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Saturday - February 1, 2003 (12:28 a.m.)
This is my first dispatch on this trip, the night before I am about to start bicycling up to Alaska to climb Denali. It has been a frantic pace in the last two and a half months, trying to get prepared. Many of you know of my human powered, self propelled dream of going around the world since 1997. Some of you patiently nodded your head when I went on'n on about how I was going to bike, then kayak across the Bering Straits to Kamchatka, eventually transition to a bicycle, so forth... Well, I had put that dream on hold since 9/11, feeling that I had lost a bit of myself in the calamity as well.
However, Göran had not forgotten, and he would ask about that dormant dream in the times that we met. He would ask whether I had sponsors, when I was leaving... Then, Sept 30th arrived.
In August, I had just decided that I would let go of my plans for the corporate world, let go of my feeling of
obligation that I had to make my MBA and my college degrees pay off. I had decided that the schizophrenic state
that I had maintained over my entire career ever since the college days had to come to an end. This is the state
that had kept me tied to a desk, and in front of a computer screen while my entire being wanted to be outdoors and
physically active. So I had presented to REI a four page resume of my climbing background and they had accepted.
A life changing decision...
A life changing decision followed immediately on September 30th by the life changing event of losing Göran to an
accident while rock climbing together. Two knock out punches that killed the drone in me, to release the one that
craved the dreams of going around the world, of climbing all mountains...
So here we are, I am about to start the journey of a lifetime, with you following me. For the first time in my life, I have an employer that is not pressuring me to shorten my leave of absence. I have friends who have stepped forward to be part of the dream: climbing team, web site help, business expertise at our charitable organization Around-n-Over, and know-how for the ocean legs: "the dirty-2-dozen," I like to call them. Sponsors are coming through one at a time, and more will certainly follow. I have my family in Turkey and extended family in US and Sweden that are concerned, yet understanding of this punishment that I have chosen for myself...
In all of this, somebody had to complain about my lengthy plans - Yahoo! Hosting has... I was trying to set up the subscribe and remove accounts for all of you to use for the dispatches. The response that you got back when you sent an email to subscribe to receive dispatches is actually an automatic "vacation response." That setting requires an expiration date. When I tried to put in the year 2009, it came back and complained: "You cannot be on vacation longer than six months..." and gave me an error message ;-)
I will leave you with that smile. Please spread the word, let friends know, have the young ones trace us on the maps and the globe. Buy Göran's book "Ultimate High" to get a glimpse of the man.
All the best wishes, and a double thumbs up, Göran style.
Sunday - February 2, 2003
To all supporters of Erden Eruç and Around-n-Over:
This message is to let all of know that Erden has safely made it into Canada and is doing very well! He is in good spirits, and continues the journey in good health.
We will periodically keep you posted on his progress. Please do not respond to this message, as Erden will not receive it! The Team at Around-n-Over is excited and pulling for him, as I know all of you are. Please continue to send your good wishes his way.
The forecast this week is looking sunny for that part of British Columbia.
As a side note....
I left Erden in Everett on Sunday morning and got into my car. As I looked down the road and saw him ride off, I
turned on the radio and just then, an old Christopher Cross song was playing: I heard the words "Gonna ride like
the wind, before I get old
Ride the wind, to be free again." I must admit that tears welled up in my eyes at
All of you know that "a man must do what a man must do." This man of great courage, whom I admire and respect, has charted his course
and is taking that next step.
Stay tuned for more on this adventure. Please keep us in your thoughts. Visit our website and tell others about the journey. Inspire them to reach for their goals.
Thursday - February 6, 2003
I am writing this from Hope, BC. Rode 58 miles today from Abbotsford. I was hoping for another 20 miles today, but the headwind coming into Hope and the route diversions around Chillawack that took me into the farm roads slowed me down a bit. Should put in a good 60-70 miles tomorrow, if all goes according to plan.
