was really amusing and just cracked us up. We spent some time chatting to the two of them who were just lovely to spend time with.

We looked around the shops a bit and went for lunch and then returned to collect our bikes. Zalton helped us by recommending a route from Victoria which avoided the Malahat (the high point) and rough track climbing up it. We went to the restrooms at City Hall to change and when we returned he offered us the use of his apartment a few kilometres away for the night as he is currently not using it! How generous is that? We could only say, "Yes please"! He dashed home to pick up the keys and the whole thing was so unexpected we couldn't believe it. It was an easy couple of kilometres away and we have been able to rest nicely which was great because as it turned out we were both thoroughly exhausted and after setting up our mattresses and sleeping bags on the floor we fell into a deep sleep for an hour and a half! So amazing that we just went to park our bikes and then all of this happened! Thanks so much to Zalton! A great welcome to Canada!


Even with all that sleeping yesterday and last night, we felt a bit "off" this morning. I had a headache, put it down to not enough coffee! Easily sorted with a Tim Horton's down the road. We got there at 06:30 but they did not open til 7 on a Saturday. Sad face! We set off towards our ferry cross to Mill Bay. It was a 20 km ride along the Gallloping Goose Trail and very nice, pretty hilly but the roads were quiet. We just missed the 07:30 ferry so sat waiting and looking at the beautiful bay and coastline. We chatted to a father and son on very slick road bikes who were out to ride the three ferries route, which involves a 125 km ride and three ferry trips. They were great to chat to, the father told stories of cycle touring trips with two young children to go camping and the son, who worked for a bike company knew a lot about touring bikes and road bikes. I also chatted to a woman on her e-bike, going to meet friends for lunch in Mill Bay. This was also a lovely relaxed conversation. Canadians are just so easy to get on with! There was a Tim Hortons in Mill Bay and the medium roast filter coffee was just as we remembered, so some things do stay the same! Sorted out my headache too! A regular came to chat to us, mostly about Americans, who he described as "nuts". He was pretty hilarious. As we rode off he said, "Don't forget to write!" and shouted "Drive on the right hand side". There was also a nice young man with a 14 week old St Bernard dog that was really adorable. The two of them live on a sailing boat in Mill Bay. The dog was called Sebastian and had not yet seen a bear. We agreed it would be exciting for him when he did, and for the bear!

We had our next stop at Cowichan Bay, just before Duncan. We met a lady who was originally from Port Elizabeth, South Africa and even attended Priory for a few years, the same school as my mom. She was a few years older though. A lovely lady, we spent some time having a chat. She had studied at UCT (like Mike) and then lived in the UK before emigrating to Canada in the '60's. We picked up some fresh bread, cheese and tomato in Duncan for lunch. The ride today was consistently hilly, lots of ups and downs which take their toll on the legs! It was a lovely riding environment though. We spent some time riding on the TransCanada Highway - Route 1 and even that was pleasant. We felt that our presence as cyclists was accepted by the motorists and everyone seemed level-headed and happy! The route was mainly in the domain of the hobby farm, every property advertised eggs for sale and some sold other things too, like fresh flowers. There were no signs up promising retribution, instead gates stood open and the place seemed welcoming. Also no dogs running wild. We got onto a rail trail before Ladysmith and it was well-used by cyclists, we saw many. There were people walking too and everyone said hi and was friendly.

We passed through the outskirts of Ladysmith and then headed for the forest as we hoped to camp up there. The forest was beautiful. We ended up on theTransCanada Trail but had to walk it for about 1 km as it was a very narrow, bumpy path which led steeply down to a suspension bridge and the climbed up again. We had to handle the bikes together here, which took awhile. Afterwards we tried to get to the lake via one forest track but it ended up not being possible and so we chose another one. Very steep and rough road, we were pushing our bikes again for a few kilometres. At the lake turnoff we realised that it would not be practical to camp there as the path out was rough and steep. We walked down there to have a look and there seemed to be two blokes having an argument, one on a ATV, so we left very quickly. We got onto a good forest road and found a track to camp on just off it. It as a long day, the last few kilometres took hours but we did not really have a choice as there is no camping around here. In the end our ride time was 7 hours, but we were on the road for about 12 hours. We did enjoy the day though, as it varied and was interesting; we are so happy to be in Canada!





It was a bit of an experience getting out of the forest this morning as we ended up taking a forest road which was gated TWICE by a metal boom locked on both sides due to it being through a working quarry. We unpacked at the first boom and at the second we put our bikes on their sides and pushed them under on the gravel, not great treatment for our panniers! We took a cycle route that ran parallel to the highway and crossed a little bridge on it before it just brought us out onto the wrong side of the highway. We had to turn back on the highway and then do a u-turn at the next traffic lights to get onto the right side. "No more of these stupid cycleways!" I muttered emphatically. We stopped at the Cassidy Rest Stop to make breakfast (we didn't want to cook in the forest due to the high fire danger). The restrooms were locked and not to be opened til 08:00. Oh boy, none of this was a good start to our day! Anyway, we had brekky and coffee, and as we left we met a bloke who had stopped with his family and told us we looked strong and were amazing for doing this trip! So that was a boost! We set off with a laugh and a smile.

A few kilometres along the highway and we turned off onto the Park Way Trail which is a dedicated multi-use path. This curled very prettily all the way to just before Lantzville, a total distance of 20 km of mostly PAIN. The number of ridiculously steep grades up and then down was crazy. You try to pick up as much momentum as possible on the downs to coast up the ups and it's hardly ever enough! These paths are always the same. They are perfect in that they take you away from the busy roads completely and from one village to the next, avoiding towns like Nanaimo, but they are in no way suited to people on a long distance tour, carrying a heavy load. Your legs just hate you. The kilometres crawl by, but you have to appreciate the towns and counties and countries that provide this infrastructure at no cost to users. One good experience was sitting down for a coffee break at a small lake before Nanaimo and seeing a pair of bald eagles land high up in an old conifer. They were very vocal and talked to each other for ages, then flew off one by one. They must have been nesting there. It was a pretty spectacular sight.

After Lantzville we were back on the highway for a bit and then we turned off down to Nanoose, a bit more climbing then downhill to Rathtrevor Beach and our campsite. This is a provincial park campground and very nice. We are in a walk-in site and there are hot showers free of charge. It cost us $22.00 which is well worth it. There are dishwashing sinks in the walk in site area which is handy. We met Dike, who was here with his wife and their son from Nanaimo who had his fifth birthday party at a picnic shelter in the park. We had an enjoyable chat to all of them (especially the very excited little boy) and they offered us sandwiches from the party to eat! Very kind. Cyrus, another cycle tourist, is staying here and I had a long chat to him about our experiences travelling in the US. Later in the day another pair of cycle tourists from Winnipeg arrived. All were travelling south. It is amazing how many places there are to see up here if you take in the islands. Enough to warrant another visit!? The forecast rain never arrived and the weather was perfect, cool in the shade and nice and warm in the sun. Due to the shorter day and early finish, we had hours of relaxing in the sun, it was very nice.


A great day's riding today, all on the 19A road which is quieter than the main highway and still has a good shoulder. We feel like we are moving away from the more built up part of the island and it is good. We stopped for morning coffee at Qualicum Bay and sat watching ravenous seals hunt their prey, heads and fins occasionally popping out of the water. It was a peaceful spot. We saw the Canadian equivalent of the American "Trespassers will be shot" sign... it said, "Entry by invitation only." Made us smile. See Americans? You don't have to be rude about it, just ask nicely! We passed through a few coastal villages, all very pretty. There were a few small climbs, just ordinary ones, not too steep, not too long, just right!

We stopped in Courtenay at an outdoor store to replace one of my dry bags. We each ride with two panniers, Mike has the tent and a dry bag in addition that sit across the top, I have two dry bags. One of them is big as we ordered it for our larger bear container however the bag was still too big. It is really too cumbersome on the back of the bike. I have a 22L Ortlieb drybag that both sleeping bags go into. The new compression stuff sack we got at MEC is a 20L one and we can fit both sleeping bags in there and that in turn slots into the dry bag. The MEC compresson stuff sacks are the best, very strong and the straps don't twist. The larger dry bag holds my clothing. We found a Seal Line 20L dry bag - the Baja range. It is bright yellow which is handy on the back of the bike. It will replace the large Ortlieb dry bag. It seems really good quality. Mike also bought a bear bell, so we each have one. They are magnetised to that keeps them silent, but when you take the magnet off, they ring! We will sound like reindeer. Hope the bears don't think so! Mike is on the look out for a new Fjallraven shirt (Singi Trekking shirt) to replace the one he wears which is wearing out. It still looks good, but probably won't last the next 4 months or so! Unfortunately the store did not have the shirt in stock. We stopped for a Domino's pizza, the vouchers just keep coming! A reasonable and highly sustaining meal. Courtenay was a busy town and we were pleased to leave it. It wasn't very cycling friendly compared to the other towns on the island that we've passed through.

With 14 km to go to our campsite, we stopped to buy more food, including GIANT triple chocolate cookies. We also hit a newly surfaced stretch of road which was super duper smooth. We told the traffic controller when she asked if we liked it. We were now into farmland and turned off the road to ride down to the sea. The Kitty Coleman Campground is superb, so quiet, only the sound of the waves lapping. The beach is all pebbles and stones and full of driftwood, massive logs worn smooth. The receptionist warned us that there has been a bear in the park so we are to be careful. She recommended two tent sites on the ocean and we picked the first, it is one of the best campsites we have had lately. It is a cool and overcast day, no rain though. Across the water we can see the mainland.



We had a little climb from our perfect beach campspot to the main road north. We loved Kitty Coleman Park, we would have taken a rest day here but we are on a schedule to get to Port Hardy as we have booked the ferry to Bella Coola for Saturday. It was a lovely place to be. There were pairs of nesting bald eagles and Mike saw another interesting bird, like a large woodpecker with a bright red comb on its head. We were still on the 19A and it was very busy. As we joined the road work was still going on and we saw the girl from yesterday controlling the traffic and waved hello. It was a quick 32 km to the Tim Hortons at Campbell River, there are actually three of them, this was the first one in town! We sat over the road at the sea and I went and got coffees and muffins. We ended up being there for over an hour as so many passersby had a chat to us. There were two ladies walking the coastal path, an elderley bloke who had spent a few months on holiday in Harvey, south of Perth, a man who was on the island with his wife as his mother-in-law was unwell, and a German girl who had cycled from Thunderbay, Ontario (we had cycled through it and even had a rest day there in 2017!). She was on her own and had taken the ferry from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy and is planning on getting to Vancouver and then taking the train to San Fransisco. Campbell River is a nice town, it seems to have expanded in recent years and there are many new housing developments. Everything looks pristine. The walking and cycling paths are brilliant and many people make use of them. Everyone, even the cyclists on the street, are friendly!

We stopped to shop at Walmart, bit of a stock up as there are no shops now until Port Hardy. After this our bikes were much heavier! We stopped at a trailhead to eat lunch and met a lovely lady and her friend who were so friendly and even showed us berries we can eat on the bushes. After this it was about 18 km to our campsite. The recreation area only has one walk in site and is at the end of a very rough 2.5 km track. We road along with both our bear bells dangling. It sounded quite festive! There were massive concrete blocks closing off the walk in access to anyone in a vehicle. The path in was beautiful and the forest was too. The campsite has a new picnic table, pit toilet and lake access, but the water in the lake seems very low and we could not get to it to swim, which was disappointing. We had enough drinking and shower water however. It is a lovely spot and we are all alone which we like. Well, hopefully no bears around, but judging by the turds on the access road, they are very much around. It is great that BC Parks has made this a campsite, they could just have left it as a picnic spot, so that is pretty switched on!



A very peaceful night, we slept soundly. A wolf bayed at the moon around 21:00 but that was it. We set off this morning down the rough track to the main road. We had seen a few piles of bear scat around when we rode in yesterday and there wasn't any more today. We used our bear bells again and we are sure they would scare anything away! The road was beautiful today, our first day where it seemed we were away from it all. There were logging trucks and some other traffic, but we weren't bothered by it. We stopped for a coffee break at a place which would have made a great campspot, a clearing off the road, blocked from cars with old asphalt underneath. We came to the turn offf to Sayward after about 32 km. We hadn't expected a gas station and grocery store. They advertised crispy fried chicken, but at 09:30 the lady inside thought me a little mad to ask if it was available yet. There was a pair of cycle tourists outside and we had a chat to them. They were from Minnesota and here to ride the Sea to Tree Route, a gravel road tour which we had not heard of. They started two days ago and saw 5 bears yesterday! We filled up with water at the tap outside the store.

We rode another 30 km and turned off on a forestry road to our campsite which was down a short track and on the river. It has a picnic table and pit toilet. It is perfect! It turned out to be a sunny day, just lovely, still cool in the shade. We could not wait to get into the river! We washed ourselves and our cycling gear which we hung up in the sun. Just then another two cycle tourists rode in! Lauren from Whitehorse and her daughter Emily who lives in Vancouver. They were also cycling the Sea to Trees and also saw bears yesterday! Being from the Yukon they had a lot of experience of bears and said that as long as they are wild, they are not dangerous. The ones to watch out for are those which have become used to people. They did say that the cubs are curious and will want to approach you and that can cause the mother to become stressed, so they tried to tell the cub who approached them yesterday to go away! They had their lunch at the table and then moved on to Sayward. It was great to meet them! After this we just relaxed, ate and read in the shade. It was a lovely afternoon. Around 18:30 a car pulled in with a canoe on the roof and bikes at the back, but as we were already there and there is not space for two parties (the BC Parks and Trails website does say there are two campsites), they left saying they did not want to encroach on us, which just proves how nice Canadians are.




