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Skiing in retirement
13th Jun 2018 - 20th Jun 2018 - North American Epic 2018
Out of The Wild into The Yukon

Eureka Roadhouse provides a couple of hours rest before heading on to Slide Mountain RV park where we chicken out of tenting and take a cabin instead. We are also shown how to make Smores. A campground favorite involving melted marshmallow and Hersheys chocolate sandwiched between Graham crackers:-) So-called because they are so delicious you want ‘somemore’. We found one to be plenty.

Our next stop was at Grizzly’s. A roadside general store where we called home on a clear Whatsapp and Steve smoked a pipe with Chris who has run the place for 25 years. A proud veteran way past his prime, but not yet turned 60, Chris lives off pipe tobacco and peanut butter and believes in 2 things: The Constitution and The Holy Bible, copies of both ready to hand - we talked about a lot of things, but stayed off politics and religion.

Our destination for the night is Tolsona Wilderness campground about a mile off the highway; a sunny evening and night spent in the spruce forest.

Glennallen is an important junction and service centre. Important, that is, for the supply of liquor and Thai food. The former for us is a half bottle of Jim Beam purchased from an 83 year old liquor-store owner. She is a staunch monarchist fiercely devoted to the Royal Family, but she somehow missed out on the news of The Wedding. So she is delighted when we tell her it all went off splendidly. Actually we meet a lot of Americans with a proud interest in princess Megan.

The Thai food cabin is also not-to-be-missed. So one green curry and one beef rendang later we continue north and then swing off onto the Tok cut-of road. In 2 miles we reach the Gakona Lodge where camping behind the lodge is free: we pay for shower, food and beer: how fair is that? Our arrival coincides with that of 5 Dutch motorists travelling to Anchorage from Nova Scotia. Somewhat unusually they travel in 3 1930 era Alvis and a Logonda with a 1970’s ex British Army Landrover troop carrier as support vehicle. Not something you see every day.

It's 123 miles to Tok and we think to do it in 3 days. Cycling conditions are near perfect with gentle gradients, awesome scenery, coolish and a strong tailwind. Unbelievable. So we make good time to arrive at Grizzly Lake campground where we enjoy the comfort of a traditional Alaskan dry cabin where we break out the Trangia stove for supper and listen to 12hours of rain on the tin roof.

But tomorrow is another day with weather that improves by mid-morning as we make for a tent-stop 2 miles off the highway down a gravel road. We jangle our bear bells nervously as we make our way down ‘bear alley’ to Log Cabin Wilderness Lodge where Jessie prepares us dinner and we learn about growing up in Alaska where her father taught in Indian schools and went hunting. Hunting is a thing. Yesterday we called in at a Lodge where we were shown a wolf skin that owner Richard had shot while out hunting Moose: case of mistaken identity?

Talking of which we have seen numerous Moose from the road. Mostly singles at some distance, but early on a cow and 2 calves much closer. Lots of people tell us to be more wary of Moose than bears - especially cows with calves. Oh, no bears seen yet. But we did encounter a lone Caribou crossing the road just in front of us today.

Sunday 17th takes us into Tok, the most northerly point of the journey - the strong southerly wind of the last few days will no longer be our friend. We are a day ahead of schedule and after 9 days cycling call a R and R day. We take a room for $50/night at the Alaskan Stoves Lodge and Hostel where we can cook, rest and sleep in comfort. Also exchange stories with other passing travellers: Andrew, a thoughtful American biker and ex-ballet dancer now living in LA. We talked about Brexit and Trumpistan - his expression. Cathy, a lone French-Canadian cyclist whose plans to cycle North were curtailed by snow, forcing her to head home early. And late on our second evening 3 BMW mounted Brazilians who had made it this far in 45 days, heading for the Arctic Ocean at Prudoe Bay. Asked what they will do when they get there? Take a photo a go home.

We consult maps and the Info office about facilities on the road ahead. Few and far between is the answer. It's 113 miles to the next settlement which is across the border. We reckon to do it in 2 long days. So, with 3 days of food on board we set off: the problem will be finding water. We are drinking 5 litres a day between us, but need more for cooking. At mile 50 we reach Northway Junction which has a store, showers, campground - and cold beer. So there we stay.

Which leaves 62 miles to get to Beaver Creek, Yukon. We are 10 hours on the road in glorious weather with stunning views across the lakes and forests of the Tetlin Wildlife Refuge to the distant snow-capped Wrangell mountains. We exit USA at Alcan Border, then a tough undulating 20 miles into an increasing headwind through bear country: no bears but lots of scat. It's 27 degrees when we arrive at Buckshot Betty’s cafe and campground. One pizza and 3 beers later we are in our tent by 8.30

Next: Staying safe in bear country part 1
Previous: Anchorage & Away


Diary Photos
13th Jun 2018  Slide Mountain RV lodge
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13th Jun 2018  Phoning home on Whatsapp
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13th Jun 2018  At Grizzly Chris
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14th Jun 2018  Tolsona camping
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14th Jun 2018  A stop for Jim Beam
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14th Jun 2018  Approaching Glennallen
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14th Jun 2018  Food stop, Glennallen
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16th Jun 2018  Trangia cooking in an Alaskan cabin
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16th Jun 2018  Grizzly Lake campground
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16th Jun 2018  Alaskan wilderness home to moose and bear
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16th Jun 2018  Roadside halt: not many places to lean your bike
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17th Jun 2018  On the road to Tok
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17th Jun 2018  Exercising at Log Cabin Wilderness
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19th Jun 2018  Alaskan Stoves Lodge, Tok
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19th Jun 2018  Overlooking Tetlin Wildlife Refuge
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20th Jun 2018  Northway Junction
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20th Jun 2018  Where we stashed our food overnight; bears are not allowed on school buses in Alaska
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20th Jun 2018  On the Alaska Highway between Tok and Beaver Creek
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