Moto Adventures

Friday, July 22, 2011

To the Top of the World

Our camper in the sunset on Kluane Lake

Where the river meets lake waters in Kluane Lake

Where the heck is Chicken?

A derelict dredge

A park in the Hamlet of Eagle

Our 13th anniversary, where does the time go? So close to the clouds you could almost touch them

Since our last trip to the North 5 years ago Ken has been talking about our great campsite in Kluane Park and the yearning to try his hand fishing in the Kluane Lake, so it only made sense that we return and spend some time in this beautiful area. Kluane Lake is another of those turquoise glaciers lakes that grace the Yukon with their presence. Near the south end of the lake where the Kluane River runs into the lake there is a definite line where the clear water of the lake is joined by the cloudy, silty water of the glacier river. We took a hike up to the original Alaska Highway(now a dirt track above the existing highway)and even higher up a trail onto a mountainside where we had a birds eye view of the meeting of the waters and a great distance down the over 80 km lake. Storms where brewing and we barely made it back to our camp before the rain started, we have decided that on this trip we must be be prepared for all weather because it changes faster than you can bat and eye. The rainy weather was not enough to dampen Kens spirits; determined to catch something in the lake, Ken once again set a line to catch Burbot(and once again lost the gear) and after that with his line in the water only minutes landed a beautiful 22 inch lake trout(which his mean wife made him let go, it was too beautiful a fish and she was sure there would be plenty more where that one came from and maybe instead a tasty whitefish)but this was not to be...after 3 days, not another bite! Oops! At the end of Kluane Lake is the small community of Burwash where we stopped to view their Wildlife Museum, we were there at 9a.m. when the doors opened and it was was sell worth the $3.75 each to enter. Every different type of animal in the north was on display and a lot of information on the natives, all done up very nicely.

Off from Kluane Park and onto a short trip into Alaska and The Top of the World the rain oh and fog. Yes, rain all day as we drove with just a quick stop in Tok to fill up with fuel and give the town a quick drive through then it was off to Chicken(they couldn't spell Ptarmigan). The rain cleared the next day so we took advantage of the dry(I use the world loosely) and hiked into an old abandoned dredge, drove a while longer and off loaded the KTM for a ride 100km ride into the town of Eagle. What a great little town sitting on the edge of the Yukon River, it has around 100 year around inhabitants which surprised us because the road is only open from early May to the end of September/beginning of October! So, in that 5 months that the road is open they all have to drive out for supplies several times to stock up for the winter again, and in the fall hunt for meat. You know what???they love it!!! What a beautiful setting, up until a few years ago a tour boat came down the Yukon river with tourists and a bus took them back to Dawson City, the town made a meager living off the arts and crafts they sold but this is no longer an option for them. Two years ago there was a flood at breakup that wiped out a lot of the town and last year the road washed more tours, but Ken and I spent our $6.75 to do our part to help.

Unfortunately, we had such a nice time in Eagle that we missed the border crossing into Canada, at Boundary, by 25 minutes and ended up camping at the wayside stop just on the American side of the border. Our anniversary night...the skies cleared, we had a great spaghetti dinner sitting out on the view point and later hiked to the border where I actually put a little more than my big toe over the borderline(I'm such a rebel). P.S. don't tell the border patrol they may check their videos and find the tape!!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Birds, botany, bikes, boats and beaches

It has only been a week since the last blog but it seems like a lot longer because we've done so much!

After leaving Watson Lake we headed for Atlin Lake, however, we didn't make it there. We stopped at Little Atlin Lake where Ken did some fishing and caught 4 Whitefish and I took about a million pictures of the eagles and other birds in the area. The weather cleared up for the evening and we were able sit and talk until late into the night around our fire. Seeing as the weather was to clear and warm a little in the next couple of days, Ken and I decided we would head for Whitehorse where we wanted to leave the truck and camper while we took a ride on the bikes to Skagway, across on the ferry to Haines, to Haines Junction, and then back again to Whitehorse. Along the way we saw the most beautiful grizzly bear that stood up on it's hind legs and took a good look at us, unfortunately Ken decided to give his famous bear call and it took off faster than I could get my camera out. Grizzly Adams he's not!

