RubiKon Adventures

Tales and travels of "GrizzLee", "Looksha Lori" & "Yukon Johann"

Friday, September 18, 2015

Solo Beyond the Northern Hinterlands: Rain, Salmon, Common Acquaintances and Arrogant Victory Riders

Rain, Salmon, Common Acquaintances and Arrogant Victory Riders

From: Grizz Lee <grizzlee@xxxxxxx.xxxx>
Date: Tue, Jul 21, 2015 at 9:16 PM
Subject: Rain, Salmon, Common Acquaintances and Arrogant Victory Riders

Lots of rain ever since leaving Watson Lake. Ended up staying at Bell II Lodge. It rained hard all through the night. All the motorcyclists were in the lodge this morning talking about the rain. .. is it going to let up? … What’s the forecast? The rain let up to a constant drizzle and like a mad stampede we all headed for our bikes. Some heading north, some heading south. Me, I headed south.
A reprieve from the rain on the Cassiar highway

Man made waterfalls to aide salmon spawning

Shots of salmon fighting their way upstream

I made a stop at Meziadin Junction for some coffee and a candy bar and an excuse to stay inside the store to dry off from the cold rain. The native lady, running the store, began chatting a bit. She told me she lives in Gitanyow and that Earl (the master wood carver – a native I met in Gitanyow in 2013 … who also carved the Totem Pole in Seattle’s Pacific Science Center) was her uncle. Small world!! In any event, I asked about the Salmon and she showed me some pictures and video of the salmon running up stream (CoHo) in a fish ladder on her cell phone. I asked where this was and she mentioned that there was a fish ladder made by the natives on the Nass River.  It isn’t an obvious place. But I found it, with the help of her instructions. On my way down to the river, I nearly ran into a bear…. As I hit the brakes, going doing a steep gravel drive, my bike slid, almost hitting a bear trotting in the middle of the road. I don’t think the bear could hear me over the roar of the river. A quick pop on the horn and the critter jumped out of the way pronto-like. At the bottom, there was a native camp and a HUGE pile of salmon in a river bowl made of rock. There was a weir setup to guide the salmon to a ladder. This ensured that 99% of the salmon would be able to make it upstream. The river in its natural state only allowed about 1-5% of the salmon to proceed to spawn. I got pictures and video of the salmon attempting to jump the falls. I use my GoPro and a waterproof case to film the salmon swimming by underwater. The fish were interested in the camera and would bounce their noses into it. It was a great experience. Although it was raining, I didn’t seem to notice while I was there as I was so enthralled.
A couple of chefs from Mexico traveling north

125 days on the road ... so far. The bike is a tad bit loaded :-)

A familiar logo ... Alymoto, Mottorad Specialist in the Seattle area
I arrived in Kitwanga at the junction where the Cassiar and the Yellow Head Highways meet up. While there I met a couple riding a BMW F650 650GS Dakar… Loaded to the TEETH. It turns out that a couple, both of  them Chefs, from Mexico are traveling north. They have been on the road for 125 days! As I looked at their bike, a familiar sticker caught m eye. An AlyxMoto sticker was plastered to their pannier. AWESOME!!! Turns out that Alex serviced their bike before they left Seattle on July 4th.  Like me, they said they were impressed with Alex’s work. Way to go Alex!
Dean, celebrating his 50 years of life. Dream trip by bike from California
I also saw a familiar bike pull in. Dean, whom I met on the Denali hwy was getting gas. Like me, he was heading home. Also, like me, he was celebrating his 50th Birthday in a big way. It was great to see him again. We exchanged pleasantries and off he went. Heading south, looking to do 700-800 miles today.
This guy was more than happy to pull over and give me a happy tail wag.

