June 2, 2008
We were beginning to wise up a bit regarding the wind. The pattern we noticed was that the winds ceased at night, and started up again around 10 A.M.. As it so happened, our morning was wind free as we quickly broke down camp--but just as we had hypothesised, the wind picked up just as we were hitting the road around 10:00. It was a familiar foe that we were beginning to love to hate.
The big stop of the day that we were looking forward to was the town of Haines Junction which rested at the bottom of a long descent, but first we had to finish the continuing climb we had started out of Kluane Lake. At the slow speeds we maintained going up the gentle slope, and with my new found strength in accepting the inevitable wind, I was able to focus more on just taking in my surroundings.
The sky was much clearer than it had been over the past several days, and the air warmer--and it carried a sweet scent. Most of the local vegetation we had seen consisted of various greenery, but I noticed a distinct difference: Bright blue, violet, and small white flowers blossomed out in the open with the tall grasses where they were free from the dark shadows cast beneath the pines. It was finally starting to feel more like summer as we had steadily progressed towards our final destination at the US/Mexico border. We still had a very long way to travel, but I felt content at the thought rather than overwhelmed.
After about 10 km (a little more than 6 miles) we finally crested the top and picked up speed as we coasted down the other side. The winding nature of the road weaving down shallow canyons lined with more and more deciduous forest seemed to baffle the wind a little bit--enough that we were able to mostly coast on the steeper parts. It would be another 12.5 miles into town.
We saw a haggard looking cyclist heading in the opposite direction. As was typical, our conversation only lasted as long as we were within earshot of each other.
"Hey, where are you riding up from?"
"Are you tired yet?"
"Hmm... Not really."
"Yeah, me neither..."
|Haines Junction "Traffic Enforcement"|
While we waited, we asked for some directions to the post office. Since we didn't know exactly what to expect that far North, we ended up with a lot of things that were just taking up precious space in our panniers and not doing much else to aide us. Two boxes later and a few pounds lighter, (almost all of it was my stuff) we were back on the road, headed North out of Haines Junction.
Canyon Creek Bridge to have some food and evaluate our options. The maps showed a location called "Champagne," but after talking to some of the locals, it sounded like there weren't any campgrounds for us to stay in, and it also sounded like the cut-off road was not paved. The guy we were talking to told us that there was actually a bike route that we had missed out of Haines Junction, but we didn't feel too bad because a lot of it wasn't paved either. With no paved roads and no campground, it didn't seem to make much sense to take the cutoff route, so in favor of making good mileage, the new plan was to bypass the Champagne cutoff road and camp off the highway in the woods as soon as we found a good spot.
Because we stopped much earlier than usual, we had some extra time to just relax and settle in, and we planned to be up earlier too to avoid a few hours of potential wind. We relaxed around our little fire for a bit as we filled our bellies with food, and then we crawled into our tent and drifted off to sleep.
Route - 59.2 Miles in 10 hours