Tok to Lakeview Campground
So after a rest day in Tok (a one intersection small town). We headed towards the border.
Even with the late start (10am ish), we still completed the 56 miles on time (around 4.30pm) due to the great tailwind.
We stopped for lunch at a scenic viewpoint and then stopped at a convenience store/gas station at Northway Junction.
We were thinking of staying here due to the showers, but when we got there the woman informed us they were having a water problem.
We bought some ice cream and decided it was worth it to go another 6 miles to the Tetlin Wildlife National Refuge campground.
The campground is nice. As the name suggests, it is next to a lake. The site is by donation and there is no fresh water so we filtered from the lake.
The squirrels here arent really used to humans so they left us alone pretty much unlike at Denali Park haha.
In the morning, one RV had parked on the day use beach by the lake. That was a bit rude.
Lakeview Campground to Beaver Creek
It was another 56 mile day.
This time, ending in CANADA!
We stopped for a snack and a rest at Hidden Lake hiking trailhead.
Funny enough we saw a German couple from the campground.
“You guys are fast!”
Well, not really haha, but the terrain wasnt so bad. Again, with the pointless up and down hills.
At this point, the wind picked up and we got more tailwind- yes!
We stopped at the Tetlin Wildlife Visitor Center and got some free coffee and the ladies were kind enough to fill our bottles. They also have free Wifi, which is cool.
We had some bagel sandwiches and then biked 8 more miles to the border.
There is no US exiting border meaning you just drive straight through.
A little after the border are the signs for the two countries/states/provinces and you can literally see the border line through the trees since they cut them down to make a path.
About 27 kms there is the Canadian immigration. And, Canada makes sure all the Americans know things are in Kilometers haha, but spelled the Birtish way.
They had several of these signs.
The officer was nice and asked us some questions about our trip. I took it as curiousity for bicycle touring, but Dad took it as immigration scrutiny (to see how we answered).
In about 1 km is Beaver Creek town. But right before is a rest area. A bit strange.
We decided to stay at Ida’s Motel and ate dinner at Buckshot Betty’s, which was listed in the Milepost (guide for the Northwest area of North America).
Dinner was good, but the waitress at the end was a bit off putting.
Beaver Creek to Lake Creek Campground
We biked 50 miles this day. We wanted to do 56, aiming for Pine Valley Bakery and Campground, but we passed a sign saying they were closed.
So we stopped at the territorial campground.
Because of the waitress from dinner, we ate at our motel for breakfast, which was really good! We felt bad for the owner though because he did EVERYTHING. Cooking, waiter, motel staff, crazy!
Oh sidenote about the motel, the water takes time to heat. So try aiming to be second to take the shower like me 😁
We stopped at the visitor center for some information and the woman was very helpful, giving out informational pamphlets and papers. We then bought sandwiches for lunch so we didnt have to cook.
We stopped at Discovery RV park for ice cream and pop (as it is called here or soda). It looks like a lovely spot and the owners were very helpful.
The terrain was ok, but I was having a hard time with the chip seal/ sort of paved road, which was slightly rough.
Funny enough, we came across a similar road on the Denali Highway and Dad said it wasnt paved, but then on this highway he says it is paved….but it is the same material…..
The campsite is $12 Canadian and because they are worried about wood contamination, territorial campgrounds offer free firewood so we set up a fire.
A cool thing we passed through were sand dunes. Yes, yup here there are sand dunes. Apparently they are leftover from the tropical period of Earth’s history with active volcanos. And if I remember the informational sign correctly, the receding glaciers (started over 10,000 years ago….did humans invent fire then? Were homo sapiens even a thing then?) also impacted these dunes.
Well, now, with winds and such the sand gets on the highway so the shoulders were not so nice, but it was fun seeing all the rock graffiti in the sand. I also didnt understand why people would stop and take time to make words and pictures.
There are also many “fields” of these cotton flower things….sorry I dont know the real name 😅 but they were cool since it looked so fluffy.
Lake Creek Camground to Destruction Bay
Today was a long day, 66 miles, longest on this trip yet.
I think a highlight for me on this day was seeing a fox. He was really cute, looking at me through the trees (which are starting to turn color!!!). However, a car passed right when I got my phone out and he ran away. I glared at the driver haha.
There was 60% chance of rain and we were pedaling and hoping we wouldnt get hit. The dark clouds seemed to have stayed along the mountains.
This highway is more smooth on the Alaskan side. Yukon side is that confusing semi paved hard chip seal stuff that is a bit rough. Which leads to bad shoulders, which leads to being almost run over a few times. Even Dad was gesturing to people.
Because of the clouds, it was rather cold. I wanted to keep biking just to keep warm.
That Pine Valley bakery was indeed not open, but the sign Northbound didnt have a closed sign like for us, but this is not so bad because one could keep biking 6 miles or 10 km to that campground vs Southbound there is nothing close after the bakery.
On the Tok Cutoff we ran into 2 German couples. One were on motorcycles, but they headed in the direction of Anchorage. Well, as we were biking to Destruction Bay, 2 German motorcycles pass us.