Everyday on the island has started cloudy and cleared up later and today was the same. We have been lucky with the weather we think. Always blue skies! We stopped for a coffee break around 17 km and then again at a rest stop where the attendant gave us a new roll of toilet paper! Winner! The first 30-odd kms to Woss was good, good shoulder, good road, got the 400m climb over first thing. We stopped as Woss General Store (very general, only bought two bananas!) to eat and met a couple of cycle tourists also riding the Sea to Trees. They were pretty honest about their experience and said it was hard going and they were going to hop on the highway today for a bit as their route had 1600 m of climbing! We commiserated, that sounded like too much! They had seen a bear, but said that they, like us, make a lot of noise on purpose on the forest roads. They also told us that a grizzly bear had recently SWUM to Port McNeill from the mainland! It was captured and taken back there. After Woss, the shoulder went to crap for 60 km. It reset our day from good to bad. There were many logging trucks and also people towing trailers, RVs, caravans and commercial stuff. There were also other types of trucks. At times the shoulder was zero and the speed limit was 100 km/h. The logging trucks do not slow down for anything. It was horrible, stressful riding, particularly on the downhill sections where it is hard to hold your line on a 50 cm shoulder where you also have to avoid the slippy white line. We had planned to ride about 40 km after Woss but kept extending this as we could not find anywhere to camp. All the creeks and lakes were now far below us and the forest was inaccessible.

We soon realised that we would be riding to Port McNeill which had a campground. It was a steep downhill into the town and we went to IGA to buy food to eat, buns, cheese, tomato, lemon chicken, Canada Dry. Then I went back for milk and cereal and yoghurt. We rode around the corner to the campground only to see it was on top of a steep gravel road. Oh man. Also the sign said we had to book in online (for which you get charged a booking fee). So a steep hill AND a $28 tent site, which even if it was crap you would stay only because of the hill you had just laboured up. We kept going along the flat as there were pull offs ahead and a path down to the sea. Mike took a walk and pronounced it good. We popped back to town and picked up some water at the laundry. We rode our bikes along the shady forest path and came to a pebbly beach. Perfect little campsite! There is no one around here on the outskirts of town. We showered using fresh water in our shower bag, ate and put up the tent. Fingers crossed no one comes by!


The good shoulder had returned at the turnoff to Telegraph Bay yesterday and we packed up and had breakfast quickly to rejoin it after climbing out of Port McNeill. Our bushcamp found last minute last night was perfect. We had a good sleep and it was absolutely quiet. Not even a dog walker! We were amazed! We woke to perfectly calm water, the bay was a mirror! The 43 km ride into the town of Port Hardy was very quick on the good shoulder which was also very smooth. We had our coffee break at Misty Lake Rest Area and then went straight to the town. On our way in we passed the Marina which has a laundry where we decided to wash our cycing gear and some other clothes. This was a great experience as we chatted to a variety of people while waiting. The laundry was suberb as well. The ladies who worked at the Marina were very friendly and there was free coffee available!

We met a guy who lived in Campbell River and is married to a girl from Bloemfontein, South Africa! They go back every second year to holiday in Mosselbay! As does most of Bloemfontein, which we remember from the time we lived there. They were married on the Outeniqua Pass! Small world. We had a long chat to him; he is working temporarily in Port Hardy and was also doing laundry. He told us a lot about salmon, bear and cougars (there was a recent cougar sighting in the area). He also told us that the grizzly which swam ashore last week walked to the road at Hyde Creek, which is perilously close to the bay at Port McNeill. Also, they don't relocate them back to the mainland. Apparently there are about 30 grizzlies living on the island. We also spoke with a young bloke from Vancouver who is sailing up to Bella Coola. Two other men arrived who are from Brisbane and came over to take part in a sailing race from Port Townsend (which we travelled through in Washington State) to Alaska. It took them just over 2 weeks. Mike chatted to two ladies who had just come over from Bella Coola on the ferry and reassured us that the infamous Bella Coola "Hill" was not as bad as they had been led to believe. When we first looked at ferry options from the island back to the mainland (there are many!!) this one looked like a bad option due to the very steep climb called "the Hill" which heads inland. However, we decided that the road was too good to pass up just because of this climb. So we are going to do it!

We went into the town where we shopped, ate and relaxed on the lawns of the local park. It was great just whiling away the afternoon. We only had to get as far as the ferry terminal today as our ferry leaves at 07:30 tomorrow and we need to be at the terminal by 06:00. This is very early for a ferry trip! We left the park around 17:30 after chatting to a few locals who assured us that we could just camp there in the park! We met a family from Ontario on a driving holiday and the bloke's sister lives in Perth! The family went out to visit some years ago for Christmas! We found a great spot to camp around 3 km from the ferry terminal, it was a wide gravel track blocked off from the road by concrete blocks with a gap we could push our bikes through. Our ideal campsite! Only three huge piles of bear scat, but we made a lot of noise! No cougar in sight!


We were up at 04:30 and packed on the bikes at 05:15. It was only a 10 min ride to the ferry terminal and already a hive of activity. We were checked in right away by the very friendly personnel at the front gate and sat down at the picnic table to wait. There were many motorists there already. They had complimentary coffee available and the atmosphere was jovial. A bloke (Len we later found out) came over to speak to us about his son who is going to cycle from Nanaimo and then get the ferry to Prince Rupert. We were able to give him some information about cycling on the island, particularly the poor shoulder from Woss to the Telegraph Cove turnoff. We later met his wife, Svetlana and chatted to them a few times on the ferry ride. We boarded first at 06:30, with three other foot passengers. All the staff were brilliant and made everyone feel at home. The ferry, the Northern Wolf, was great, quite small in size, good outdoor decks and very clean inside.

At was a foggy morning but once it cleared we had magnificent views of the Queen Charlotte Sound and the narrow waterways all the way to Bella Coola. We spent a bit of time on the viewing deck and it was warm in the sun, no wind. The ferry trip took 10 hours and we were not bored at all. We listened to music, read, dozed and went outside when we wanted to. The people were all quiet and as all dogs have to remain with the vehicles that was an added bonus.

We arrived in Bella Coola at 17:00, the ferry had to do a 360 degree re-try to dock due to the strong tailwind, couldn't get it's turn in which was necessary as there was only one hatch for the vehicles to get out (the towing vehicles all reversed on at Port Hardy, which for the caravan must have been quite nerve wracking)! We decided on a bush camp one or two kilometres down the road before the town. There was a track down to the river, not the main channel. We went down there and there was a perfect campspot at the end. We sat and had something to eat and were soon joined by Yantze, a acupuncturist from Salt Spring Island who comes here for two weeks 4 times a year to treat mainly the First Nations inhabitants of the town, however, everyone is welcome and many people do come to make use of the service. He sat down and had a smoke and we chatted for well over an hour about the community here and the challlenges faced and all manner of things, including bears which he said were all around. He was really interesting. After he left, around 20:00, we pitched the tent and packed our things away. Then Mike spotted a grizzy bear walking along on the other side of the water. So we jumped into our tent and went to bed! Fingers crossed all is well. Not too worried, the bear is well downwind of us so would know we are here. Hope he is happy.




We slept undisturbed last night, phew! Bit stressful considering we had a grizzly bear over the river. The river seemed tidal, sort of an estuarine situation so you cannot say it was a barrier to the bear. Of course, I woke at 23:00 needing to wee. I took the bear spray, put my headtorch on bright and walked the 50 m to the pile of bear scat, may as well make everyone share the same toilet. The situation was not helped by the chest high coastal hedge which you had to wonder what was sleeping on the other side. So you can imagine what my heart did when I heard a shuffle-plop and a massive bull frog jumped on the side of the path! We decided not to dally this morning by having breakfast at the spot and set off towards the village of Bella Coola. In the end we had our oats and coffee at the hydro station (electricity) just on the other side. It was a beautiful day, blue skies right from the get go and the scenery is just spectacular. This is one of the best roads we have ridden for the views. We waited in Hagensborg for an hour for the supermmarket to open as we would like to take a rest day tomorrow, or rather a short day. It was worth it, great little store. It is pretty rural in this area, perfect lawns and little homes, settled by Norwegians and it certainly feels like it. The landscape is really similar, wide river valley and steep sided mountains. We stopped at a viewing area for Mount Stupendous (apt name) and met a lovely couple from east of Williams Lake. We joined them at their picnic table and they gave us cold watermelon. We felt so at home with them, as if we had come to visit! They told us a lot of interesting things about the area and how it is to live here, also about "the Hill" e.g. washboarded near the top...mmmm, wait! We rode another 2 km to Fisheries Pool Campground. We are now in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park which is an important park in the BC group, home to such creatures as the spirit bear (blond or white coloured type of black bear). The Campground has only 9 sites and 2 tent only sites which are really walk in, or rather, walk up sites! It also has a beautiful enclosed seating area and very nice pit toilets. The river is sublime, Shallow and fast-flowing, pebbles on the bottom. It is a salmon fishing river and a salmon catching river for bears. No bears now thoughwe believe, they come from the mountains later in the year. A family camping there made us welcome and a bloke from Vernon, BC, Craig, who has been coming here for 46 years to fish was really friendly, even giving us water and offering us a beer! We had multiple swims and tried to avoid the biting insects. Tomorrow we will have a late start and just go 17 km to Atnarko Campground. We decided to camp a night at each and have a short and super short day instead of a rest day. The bitumen ends at Atnarko and "the Hill" begins.





We really enjoyed camping at Fisheries Pool, so much so that we considered staying another day, but the plan was to just do the 17 km ride to Atnarko and we stuck to it. We had a super relaxing morning though, dozing until 09:00 and eventually leaving at 12:30. We had a swim after breakfast and then lay in the tent reading until the sun came in at midday. It is really warm here, perfect blue skies and the stunning rocky mountains drawing ever closer as we neared Atnarko. This road is one of our trip highlights, it is so beautiful, absolutely pristine. We assume that very few people actually come through here, the road is certainly quiet. Not campervan domain. Atnarko Campground was actually a better campground than Fisheries Pool with really nice sites under pine trees laid out along the river. Hardly anyone here too. We picked a site which had easy river access as we had about 4 swims. There were a fair number of biting insects, but we were able to lie outside with a couple of coils burning. There is a handpump for water, however we just pulled bucket loads from the river to filter. Beautiful water. We are happy with our remaining food supply in light of the big hill to climb tomorrow. We haven't seen it, luckily you can't see it from the campground, but it is just around the corner. It would totally freak us out all night if we could see it now! We are going to get an early start, 06:00 as it gets very hot here at midday and we want to have as much of the hill climbed as possible by then. It is about 20 km long and we have to climb 1200 m in total (920 m in the first 10.6 km), the surface is unsealed so we expect it to take a while. We have loved our time in the Bella Coola Valley.



We hit the road just before 06:00 after a good sleep. The Hill began 1.5 km from Atnarko, the sealed road turns to gravel and the road just lifts up. We worried about the gradient, the surface, the bears. The one thing we did not worry about was the MOSQUITOES which reached plague proportions. The climb was hard but we did not have to get off and push much. In the first 11 km the gradient did jump to 14 %, but overall we managed to stay on the saddle and pedal, except for 4 pushing stints. The effort was enormous and we sweated profusely until it was dripping off us. The mozzies loved that! We used so much DEET spray that our lips went numb when it sweated off our faces. There were very few passing vehicles, mostly were commercial vehicles, even road maintenance vehicles. The road is very well maintained. The guy was watering it by truck today.There are some deeper gravel sections and some washboarding, but overall for an unsealed road it is excellent. The views of the valley below and the mountains as they rise about you are unforgettable.

After the initial 920 m stint, the road actually loses some height and crosses a very tempting river (we did not stop, still work to do!) and then climbs a further 340 m. This was all rideable until the last climb which was just too steep. Then it was over - Heckman Pass, the summit. We took a break at the lookout and felt a great sense of accomplishment. There is no reason to be nervous about riding this hill, particularly the bike packing crowd who carry less load. We had very little food left, by design, and did not carry much water (3 L and 4.4 L each) so our bikes were as light as they were going to get. Certainly had we passed up the entire road simply because of this hill we would have missed a lot. Amazingly we did not see a bear or much sign of bear on the road.

Once on top the riding is super easy, the road still unsealsed but smooth as silk and often running straight ahead through the forest. This was a great ride but we were tired. The hill had taken nearly 5 hours to ride including breaks, all 20 km! We were looking for a bush camp, but there were no good lakes, just mainly marshland. We stopped at a river to collect water and filter it. While doing so a bloke came along and offered us water, but we were nearly finished filtering so declined. As we rode over the bridge we came across a young woman and older man stopped by the roadside and she said if we needed water, we could collect it from the spring like they were doing. Man, that was disappointing! If only we had known. Still, we had our water. We continued still hoping for a river to camp by so we could swim, but nothing turned up. Mike spotted some dry forest and it looked good for camping. We pushed our bikes in there and there were hardly any bugs. It was a pretty long and hot afternoon, but a good camp spot. We are tired.






We set off on our last bit of unsealed road before the bitumen started at Anahim Lake where we waited until the General Store opened at 08:00 to do a bit of a restock. This is a First Nations community and the prices were not too bad for such an out of the way spot. We rode on to Nimpo Lake where there is another General Store and bakery. We bought a few more things at the store but unfortunately the bakery was closed. We sat and ate fresh tomato, cheese and cucumber on biscuits which was delicious. After Nimpo the road narrowed and we were struck by the beauty of the forest and the views of the hills ahead. We love riding the Chilcotin Plateau. It feels "north". There is a lot of marshland around and we saw a herd of horses, one of cows and quite a lot of bear scat on the roadside. We were surprised by a beautiful raging river as we descended into a wide river valley and decided to camp short to enjoy lovely swims thoughout the afternoon. There was an overgrown gravel track down to a clearing alongside the river and we set up there. It was quite cool in the shade and so good to have endless water. We relaxed and rested which we could not do yesterday in the heat. There are many black fly here which bite and leave bleeding holes in your skin. Makes a change from mosquitoes! The road is quiet although we had some logging trucks today.


