8/17 – 8/19
The air was cool and the wind was down as we cycled away from Bonus Lake. We made good time for the first few hours. At some point a truck slowed down next to us and the passenger was shouting to Soph. She smiled and they drove up past us. It was Rick and Joan. We had met them the morning after our cold and wet day in Denali. They were on their way back to Oregon. About half a mile up the road they pulled off. They gave us apples, cheese, water, and celery covered in peanut butter as we filled them in on the last month. They offered wine, but Soph uncharacteristically declined.
After lunch in Kitwanga we turned onto Highway 16. It is so rare that you change roads in these parts that it always feels like it marks a new chapter in the journey. You’re sad to leave one part behind, but hopeful for what lies ahead. That being said, 16 has a bad reputation as The Highway of tears. Over the last few decades, dozens of first nation women have been abducted on it and the kidnapper has never been found. It was also notably busier than the Cassiar or any other road that we had been on in weeks.
We camped near a bridge at Price Creek. Trucks whizzed by all night. We were so close to the road that their drag would shake the tent and sometimes I wondered if they would hit us. There were mice all around rustling in the bushes and investigating our belongings. I would wake up with fear kicking in before my rationale and would grab my bear spray. We had bought some milk earlier for our morning cereal. To keep it cold I had pinned it under some rocks in the creek.
The next day we made a move for Terrace. Population 12,000. Biggest town since Whitehorse. You get a great view of the Seven Sisters peaks on the way in. You also ride over some nice old bridges where some friendly locals will casually ask if you need to purchase any weed. This will be completely legal in BC come November and one cannot blame them for trying to lock the market down.
We had lined up a place to stay with a family that we’d bumped into first at Dease Lake, and then again at Meziadin. Karen and Travis had been taking their sons Aiden, Seth, and Ben on cycling tours since they were in diapers. Before they were able to ride on their own they would attach one of those trailabike kits with a single wheel and a bar that clamps onto the parent’s seat post and then tow a trailer with their gear behind that. At some point they tried it with a tandem as well. They came across a weigh station once and their rigs tipped 350 pounds.
Terrace had a nice outdoor town charm to it. Karen and Travis had ended up there after Travis broke his neck in a skiing accident. After months of rehab they’d decided that they had always wanted to live out west and life was too short to not give it a try. They started driving and ran out of money in Terrace.
Their house had a nice outdoor family charm to it. A bit hectic as one would expect a place containing three young boys to be, but comfortable and healthy. My favorite part was that they had five sets of every piece of gear, one for each of them. Skis, bikes, harnesses, etc.
Seth was gracious enough to let us sleep in his bed. Karen made us dinner and breakfast. Blueberry pancakes. They said we could take a rest day if we wanted, but we’d already booked a ferry from Prince Rupert to Vancouver Island and needed to move.
The next night was spent at Exchamasiks River Provincial Park. Old growth trees with trunks so big that three people with interlocking hands could not hug them tower above the river but are eclipsed by a sheer granite face on the other side. Train tracks rumble across the road. Cloudless night with big bright moon over our tree ringed patch of grass. Windy. So windy. Lay in bed wondering about the wind. Sometimes it blows in the morning and then it gets hot. Sometimes the day starts calm but picks up in the cloudy afternoon. There had not been a day in which the wind did not play a part. Usually it blew against us.
RV furnaces turn on and off. There is a little tent on the other side of the clearing with a young woman traveling around to work on weed farms for the summer. She is from Ontario. “America is crazy, everyone has guns.” Growing up in the states I guess you never give much thought to the fact that as a nation we’re armed to the teeth. It’s strange to be in a place that sees this as incredibly odd.
Legs tired from six straight days of riding. One hundred kilometers to Prince Rupert in the morning and a supposedly large hill just before town. Depending on the wind, that could be a very easy or a very long day.