Alaska Adventure Part 3: I Love Canadia

Alaska Adventure Part 3: I Love Canadia

Safely across the border, we headed towards Vancouver where we planned to pick up Highway 99, otherwise known as the Sea to Sky Highway. Although I have only spent a few days in Vancouver, it ranks up there with one of my favorite cities. Although I am not a big “city guy,” Vancouver is an awesome sight: A skyline of green glass that sparkles in the sun with a backdrop of snow-capped peaks. There is no major highway that cuts through city, but this day was not about visiting Vancouver – We had other skyscrapers to climb.

We crossed the Lion’s Gate bridge and immediately began to climb. It felt as though we were above the city, looking down at the hustle and bustle below. We round right and lost our breath as we entered Howe Sound. Although they call it the Sea to Sky Highway, it was hard to tell the difference between the blue of the water and the clear sky. We saw more than one joyrider pulled over by the Mounties, so we throttled down and just enjoyed the views. We did not want to rush through this scenery, so we stopped for some pictures and lunch at Lion’s Bay. We were behind schedule, but it was hard to care.

The Sea to Sky Highway
The Sea to Sky Highway

We continued riding North, leaving Howe Sound at Squamish and continuing past Whistler. The 99 has left the Sea, and for the next 100 kilometers we found ourselves winding through valleys and progressively steeper mountains. We reached Lillooet Lake and abruptly started to gain elevation. I realized I was in special country when I spotted a painter at the lake’s edge. He gave a wave from his easel as we motored by, and by the look of his campsite he had been there for quite some time. This was one of my favorite spots of the 99. There was no traffic and the three of us spread out so we could have some fun on the switchbacks. More than once I saw sparks fly from Nate’s bike as he scrapped his pegs. I was happy just to keep him in sight.

Jamming Through the Mountains
Jamming Through the Mountains

The Sea to Sky Highway now becomes Duffy Lake Road, and we continue for another 100 kilometers towards Lillooet. This leg was slow-going, as we stopped frequently for the incredible photo ops. Duffy Lake Road winds along a valley between steep peaks reaching to 2,500 meters. The route follows a river, and we passed several lakes that were so smooth they reflected the mountains like a mirror. As the sun began to set we paused to enjoy the rays as they played among the mountain tops.

Even though we only had 300 miles logged, the epic day of riding called for a beer as we rode into Lillooe. Lillooe is an industrial town located at the intersection of the 99 and 12. There was not too much going on, but we found a few friendly faces at the bar to entertain us (or was it the other way around?). After a few Kokonees, a Canadian version of Coors Light, the locals pointed us in the direction of a campsite on the outskirts of town. The night was oddly warm, and the three riders shared a pint of whiskey before falling asleep under a clear night sky.

It was now Tuesday, and we had some serious distance to make up if we wanted to reach Alaska by Thursday. The landscape outside of Lillooe turned barren and frigid as we made our way down the 99 to the 97. We continued on the 97, or Cariboo Highway, for about 100 miles until we reached Prince George and met up with Highway 16. We fueled up and turned West, now heading on the Trans Canada Highway. This stretch of road was fairly uneventful, which I guess leads us to Tuesday evening.

With 450 miles on the day, and 300 miles to go until Alaska, we stopped for the night at Burns Lake, settling into a campsite on the edge of town. By this point we had already covered 2,100 miles in 5 days, and we were feeling pretty good. We had a few locals at the site next to ours, and their drinking merriment turned ugly as the night wore on. The man began to verbally abuse the girl he was with, and Nate and I were ready to step in if things got physical. Luckily, the guy was so drunk he took himself out, falling into his open fire and severely burning himself.

“Annnnnd he’s in the fire.”

Nate and I could not help our laughter. This asshole deserved it. Worse thing was he started accusing his girlfriend of pushing him! The two ended up walking to the hospital to get patched up. He wasn’t too injured, despite his wailing to the contrary. We saw them the next morning already starting up with the liquor. Some people are addicted to the juice, guess we are addicted to the road.

I love Canadia.
I love Canadia.

 

Continue Reading The Alaska Adventure

Part 4: The Road to Alaska

 

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