Overcast skies were pretty welcome today! We had a thunderstorm type rain shower last night and again this morning, hardly any rain just big drops. Pretty easy day's ride. We continue being impressed by the scenery on this road. Dropping down into Kleena Kleene we were amazed to see the fertile valley under pasture. There were a few herds of cows about and a ranch along the road. With the Williams Lake Stampede starting today, the ranch seemed a hive of activity. We passed a few lakes today, Tatla Lake being the largest. There is a small community there and we were able to access free wifi at the library (password conveniently posted on a, well actual post outside!) at the community centre, which was closed today. We spent a while there getting the website uploaded, which we had not been able to do since Bella Coola. There are numerous recreation sites on this stretch, we went into Pinto Lake Rec Site, there is also Tatla Lake Rec Site, One Eyed Lake and then Pyper, where we stayed. These lakes have crystal clear water and Pinto and Pyper at least have white sandy bottoms. The turquoise water, white sand and swimming pool clarity make them seem like tropical oceans. We cycled past many marshlands today as well and they are pristine, you see many water lillies with yellow flowers. We can't remember being in such an unspoilt environment.

We stopped at a rest area which had garbage bins so were able to throw away our overnight rubbish. BC always provides bear safe bins and they are always regularly serviced. We dropped down into the valley in which Pyper Lake is found and had a 3 km ride off the main road on a well maintained gravel road to the lake. We were really impressed, there are three sites in a large area, each with picnic table and fire rings, and brilliant lake access. The lake is so clear and clean you just walk in onto soft white sand. We had a couple of swims. There are two other blokes here, both fishermen, one from Prince George and one from Nanaimo. We have seen bald eagles again and can hear what we think are trumpeter swans in the distance. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and is also much cooler now. Amazingly the lake campground was almost bug free, only a few horseflies. We are relieved as we have had such hot weather since Bella Coola and hopefully that is changing now.



The temperature dropped massively overnight. We woke to a clear and cold morning, less than 2 degrees C!! We were amazed! We wore gloves this morning and we were only saying a few days ago maybe we should pack them away as they get in the way in our handlebar bags. Amazing! No bugs due to the cold. It is Canada Day tomorrow and Williams Lake has their stampede on all weekend. A couple we met yesterday escaping the town for the weekend said it is really busy and we have decided to give it a miss. There is a corner we can cut at the end of Highway 20 (the Chilcotin-Bella Coola Highway we are on) and take an unsealed road to the next town after Williams Lake, Quesnel. So instead of getting to Williams Lake on Sunday, we will get to Quesnel on Monday, saving about 50 km and also a big climb at Williams Lake. This means that we need some extra food and as Alexis Creek has a general store we wanted to get there today. Just a few kilometres before Alexis Creek is Bull Canyon Provincial Park with a campground, but we had no choice but to skip it and hope to be able to camp down by the Chilcotin River at Alexis Creek or shortly afterwards.

We had the 3 km ride back from Pyper Lake to the 20 and at this junction the road changed to a much newer surface with central line markings which we had not had for a while which had added to the remote feeling of the road. We loved the smooth surface, which was super quick. Also, no logging trucks today, being the Friday prior to the Canada Day weekend maybe they had the day off? We enjoyed the ride today. Redstone took an hour and 19 km to reach, and had a petrol station and store! Great excitement as always when you see a store on a remote road, especially a secret one which is not shown on Google or any tourist maps. This is a First Nations community and we love shopping in First Nations stores. We really enjoy meeting indigenous people on country anywhere, it is always a great experience. The Redstone store was no different, the lady who worked there was so friendly and chatted about our trip. We could use their wifi and were given fresh coffee on the house! We bought quite a lot of food, a couple extra meals and some oats, baked goods and so on and sat outside doing some online housekeeping. Mike bought petrol for our MSR stove. All the people who came to the store were friendly and greeted us. One always feels so welcome in these places.

Now that we had the food to get us to Quesnel, we could stop and camp at Bull Canyon. So a nice short day! We got there by 11:30 after riding through a swarm of grasshoppers! The campground is on the Chilcotin River which is huge and fast flowing and milky turquoise in colour It is beautiful. There is no easy swimming access, probably as the river is not suitable for swimming, due to its speed! We found a path down to it and had three wonderful swims throughout the afternoon.. Nothing beats a river swim. We were amazed when we arrived to find the campground empty, but people did drift in throughout the day. There are 20 sites here and a handpump with great water. We met David and Noreen from California, such friendly people and Barry and Marie from Vancouver, here for the Williams Lake Stampede.



Great sleep last night and Canada Day today! We stopped at Anaham Store (at the gas station), bought some snacks and had our flask coffee. After this we had a 400 m climb which is the biggest we have had since "the Hill" and was quite steep at 8%. Very lovely views of the river from the top. We then remained on the higher ground for a while before dropping down and then climbing a bit again. The road was good, quite a bit of traffic going to the stampede we thought. All cattle farmland here. We stopped at Blechers Pond Rec Site contemplating camping there but it seemed there were two sites and both were taken. With about 10 km to go before McIntyre Lake Rec Site and our planned campsite, Mike spotted a handy campspot where the road margin was up high on an embankment. The area is full of conifers and we had plenty of space up to the farm fenceline. Another early and relaxing finish. Mike had carried plenty of water today and we had good snacks to eat so no cooking tonight.

The weather has changed to being quite windy and a lot cooler. Makes it a lot more bearable (but no bears... ha ha).



It was a really cold morning, only 1 degree C. We were amazed at how soundly we both slept last night considering all the sleeping we had done yesterday afternoon. It was so quiet last night without even any river noise, like being in a vacuum. We had 10 km to ride on the beautiful Chilcotin Highway, and then we turned left onto the unsealed Meldrum Creek Road. This was a lovely road, great surface and pretty landscape. We passed McIntyre Lake Rec Site and then about 14 km further on, the turn off to Till Lake Rec Site, which was only 2 km off the road and a handy campspot. We had our coffee break at the intersection here. We turned off the Meldrum Creek Road towards Soda Creek (sign to Quesnel was reassuring as this was a far more minor road!) and the road turned into a farm road which ran past some very pretty log farmhouses. The road wound through the farmland and we had views of the surrounding hills. It was a lovely ride. Overall the road had been very much downhill to here and we had some climbing to do, some of it pretty steep and the surface not always very good.

The Fraser River came into view and it is impressive. It has worn itself into a very wide river valley and was far below the road at this point. Everywhere are cattle farms with green fields being watered by large sprinklers. We stopped for lunch at the junction of Stack Valley Road with West Fraser Road (our road). Stack Valley Road crosses the river via the Rudy Johnson Bridge, after which it climbs very steeply towards Soda Creek Road and on to Williams Lake. This massive river has really driven how the roads operate here. Only a few cars passed us all day and all the drivers were very friendly. We had more climbing after the break but luckily with 90 km to go to Quesnel, the road was sealed and so things went quicker after this! The day was sunny but not hot and we were on the lookout for a water source as we had not filled up yet and the river did not look to be coming any closer, still far beneath us and on the other side of farms. We came across a small stream running off the mountainside and I filled up the folding bucket and then Mike filtered the water. We both felt tired. With 15 km to go our legs felt like not riding anymore and there was still climbing to do. The views were just amazing though and the road was perfect. About 4 km short of our end point we saw our first mum and bub black bears on the side of the road. We stopped and she lifted her head and they scarpered down the hillside into the forest. We can't believe that other than Mike's grizzly bear spotting in Bella Coola on the evening we arrived (to be fair that one was a bit close for comfort), we did not see another bear on Highway 20. We must be doing all the right things I guess!

The road became unfenced and we pushed our bikes across the wide grassy bank towards the conifers growing along the edge of the drop off to the river. There was a rough vehicle track through the grass and we followed it to the end. It looked like the remains of an old campsite here. The area was big and grassy and well shaded. We unpacked and walked down the very steep path to the water for a swim. The river was flowing fast and was very silted but good for a wash! After this we ate. We are pretty low on food now, no treats sadly. But we will arrive in Quesnel tomorrow and any delights await out tummies there. We were so tired and had a lie down. We heard a vehicle driving along and sure enough it was coming along the track which we were lieing in! We chatted to the couple. They were from the First Nations Reservation between us and Quesnel and had driven along here to see where they used to come to fishing camps as younger people. This was the remains of the campsite we could see. They would fish for salmon and dry it. It was interesting to have a chat. We had left my phone charging by solar on the track and they had driven over them (the panels only not the phone) as they would not have seen them. The panels still look fine, just wiped them down to get the tyre tracks off. Luckily the phone was not squished! After this visit we relaxed again, beautiful evening and then into bed. We decided to book into a motel for two nights in Quesnel and we do not plan to go to Prince George, and a rest day is in store!





A day of unexpected happenings! We set off as usual and had a series of ups and downs, the road was quite hilly but very quiet. Pretty farmland all around. We suddenly saw a furry black head and then a brown head and body as two bears leapt away from the road to our left. A bit further on Mike got a BIG fright when he reached the top of a steep little climb and heard a massive rustle in the bush as something rushed towards him. It turned out to be one of those crazy ground nesting birds you get here. The father birds (we think) will throw themselves at you all puffed up and full of feathers to distract you from the babies. The same thing happened to me on a dirt road on the island. Anyhow, his heart slowed down in time for ANOTHER black bear to cross the road in front of us. We stopped and it scampered into the field opposite, stopping twice and getting up on its hindlegs to have a good look at us. Amazing, five bear sightings in two days! And in the area where you wouldn't really think of bears, in amongst the farmlands. We love it, makes for an interesting day.

We had our coffee break and rode about another 16 km when a signboard clearly showed a detour onto an unsealed road to our left and read "Narcosli Creek Bridge Closed" and indicated to travel from Webster to Garner. We had no idea where those places were or how long the detour was, or even if it was still in existence as the signage looked pretty old. Sometimes if a bridge is under repair or even missing you can get past it on a bike even if a car cannot, so we wondered if we should just go and try. At that moment a ute drove by and we hailed it to ask them. Will and his wife Joelene were travelling back to Quesnel with a icelandic lamb in the back in a little carrier basket. We asked them about the road closure and they said the road had been washed out in a slide three years ago and was still under repair. We asked about the detour and Will said it was about 50 km long (and gravel; gulp!) and pretty hilly. He quickly offered us a lift and faced with local knowlege and the possibility that our 65 km day had just morphed into 110 km, we decided for the first time to accept a ride! Local knowledge trumps all! We piled our bikes into the back next to the bleating lamb, along with our gear and Mike got in the back and I got in the front, with Joelene sitting in the middle as she is little. Wow, it felt fast in that car! We chatted about life in Quesnel, his work as a sheriff, the "freezer lamb" in the back which they would bottle feed and as Joelene would tell their kids "be nice to it but don't get too attached because in the fall it will go into the freezer". They were great conversationalists and time passed very quickly. They were happy to drop us at our motel but as soon as the road turned back to bitumen, we asked them to drop us so we could ride into town and said our farewells. As we were packing the bikes by the roadside another ute pulled up which was Brian, asking if we were okay. We thanked him and explained that we had had a lift. He asked if we had accomodation in town as they had accomodation on offer at their home. We thanked him, saying that we had a reservation. He then offered us lunch or coffee and gave us his address, which was just north of town. As we were now pretty early for the motel due to the lift, we said sure, see you later! It took about 45 minutes to get to Brian and Darcy's house and they were so engaging and welcoming. We sat in their garden which overlooks the massive Fraser River and had coffee, muffins, cheese and fruit and chatted for a couple of hours. They had been living in Campbell River on Vancouver Island for years and he ran a charter boat which took research crews to remote spots investigating Native Title Claims. Interesting work! They moved out to Quesnel a year ago. They were so easy to chat to and had many stories. Mike also borrowed a tool from Brian (who builds all sorts of things from trailers to sheds to luxury boats, and has also flown float planes for charter flights) as he needs to replace a washer on his bike crank. Brian was happy to help and we can just drop it off as we will ride past their place on Wednesday. Funnily enough, Brian told us we could have cycled over the new bridge over Narcosli Creek, they had taken a chance and gone down that way in their truck and although it was still unfinished, it was barely driveable, but easily walkable. This was annoying in one way as we do not usually accept rides, but it did lead us to meet some pretty great people today and we cannot be unhappy with that!

We checked in to our motel room at 13:30. We are happy to use motels as you can wheel the bikes in and they are pretty modest places. This one has a newly renovated bathroom and flooring which is nice. We took a walk into town to buy food and came back to eat.


We had a very relaxing day off at the Gold Pan Motel. We left this morning around 10:00 to make the most of it, heading to the Twin Lakes Rec Site on the Blackwater Road. We made a stop at Brian's first to return a tool Mike had borrowed in order to replace a washer in his bottom bracket. The first 20 km of the road were sealed and the further along we went, the more rural the road became. When the gravel started it was a brilliant surface, very smooth. But we had a lot of climbing, 780 m which is alot over 47 km. One of the climbs was 11% gradient! So the ride was hard. We were very sweaty as it was a warm day with barely any wind. Other than the climbs the road was beautiful and very quiet. The few motorists which passed us slowed down which was nice, and greeted us. One bloke stopped and invited us to stay on his farm for the night! As it was 10 miles further from our end point we declined, but very appreciatively. Twin Lakes Rec Site is very nice, one picnic table and a pit toilet and easy camping under the conifers. Difficult lake access though, for our swims we had to walk down very steep, slippery paths. Anyone other than a sweaty and grimy cycle tourist needing a bath would have turned back!! The swims were lovely, cold water, very refreshing. It would surprise many people when we say that the most annoying insect we encounter here are ants! There are millions of them at camping areas and they love to climb on you and bite you. For our second swim we seemed to walk through an ants nest! When we left our towels and clothes by the lake to swim, the ants just swarmed all over them. Anyhow, we will have a 04:30 wake up tomorrow as it will be another warm day. It should be a quiet night here!