The trip is going well. I took two rest days in Abbotsford following three days of riding from Seattle. The rest days will be less frequent and the daily mileage will increase as I move north. This assumes rideable shoulder on the roadside!
Did I mention that one advantage of heading north is that the sun is never in your eye? ;)
Friday - February 14, 2003
Today was a rest day in Quesnel, BC., where my odomoter reads 530 miles. Im making good progress. I have been riding 50-60 miles a day, alternating four days of riding and one rest day.
Yesterday was a hard day. Although it was just around freezing the whole day, I only ended up riding 32 miles. When I found a cheap hotel in Quesnel, I decided it was time for a hot tub and a warm meal. I needed a rest day.
The night before last, I slept on a haystack. The barbed wire fence on either side of the road kept going and going. Finally, just before dark, I walked up to a farmhouse and asked if I could throw my sleeping bag down in his field. He hemmed and hawed, and finally pointed to a hay shed down the road. He told me how to unplug the electric fence, and said I could sleep there.
My starts in the morning are definitely frigid, -10 to -5 degrees Celsius. If the sun is shining, it gets up to -5 Celsius, which is very comfortable. When it gets to freezing I start to overheat. Im definitely dressed for the weather.
The problem is keeping my water from freezing, so staying hydrated is a problem. I have solved that by knocking on a door and asking for hot water to thaw it out.
The roads are very manageable. They are projected to be dry all the way to the Yukon border.
Im playing mind games with the hills. I look forward to them, because getting off my bike and walking up them gives me a chance to warm up. When the wind blows and Im on my bike, my back and butt get cold. Hills are a chance to warm up and exercise different muscles.
Here's the plan for the next few days...
Feb 15 make it to Prince George (72 miles)
Feb 16 Ft. McCleod
Feb 17 Lemoray
And by Feb 19-20 make it to Dawson Creek
Now Ive had my rest day. Tomorrow its back to work. ;)
Sunday - February 16, 2003
[Posted by Number 1 Fan (and fiancee), Nancy Board]
Hello everyone! Well...things can change in one day!
Erden has been quite fortunate thus far in his journey....making good progress in really good weather up until tonight. He has gone approximately 700 miles thus far.
The 1 centimeter of snow that was predicted has turned into a blizzard! He made it safely to a little town called Bear Lake,BC about 48 miles north of Prince George. He plans to wait this out....hopefully it won't take days...but it might. So he will have probably 2 more rest days back to back due to weather. It is predicted to at least snow all night. He is about 20 miles inside the Arctic Divide...that must be why the bad weather now, huh?
The town of Bear Lake has one motel, one restaurant, and one gas station...that's about it! He called me from the restaurant...ordering a huge meal for really cheap!
He has a new challenge to look forward to between McLeod and Chetwynd. The locals tell him that he has a 10 mile uphill!!! No getting around it!
Dawson Creek is the next large town...about 200 more miles to get there. In between there are some other towns but they are about 50-60 miles apart.
He continues to remain mentally, physically and spiritually strong. Please keep sending him your good wishes...and keep him in your thoughts and prayers.
In case you haven't seen it, there is another posting from Feb 14th on the website: www.around-n-over.org Click the Denali Phase, then updates from the road.
Tuesday - February 18, 2003
Finally, I am able to borrow a computer from the owner of the Windy Point Inn to write a memo...
I am north of Prince George, just 20 miles or so south of the Pine Pass that is getting pummeled with snow right now, so I may have to wait again. Dawson Creek is within two days of riding, which is mile 0 on the Alcan Hwy. Beyond that is the prairie: fast, flat and cold riding. I am already at 696 miles on my odometer, which leaves me 2000 miles to go, I am almost there ;-)
I left Prince George on the 16th after watching the weather channel yet again that morning: "1 cm of snow in PG in the morning -5C, occasional flurries in the afternoon -3C." These are balmy conditions if they hold, so I hit the road heading north.
