Yes, yes indeed, it's been a week of wonderful wonderful experiences. I've made it to Whitehorse, YT and will be spending another night here before I step off the precipice into the great Yukon Territory wilderness.
When I left off I was in Prince George. Plans to ride mountain bikes in PG were quickly foiled when I realized that any chance of camping where no one would care was unlikely as all land just outside the city is private. Seeing as I'd be heading West along Hwy 16 I began a quick search for mountain biking in the towns to come. My search quickly revealed the town of Burns Lake and Boer Mountain. It was late at the time so I decided to drive 40 minutes out of PG and camp beside Kwitzil Lake. A couple friends had told me that as soon as you're out of the city just start to look for FSR's and you should wind up at lake or river at some point, they weren't lying. I found Kwitzil lake easy enough considering it's just off the highway, but I was amazed by the number of roads shooting off the highway that looked easily inhabitable for the wayward traveler.
A night at Kwitzil lake had Willow and I refreshed and ready for the next day when we would drive to Burns Lake. I had been told after finding Boer Mountain on Trailforks that it was a great mountain to ride and had free camping with a lake. That seemed a little too good to be true but sure enough, as soon as I landed at the base of Boer Mountain, there it was, a free campground and lake. Damn, I think I just found paradise.
Soon after our arrival Willow and I were on our way up the mountain while being assaulted by the hot sun. An hour and a half later, fatigued and dehydrated, we were down the mountain and I was jumping in the lake while Willow plunked herself belly down in the water. Yup, found paradise. While lounging in my hammock later on a guy named Russel came over and asked if I'd like to go ride jumps with him and his friends. HA! Hell yeah! Yes, the bike park also has a dirt jump section, skills area and four cross course, PRETTY SWEET! Long story short, I ended up riding with Russel and his 20 other friends, who arrived later, all weekend long. I did multiple shuttle laps on both Friday and Saturday with the group and a couple pedal laps. When I lost Willow on a trail everyone came together to find her. We drank beer, swapped stories and laughed each night. What a superb experience! I now have a great big group of people to ride with in PG when I go back through. I was so stoked on finding so many cool, like-minded people to hang out with, it was heart-warming really.
Upon Sunday I continued my journey a little further West to Smithers, BC where I met up with my new friend Zach Philip who kindly invited me to stay in his driveway and make myself at home. I ended up staying with Zach for two nights, I met his family and ate warm meals with them around the dinner table. Hospitality at its finest if I do say so myself. Zach gave me a taste of the mtb trails in Smithers and we'll be doing a camping trip to Telkwa Pass when I come back through. Also, before I left Zach and his son Riley, went with me to do a little truck shoot which turned into an impromptu father son photoshoot.
Before leaving from Smithers I did a short hike to Crater Lake just above the Hudson Bay Ski area. Another great suggestion from Zach.
After two nights in Burns Lake and Two nights in Smithers I was starting to feel a little behind on my schedule so I decided I had better do a big push. Leaving in the early afternoon from Smithers on Tuesday I made it as far as the New Aiyansh hot springs and Dragon Lake where I spent the night. The next day was the push. From the Cranberry Junction at Nisga'a Hwy and 37 I motored on up all the way to Boya Lake. It's kind of a tough decision to do a big push because it means foregoing the picture taking and aimless exploration, but it does enable to you to get caught up, which was the point. I stopped at Boya Lake because of the sentimental value that it has for me. Years back when I traveled with Alison to AK/YT we stopped at Boya Lake for a dip in the frigid but crystal clear water. The clear lake water really impressed on my mind apparently because I've always thought about going back. If Jessey and Tommie were with me I'm sure they'd lose their minds over the paddle boarding opportunities.
I found a little spot tucked out of the way just outside the park where I camped for the night. Waking up with rain I had a slow start to my day, but eventually I packed up the truck and was on the road again. Boya Lake sits fairly high North in BC so it wasn't long before I found myself at the Yukon border. The rain had been following me from my campsite in Boya Lake and on the way to Watson Lake I had passed a couple motorcyclists who looked rather miserable as I drove by. These same riders were huddled together sipping coffee in the service station where I fueled up. I spoke with Sam for while about driving the Dalton Highway and he told me about his plan to drive the Pan American Highway with his girlfriend on their little Kawasaki 250's, doing the the South American portion after returning from Alaska. I have to say, I'm very happy to be traveling like I am, Sam and his girlfriend looked miserable as they stood there shivering from the cold and wet whereas I can retreat back to my heated cab.
I pushed all the way to Whitehorse from Watson Lake. Previous plans had been to stop off at Carcross to ride bikes but after being out of cell range for three days I was eager to contact Alison and my parents to make sure they weren't freaking out. Sometimes cell dark spots come unexpectedly for long periods of time when you're driving through the North; in this instance I hadn't had an opportunity to tell anyone that I'd be unreachable for a good amount of time.
Arriving in Whitehorse I had a good chat with Mama Jackson and then with a German fellow and his friend in their big 'MAN' (MAN is a brand if you don't know) Overland rig. Whitehorse always provides cool vehicles to look at. I was pointed in the direction of a good place to find free camping by an IG acquaintance and thus headed just out of town to an old gravel pit where I set up camp. Last night I fell asleep in broad daylight and woke up in broad daylight, I think I'm getting North.