We had set the alarm for 04:30 but both slept through it until 04:40. We felt tired. We couldn't understand it, we had had such a good day off in Quesnel and had relaxed. Maybe we should have had two days off! We were on the bikes by 06:00. and the first 22 km were pretty much the same as yesterday. A bit climby, not too steep. The road turned right, sign posted to Prince George. The surface changed here, becoming much looser, more gravelly. We had a descent to Blackwater River and then a steep climb after. The descent was made complicated by a large herd of cows and calves, together with two feisty bulls which had taken over the road. This is always a tricky thing as no matter what you do, they are going to run hell for leather down the road. They had blocked off the road so we asked them nicely to share the road and this caused a stampede. The bull on either side looked ready for action. Anyhow, they ran and ran and ran, we cycled alongside. Luckily they deviated onto a track to the left and disappeared into a cloud of dust. There is a Rec Site at the river, complete with picnic tables and toilet. A great spot, but no river access as it was more of a canyon. We struggled with the steep climb after, walking part of the way. There were a couple of 12-13% grade climbs today, some short but they were taxing on the loose surface.

We stopped to filter water at the next rec site. We had hoped to do so at the river, but it was too far below the road. The Rec Sites on Blackwater Rd are fabulous, there are so many and they are right on the road. We got to the turn off to Punchaw Lake Rec Site around 11:00. We were both feeling tired, as if we needed a sleep! The road was wearing us down. It was quiet but the riding was quite tough. We headed down the track and had a quick swim in the not very clear water, then lay down and fell into a deep sleep for over an hour. We then moved to another spot as it had turned sunnny and just lay about, eating and resting. We were undecided whether we would go on, but we had only ridden 44 km. It felt like such a big effort. Anyway, by 16:00 we were ready to ride about 15 km to the next Rec Site and our planned end point. We pushed our bikes most of the way up the track which was steep down to the lake and amazingly Blackwater Rd had much improved itself by the time we were back on the road! This stretch had been recently watered and even graded. We were impressed! The riding was easier too, no more very steep climbs and the surface made a huge different. The time went quickly and we were at MacKenzie Lake by 17:30. Neither of us felt exhausted as we had earlier, it was a nice ride. We had another swim in some more soupy water. Darcie had told us in Quesnel that the lakes can have a parasite in them which causes "duck itch". It's to do with microscopic parasites that can burrow under your skin and the inflammation causes itching. We have gotten into some dodgy lakes in our time so this doesn't worry us, but we are making sure to have short swims and towel off thoroughly after. Mike is also making many duck jokes. I was standing in the water getting ready to swim when I suddenly remembered, "Didn't Darcie tell us there were leeches in the lakes also?" at which I looked down and saw a leech attached to my foot. Nevermind, just one more thing too worry about that will draw blood! I had the sucker pulled off in an instant.




There were hundreds of mozzies last night that made their home under the tent flysheet. Apart from their humming it was dead quiet so we heard every rustle in every bush. There were many sudden bird calls and a wolf baying at the moon. There was also something walking over rocks, shifting them as it went.

We avoided as many mozzies as we could this morning and pushed our bikes back up the track to the road. The surface was again pretty good. We were surprised and delighted when we hit bitumen after only 8.5 km! It was immediately so much faster, even the little hills we had to climb. We stopped for our coffee break and shortly afterwards came across a moose and her baby eating along the road margin. They immediately ran alongside the road and ducked into the bush. It was our first moose calf sighting. We cut through some farmroads to get to the Yellowhead Highway. They were sealed and easy to ride. Shortly after we joined the highway, we stopped at a gas station to buy chips and a 2L bottle of Canada Dry (our drink of choice!). We then set off along our first Canadian Highway. It did not disappoint, it was a brilliant ride, even the steep descent and climb at Mud River! It had a mostly good shoulder. We stopped to eat around 10:30 and continued along a steadily rising gradient. We were so impressed at how fast it was to ride compared to the roads we have ridden lately.

As we hit the last climb of the day the shoulder disappeared almost completely and it never regained its previous width. The road carried a lot of truck traffic even oversized loads so we were not pleased about the shoulder. About 2 km from our end point a truck carrying an oversized load lightly tooted at us which we took as a suggestion to leave the road and hop onto the gravel margin, but as we did that we saw a large bull moose grazing in the grass just off the road. It ran through my thoughts that the moose might decide to run onto the road, but he dashed into the bush. We had decided to aim for the Rest Area before Vanderhoof as it had water available and plenty of room to camp, which did not appear to be restricted there. We relaxed in the shade and enjoyed our drink! A Chinese cycle tourist arrived and we had a long chat to him. He is also riding to Alaska and will then fly to Australia! It is not buggy here, just warm but the afternoon was not unpleasant. The campsite will be a little louder than our one last night!

Last night was the first night for us camping at a roadside rest stop, and it was pretty good. There were quite a few people overnighting there, and everyone just went to sleep. A petrol tanker which parked there had his engine running all night which was the only noise. It was far from us, but was still a bit of a nuisance. We woke to the coolest morning we have had in days which was so nice and we made brekky at a picnic table at the rest stop. We set off for our second day on the Yellowhead. The shoulder was very narrow for the first 10 km and we were pleased with an early start to avoid truck traffic. After that it improved a lot. First stop was Tim Hortons Vanderhoof and the 35 km went faster than any 35 km we have ridden lately! It's amazing how fast the kilometres tick by on a good surface! The road is being resurfaced just short of the town and had been scraped but that was all so it did not really effect us. As usual Timmos did not disappoint! We met a pair of female motorcyclists on their way to Terrace from Vancouver. So cool to meet ladies on bikes, you don't see enough. They looked so stylish too on their Triumph bikes with colour coded jackets.

There was not much climbing today and when there was it was just a breeze. We loved it! We stopped for a bite to eat, and then again at the next rest stop. We passed a few lakes today and in between there were farming areas. We arrived in Fraser Lake and bought some things for lunch, bread rolls, cheese and of course a 2L bottle of Canada Dry. On the way out of the parking area we saw a gazebo with a sausage sizzle going on. Now as Australians, so we know a good sausage sizzle when we see one and of course we should have known that a polititian would be nearby. "Democracy sausage, anyone?". Sure enough as we went past, one of the blokes yelled out, "Want a free hotdog to boost your energy?". Mike said, "Can't say no to that; what's the occasion?". We stopped and went over. They joked and said that giving away free food was the only way to draw a crowd when the federal MP was in town. "Who's the MP?" I asked and we were introduced to Taylor, Federal Member for this part of BC. Mike said that it was a waste to hand out free food to us Aussies as we don't have a vote! We had a fun time chatting. He was obviously there to meet with and chat to people in the town so a pair of Aussies would not have been on his radar, but he was a top bloke, even inviting us to pitch our tent in his yard in Smithers when we pass through. Phil who was manning the BBQ also lives in Smithers and asked us if we had been impacted by the smoke. We had noticed that the bushfire smoke was worse today than normal and said so. Apparently this is because there are now several more fires, sparked by lightning strikes last night in a thunderstorm. The fires are situated along the Yellowhead Highway. At this stage they are under control and there have been no evacuations. He gave us his card in case we get stuck en route and offered to pick us up to drive us around the firezone. We enjoyed a delicious hotdog and cold soda and had great conversation, what better welcome to a town? That's Canada!

The White Swan Campground is just down the hill from town and the lake is beautiful, clear and great swimming. Camping is on a donation system and RV sites are clearly demarcated. Tenting we presume is along the lakeside. As it was early when we arrived the usual tourist campers had not arrived yet. Those that were camping looked like they had been there for a while despite the stated 2 night camping limit. It was a hot and humid day and the sun was baking. The campground is at the end of a large open field for recreation and there are shelters and picnic sites undercover. We went and unpacked in the shade of the little outdoor stage where we could be in the shade of the building all afternoon. Many people came throughout the afternoon, the place is popular with campervanners and even a few RVs tried their luck. Late in the afternoon two huge buses towing jeeps rocked up. We just hung out at our little shelter. We had many swims and it was easy to access the water. No one else swam which we find curious. Perhaps they have been warned about the duck itch? There were a few boats on the water too. Late in the afternoon the weather changed and a westerly wind picked up and was very strong, bringing a few drops of rain and cooling everything down. This gives us the excuse of sleeping in this shelter, as honestly, who wouldn't? We hope the wind does not enflame the fires.




We woke to pretty smoky skies and a blood red sunrise. We checked the fire alert for the Burns Lake fire and it was unchanged; still only Alert. The road was pretty quiet at 06:00 and we took our first stop for coffee at a rest stop about 25 km later. The riding today was easy and the shoulder was mostly good quallty. Our second break came 33 km after the first, so we pulled into A&W Burns Lake after ridng 73 km or so. We had hamburgers and fries and it was nice and cool inside. While sitting there Mike saw the Chinese bloke from the other night ride down the road! We had passed both fire alert areas and although the smoke became denser, there were no other concerns. By Burn Lake the sky was quite clear. After eating we rode through town, meeting first a woman from Quebec who we had met last night in her campervan at the White Swan campground. She said, "I thought you would be well on your way by now," looking surprised that we were only at Burns Lake. This was a bit strange as we could have said "ditto". Then passing the visitors' centre we spotted the Chinese cycle tourist again sitting outside. We pulled in and had another chat. His name is Siwei. He was busy charging his phone etc. and having lunch. He is such an enthusiastic guy. He pointed out his rear tyre which was completely flat and said that this had happened just while he was sitting there, laughing about it. He said, "When I get a flat tyre I think Good luck!". Maybe it's an age thing, when we get a flat tyre we think, "We don't have time for this crap!". He was heading for Round Lake, which is some way away, but he likes travelling from midday to late at night. We were so happy we had only 26 km to go and could then get out of the heat! The weather is pretty muggy.

We made short work of those last kilometres. The road was busy with trucks and RV's and not pleasant to ride. Many of the trucks carry trailers with wide loads, massive pieces of farm and forestry equipment. The Yellowhead goes straight to Prince Rupert and this whole area is extensively logged. It was pretty flat too. Mike had found this little tent campspot on Rose Lake at the community centre. It is not clear to us where the community of Rose Lake actually is. There is a house on the lake, the community centre building and this cute picnic area. A few wooden picnic tables, a wood store and a shelter with a sign on it saying "tent Camping Shelter". How nice! The skies had been rumbling with thunder all afternoon so a sheter could come in handy! First thing was a lake swim to wash off. Mike went to check it out and came back to report that there were many big tadpoles. I said that tadpoles were fine by me. We walked down the sandy access track to the shore and oh man! Never seen anything like this. There were millions of big black tadpoles. The had all congregated in the shallow water along the shore and the water was just alive with them. You could not get into the lake without walking all over them. A couple got stuck in my sandals! It was crazy! The birds will want to be here when they turn into frogs! After this we had the most relaxing afternoon snoozing away in the tent, listening to the goods trains on the line across from the lake.


It was dead quiet last night, the road was quiet and there was hardly any noise. Barking dog for a bit and some other night sounds. Apparently a campervan pitched up at 22:30, parked near us and the bloke got out and walked around, but then may have seen us and left. Mike saw him, I was asleep. It was a cool morning so no bugs and we started with a brisk uphill ride through a single lane bridge construction zone a few 100 m from our campsite. Of course we had a big truck breathing down our necks in the timed traffic control, so no pressure. We were then on a gentle uphill climb all the way to Six Mile Summit with its Brake Check (they have these before all steep descents and trucks pull off to check their brakes are working properly). The descent was steep and the shoulder disappeared completely which was a bummer, but we had no one pass us on the descent. We pulled into the rest area at around 25 km for our morning coffee break, and who should be camping by the trees at the back? Siwei! So cool! He wakes up at 07:00 :) We had a long chat about cycle touring, equipment problems and bear safety. He has been touring by bike for 10 years! He is the poster boy for this type of travel as he sees everything as an oppurtunity. He is very resilient and takes everything in his stride. He is also heading for Watson Lake and is having a rest tomorrow, we are having a rest day on Thursday, so we will likely continue to see each other along the way which we look forward to as he is a top bloke!

After spending some time chatting, we set off again for a quick ride into Houston. This town has a welcoming feel to it with lovely gardens and picnic areas. We had our Timmos coffees and muffins at a bench and picked up a Coke for later and fresh bread etc. It was warming up now and we had a 200 m climb out of Houston up Hungry Hill. It's funny as these summits have nameboards with their heights e.g. 844 m. We think back to the summits in the US which were thousands of metres. I don't think the US would recognise a 840 m summit! We will never forget those massive climbs and equally massive descents. After Hungry Hill another steep descent with a bit of a headwind. As always the road is busier early afternoon and we are keen to get off it. We were both hungry by the time our turn off to Bulkley River Rec Site appeared. There is a dirt road to follow first and then you turn off this onto a walking track which is not really rideable due to tree roots which form quite the obstacle course. It is also steeply downhill to the river and about 1.5 km long. There are a few seperate campsites each with a picnic table along the river and river access is easy. The river is huge and fast flowing and we had such refreshing swims. Rivers are the best, far better than lakes for feeling clean! There is a pit toilet and a bear cache, but it is only a structure to hang your food bag. It is all very well-maintained. We had our fresh bread, cheese and tomato sandwiches after our swim and got the tent set up as there were thunderstorms brewing. It has rained this afternoon which is the first time we have had rain in ages! We are happy about the rain as there is an active fire between us and Smithers about 30 km away. We have relaxed in the tent.