As I left PG, the flurries were of the larger kind, and gradually this got worse. The 1 cm was grossly inaccurate for where I was, and I was in a snow storm out of PG with headwinds, within reach of Bear Lake. The plan that day was to reach for McLeod Lake...
I got into Bear Lake and I was told that I was creating a dangerous situation on the road, riding in conditions like that, and that they had heard about me on the CB radio with one trucker telling the other that he almost hit me... Well, I am glad he did not!
Just south of Bear Lake is Summit Lake, and that is the Arctic Divide - meaning all precipitation on this side of Summit Lake will flow to Peace River and McKenzie to end up in the Arctic Ocean. Precipitation south of Summit Lake is picked up by Fraser River heading for the Pacific...
I stayed in Bear Lake two nights, waiting for the snowplows and the sun to do their magic. Yesterday was a rest day out of necessity, and this morning I took off for another 50 miles to arrive at the Windy Point, near the McKenzie junction. The pavement was wet but clear of snow, not a bit of rain or wind to worry about. I had switched to my studded winter tires in the morning, so I was enjoying the safety of the added traction on the shoulder.
When I passed by McLeod Lake, I saw that it was shut down for the season, and I am glad that I did not brave the weather to go past Bear Lake the other day!
So, here I am, staying in a bunk house with logging crews for $20 a night, Canadian. Great deal, and I can afford to wait out another storm at that rate ;-)
I am in good spirits, in good shape and the odometer is ticking ever closer to the mountain where I will meet my friends. This thought is a very compelling one during the rides and it energizes me, it gives me something to look forward to on the long rides.
Göran is always in my mind, and he comes up in conversations regularly when I try to explain to strangers why I am doing this journey. The rig is a magnet, and it is very easy to make friends for me... Strangers do not stay so for long - you all should try it some day!
All the best from the road...
Wednesday - February 19, 2003
Well, it is the morning of 19th, and as predicted, the snow at Pine Pass has descended on us at the Windy Point Inn. It is a day much like the one on which I had barely made it to Bear Lake. So I will not be riding for a while.
A trucker came down from the pass this morning and told us that the road crews are working around the clock to clear the snow off the roads. Beyond the pass, the problem is not so much the fresh snow but the wind blown snow on the roads...
The owners of the Inn, Jeroen and Bianca bought the Inn in September and decided to make a living here in the British Columbia. We talked about how we do not have a choice on where we are born, but have the choice on how to live our lives. Their children get picked up in the morning by school bus from McKenzie about 30 miles up the road.
They operate the bunkhouse and the Inn that they are converting to a Bed & Breakfast. With the Powder King ski resort so close, which does not have enough facilities, they expect to remain busy year round. The bunkhouse is cheap and that is where the logging crews stay. I never saw these guys last night. They were already asleep when I returned from dinner with Jeroen and Bianca, and they took off at 04:00 am. The logging crews put in long days in winter while the ground is frozen. Beyond March, the swampy ground softens and the machinery cannot operate or haul the logs. Tree planting crews arrive in June to use the same facilities...
Two friends of Jeroen, who were from Romania living in Prince George stopped by in the store. They were done snowmobiling at the Pine Pass and they were telling me that there is fresh snow at Fort St. John, Dawson Creek and Chetwynd. They told me to stay put until the 50cm snow was cleared off the roads in the pass... I am planning for at least another couple days here the way it is sounding!
The most interesting event today was to run into an acquiantance this morning during the breakfast. A lady walked in with a man who had a peculiarly familiar face. I had to do a double take, and called out: "Lynton?" He was surprised too and told me he was wondering how I was doing, and asked me whether I stayed in his hay shed. Lynton Wieb was the gentleman on whose bale of of hay I slept, on his way to haul more hay for his farm from Hudson Hope. We caught up on the story, and promised to see each other on the way back in the summer. He will follow me from the web site dispatches.
So, this is life short of Pine Pass. I am badgering Jeroen and Bianca to see if I can be useful in anyway just to pass time as the bunkhouse does not have a TV, and I will run out of things to write in the journal pretty soon. Maybe I will paint, who knows ;-)
Best to all...