We could not have picked two better days in which to do the ride! It was sunny, warm, and the scenery was out of this world. We made many stops along the way including a ride to the head of the Chilkoot trail( I wish I could have done the hike but that is for another time!). Skagway was very busy with 3 cruise ships in port so we wandered the streets with the rest of the tourists and window shopped. We have never saw so many gold and jewelery stores, I guess when you are on the gold trail there is only one thing to buy, and boy they are hard selling the stuff! Our only purchase was a lunch of fresh halibut.

The evening ferry was a little late but it took us to Haines in just over an hour. Our boat was going all the way to Bellingham and it was full. It was no trouble getting on with the two bikes but the truck and camper wouldn't have made the trip without a reservation and that would have been a lot more expensive that the $130 we paid for ourselves and the bikes.

Haines is a world away from the touristy town of Skagway. With it's quiet streets and sleepy stores it was more up our alley. We dined on fresh halibut again(this is the place to do it)and found a nice state park in which to pitch our tent. Sweet dreams of magnificent glacier capped mountains!

Early the next morning we were off again, camera in hand! Oh My God, could the ride get any better than yesterday? Another day of riding with many, many stops just trying to take it all in. From Haines to Haines Junctions we were on sensory overload. After Haines Junction the land flattened out a bit and road conditions got a little worse due to construction, but not too bad. That evening we were back in Whitehorse at Camp W and unfortunately the next morning rain.

There was one more thing we wanted to do here in Whitehorse and that was canoe down the Yukon River to Lake Lebarge. So, here we sit doing laundry etc. etc. waiting and hoping that the weather will clear and we can paddle. We have the time to wait a few days and we have patience. On second patience, we are leaving for Kluane Park and hopefully better weather.

Oh by the way, for our German speaking followers, check our friends Stephen and Emma's website. They are travelling by Land Rover from Germany, Canada, South America and Africa! Their link can be found in the right hand column.

Lily pads on a small stocked lake we stopped at to have dinner between Watson Lake and Atlin.

Reeds on Little Atlin Lake.

This eagle decided he had seen enough of me.

Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon and our base(at Camp W) for a few days.

The scenery changes on the road from Whitehorse to Skagway, from a drier low mountain area to snow capped mountains and something that looks like a moonscape around "The Log Cabin" near the top of the Chilkoot Pass. The White Pass/Yukon Railway passes by just below the road.

We stopped along the way for a bit of a walk and for Ken a bit of rock climbing.

Just as we slip into Alaska is a great time for a photo op with the bikes.

At Skagway, (which was quite but a little too touristy for us, with 3 cruise ships in port) we had lunch and wondered around before we caught the boat to Haines.

A cannery in Haines on the road out to our campsite.

A short hike along the ocean took us through dense forest...

and along open beaches lined with such deep grass we had a hard time finding and staying on the trail sometimes.

The road from Haines to Haines Junction was so beautiful the pictures just couldn't do it justice, maybe I need a wide angle lens for my camera. Just a thought!

Ken caught the Ptarmigan, along with its family, walking in the tundra. They ran circles around Ken until he didn't know which way they all went.

Tundra flowers. I need to find out the names of the flowers up here, many are different than ours but yet some are very similar to plants I have in my garden at home

At the end of Marsh Lake, an adult Bald Eagle and 2 chicks.

The trail was close to the nest and with the telephoto we could even see the birds tongue.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Watson Lake

Ken shows off his catch of the day, two walleye caught in the Hay river. He is such a good provider and he is having so much fun doing it.

An evening sunset over Great Slave Lake, the water goes on and on.

Over 100 km of this or even worse(I was sitting on the edge of my seat for the worst of it)I hope the Inuvik road is much better. We talked to people who went through this road two days later and it was a dust bowl, I don't know which is worse!

We are doing some hiking, on trails like this one in Mucho Lake Park. What a view, the color of the water in the lake was incredibly beautiful bluey green.

Life is good!

Emma and Stephen demonstrate their rooftop tent-we want one!

Things get steamy in Liard Hot Springs.

At Watson Lake we checked everyone of the 15,000 signpost for the one we left 5 years ago but couldn't find it!