The walk up out of the river valley was not quite as bad as we thought it would be, it took about 25 minutes. We had a little rest at the chalet right on the highway, it was open and can be used by anyone, which is nice. As we rode we had amazing and surprising views of mountain peaks with snow still visible. The ride to Smithers through Telkwa was quick and easy. Telkwa is a pretty village and just outside Smithers we hit a brand new bike path which brought us into town via a lovely bike rest area complete with fun facts about bicycles and the history of the area, even bear-proof bins and picnic tables. BC is amazing when it comes to bear-proof bins. They are everywhere, there are so many opportunites to throw stuff away which is probably the reason there is no litter. This is completely the opposite philosophy of the USA, and it shows.

Arriving in Smithers we shopped at Safeway, bit of a stock up of the things we know won't be available once we hit the Cassiar Highway. Then we went to sit near the visitor's centre to eat a second breakfast, maple cinnamon frosted flakes. Yum! Next stop Timmos as this might be the last one we will see! Sad face. Then onto the two outdoor stores in town. Mike's Fjallraven Singi Trekking Shirt is sort of hanging in but also falling apart and one store had them but not the right size. We got more mozzie coils and went to the bike shop as Mike's bottom bracket is not quite right. When we were in Quesnel he got a new washer for it from the bike shop thinking this might solve a knocking noise he has heard off and on through the cranks. It hasn't really solved the problem. As this is the last chance bike store until maybe... Fairbanks? we went in. The shop assistants and bike mechanic were really helpful. The cure was a new bottom bracket. We ride Chris King bottom brackets which go ...forever, however as we know from this trip, nothing actually does. Anyhow, the job was going to take about 2 hours, so we left both bikes there and went to sit in a park outside the library and used the free wifi. One of my water bottles has a mould problem. I have been scrubbing it out occassionally (cleaning being what it is on a bike tour) but it has grown luminous pink spots inside all over the walls. Our bottles are 950 ml which is a great size and impossible to find anywhere. Mike remembered that when we met Taylor, the MP on Saturday at the hotdog stand, they had water bottles which they were giving out. When we saw his office on the main street, we popped in there and Phil was in reception. He gladly gave me a bottle when I asked! Very happy and I don't mind doing free advertising for Taylor.

Mike went back into the bike store (McBike) after two hours and his bike was ready. What great service as they were very busy, and squeezed the repair in to avoid delaying us. It turned out that the crank bolt had split open which might have been the problem, but the bottom bracket was also replcaed. The new bottom bracket is a SRAM, which is okay. They charged a very reasonable amount. We were happily on our way heading for Witset Canyon. The Yellowhead is a busy road and all the truck traffic on it heads down to Prince Rupert where there is a large container port. The canyon is amazing and even without the salmon spectacle underway. The water rushes through with amazing force and there are many small footbridges for fishermen to use. There are even ropes that they can attach to themselves to avoid getting washed off the rocks. We had a lovely swim and then went down a small access track to camp. It has felt like a long day, but constructive.




We packed up and rode over the canyon to the picnic area to use the bear safe bin and the washroom. The washroom had piping hot water in the basin which was great for washing my undies in! There was a guy down in the canyon going fishing. I missed the whole thing, but as Mike watched, he took a dip net (basically a net attached to a long pole an indigenous fishing method) put it in the gushing water for a few seconds, and pulled it straight out with three huge salmon inside! Fishing over for the day. How easy was that?

Today's ride took quite awhile, it seemed quite tiring even though it was not very difficult. Must be time for a rest day! We hit New Hazelton after about 36 km and stopped to rest and eat at the visitor's centre which is on the north end of the town. As we left, Marcel joined us on his loop ride from where he lives in the town. A very recently retired school teacher; he was a top bloke! He asked if he could ride with us for a few kms which is typically Canadian, very polite! He is a hiker and the towering mountains here must provide no end of trail options. Later on we crossed a bridge high above the Kitseguecla River as it joins the mighty Skeena River. We walked back along the walkway to have a look at the thundering water. A local man came along the walkway on his bike. He told us about life in the area, and said that they go fish for spring salmon in the Skeena using a rod which is very tiring as the fish are huge. He and his brothers still go up into the mountains in the fall to hunt mountain goat which is a delicacy to his people. They smoke it and roast it.

Finally we turned off the Yellowhead Highway onto the Cassiar Highway to Kitwanga. There were still trucks coming towards us which surpised us. Later, one of the volunteers who looks after the municipal campground where we are camping told us that there are mines up near Dease Lake and large work camps up there. There workers are transported by bus from Terrace to the mines regularly. The muncipal campground is donation based and has lovely sites under pine trees, water from a hand pump, and pit toilet. It is very nicely maintained. The best thing about it is that there is a grocery store right next door, a cycle tourist's dream!

Mike popped round the the post office in the next street to pick up a delivery; his new shaver head had arrived so now he can be clean shaven again. We joked about whether he needed to take the bear spray. Soon after his return a young lady and her friend met up in the park for lunch. She then came over to us to warn us about an upset grizzly which was hanging around the church just near the post office. Her friend had walked past the church to get here and the grizzly had growled at him and then climbed up a tree. She wanted to tell us about the RV park on the other side of town in case we were worried about the grizzly. We aren't really worried but appreciated her telling us about it. We asked her if bears are common in the town, to which she replied that they get their fair share but they don't usually growl!!

We did the laundry by hand which worked well and Mike did the big job of rotating the tyres on the bikes. At almost 8000 km we are halfway into the trip so a good time and a good spot to do it!

Later on a couple of motorcycle tourists arrived. They were British and the bloke came over to ask us if we had had any problems camping here. We explained that we had only just arrived and thought it fair to tell him about the grizzly. He went back to his wife who he said was paranoid about bears and then came back to say that they had decided to go to the RV park and have a shower. Another couple came with a tiny caravan later on and camped, having just driven the Cassiar. They had had a grizzly pop out of the bush and walk past them when they had stopped in a rest area. They also woke to a large bull moose licking the seal on their caravan window which was open. It then went around and licked the whole caravan. A new kind of carwash?

We ate ice cream and hotdogs! It was fabulous. We were back at the store at opening time this morning to buy milk and rice bubbles for breakfast. A cycle tourist came through the campsite and went straight to the grocery store, then came back and joined us at our table. He was John from San Diego and had just ridden the Cassiar. It took him 10 days. He is 75 years old and cycle tours a lot in the Lower 48. It is great to know that we have 25 years of this type of travel ahead of us! He went to visit his daughter in Anchorage and decided to cycle home via Top of the World Highway. Impressive stuff!




We are now getting up at 05:00 as it has been getting darker in the mornings. The little campground was quite full last night with two other tenters and a campervan. No cycle tourists though. It was an overcast day which we welcomed, quite smoky now too. Our first full day on the Cassiar did not deliver great views, these come further north after Meziadin Junction. The road is fringed by a lot of vegetation, fireweed grows up to chest height as well as other flowering plants like Queen Anne's Lace. It is very verdant! Within the first hour of riding we had seen 5 black bear! The first was just out of Kitwanga, what we would think was a young male, quite big and loping but still a little scrawny in the legs, crossing the road in front of us. We stopped and he made his way into the bush on the right, crashing through as he went. When we passed him he checked us out and then jumped into the bush again. Just before Gitanyow a large mum and THREE tiny cubs crossed the road in front of us. They headed into the bush. When we thought it was safe we continued, only to see mum poke her head up above the road ditch to have a look at us and then disappear. Brings total bear sightings to 11, all in BC! We are calling it Bear Central! We stopped in Gitanyow to have a look at the Totems and also had our morning coffee there. It seemed a bit early, but they had benches and actually the best place to stop until Bonus Lake. The riding today was easy, the bikes are heavy with all our food as it is 400 km to any hope of resupply at Iskut (4-5 days) and that store may be very small, so Dease Lake with its supermarket at about 480 km is what we are aiming for. We have three bear containers and a bear sack so it is enough room to store it all

The Cassiar is a very popular cycle touring route and we saw 7 cycle tourists today! We chatted to a French couple this morning and then a single German (we think) guy heading to Argentina who crossed over the road to speak to us, then a van stopped to offer all of us water (we declined) which he accepted so suddenly the situation became a bit unsafe. The road is quiet but there are still trucks and it is a little narrower than a single lane highway. We feel that cycle tourists who choose a cowboy hat over a helmet, ride with earbuds in listening to music or podcasts, and then ride on the wrong side of the road to socialise are not putting safety first. We like to say, "Protect the asset you value most" so if you choose not to wear a helmet it speaks volumes, doesn't it? Later another French couple pulled into our campsite and there was a single cycle tourist also. Then - highlight of the day - Siwei popped in as he rode past! So cool to see him for the FOURTH time. He too was laden down with food. We caught up on his travels since we last met up.

Bonus Lake Rec Site was small with two sites and the lake was pretty shallow and no good to swim in. Also it was quite buggy. We found another camping option on iOverlander (we always remember Jerry at the Noobs in Panamint who told us about this app!) which is a camping spot by a little lake which cars cannot pull into as it has a locked forestry gate. As we can usually get round these we pushed on the 14 km to this brilliant spot! It is right on the road, a large open gravel area surrounded by shady trees and access to the lake. Just our cup of tea! We pitched the tent right away as it was overcast, had a great swim and then slept deeply for a few hours. Wonderful. As we are so close to the road Siwei spotted us easily and came for a chat! We are happy camping here. Had another swim in the evening before bed.


Another cycle tourist arrived and set up camp near us around 21:00, so that was the 7th cycle tourist sighting of the day. Strangely we saw zero today. We had a great sleep and woke refreshed. The first 60 km was pretty easy riding and the road was quiet. We pulled into Meziadin Lake Provincial Park and made good use of the picnic shelter, having something to eat and even a swim. It was around 10:30 so it was emptying out and really quiet. After this we stopped at the gas station to buy some buns, the first 400 km of the Cassiar from the south has no shops and we had fully stocked up before we started, but you always need more bread than you can carry. After Meziadin Junction (there is the turn off to Stewart and Hyder), the road gets even quieter and also quite hilly. It grew warm and we were sweaty. There was a stop-go at the base of a big climb and we rested at the top as I felt quite light headed. Then the flies came out. They were swarming, and biting! The day had become overcast and our legs and arms were soaked in sweat which created a frenzy with these flies. They were just ordinary flies. They zoomed at our legs and just bit whatever they landed on. The bites don't itch like mozzies but they hurt when they bite. We were just sitting there on the ground killing all these flies. Gross. We were hopeful of getting a place to camp on the Bell-Irving River. The further we rode from Meziadin, the denser the bush had become. It was 100% inpenetrable, fireweed grew to head height.

Many shaking bushes, but only 2 bear sightings today, both single black bears. We reached a stretch of road littered with bear scat. Every few metres there was HUGE pile.

There is a rest stop at the river, but the river did not yield any camping or even any access. It is so unusual to come across a river that has no access tracks down to it at all. Even a few hundred metres down the road where you can see the river was only about 10 m below the road height, it is impossible to get there. Certainly the area is uninhabited which is strange in itself so probably there is no one to make any tracks down to it. Perhaps the bush is too dense? We were disappointed and also really in need of a swim or at least a shower. Mike had filled up all the water containers at the provincial park so we had enough water for a quick shower, but would have loved a river swim. It was not to be. A couple of km further on we turned off onto a gravel track with a large open area to camp in. Luckily it seemed the day was getting cooler so we would be able to be in the tent. The flies were so bad, really uncomfortable. We managed to shower, but when drying off, well you can just imagine. Flies zooming at you, biting you everywhere. We were pleased to get into the tent and away from them. We hope this road takes a turn for the more interesting and soon. We have ridden 200 km of it and so far there has not been much scenery to speak of.




A few kilometres down the road we started finding good bush camps on small rivers and creeks. You always feel disappointed when this happens, but the flies were so bad yesterday and we called it a day at 16:00 so it was a long day. Our campsite last night was great, but we always hanker for a river swim. Maybe today? Not much to report about the road today, we climbed constantly, the surface was excellent and it was quiet. We came across a pair of cycle tourists, one Swiss and one French who had started out from Anchorage to Prudhoe in May and said good things about the Dalton Highway. They hitched from Fairbanks and rode out. We are still planning to ride both ways.

It was quite humid and the bush was still very dense. One feels hemmed in. No bear sightings today but we did cycle behind a wolf which was jogging along the road. We passed Bell 2 Resort around 60 km and planned to ride another 30, but after 10 km we found the perfect campsite. The scenery started to improve after Bell 2, the mountains came really close, still with snow about. The campsite is just after the Red Flats Rest Area, the creek has been stabilised with high gravel banks and we could camp on one. It was flat and relatively shady, but an overcast day anyway. It was an early finish, 13:00, but we were loath to pass up this campspot and the river. The flies were dispicable. Must be something to do with the weather. We pitched the tent and dashed down to the creek to get into our swimmers, flies biting any exposed flesh. Leapt into the stream and lay down, dousing ourselves and any attached nippers. The water was really cold, glacial grey, beautiful. We did some handwashing and Mike rinsed the groundsheet that we use for sitting on when we have breaks on the roadside. All this washing was just done at a frantic pace and then, dashed back to the tent, flinging our rinsed off shirts and undies onto the bikes. Sitting in the safety of the tent, we viewed the goings on outside, the flies crawled all over our socks, boots, towels, bags in their hundreds. Anytime we opened a tent door to get something three would fly in through the tiny gap. We have too many fly corpses inside to count. We ate, slept and then a few hours later bam! Massive downpour, complete with thunder. Lots of rain. Flies have all disappeared! It's amazing! Let's hope we never see them again!



We had a lot of rain overnight and the temperature dropped. We woke to some mozzies which we can deal with, they are expected after all. We set off in the misty morning. The hope of some scenery was swallowed by it. We had a day of climbing, over 1000 m in 100 km, however in the end we did not go all the way to Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park but stopped 16 km short as Mike spotted a great little bush camp beside a creek. The bush camping on this road is not as good as we expected it would be. This may be due to the canonlike nature of it in many places. This morning we came across a few good campspots within the first 5 km, all around the avalanche area. They seem to move banks of pebbles and rocks into flat-topped hills which make for great camping. After this we hit a raging river and followed it downstream for about 10 km, but you would not have been able to camp anywhere along it. We had a couple of climbs, some were steep. It drizzled and rained all day. We were soaked and it grew cold on the downhills but we enjoyed it. It has been so long since we have been cold. With the overcast weather the hours passed in a timewarp, the day never seemed to get any later. No flies appeared, which was so nice.