Thursday - February 20, 2003
Occasional flurries ruled today with gray skies.
This location is much like North Bend at the foot of Snoqualmie Pass near Seattle, catching all the precipitation from the rising clouds. The prairie piles up a cold pocket of air behind the Pine Pass which feeds this local weather phenomenon. And just like the Snoqualmie Pass, Pine Pass gets plenty of snow to afford a ski area - the Powder King.
Today, time was easier to pass. Jeroen and I teamed up to clear the roof of the bunkhouse. There was two feet of snow piled up there, which was sitting on a flat roof. Surrounding the bunkhouse on all sides were the by now 8 foot tall mounds of snow from the earlier efforts to keep the roof clear. It took us a total of four hours in two hour shifts allowing for lunch to finish the job.
Throughout the work, I had this strange desire to jump into those tall mounds, but kept thinking of Tomaz Humar. In all my competitive sports years, one thing to which I religiously paid attention was to protect myself prior to a competition. So no soccer or other potentially injurious activity prior to a big event, for example. It would have been hard to explain jumping off a roof and hurting myself to the team that has been working so hard to get us so far!!!
So I contained my childish enthusiasm, and decided to use the step ladder to get back down. Perhaps more dangerous if I fell, but I was more in control that way ;-)
The journal is getting more full every passing day as I catch up with past events, and fill in the story with details. I will soon need another notebook to continue the journaling...
I think Jeroen and Bianca will follow us, and will remain friends into the future. It is nice meet such kind people.
It was nice to have something physical to do. The food is very good here and I will get fat if I am not careful. No need to make the climb to Pine Pass more difficult! I should tell you about the Wimpy Burger that they talked me into ordering yesterday for lunch: a good 8 inches in diameter, and 3-4 inches thick loaded with an equally sized pattie, mushrooms, a fried egg, and condiments. So much food -- no need to mention that I did not have dinner last night ;-p
Forecast is not good; I may have to go for it but I am resisting the temptation...
Saturday - February 22, 2003
Tonight is the last time that I will have easy access to a fine computer for a while.
So, the four days of laze is coming to an end - tonight will be my fifth night at the bunkhouse with the logging crews. I cannot get too comfortable as I am supposed to remain ready to suffer. The warm bunkhouse and the incredible hospitality that I am receiving from the owners Jeroen and Bianca are enough to play with my mind. "Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated!" of the Borg comes to mind ;-)
The forecast was excellent when we checked it last night for the surrounding area. Saturday through Tuesday was going to be sunny and snow was expected in Dawson Creek on Wednesday. The same is still true. I decided to give the sun a chance to sublimate the ice off the roads today. The road surface in the afternoon was considerably drier as compared to the morning. So the decision was right!
We woke up this morning to -23C (-9F) temperature. That changed with the bright sun and blue skies but did not go above -10C (14F). I had imagined the Pine Pass and the mountain a bit higher, and they are not. For the first time since I arrived here, I was able to see the Rocky Mountains in the morning, and with the evening alpenglow. Pine Pass: here I come!
The cold mornings with clear blue skies are what we are trading for the snow flurries. This will mean that I will have to have a bit more layers on to start, but will be manageable.
All day today, there was the anticipation of the cold start tomorrow. I fired up to test my stove fully expecting frozen water bottles and the need to melt snow for water. I stashed away a couple more butane lighters, and placed my storm proof matches in the same bag as the stove. I dug out warmer layers for my face and hands. My shovel is already on top of the trailer, easily accessible. I will be wearing my gaiters, in case I have to climb into the high snow banks to get off the road.
During the dinner, one of the highway maintenance crews that operate the plows joined us with Jeroen and Bianca. I told him that tomorrow, I would be aiming for Silver Sands at the far end of the Pine Pass. He said that Silver Sands may be fully occupied, and that I should bunk with the crews at LeMoray a few more miles down the road. So he will talk to the crews tonight to expect me tomorrow evening at their bunkhouse. This I will prefer infinitely more to disappearing into a room by myself...