Well, hasn't it been a long time! Oh the kms we have travelled! After leaving Pete we headed north, and I mean straight north to the NWT and as we crossed the border I am sure the first gang on bulldogs(a huge horsefly) caught sight of us and hunted us down until we stopped and let them harass us for a while. Along the way just north of the border we stopped at a the Louise and the Alexanderia Waterfalls that were very nice and the hike into them was very much needed. The first 2 nights in the NWT was spent in Hay River and the Territorial Campground which is located right on the Great Slave Lake. That lake is big, second only to the Great Bear Lake in being the biggest body of water located completely in Canada. Sitting on the shore it looks like the ocean. We arrived a few days before the long weekend when the world jet boat races were to take place going up the Hay River (I wonder where the town got it's name) the falls we had seen earlier. There were some very impressive boat there from as far away as New Zealand and Mexico, the defending champ, however, was from Hay River. The weather has not been that great but we did take out the Zodiac for a little sightseeing on some of the channels in town and this is where we met Gary Carter. Gary has a fishing boat that he has renovated into a bit off a houseboat, and with his boat he goes out on trips up to 6 weeks in length to the East Arm of the lake fishing. There is a commercial fish market here and apparently at one time there were over 100 fish buyers and thousands of commercial fishermen fishing this huge lake, unfortunately they over fished the lake and the government took over the buying and restricted the number of fish that can be caught, bought or sold. Ken had some good luck here fishing, catch a couple of Walleye in the river which I have to admit are as tasty as Sea Bass.

With plans of taking the motorbikes up to Yellowknife we left Hay River and drove to Fort Providence (crossing the Mackenzie River on a ferry where they are building a fancy new big bridge)where we planned on leaving the truck while we rode the 300 km to Yellowknife. However there was a forest fire across the road and they were threatening to close the road and then it started to rain-not good for biking-so we decided against possibly getting stuck in Yellowknife in the rain camping with our bikes and instead continued on west driving the Mackenzie Highway and then south on the Laird Trail, but not before Ken had a change to catch a couple more Walleye. The Liard trail is a dirt road or should I say, when we went through, a MUD road, big mud! 210 kms of mud...1st gear, 4x4 mud! We were very happy to be finished and it took over $15 of loonies in a car wash at Fort Liard to wash most of the mud off. We spent Canada Day, or Aboriginal Day as they call it up here, camped in Fort Liard and stayed long enough to enjoy a free pancake breakfast at the hall chatting with the locals. After breakfast there was to be a parade with decorated bikes and atvs and later games including axe throwing, we opted to start out driving south again on the Laird Trail.

A couple more days camping along the way- Petitot River at a native gathering spot, stocking up on food at Overwaitea in Fort Nelson, and at km 589 on the Alaska Highway we found a quite camping spot along the Tesla River-took us to Muncho Lake. What a beautiful lake, aqua blue/green glacier water nestled in the mountains. Ken did more fishing but unfortunately got skunked, tube steaks for dinner! I got out the kayak and paddled around in awe of the scenery and colours of the water. We stayed 4 nights and had lots of time for hikes, mountain biking and boating. Its was at Muncho Lake we first met our new friends Stephen and Emma(an alias) from Germany, a great couple traveling North and South America-like we did on the bike a few years ago-only they are in a Range Rover outfitted with a really cool on-top-of-the-roof-tent. We continued to run into them a Liard Hot Springs and Watson Lake until they headed a different direction on the Robert Campbell Highway.

Uh yes, the Liard Hot Springs. This is the 3rd time I have been and the 4th time Ken has been, and there are some changes. The biggest one being this year there is nearly no mosquito's! Do you believe it. We setup our mosquito tent but really didn't need it, even as we sat outside with until midnight with Stephen and Emma and another couple Gaby and Heske from Holland, drinking tequila and talking travel. Gaby and Heske are also heading to Tierra Del Fuego travelling in a Rav 4. Ken and I are jealous of their trip but we were able to give both couples a few ideas. The second change at LHSprings is that the top Beta pool, the really hot one, is now closed. They have found a type of undocumented shellfish living in it so they have closed the pool to swimmers so the shellfish can hopefully multiply. I can't imagine them living in that hot water.

After a dip in the springs first thing in the morning we are on the road only to stop in Watson Lake to refuel, do the the Internet and take a look at the signposts. We tried to find the sign we put up last time we were here but we couldn't, there are just too many!

Now it is time to hit the road Internet for a while.

Our pictures don't want to load at the moment so stay tuned and I will load them when I can.