At one point, Mike stopped in the road ahead and a raven flew off, he had just seen something black but it was only a bird. Except, as I pointed out there was a black bear eating by the side of the road up ahead. He was fully aware of us and stared at us a bit, then loped across the road, taking his time. Quite a large one. Only bear sighting of the day. We did meet three cycle tourists, one couple from Spain and France, and George from Silver City, New Mexico. George had started in Skagway and the couple in Prudhoe. They said that they had found Dalton Highway hard and quite a climb. They had started in June and the mozzies had been terrible. Unsurprising as Deadhorse still has 24 hours of daylight now, probably has done for quite a while. We are starting the Dalton around 8 August so hopefully the numbers have dropped off a bit by then. We decided on the bush camp just after 13:00, the same time as yesterday but we cycled much further today with much more climbing. The road seemed more open today, less hemmed in. Still not very interesting but maybe the scenery was obscured by cloud. We had a great river swim and a hot meal, which is the first hot meal we have had for ages. We carry mainly rice and pasta packet meals that you add water to, but it has just been too hot and uncomfortable to think about it. Tomorrow we go through Iskut which has a bit of a store and rumour has it, hamburgers and chips! One never wants to get one's hopes up on that front. Then the next day is Dease Lake with a good shop. We have had a good mix of foods but we have also been pretty hungry. It seems 4 days is the number when you feel like eating fresh food again, or at least different food.


Overcast again today, we had some views of the arresting hills that line this road, but not many with cloud cover closing in. Enough though that we can see how stunning it would all be in good weather, particularly from Iskut. We rode 32 km before our morning coffee break, which is quite a long stretch, normally we break at around 25 km max. After my coffee things looked better. There is such a cool mug you can buy at Tim Hortons that says, "Sorry about what I said before I had my Tim's". As we are addicted to Tim Horton's instant coffee (how can I import this to Australia?) it makes sense. As we rode along the Eddontenajon Lake we had what we are calling our second grizzly sighting (after Mike's Bella Coola grizzly), a mum and two cubs crossing the road. So I guess you could say that was our second, third and fourth grizzly sighting. We have seen many black bear and this bear was definitely very brown (we know that colour doesn't mean much) with a shiny shoulder hump and she was a different shape to the others. The babies looked naughty. This is the same of all the cubs we have seen.

We pulled into Iskut and hit the general store. It is good and we picked up a few things to eat. It is so nice to have Dease Lake tomorrow so this is just a gap filler. Next door to the store is the cafe where we had our first cooked breakfast of the trip! Crazy we know. It was really, really good and so reasonably priced. After Iskut we had a longish climb and then hit the Forty Mile Flat area. We passed Morchuea Lake Rec Site and then met Peter, a Polish cycle tourist going south. He had started riding to Prudhoe Bay 17 June and is heading to Seattle. He said the mozzies from Fairbanks to Coldfoot had been very very bad and he had cycled in rain pants and rain jacket. Eating was difficult as your meal ended up full of mozzies. We have had varying degrees of bug issues on this trip. The biting flies were undoubtably the worst, the mozzies have not been too bad and we have used coils as we usually do to good effect. We reason that they cannot be as bad as we have had them in northern Finland as there is so much more water around there, but I guess we will see. Just after meeting Peter we saw a small person RUNNING towards us. He crossed over to speak to us. This was Wataru Iino, a Japanese endurance runner who is RUNNING from Prudhoe Bay (Deadhorse) to the southern tip of Argentina! He also started in Prudhoe on 17 June. He runs 75 km PER DAY! He has support people who were meeting him in Iskut. He was wearing running shorts, Hoka running shoes (wearing badly as he showed us), a traditional Japanese wrap top printed on the back with his running route and holding a traditional Japanese hat made of grass and rice paper from the looks of it (not sure). We asked about the bears and he told us that they can chase him! He then showed us a video he had taken of a bear RUNNING towards him! He told us he always faces the bear, "never show your back to the bear!" was his advice. No bear spray. He seemed very calm. He would have to be to take a video of a bear giving chase! He said several times that we are doing something much harder than him, pointing at our gear. We assured him that he was incorrect. What a highlight to meet him! We then started the steep descent into the Stikine River. Part of this was gravel, very steep downhill too. Just south of the river we turned left onto a forest track and then right to the river. There is lovely open camping just on the banks near the bridge. We are camping on the sand and there are NO bugs. It is amazing! We ate a meal outside and swam without running around like made things. It was fabulous. Tomorrow we kick off with a long climb to the highest point on this road. We shall think of Wataru all the way!




It was great to get onto the climb first thing, it was pretty steep to start but got easier as we went. Beautiful views today of Caribou country. We reached the highest point of the road at Gnat Pass! Plenty of campspots by small streams and creeks up there. We saw something ambling across the road in the distance and it was a porcupine! It did not mind us inspecting it as it sat by the roadside. Steep downhill into Dease Lake and we were able to use the wifi at the community college to upload the website (no mobile coverage at all along the entire road). Plenty of gnats around there! We then went to the grocery store to pick up some supplies for the next three and a half days to Watson Lake. We chose fresh milk and raisin bran over the fried chicken on offer and sat around the back of the store on the loading dock platform eating it. After this we had some more ups and downs along the highway. A bit tiring now in the sun. We are used to getting to the end of our day around 13:00 now! When you get onto the internet and do shopping and eat second breakfast, hours just seem to disappear and we only left Dease at 13:00 with 40 km still to ride!

We saw two cycle tourists today, one before and one after Dease and said hi but no chatting today. After Dease the road was the quietest we have seen it. We pulled into the Rabid Grizzly Rest Area (yes, really!) and mixed up a Gatorade to drink. It was nearly 15:00 by now! Mike checked iOverlander and saw that there were a few camping options on the lake. About 1 km down the road we pulled into one, a large gravel pit area with a couple of lake access areas. We went down a steep track to the lake shore, where there was also boat access. The water was so clear you could see straight down to the pebbly bottom. There was even a little tree casting shade for our tent. Great spot! We could have pushed on another 10 km, but this place was too good to pass up! The biting flies are back but not in great numbers.



We had nocturnal visitors after 22:00, little "widgets" as we like to call them marauding all over the tent. Our tent was on the lake underneath a high sand and rock cutting and we had watched these little chipmunks running around on it in the afternoon, mostly looking for grass seeds to eat. We haven't observed those little munchkins after dark before, and the nighttime visitors seemed heavier. Having said that, the little chipmunks still dislodged pebbles and sent them rolling down the hill. Anyway, it went on for a few hours, they seemed to chase each other around our vestbules, clattering over our panniers and then running up the outside of the tent and sliding down the other (right at our heads). Once we even heard them land with a plop! We both laughed. Still, sleep deprivation is not a laughing matter! In the end they went away. At times like these we are always pleased to have bear safe food storage containers. We haven't met a cycle tourist who carries them, but they are the best. The other cycle tourists hang their food (we think) and we have spoken to two who have had their food partly eaten by squirrels. The squirrels also make short work of the bag the food is in. Bear containers are the way to go.

First wildlife sighting of the day was another porcupine crossing the road. Closely followed by a dead porcupine squashed on the road. Then a while later we saw a skinny figure up ahead just walking on the road, right in the middle. Perhaps looking for things like squashed porcupines to eat? As we drew nearer we saw it was a fox. He was not bothered at all by us, even sitting on the road watching us as we rode by. He was beautiful, coppery coloured fur. About 5 km later, we pulled off into a small clearing to have our morning coffee break. After about 15 minutes, who should skulk in behind us? Fantastic Mr Fox! It was then clear he was after our food. He must have got used to people and getting food from them? It was not usual behaviour for a wild animal. We tried to scare him off but he only became more inquistive. We then left but a few hundred metres later stopped again for Mike to remove his vest, and there he was! Crazy animal. It was the middle of nowhere, so hard to know how he had become so used to people. A few km later another fox appeared and quickly dashed off into the bush when he saw us, which is more normal.

We met Alex, a southbound cycle tourist, he started in Prudhoe and is off to Argentina. Also says it should take him a year and a half. We warned him about the fox. He was looking forward to Dease Lake supermarket as he had not resupplied since Whitehorse! Later we met Sim, from Taiwan. He had wanted to start in Prudhoe, but after waiting for four days in Fairbanks to hitch a ride, he gave up and just started his trip. Funnily enough he has also cycled from Perth to Sydney, and started in Huntingdale, a Perth suburb!

The scenery revealed itself to us today and we enjoyed the riding. The views of the mountains and forests wrre great. The road gets ever quieter. We stopped at Jade City where one of the attendants kindly filled up all our water bottles with beautiful cold water from their spring. We could also use their wifi. After this the flies really started to menace us again and we were in search of a campsite. We had seen many good ones today, and found one for ourselves at a gushing creek, crystal clear cold water. We had a few swims. It is overcast and going to rain over the next few days which probably explains the swarming flies again. They are awful and like to nip. You really have to get into that stream fast to avoid them!






It was a good riding day, overcast, a bit hilly with some short steep climbs but overall we felt that we were making progress fast. We saw a herd of stone sheep up above the road and also a fox on the road which had just caught a rabbit and held it in it's mouth. There were some beautiful lakes to see, Good Hope Lake was one of them. The riding felt quite high up, that is, we road along the higher areas and did not droop down in between. The forest was beautiful. We met one other cycle tourist, a young Welshman who has been touring for 7 years. We could not believe how little he carried. He explained that at the start he had used two front and two rear panniers but over time found he needed less and less and decided to go the bikepacking route. He carries his tent, sleeping pad and sleeping mat in a handlebar bag, his food on his rear rack and everything else in his frame bag. All his gear looked well used. He said he had enough food to last him 'til Smithers. We guessed he is riding very long days. He had ridden the Dalton and we were amazed to learn that there are long sealed sections on that road! Winner! He also told us that the Coldfoot buffet is very good, $16 per person and he had three large platefuls.

We stopped at Blue River to filter water and had a lovely cold soak in the river ourselves. There was some climbing to do afterwards. We wanted to get as close as we could to the end of the Cassiar Highway without actually turning onto the Alaska Highway today. As we completed the climbs we were surprised by how arid it was, still thick forest but no rivers, only shallow lakes and it grew hot too. The horseflies were out today, which although horrible, we prefer to the awful biting houseflies we had yesterday. We each had a few horseflies following us. We crossed the border into the Yukon and shortly afterwards found a short track to camp on. We were in BC since 16 June, so around 5 weeks and cycling 2500 km there! It was a warm and muggy afternoon but due to the horseflies and mozzies we got into the tent anyway. It was uncomfortable so Mike lit a coil and placed it in his entrance and we could then have the doors partially open for a breeze. The rain started a bit later. The last weather forecast that we saw indicated that it will hang around for a few days. We have only about 25 km to ride to Watson Lake



It felt a bit momentous this morning, rejoining the Alaska Highway. We had ridden it in 2017, in the opposite direction. It was only 3 km from our campsite to the highway. About halfway we passed a lovely creek which would have made a more comfortable campsite last night. We did however have those horseflies which would have compromised us when swimming! We had a shower of rain before Upper Liard where we stopped to check if we had wifi, which we did. We had e-mailed the Airforce Lodge (a basic motel in old military accommodation in Watson Lake) the day before yesterday to enquire about availability. They got back to us to say they had rooms available. Watson Lake has three other hotels but none give rates online and you cannot book online, which leaves you with not much option other than getting there and then figuring it out. Bit of a hill before the town, and we headed straight in to the visitor's centre which is temporarily housed in the rec centre, or as Button who was on duty said, "Temporary like for the rest of my life"! Button and another lady on duty were really helpful and full of information and dire warnings about the road conditions on the Robert Campbell Highway. Ever more dire predictions of the South Canol Road. They instantly provided information sheets about both roads. The visitor's centre is excellent as the people who work there actually know stuff. Also it is open long hours. We went from there to TAGS where we did our laundry. TAGS is an RV park and campground, however they offer traveller services to anyone. While sorting out our stinky clothes (not TOO bad however bear in mind we have not done actual laundry beyond ad hoc hand washing, sometimes in cold water, and sometimes in water which makes you wonder if the clothes are going to come out dirtier than they went in) since PORT HARDY, prior to the Bella Coola ferry on 24 June. So nearly a month. Whilst doing this outside TAGS in the gravel carpark of course, we met Mark, a very friendly Texan (we have been told by numerous people that there is no other kind of Texan) who is on a big motorcycle trip from Florida Keys to Deadhorse. He was happy to meet us having we assume passed many cycle tourists along the way, but he said never having had the oppurtunity to speak to any. We had a fun chat about touring in general, in particular the Noobs Rally as he is on the ADV forum too, posting his tour updates. He had also used the laundry and when I asked if they had detergent on sale he immediately gave us some of his which was so kind. These gestures really keep us going. It was good detergent too, a squishy little pod. Cute and smelt good. He was about to set off on the Robert Campbell Highway which he will ride all the way to Carmacks, and then try to get to Dawson City TONIGHT. We just giggled as it takes us so long to get anywhere! He rode the Cassiar in one day, we took EIGHT. He had a magnificent motorbike. It just looked beautiful. We waved him off and hope he blazed a good trail for us all the way to Ross River.