He was shaking his head as we parted telling me to be ready for more snow as I headed north, and I replied that I was relying on their mastery of the plows to keep the roads clear. We laughed and said farewell until tomorrow afternoon when he would see me on the road to LeMoray.
I expect to pull into Chetwynd on Monday, and into Dawson Creek on Tuesday. I would like to take a rest day on Wednesday if snow is certain. If not, I will take a picture of the "Mile 0" marker for the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek and aim for Fort Saint John, about another 50 miles up the road toward Alaska.
I should be able to give an update in Dawson Creek which probably has internet cafes available... Till then, tuck in and stay warm, y'all.
Wednesday - February 26, 2003
I arrived at Dawson Creek last night around 5:00 pm and checked into a hotel a mile away from the official "Mile 0" of the Alaska Highway. It was fun to start running into roadsigns on the way here for Whitehorse already. One said: Whitehorse 1500 km! That would be about 930 miles... My odometer reads 858 miles already, so weather permitting, it should take me till March 20 or so to get there.
I started out from Windy Point on Sunday morning to a cold morning. The thermometer read -32C (-26F) in the shade around 08:00 am. This did not improve much with the sun. I left the loggers' bunkhouse at Windy Point that had become my home for the previous five nights around 09:15.
I had filled my Camelback with hot water and was going to periodically drink from it to replace the icy slush in the insulated hose with hot water. Well, when I tried 20 minutes later, the dang hose was already frozen! The insulated water bottles on the bike did not fare any better. Before they became useless, I drank the two bottles over a few miles, hoping that at the Powder King ski area I could find more water. I just did not want to stop to melt snow, I wanted to keep going to Mt LeMoray to join the road crews at their bunkhouse in Peace Country Road Maintenance Yard.
I had imagined a long climb, and a narrow notch and I literally stumbled onto Pine Pass. It turned out that the Pine Pass was a long valley that cut through the Canadian Rockies. The altitude read: 933 meters. A wonderful scenic valley that was worth traveling.
I did not stop at Powder King as the access road wound up into the hill to the left without an obvious service area. I was drinking straight out of the bladder of the Camelback and that was enough to keep my thirst in check.
I was having a very difficult time keeping my toes warm. Everything else was comfortable, however my toes required the help of foot warmer patches. They stayed cold until the ambient temperature rose to about -10C (14F). The temperature stayed there throughout the day. The pavement was iced but firm. I had enough firm snow to ride the shoulder if necessary...
Along the way, Dan caught up with me to tell me that he would talk to his friends at Mt. LeMoray to expect me. He offered that he would come back in a couple hours to give me a ride through a narrow section of the highway where there is no shoulder. I told him that this was a human-powered journey, without any motorized help. "If you give me a ride, then I would had to kill you to keep it a secret..." I told him. He left smiling, convinced he was not giving me a ride. Soon after Dan left, I changed time zones where a sign informed me to adjust my watch one hour ahead.
Another maintenance truck passed by me, and stopped to wait for me. He was at the same time peeking up to the slopes to the left above the road. He said this was avalanche prone area, and there were signs to this effect warning vehicles not to stop. He introduced himself as Darryl, and gave me directions to the bunkhouse at Mt. LeMoray. I was to use room #2, and make myself comfortable.
I stopped at Azouzetta Lake for a warm soup, and kept going. I found two maintenance trucks at Silver Sands gas station, sure enough, both Dan and Darryl were inside. They told me to keep riding and in about 8 miles I arrived at the bunkhouse as it was turning dark. Darryl fixed me breakfast and all I could do to pay back was do the dishes. He would not take money! He told me of his snowboarding adventures down each hill around Mt LeMoray, and how he had a hard time explaining to people why he would climb 4-5 hours to the top only to come down in an hour. He had dreams of crossing the ravines around Pine Pass where there were no trails. We perused his maps while he traced the route that he had in mind. "Not as big as yours" he told me, and we argued that it was putting that first step forward every morning that counted, not how far the destination was. I think we were in agreement...