Native dip netting on the Bulkley River at Moricetown
As I was getting ready to leave, a couple of Victory Motorcycles riders pulling trailers parked next to me. You know the type. ¾ helmet, open faced, leather vest with Sturgis pins and other chrome Harley type farkles to go with his costume … goatee, earrings and such ... We talked a bit about our journeys. I made mention that their bikes look too clean (lots of Chrome) compared to mine for such a journey and that they must have washed them. One of them replied that I bought the wrong bike… I explained to them that I also ride off road, a fact that I had just done going to the fish ladder an hour before on dirt. The guy again replied “You bought the wrong bike for this type of trip” …”Why’s that?” I said. He said, “you just did. Got you on that”. It was like he wanted to start a fight or at the very least on argument. I put my helmet on and ignored him… I have never had an interaction with another biker like that ever. I rode away as they were talking among themselves and pointing at me.
Purden Lake outside of Prince George

Chasm Provincial Park

A reminder of glacial flooding

Broken Mirror

Here's looking at you kid
In any event, it’s still raining and is supposed to stop in the morning, with the forecast calling for thunderstorms in the afternoon tomorrow. We will see what happens tomorrow.

That basically finishes my trip. Looksha Lori rode up to join me at Prince George as I made my final push home. Unfortunately, I got ill and it took a day longet to get home than expected. Something like the 24 hour flu, or maybe it was the realization that my expedition north was coming to an end and I was feeling the reality of joining the establishment again.  Secondly, it began to rain. It rained hard off and on all the way home form Prince George to my home in Snohomish (outside of Seattle). It was an amazing experience that I will forever remember and THE BEST BIRTHDAY present I have selfishly given myself. 50 years on this planet and I have much left to see and experience. I feel fortunate and have had a felicitous life. Yes, there have been some bumps, bruises and hazards along the way, but that is what makes life an adventure. I once read that one should never confuse a long life with an interesting one.  50 years of living has taught me many things. The most important lessons I have learned is to live your dreams and pursue your passions. Life has a way on sneaking up on you. Before you know it. It's over.

Until one is committed, there is always hesitancy. The moment one commits; providence moves. Courage has power and magic. Events occur that no one dreams would ever come their way. Whatever you dream; Follow through ... DO IT! Those that have been there understand.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Solo Beyond the Northern Hinterlands: Return to the Richardson, I am Not a Pussy, The Jaws of Death and A Canadian Para glider Champion

The following email account describes this part of the trip best (complete with spelling and grammatical errors).

Return to the Richardson, I am Not a Pussy, The Jaws of Death and A Canadian Para glider Champion
From: Grizz Lee <>
Date: Sun, Jul 19, 2015 at 10:49 PM
Subject: Return to the Richardson, I am Not a Pussy, The Jaws of Death and A Canadian Para glider Champion

I left Fairbanks with a new rear tire. The ride out to Delta Junction was very pleasant and warm. I even captured video footage of a very young moose. I am almost thinking that its mom, must have been killed. It was hanging near the AlCan Hwy grazing, and wouldn’t venture far from it.  It seemed to be a bit confused.
Near Delta Jct

Back on the Richardson

Much better views the second time around
In any event, I was planning on returning to Tok by days end. The weather was so nice that decided to travel the Richardson Hwy and see if I could experience it without the rain. It was a 300 mile detour, but I figured that I am already here … why the heck not. Unfortunately it did rain past Summit Lake, but the road prior to that was wonderful. I caught glimpses of the Alaska Range on some of the bigger mountains sporting huge glaciers. Beyond Summit Lake to GlennAllen was miserable. Lots of rain and the road was hard to ride because of the huge frost heaves. This was not a road to be speeding on while riding a bike. It would be easy to get airborne and lose control.
This is the views I missed before

Lunch stop

Look closely, is it me, or does this glaciated peak look like it is smiling?

Taking a much needed break
Late in the day, I arrived in Tok, Ak and stopped in at Fast Eddies again for the all-you-can-eat salad bar. Fresh veggies up north are a real treat. While I was there, the two German gentlemen I met earlier showed up. We caught up and re-canted our travels and experiences. At evenings end we retreated to the Eagle Claw Motorcycle Campground. Eagle Claw is awesome. They cater specifically to motorcycle riders. In addition to the regular tent sites, it features a Teepee, Canvas Tent, Ambulance, Old School Bus and Small Cabins set up to accommodate overnight travelers to stay in. In addition, they have a steam bath… It was nice to take a steam with water poured over hot fired rocks. Very therapeutic and relaxing.  The owner of the place is a woman who is a long time Harley Rider. So she understands the quirks and need sof riders. She gave all guests a sticker for their bikes that stated “I am no a Pussy, I stayed at the Eagle Claw Motorcycle Camp in Tok”. I proudly display it on my helmet.
Alcan hwy, I pull off and check the route I did years before.