TAGS has a good store, but the main shop in Watson Lake is Super A Foods, on the other side of the signpost forest (this is a famous Alaska Highway thing). With the washing on, I walked there to buy some cinnamon sugar breakfast cereal (we are addicted and will get this as a snack in any brand whenever we can). Watson Lake is like any town on the Alcan, it draws every RV, monstrous bus, campervan, motorcycle tourist and cyclist around. People need to refuel in every way. We saw many very heavily loaded motorcycle tourists, no cycle tourists today but most turn onto the Cassiar and never come as far as this. I met a couple from Washington in the laundry who were great to chat to. They had driven the Robert Campbell Highway and South Canol Road last year and found them both good quality. We should explain our route: we could cycle the Alaska Highway from here to Johnson's Crossing and then down to Skagway, but we rode that section through to Whitehorse in 2017. When we came through Watson Lake we had seen the Robert Campbell Highway and wondered about it. We have since researched the route and it looks beautiful. Much more remote that the Alcan (Alaska Highway), sealed from Watson Lake to Tuchitua, 108 km and then unsealed to Ross River, a further 250 km. We will then turn south onto the Canol Road which is unsealed to Johnson's Crossing, a distance of 216 km. We are looking forward to riding this route.

After the laundry was done, we went to a picnic table at the signpost forest to eat our cinnamon sugar second breakfast and then to find out the rates charged and availability of the three hotels in Watson Lake. When we were last here it was three weeks later than now and we were hard pressed to get in anywhere. Now all three immediately said that they had two nights available. They were all pricier than the Airforce Lodge which has shared bathroom facilities, but gets fabulous reviews. We set off there, 2.5 km down the main drag. Wow - the skies were really smokey! It was muggy, hot and very, very smokey. Wherever the fire was, it seemed to be growing. We were pleased not to be riding. When we got to the lodge the sign on the door said "back at 15:00" which is the normal check-in time. It was only 13:00 and so we would have to go back to town anyway and hang around the rec centre or something. We were really hoping we could just get in early and have a shower! So we set off back to town anyway (thank goodness the highway is flat!) and compared it to the other three hotels. We decided on A Nicer Hotel (yes really). It was the priciest, but rooms had kitchettes which is handy! The bloke on the front desk was very helpful and allowed us to check out a few rooms to see which one we liked. It really is a nice place! We checked in at about 13:15. A hot shower never felt so good. The last one we had was over two weeks ago. We will spend two nights here. It is super convenient being over the road from whatever food we want!

In other news, the Chilcotin Highway (Route 20) from Bella Coola which we cycled along almost a month ago, is closed in both directions and Anahim Lake evacuated due to fire. Many new fires have broken out in BC due to lightening strikes. Vanderhoof (where we passed through on the Yellowhead) is some kind of epicentre for firefighting. Amazing to think that we could almost not have got through from Bella Coola! And news just in from Panamint Springs... 51 DegC is the CURRENT temperature. Thank goodness we are not still waiting there for Mike's new hub!


We had a very relaxing day at our hotel as the rain poured down outside. Very pleased that our rest day coincided with a bad weather day! We headed off around 10:00 and stopped at a bench at the signpost forest while Mike completed our second oil change on our Rohloff hubs. At 8800 km it's a bit early, but my Rohloff weeps a bit of oil and my gear changing has been sticky. He put the cleaning fluid in the hubs while I was doing the laundry at TAGS, so now he drained it and put the new oil in. We set off at 10:30, onto the Robert Campbell Highway. The weather was good, after the rain it has really cooled down and the forecast maximum temperatures are around 20-25 Deg C. What an improvement! The road is beautiful. It is unbelievably quiet, almost no traffic at all, only two caravans passed us. The rest is just work traffic, probably to a mine site off this road. It is sealed for the first 108 km. We loved riding it today. The views are of spruce forest as far as the eye can see, distant hills. No tough climbs, just gentle gradients. We saw a fox on the road and some bear scat now and then but no other wildlife. The air was very still.

We stopped on the way for a coffee break and then a late lunch at Frances River Bridge. We passed Simpsons Lake Yukon Government Campground and set up the tent a few km later at a nice creek with a flat camping area. As is typical with northern roads, the roadbed is built up so that it sits above the surrounding countryside. The slope down from the road was stabilised with rocks, so access was not super easy, but it was a great spot. As we had a late start and still rode a full day, it was about 16:30 by this time. We put up the tent as there were quite a few biting insects, and had a quick river swim. We then got into the tent, set ourselves up and ate and relaxed. Mike had a snooze. Around 20:00 we went to put the bear containers away from the tent. There was only a small tree where Mike could tie the bear bag. We try not to use it, but usually nights 1 and 2 after resupply we have to as we don't have the space for the stove and fuel bottle to go into a bear container. As he went over to the tree he noticed that there was a large bear sleeping pad, dotted with large piles of bear scat and even left overs from dinner! Fresh bones, still bloodied and a little meaty! You can tell a sleeping pad as it is a large area of grass which has been flattened by the bear sleeping on it. Oh boy! We had to pack up and move on. You cannot even for a moment think that you will sleep 15 m away from a bear's larder! Every twig that snaps will have you wide awake. Even worse, with the little babbling brook it is likely we would not even hear the snapping twigs. We often camp in a spot where there is some bear scat, in BC it was almost impossible to pick a spot without it, and bears will of course turd anywhere as they walk along. But in this case here was a return customer. This bear was living in this campspot. We were packed and off pretty quickly, and luckily less than a km away there was a large quarry on the road where we set up all over again. It is actually a better campsite as it is in the open, all gravel and no water. So less bugs and you can hear everything. There are widgets living in the rocky quarry walls so let's hope they don't treat our tent like their playpark tonight. They have already eyed us out! Nowhere to tie the bear bag, so we have covered it with rocks and left it with the bear containers. A pretty eventful day!




We were so relieved that we moved camps last night. We have revised our morning wake up to 05:30 to be on the road by 07:00. We remember the days of a 04:30 wake up! That was when it was so hot and we were on busier roads. The Robert Campbell Highway is sealed to km 112, which was a nice bonus as we expected the gravel to start at km 108, the Nahanni Rd turn off. There was a pit toilet and garbage bins at the intersecton which was also a nice bonus, to get rid of our trash. We did not expect any bins along this road. The Nahanni Rd goes to a tungsten mine in the Northwest Territory which is where the work related traffic on this road turns off. After this the road carries hardly any traffic at all, only the odd "roughing it" type of campervan. We filtered water at the Tuchitua River which was beautiful water. It is not right to call this a gravel road as the surface is very smooth and actually better to ride than the chipseal was! Like all unsealed roads the quality varies but we were impressed by it. The road becomes pretty narrow and the area feels quite remote.

The weather was good, a cool misty start, no wind or rain and it probably only got to around 18 Deg C. The views are of spruce forest mainly, rocky hills in the distance. There are many creeks and small lakes. You are spoilt for choice when it comes to campsites, there are many gravel pits and pull offs. The mosquitos were not as bad as they can be, but still made life trying when we took a break. It was great riding a road where you don't have to think of anyone else, there is no one coming up behind you trying to squeeze past. We had the road to ourselves. No wildlife at all. Everyone prefers bitumen, I guess!

We seemed to ride uphill all day, the climbs are very gentle though. In the early afternoon the road surface was wet, there was a sign about trucks pulling onto the road and we passed a pump set up at a small swampy lake. Sure enough, a guy came along in a water truck. He was happily watering the road which pretty soon turned to slush. After 10 km of this we were filthy, the bikes were filthy. Thank goodness for our mudguards! Imagine riding through this without them! Our legs, shoes, socks, water bottles, panniers, all spray coated with a layer of grime. Later on the graders came along. We like these guys! It seems that they have to wet the road before scraping it? Then water truck man came along again. Oh no! By the time we got to Frances Lake we were ready to call it a day at 15:00. We had a swim in the river to wash off the grime and then found a great campspot at a clearing down by the same river. There has been a pretty grey blue bird with a white head that has befriended us and keeps visiting our tent. This is better than a bear! We had another river swim before bed, the water is so clear and cold.




There were two parts to the day; the first 50 km which took FOREVER and had us both wondering if we would ever get anywhere, and the second almost 50 km which seemed to flyby. Our little birdie friend joined us for breakfast and then we were off, onto a little climb right from the river we camped at. It rained overnight and the first half of the day's road surface was a little loose and a little wet which probably made it such hard work. There was also quite a bit of climbing. We stopped for our coffee break after only 15 km which was unusually short. We stopped again for lunch just before 50 km. The road was pretty narrow now and bushy on either side and the mosquitos were a problem. If you stopped riding for a minute there were hundreds on you in an instant. So today we kept our coils out and burned two while having lunch in gravel patch and that worked well. From our lunch point onwards the road surface became very smooth again, it seemed almost to be sealed. We had a steep climb up to a viewing point after Finlayson Lake where we read about the caribou herd up here. All day reindeer moss had lain thick in all the forest we rode by, waiting for the caribou to graze!

We wanted to get as much riding done today as possible and were happy to do almost 100 km. We want to get to Ross River tomorrow as the general store opens at 10:00, so we don't want to stop 20 km short or we will have to wait around. The road was super quiet today, only a few locals that passed us a couple of times, one of the cars passed us yesterday also. They go so slowly when they pass! It is such a change of pace this road. We have not seen any cycle tourists, which is a shame as it is such a wonderful road to ride.

Just after Big Campbell River Mike spotted a HUGE gravel pit and we have camped there. It is virtually bug free! Amazing. You can avoid them if you know how! We were even able to shower using our shower bag and were not bitten. You feel you can relax.



The nights are very short, it is light until after 23:00 and then gets light again around 03:30. It was a clear and cold night in our gravel pit! The day's ride was one short steep climb after the other. It still went quicker than yesterday, but it was tiring. It was a sunny day, first one for a while and no bugs! Yay! The plan has been to ride the Robert Campbell Highway as far as Ross River and then take the Canol Road south to Johnson's Crossing, then on to Carcross and down to Skagway. My bottom bracket has started to play up though, there is play through the cranks and there is a clicking noise with every pedal stroke. We ride Chris King bottom brackets and mine has only done 14 000 km so it is unexpected. It has a 5 year warranty and was new in 2021. This being the case we need to go to Whitehorse which was not the plan as we went through there on our last trip. There is a bike store there that could handle fitting a replacement bottom bracket. We feel a bit apprehensive about the South Canol Rd especially in light of a bottom bracket issue. So we have decided to ride the Robert Campbell all the way through to Carmacks and then south along the Klondike to Whitehorse (which is a route we rode in reverse in 2017). We had orginally planned to resupply in Ross River, before turning south on the Canol Rd. Now that we are riding straight through to Carmacks we can stop either at Ross River or Faro. Both entail a steep climb and both are about 10 km off the road.

We planned today to stop at Coffee Lake, about 20 km short of Ross River. However when we got there the water level was so high that it had flooded the access road. We continued to Jackfish Lake at the first turn off to Ross but it was not a great place to camp. We kept going, stopping here and there to check out potential campspots, getting more and more tired as we went. Eventually we ended up at the rest area just at the second access road to Ross River. We saw that it was 10 km to the village and not that much more climbing. It was 15:45 and the general store closed at 18:00. So we went for it. The road was sealed and it was very scenic, weaving around small lakes. Everyone who drove towards us smiled and waved. When we pullled up at the general store several people showed interest in our trip. One bloke had passed us several times on the road, at one stage losing our tyre tracks and thinking we had accepted a ride! He even spotted us camping in our gravel pit last night! The general store had exactly what we needed, down to Tim Hortons instant coffee, and raw sugar. Brilliant! We set off for the barge crossing of the Pelly River where we planned to camp. On the way two seperate locals flagged us down to chat and ask about our trip. One of them, a lady with a puppy said that she had driven past us twice on the road and tried to go slowly so as not to throw dust on us. I told her we apppreciated that!

We found picnic tables at the barge area and poured mugfuls of cold Canada Dry. Just then an RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) van drove up and stopped near us. We waved and so did the coppers. Then one said over the loud hailer, "Keep your hands where we can see them!" then they both got out the car! What a hoot! "You guys aren't supposed to have a sense of humour!" I shouted as they came over for a chat. They were so cool and spoke about working in Ross River, they were from Nova Scotia and Quebec but chose to come and work remotely. It was an interesting chat. When they asked where we were sleeping, we said, well, here. They suggested we camp on the sportsfield as no one is using it and the local kids tend to hang out at the picnic area in the evenings. We went for a lovely swim in the river and have gone to bed later than usual!





The Robert Campbell Highway is sealed from Faro to Carmacks. The 63 km to the Faro turnoff was just one hill after another, most were not steep and the unsealed surface was okay but probably more gravelly than we have had in the past 4 days. The day started with a steep climb out of Ross River. Ross River was a highlight of the road, we are so happy we went there to shop and camp. It was another sunny day and grew warm. We were both quite tired today and longed for a relaxing afternoon. Not wanting to be loaded down with water we did not fill up at the town or filter earlier. There were very few rivers anyway. Eventually at about 81 km we were really happy to come across a tiny creek where we could filter water and even have a dip in the pool it created by the highway. We soaked our shirts and wore them wet to keep cool. We found a great little campspot in a track through a forest a few km later, and set up camp around 16:00. The afternoon was long and too warm however. It is so hard to relax and be comfortable. The sun sets just before 23:00 so that is a long day! We had a shower from our shower bag around 20:00 and will try to relax and stay cool in the tent. The bugs are still not bad at all, but when you are out of the tent you need to cover up.



It is amazing how cool it is over night! It was 5 DegC at 06:00 this morning which is so good as you chill down overnight. We always sleep with our tent outer open and it is so good when it gets really cold and you want to be in your sleeping bag. The ride today was still uppy-downy, constantly up one hill and down the other side, but the grades were less steep than on the dirt road and it felt like we had more momentum. We had morning coffee at Drury Creek Campground and were impressed by the facilities. We spent many km cycling along the side of Little Salmon Lake. We made good time today and the day grew warm. We were hoping for a good river to camp at and at nearly 90 km Mike spotted a track off the road which led to a very wide open space with river access to the beautiful Little Salmon River, which is a big clear river. There was plenty of shade and the breeze kept us cool. We had many river swims, washed our cycling clothes which dried in the hot breeze. Brilliant! There were many places to pitch a tent and we only did so around 20:00, on a bed of pine needles.



