WEEK#18 HOW ARE WE DOING? Whitehorse to Fort Nelson

It’s been a while since our last update. We’ve been in some pretty remote regions of the Yukon and BC, Canada for the last couple of days. There wasn’t any Wi-Fi, telephone connection or anything like that. So now I’ll tell you what we’ve been doing and what we’ve seen!!
Cycling days 19 through 29. Yes, that’s non-stop for 11 days.
We left Whitehorse on a sunny day. After having rested for two days it was time to get moving again. There’s still a long road ahead of us…
Our Couchsurfing host, Helene, cycled next to me for the first 10km of the day and showed me a beautiful part of Whitehorse I would’ve otherwise never have seen. After saying good-bye I moved back to a part of the road I already knew; The Alaska Highway. Next stop: Teslin, a small town in the southern part of the Yukon Territory. I’d cycle that in two days.
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In Teslin a nice hotel room (with a warm bed) was waiting for us. The kind people over at Tourism Yukon had arranged for us. Thanks again!!!

In Teslin we also met a very nice man from The Netherlands. Klaas. Klaas has been on the road for several years now in his truck. Driving all over the world helping different people in different situations. He was intrigued by our story and offered to buy us lunch. After hesitating we said yes and sat down to exchange some stories. Klaas, thanks again for the lunch, we’ll keep in touch!
The next stop would be in Watson Lake, about three days of cycling away. In between there is really nothing to do except enjoy the silence of the great outdoors. The first day you cycle into BC for a little bit, after that the road takes you back up to the Yukon.
At this time of year a lot of service stations are closed. Making sure you have enough food and water is essential. Alongside the road they don’t always warn you when or if a service station closes…

So after Teslin we made it up to Watson Lake. Again, a nice hotel room was waiting for us. Again, we thank the people over at Tourism Yukon. Watson Lake is a small, yet thriving little town along the Alaska Highway. Here you’ll also find the famous Sign Post Forest; over 100,000 signs. People from all over the world have put up their automobile license plates or other signs, referring to their hometown.
We stayed in Watson Lake for only a day. The 99%RIDE expedition keeps on moving, and we were getting closer to a destination we both didn’t want to miss…
Three days later we had made it. Time to rest a bit and take a long, warm bath. Where else than the Liard Hotsprings? Enjoying and relaxing your mind and muscles in Canada’s second biggest natural hotsprings. We stayed there the whole afternoon, followed by the next morning for an early dip in the ‘pool’.
IMG_5422At the Liard River we also saw the most wildlife up till now; bison, moose, another black bear and a variety of birds. It’s all there, just be patient and you will see it all!
We had put the van nearby the bridge crossing the Liard River. The perfect spot to build a big campfire and, yes, eat some marshmallows. Bring on the good old days!! Playing with fire and eating as many marshmallows as you can!
The day that followed our path brought us to Muncho Lake. In the summer, this lake is host to many kinds of watersports and thousands of outdoor lovers. Now, only one small lodge was open and all was quiet.
Wouter had gone ahead of me to find a good spot to park the van. Being a little too ambitious he got our trusting Plymouth stuck between the rocks and had to get help to get it back out. A small shock, eventually everything turned out fine and we had a beautiful spot looking over Muncho Lake. Time for more campfires and marshmallows…IMG_5420
From Muncho Lake Wouter was to travel ahead of me to Fort Nelson; a small town where we could possibly raise more awareness and get people to know 99%RIDE. A good chance to try and get more donations for our foundation.
For me it meant three days of cycling. Or not? The day I left Muncho Lake I had taken a small coffee break in Toad River, a small service station about 65km from Muncho Lake. A nice fellow told me there were some nice campsites up on top of Summit Lake, about 60km ahead. I looked at my watch; 04:00 p.m., would I make it before dark? I took a chance and starting cycling. Not knowing it would be one of the tougher days I’d seen so far.
Around 07.30 p.m. I started to climb up to Summit Lake. Once I was there it was getting darker. And it had started to snow. The campground? Closed. The service station? Empty. Abandoned. Trashed. There was absolutely nothing there. Summit Lake was empty. I decided to descend a little bit and look for a spot to pitch the tent. About 30 meters into the descent I found a safe place to put the tent up. Luckily I had done this before and within 10 minutes I was in my sleeping bags eating and getting ready to sleep.
When I woke up all was quiet. About 5/6cm of snow had fallen. It was pretty cold, but there wasn’t any wind. Quickly I got up, packed up everything and made my way down. I was sure to make it to Fort Nelson in two days instead of three. My legs felt good and I had enough food and water with me.
IMG_5438The ride started cold, descending first thing in the morning doesn’t really warm you up, it cools you down even more. Sweat in my gloves had frozen and my hands were shivering. But this is BC. And in BC there are mountains and hills. Plenty of them.

The first one I hit was big. A 6km climb. It gets to your legs. What we call in The Netherlands ‘een kuitenbijter’. After that I knew it was going to be one long descent, almost all the way to Fort Nelson.

After a huge 140km I had made it. Looking for Wi-Fi to contact Wouter I made my way to a fast-food place. No luck. There was mobile service though. One text message later and we met up at the pace he had parked the van. A big melt water river that had shrunk was the place we would spend the night.
Wouter had told me he again had had some trouble with the car. Getting stuck in the mud isn’t the best thing to happen to you in the middle of the night. Yet the people of Fort Nelson are very friendly (even in the middle of the night), and soon enough the Plymouth was out on the road again. Wouter, still covered in mud, still couldn’t believe it. A lesson was learnt and we went to bed early that night. But not after witnessing our first Aurora Borealis, the great Northern Lights. A big green glow had appeared at the northern horizon.

A good time to say good night. We hope to post our next update from Fort St. John and tell you all about our Thanksgiving dinner…

From a sunny Fort Nelson,

Dirk & Wouter

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