Freshly painted sign. Looks nice

Riding along Kluane Lake

That is glacial dust

Getting closer to Slims river

The silt was really mixing it up with the blue lake water

Windy as heck

I rode through this silty dust storm

Paint's Mountain
From there I rode towards Haines Junction. Incidentally, I met up with the Germans again at a AlCan Hwy Construction stop. We were in stop and go conditions following a pilot car for about an hour. I guess Claus’s bike couldn’t take it anymore and his bike, a KTM 950, overheated. I offered to stay and help, but there was nothing to do but wait and let the engine cool off.  Fill, the radiator and then move on. Later on in the evening, near Slims River in Kluane, they passed me, giving me the thumbs up … all was good. As I approached Slims River in Kluane park the wind became very violent and was blowing glacial silt out across the hwy and into Kluane lake. It was a sight to see, and even more interesting to ride through. I muscled through the wind and saw that it was raining towards the south. No way would I enjoy Haines. Bummer. I made camp at Pine Lake just outside of Haines Junction.
Pine Lake

Side trip to Grey Mountain outside of Whitehorse

Stupendous views

The true summit is about a 30 minute hike from where the road ends

Looking down onto Whitehorse
The next day I rode to Whitehorse and took a side trip up to the Grey mountain mountain lookout. Grey mountain offers tremendous 360 degree views of the area around Whitehorse. The road can be a little rough getting to the top. I would dare say that a non-dual sport bike would have a very hard time getting up there as it is steep and at times, nearly a 4x4 track (lots of rocks). Not a road I would go on if it was wet.
The Yukon River

Marsh lake as seen from Grey Mtn outside of Whitehorse

What the?? This work of art can be found in Whitehorse on someones front lawn
Afterwards, I met up with my good friend Shawn. Shawn was an incredible host, makes great food and offered to take me down the Takhini River on a white water Canoe trip. The next day we drove out to Kusawa Lake and put a canoe in at the start of the river. The trip was pretty mellow with stop for lunch, made a fire and enjoyed the incredible scenery.  However, Shawn kept talking about a set of rapids called the “Jaws of Death”. The more he talked about it, the more he got me concerned. He even stated that the river was high and therefore, the rapids would be more vicious. He did say that many experienced paddlers called the rapids “The Gums of Worry”. After a couple more hours of paddling we passed the rock garden and approached the “Jaws”. We beached and looked at the route. It was pretty hairy. But we picked a path and said that we’d stick to it. Nervously, I got back into the canoe and we headed straight into the Jaws, hoping not to flip in the cold glacier water … brrrrr!!!  After 30 seconds of hard paddling and adrenaline, I was happy to say that we survived. We kept the boat straight and on the desired line through the rapids. I am glad to say that I survived the Jaws of Death.  Cold beers at the local grill were gladly consumed afterwards.
Shawn's method of travel after a long para glide flight

Fun with animals in Teslin
To top off my stay in Whitehorse, Shawn was heading out towards a place called “Jakes Corner” to paraglide. Asked if I would ferry his car for him. Absolutely, I said. A little bit of background about Shawn here. Is a an avid paraglider. A real pro, the best I will probably ever meet. His flying resume is impressive. He currently holds the Yukon and the Canadian Para Gliding Distance records. After a 50 minute drive we were at the destination… an old mining road. It is a pretty rough road, a 4x4 track that he takes his Subaru right up. I am impressed. We arrive and Shawn prepares for his flight. But first, he shows me the sign he made. It is a sign that he uses often to find rides back to his car after the flights are complete. For him, this is a normal occurrence. He often hitches several kilometers back to his car… or, as was the case of his record flight over 245 kms back to his car and his house in Whitehorse.

Today, I find myself at the Air Force Lodge in Watson Lake. I rode through 2 very heavy showers and was looking south on the Cassiar Hwy where I noticed dark, ominous clouds. Not quit dry, I whimped out for a motel room.

Tomorrow I begin my trip back down the Cassiar Hwy.  One of my favorite hwys in the north.

Until next time....