We were tempted to take a rest day at Little Salmon River, our campspot was so perfect and it was so quiet. But we need to get to Whitehorse for my bottom bracket! The first 20-odd km passed quickly enough and then we hit a construction zone for 22 km. For most of that distance there was not much contruction happening, as they do in these parts (we remembered from our last trip here) they seem just to tip a huge pile of gravel over everything and hope that improves things. The thing was, the road was perfect until suddenly it was no longer there and we were pulling our way through often thick gravel. Of course this was the part of the day with the most climbing and so that was a treat. We both rode along swearing at the road. Doesn't help! It was great to stop at the high point for our first views of the mighty Yukon River. Beautiful! After that we had about 6 more km before the grader work started. First the water man drove past making everything muddy and sticky and then our favourite, the grader smoothed everything out. So at least they are improving the road! At all times when the road was the most dusty and the gravel the thickest, that was when we had the most passing traffic, many drivers slowed down to a crawl for us but others just showered us with dust and dirt. After our time on the Robert Campbell our bikes are severely dirty, mud stuck everywhere. Water bottles are filthy!

We continued having great views of the Yukon River all the way to Carmacks, where we turned onto the Klondike Highway. We stopped at the general store for food. So strange to be back on the tourist route again. We haven't really been on one since maybe the Yellowhead? Even the Cassiar might be too remote for these people. I almost could not get into the store due to the stream of people pushing their way out clutching cappucino's. They would only have left Whitehorse about an hour before. The store is good and so was the fried chicken, sausage rolls and spring rolls we bought to eat at a rest stop 2 km away. Washed down with Canada Dry of course. We passed three rest stops today, one on the Robert Campbell and two on the Klondike and none had a bench. Small criticism. It was excellent being back on the Klondike, having ridden this route the other way in 2017, that time all the way to Dawson City and Top of the World Highway. This time our repeat would be only Carmacks to Whitehorse. The road is a highway, so has gentle grades, mostly downhill as it mimics the Yukon course, the surface is pretty good but the shoulder often pretty rough so we were given to ride in the lane and move out the way when a car came along. The road was quiet so this was no hindrance. Best thing was we had a strong tailwind which blew us along, which was pay back for the headwind we had all morning.

We decided we would aim for around 102 km to a river access spot we found on iOverlander. When we got to the vicinity, there was no obvious track, but we could see on our digital map that the river was quite close, around 250 m. So we pulled off the road, left our bikes in the meadow and walked through grass, bush, trees, but no river could be found. We retraced our steps and tried again from another angle. Still no sign of river. So we got back on the bikes and set off again, sure enough, an access track appeared. It had two no entry signs, both government instructions. One said the trail was closed due to traps have been set by the Yukon government, the other was a poster of a well--fed grizzly which said "Bear in area, trail closed". One could imagine the environmental officers that came along to set the traps (for what we don't know) only to find a bear in the area. Of course we had been tramping all over on our river search about 200 m away, sans bear spray.

We knew that the Twin Lakes Government Campground was about 8 km away and we could camp there. So off we went. We had camped at this campground when we last rode the Klondike and had fond memories of it. When we got there we found it to be very busy, with only a couple of sites available. It's nice but not great and you don't get a lot for the cost. By this we mean, we still have to collect and filter water, the swimming is at a boat launch and there are many people around. So we decided to press on though it was already 17:30 and my left arm keeps going lame after 95 km or so on the bike. A km down the road we saw easy access to the twin lake across from the campground. We prefer a river nowadays, mainly as the water quality is usually better, so we carried on about another 300 m where we came across a track which led to a great campspot up high on gravel. No water. So we changed into our swimmers and rode back to the little lake. The lake was actually brilliant, the water was the clearest we have seen in any lake for a long time. I could just dunk my soft-sided bucket in it and pull out so much water in one go. We were so keen to get into it! After filtering we stripped down as two campervans arrived. The people were friendly and their dog had a swim. We jumped in too and wow, the lake was so deep right at the shore, I couldn't touch the bed. We think it was around 4 m deep. And so clear you could see the floor below you as you tread water. It was such a great swim. We then dashed back to make sure we had not lost out on our little bushcamp, and also to beat the thunderstorm. Dinner was a packet of all dressed potato chips, delicious freshly baked triple chocolate biscuit and trailmix. Who says we don't have a balanced diet?



First stop today was Braeburn Lodge for a grilled cheese sandwich (delicious) and of course a cinnamon bun (delicious). It was fun to be there again, great atmosphere with the longtime owners. The ride today was pretty easy, with a slight tailwind. We wanted to get close to Whitehorse but not all the way. We stopped at Little Fox Lake to filter water and I had a swim. We passed Fox Lake where we had also camped six years ago. It was thundery weather and when we saw a good spot to pull off and camp at the end of a gravel track, 35 km short of Whitehorse it started to rain. No evening swim today, just a shower but that is okay as it is not too warm. We plan to be at the bike store at opening time tomorrow (10:00) to drop my bike off so they have plenty of time to replace the bottom bracket. We look forward to being in Whitehorse, it is the first large town we have been in since Quesnel, BC.


A car actually drove down the little track to our campspot before 05:00 this morning, I did not hear it, but Mike poked his head out the tent and the car drove away. We made short work of the ride into Whitehorse this morning, we were excited to be going back there. We had to make an emergency stop to let a large black bear cross the road. As always, once he was safely across in the bush on the other side and we rode past, he got up on his hind legs to have a better look at us. We just can't feel afraid of these animals, they always look too sweet. First stop in Whitehorse was Walmart for Maple Cinnamon Frosted Flakes and milk! We got to the bike shop - Icycle Sports - just before they opened at 10:00. Allan was expecting us having booked us in for the job and was happy to do it right then. We asked if we could keep the bikes there while we looked around the town and he said that Mike's bike could go out back where all the rental bikes are stored, I left my bags there too.

We walked down the river trail along th Yukon until we got to benches and sat down to eat our sugary breakfast cereal. Then it was on to Tim Hortons for coffee. We booked spots on the Skagway - Haines ferry for Saturday. We then went to Coast Mountain Sports. This is probably the best outdoor store we have ever seen. They stock everything! I replaced my Icebreaker singlet with a Smartwool lightweight t-shirt. I wear the singlet under my Fjallraven Singi trekking shirt. However, the most exciting thing was that Mike came walking towards me with a new Fjallraven Singi trekking shirt for him! Our Singi shirts have been worn everyday for the entire Bibbulmen hike (1000 km), the Heysen hike (1200 km), the Central Australian cycle trip (5000 km) and now 9500 km so far on this trip. His shirt has been slowly deteriorating... or dissolving. It has been mended a few times. We had tried to get a new one, actually he bought one from Fjallraven online and had it shipped to Haines post office General Delivery, where it was accepted and then returned to Fjallraven!!!! Low point. He almost got one in Smithers, where they had a medium and an extra large but no large! We are so happy he has a new one! Also it was on sale! Happy days. I also got a new pair of socks (one of my pairs grew holes and I put a foot right through it) and a new chopping board (our trusty MSR one grew mouldy). Leaving the store we noticed there had been a rain shower and everthing was pretty wet.

We went back to the bikestore. Because of the downpour, Allan had actually covered Mike's bike with plastic and moved my HEAVY carry bag with my panniers and dry bags inside, which was so nice of him, and better treatment than we ever give our stuff! He reported that replacing the bottom bracket had gone well. Now that the Chris King BB was out he could see there was considerable play on the non-drive side. We are very happy that I have a new one. We also bought new cycling gloves. Mike's gloves (both pairs) have worn out and I have decided to try non-padded gloves like he wears too. My left hand goes numb very quickly now when riding and it might be pressure from the glove padding. We also got a replacement tube. Then it was back to Walmart to shop for some essentials and lastly to Dominoes for pizzas which we ate at Shipyard Park. Whitehorse is a great town, everyone is outdoors on bikes or walking, and has a smile. The shops are good too. We stopped off at the visitors centre to fill up our water bottles and then rode about 16 km to Wolf Creek Government Campground to camp. It was pretty full as we arrived at 18:30, but the mobility access campspot was not taken yet as it is only available from 19:00 for people who don't need the special access. We parked our bikes there and sat on the bench, waiting til 19:00 to pitch our tent and pay. Just in time as it started to rain. The campspot has access to the creek for swimming and is close to a toilet, bear storage locker and undercover picnic area.



We were due a rest day, but decided rather to sleep in and leave midday, having a shorter day and a rest day in a couple of day's time in the hills above Skagway. We slept in until after 08:00 which was fabulous and then got up and ate and had a leisurely start to our day. We chatted to a few ladies as the trail which starts right across from our campspot is a popular one for many people who live in Whitehorse, many of which ride the trail on mountain bikes. Bev came over to chat to us for a while and another lady from the Netherlands. There was also a pair of ladies who had recently driven the Cassiar. The most memorable visitor was our little squirrel who drove us CRAZY!! He was into everything! I was sitting at our table organising our resupply food better, spooning jam into plastic jars and dividing up a new bag of oats, etc. Well, he was just desperate to get into any of it. He made a huge game of continuosly running and jumping up onto the table then trying to jump into bags or get himself in anywhere. I packed our lunch things into my frame bag as usual, but then of course realised that he would make a beeline for that, so took them out and put them into a shopping bag. We know that squirrels will chew through your panniers and waterproof drybags, etc. so that is why I did that. As soon as we turned our backs to talk to Bev, in he dived. So then I had to fetch the bags with food in them and put it on the ground where we were chatting. It seemed that the more we defended our stuff the more valuable it became to him. He was demented! But soooo sweet. The pic taken by Mike shows it all! So between defending our food from wildlife and socialising, it was a chatty, social morning. Before we knew it, it was nearly 13:00 and definitely time to go!

We turned south towards Skagway after only a few km and it was a pleasant ride, the road curving out ahead of us. Some climbing, not much. The surface was a bit rough on the edges, so slow going but okay. This is the South Klondike and a pretty quiet road. We stopped for a rest at the Robinson Historic Rest Area, which was all to do with the railway to Skagway and the resource boom a long time ago. Our end point was Emerald Lake. It is a lake with a marle bottom, like Piper Lake so many days ago on the Bella Coola Road and also Boya Lake. The bottom is white (calcium carbonate) and so the lake itself is the most beautiful turquoise green and the water is crystal clear. We had wonderful swims and filtered water. We sat right on the lake shore and cooked a meal. Wendy from Edmonton, Alberta, came down to take some photos. She had travelled to Tombstone National Park on the Dempster to do a 5 day hike. She is an experienced hiker and it was interesting talking to her about bear encounters and hikes in Nepal. After Wendy left we moved up to a gravel track to camp for the night.


It was only about 12 km to Carcross, which is just off the highway. Prior to reachnig Carcross there is the Carcross Desert, the smallest desert in the world. It did not look much like a desert to us; it just looked like an outer suburb of Perth! We were impressed by the small village of Carcross though and the visitors centre and well designed boardwalk and shopping area. Only the visitors centre was open as it was 08:30. The village is highly historical with its connections to the Klondike Gold Rush, however it is also used, the railway station still operates with the tourist trains running between here and Skagway over White Pass. The general store is the oldest operating in the Yukon, but it sells mostly junk, old memorabilia, etc. no food. We had expected to buy bread at the Sourdough Bakery, the Dutch lady we chatted to at Wolf Creek told us it was good but sold out of everthing by midday. The lady in the visitors centre at Carcross said it was too early at 08:30, but if we knocked on the side door he might open. I walked around there and it was closed, so I knocked on the side door but no one came. We sat outside the railway station and had our coffee and I went back to the bakery after 09:00, but still no sign of life. If they aren't baking by 09:00 and sell out by 12:00, they can't be baking much, can they? Before we left we took a ride down to the lookout over Bennett Lake and saw Wendy again! So cool to bump into her! We had another chat. She was going to do a hike in the area.

We set off having spent quite some time in Carcross and it was already clear that the views along the stretch of road to Skagway would be amazing. Unfortunately there was some smoke haze so you did not get clear views, but still it was lovely. Our attention was first drawn to the ground though, a moose had walked along the road for a long way, leaving large prints in the sand, when those ended, the grizzly prints began! Huge with well-defined claws, looked very fresh! We had a headwind today and the road surface was quite chunky, but the shoulder was good. There were many tour buses coming towards us, full of people no doubt going to do the train trip back to Skagway. Probably a cruise ship day outing. Seems like a strange thing to do, but we are certainly in the minority. The ride reminded us a lot of Norway, steep sided mountains meeting blue lakes. We stopped at a lookout point over an island in a lake and the large bear safe rubbish bin had been pushed over the edge of the pullout area, onto the ground a couple of metres below. There were three Yukon government vehicles and 5 people in hardhats and hi-vis, one of them Irish who kept asking, "How did that end up there?". We wondered the same. Three of the men went down to pick it up and restore it to its usual spot.

We had planned to camp at an area high up towards the White Pass Summit, but could not pass up the perfect campsite we came across about 20 km short of that. There was a dirt access track into a very flat area of pine forest with beautiful floors of reindeer moss and all sorts of lichens. This is our favourite type of forest. Needs to be pine, you don't get nice flat floors in spruce forests. It was right on the gushing river so all the water we wanted. Time for our much anticipated rest day! Last one was 11 days ago in Watson Lake! We are really happy with the spot. From here it is 48 km to Skagway, which is in Alaska, and that includes 480 m of climbing and 1200 m of descent so it should be easily managed. We get the ferry to Haines at 16:00.