Darryl told me to stay at the Swiss Inn in Chetwynd. The whole day on Monday, I had tail winds with occasional gusts from the side that rocked me. The wind was blowing at 30-40 mph, certainly faster than I was moving. It picked the snow from the roadside and swirled it on the bare pavement. The temperature was a balmy -8C (17F). With the wind blowing mostly from behind, I was not encountering any wind in my face and actually overheating. The snow on the pavement looked as though steam were wafting from the asphalt, and if enough snow swirled past me it looked as though I was riding in the clouds - a mesmerizing feeling.
I kept seeing moose tracks that jumped the snow bank on to the shoulder of the road for easy travel. I did not encounter any of them. The only wild life that I saw was a huge eagle that took off the tree top just to my right side, flew along for about a 100 meters and then turned right to disappear behind the tree tops. It had to be an eagle for it was too big to be a hawk... The wing span on that bird was impressive!
I made it to Chewynd in very short time with the help of the tailwinds. I only had to go 40 miles and I planned a long day into Dawson Creek on Tuesday. It turned out that Swiss Inn had a hostel in the back, and it was free. They also offered me dinner for free! I was pleasantly surprised.
Using the breakfast coupon that the hostel gave me, I had my breakfast at the local A&W where I met a group of elderly women who were totally amused by my rig and my outfit. I picked on them asking what they were laughing at and we became fast friends. Soon they were calling the local newspaper and the weekly in Chetwynd to come to interview me. They told me that nothing much exciting happens in Chetwynd and this was news for them.
When I stopped by the office of the weekly Coffee Talk to give them the web site address, I met a gentleman by the name of Vince. He said that I should find him in Fort St John, that he would let me sleep in his place, feed me salmon that he had in jars, and moose jerky. He said that he would give me enough moose jerky to last until Alaska. We promised to meet...
Tuesday was overcast but warm. Despite the three mile long hill right out of Chetwynd that ate a good 45 minutes walking the bike, I arrived at Dawson Creek before dark. At 5 pm I had checked in. I had covered 65 miles and had crashed the bike twice in the soft deeper than expected snow. All in all a good day where my former judo training helped avoid a face plant on the shoulder ;-)
Today we have flurries in Dawson Creek as predicted. I will look at the weather conditions and decide to ride or not tomorrow. The bike is in the bike shop, where I asked them to recondition the chain and the derailleurs. With all the road grime and salt, the chain links were getting sticky. I will go pick it up as soon as I post this dispatch.
Do check out Outside Online News. Sam Bass posted an article there titled "Explorer On Global Traverse in Memory of Göran Kropp." Also do plan on buying the April issue of Outside Magazine in which there will be an article about us.
All the best,
Friday - February 28, 2003
I have a new crank set on the bike!
All the sand and salt that the road crews toss on the roads had taken their toll on my chain rings. Especially the middle chain ring in the front that saw the most use had "shark fin" teeth that were grabbing the chain and locking it on me. In the process, the ring was getting warped, and creating all sorts of dangerous problems. "Chain suck" was the most annoying problem where the chain would be lifted up to get stuck between the ring and the frame... Imagine moving along fast on the shoulder, with a truck passing by when the chain locks up! not a good scenario! Originally I had a 48-38-28 crank set, now I have a 44-32-22, which is a smaller one. This will help in climbing hills as the larger ring was largely unused.
I woke up in Dawson Creek yesterday when the noisy crews were banging on the doors to wake each other up while their diesel powered 1 ton 4x4 trucks idled outside. You could imagine the racket. As if that were not enough, one of the crewmen banged on my door as well, yelling the name of someone who was not in my room! That was 06:00 am. I looked out the window and it was foggy and windy...
I got up at 08:00, started packing and having breakfast. In the meantime, the fog lifted to reveal a blue sky. I left Dawson Creek at 10:20 to a fine morning at 15C (5F), a relatively comfortable temperature when compared to the day starting from Windy Point...
I met two giant hills, one just before Taylor where the road descended for 3 km to cross the Peace River and the other to come up again after Taylor. The descent to the banks of Peace River was a 6% grade, the kind that required the trucks to stop at the top to check their brakes. There was a big sign that said "Do not rely on brakes only - Gear down!"
Well, I geared up, and rushed down that hill reaching 37mph maximum speed. I was braking occasionally to control the speed. That descent was too long, too fast and I had to stop at the bridge across the Peace River to warm up my hands and face. I was numb from the wind chill! I walked the bike across the long bridge. Peace River runs due northeast at that point to join Mackenzie River that flows into the Arctic Ocean. Impressive views...
I had a quick late lunch in Taylor and continued on to Fort St. John that was only 18 km away. I arrived at Fort St. John where the traffic consisted of big rigs with two trailers and many fast driving 1 ton 4x4 trucks. Everyone seems to be driving these 1 ton trucks around here. I checked into the same hotel where Vince Prince was staying and it was 6:00 pm.
We met with Vince for dinner. Vince is the Business Development Officer for the Northeast Aboriginal Business Development Center. They help entrepreneurs, and they work long hours, accommodating those that may have a day job while trying to start a business. Vince told me of Nu Yiz, his island near Fort St. James where he runs cultural camps and tours to present the abundant wildlife including bald eagles, moose, bear and salmon. He told me about a relative of his, Solomon Prince that had fought in World War II as a sniper. Solomon had taken to heart the standard set of questions that were asked at every checkpoint in Europe during the war: "Where did you come from? Why are you here? Where are you going?" These questions and frequently asking these questions to himself helped Solomon in his life, and now Vince was also keeping this lesson in mind.
Vince's granny had walked when she was 9 the roads that I am riding. In 1905, she started with her family from Fort St. James where Nu Yiz island is located near Prince George, walked over a mountain pass north of what is now Lake Williston, up to Nahani River basin in the Northwest Territories. Their return trip was down through Fort St. John, mostly what is now the Alaska Highway. The entire trip took them 14 months during which they hunted, fished and survived the elements.
We met again with Vince for breakfast. We said our good-byes. We were thinking that I would be biking out today. It had been snowing overnight. At the hotel, the clerk checked for the road conditions on the web and coupled with the weather forecast, I decided to stay here at Fort St. John another day. The road conditions called for limited visibility with oncoming vehicles. This is a problem with cold weather and fresh powder that gets kicked up in the air in the wake of big trucks. Everybody looks for other cars and trucks, but I am a very rare occurrence on the roadside indeed. This makes me invisible to most drivers, so for safety's sake, I favored leaving tomorrow, Saturday, which gave me a chance to replace my crank set. It has been joked to my face before on this trip that I should not be a hood ornament on those trucks!
I am writing this dispatch from Vince's office. Vince already had contacted his associates in Fort Nelson to be on the look out for me! This is on top of the tasty moose jerky that he gave me; I can't pay him back. On the return trip, I will come down the Cassiar Highway that passes by Fort Saint James. I will get a chance to see Vince again and to visit Nu Yiz, his ancestral lands.
Tomorrow, I will meet Mike Heinzman, a reporter for Alaska Highway News for breakfast. Pat Ferris of Ferris Fast Cycles who fixed my bike meets his cycling friends at the local McDonald's on Highway 97, so we will probably go there together. They have a small community of cyclists that held the first race of the season last Sunday - so I do not feel so bad riding in the cold any more! I will then take off for Wonowon, a good 50 miles away.
So you think Wonowon is a native name for the town, eh? Wrong: it is the location of the original milepost 101 on the Alaska Highway, read the name again aloud ;-)
Weather allowing, I am four days ride from Fort Nelson where I may be able to post another dispatch...
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