We stopped about 10 miles away from our destination at Burwash Landing and decided it was them. We had a soda and snack while watching it rain a bit. When we saw it lighten up we rushed to keep biking.
Well….as it goes, it did rain on us the last few miles, but it was less than a sprinkle. I definitely was not dripping when I entered the lobby.
We stayed at Tablot Arm Motel. The room was nice, but the Wifi is strange. Ive had this before on my travels, but it really irritated Dad.
“I get better Wifi in developing countries.”
Well, that isnt necessarily wrong actually.
Anyways, the Wifi is like a big data plan for those who use it. Meaning if one person uses it to stream videos or whatever that takes away the GBs from other users. There is a limit say 10 GB a day. When that is used, the internet turns off for everyone if you will. This internet system works well in the morning since it is refreshed and usually people are not using it so much or at all.
Anyways, we ate dinner at that restaurant there and the German motorcyclists sit next to us.
“Where you at that store? And you took our photo?” Said the husband.
We had a good talk. They told us they shipped their bikes for about 2,500 euros 😳 and that they will be leaving them with a friend in California because they have 2 more back in Germany.
While we were eating amd talking, the rain just downpoured. We were so glad to be inside. It even started hailing!
We ordered fish and chips, but were still hungry so we shared the pizza. We still had some room and ordered a slice of carrot cake to split. Honestly, we probably could have eaten more haha. Benefits of cycling! If you like food and eating that is, which I do!
An interesting thing that happened on the ride. So we stopped for lunch at a rest stop. While there some territorial workers stopped to get the trash and clean the outhouses. Ok fine.
While we biked out we passed a woman sitting in her white car. This was strange to us because we have seen cars on the side od the road, but either deserted or clearly left from an accident.
Anyways, when we were at the motel, we see the same workers in the lobby. The one greeted a gentleman in overalls. Turns out the workers stopped for this woman. She had a flat tire and stayed in her car the WHOLE night because she was scared to leave her car and no one stopped.
There was nothing really we could have done, but it would have been better if she was waving for people to stop to help her then just to sit there…
So the man in overalls was some sort of car guy and drove out to give her a spare. Apparently, she thought it was all free, but he assured her, she had to pay him for his service.
Destruction Bay to Haines Junction
Another late start. It isnt our fault. It is just so cold now and it is so warm in the room.
Right out of the motel a car stopped ahead of us. People got out of the car and were unpacking the trunk. I thought, maybe they were unloading a hitchhiker.
Well, as we drove by the woman called out,
“Want some cookies?”
“Wow!” Dad said.
“We arent giving you all of them!” She said alarmed.
They allowed us to get a few which I wraped in a napkin.
Turns out they rode the Southern tier of the USA last Summer.
Anyways, another long day as well- 66 miles.
The first 20 or so miles is flatish because it goes around Klaune Lake. However, we had wind. As it goes, winds in the afternoon are stronger and since we got a later start….stronger winds. And yes to my Dad’s point, we have experienced worse wind and many other cyclists have experienced way worse, but I really hate headwind😑
We stopped at Cottonwood RV park, which is super nice! Definitely a nice place to stay a day or two right on the lake. We bought some snicker bars and I got a soda. Dad was pretty gunhoe about leaving though so we stayed for a little bit.
We stopped a bit later at this visitor center for the mountain range, which is also home to sheep in the seasons not Summer. Since it is turning Fall for this area, they are slowly returning back.
The center had telescopes out to see the sheep on the mountainside and I did my best to take a picture through the lens.
Also around here is where they officially opened the highway back in 1942/43. Strange place to have a ribbon cutting ceremony especially since it was November.
Once we got passed the lake, we had 2 climbs. I wouldnt say big because I wasnt in my easiest gear and they were not that high in elevation or climb. It was rather long climb though, but gradual (like 6 miles each climb).
These 2 summits also happen to be the 2 tallest summits on this highway from Whitehorse to Fairbanks.
1. Through my travels, I have come across many of these superlatives- it is the biggest, the smallest, the highest, etc. I’m kind of over these.
2. This highway doesnt even connect to Fairbanks. It stops at Delta Junction.
AND there were no summit signs 🤨
The last 12 miles was downhill. Like 8 miles was straight downhill, but with no shoulder so that was scary with these big vehicles. And the rest was gradual downhill.
We checked in at Glacier View Inn, nice place, for 2 nights. It is also connected to a Chinese restaurant so we had that for dinner. First Chinese meal since coming back from China!
We then went across the street for ice cream at Frosty’s.
Haines Junction is a pretty quiet town. Not much going on for a big junction. Actually, this particular weekend is a long weekend as it is Discovery Day (discovery of gold in the Klondike). So one of the motels was pretty full.
A fun fact. Motel is called as such from motorway hotel. We looked it up one day with another German couple (lots of German speakers in this area!).
We are having slight deja vu here in Haines Junction because we were here 11 years ago. So random memories are coming back.
Rest day in Haines Junction
Few things to point out during our day here.
There is only one breakfast place that we saw open before 9.30 or 10 am and that is the Village Bakery.
We heard about this place before and were looking forward to trying it.
Upon getting there, I found it confusing. They have mugs and paper cups.
If you use a mug you save 50 cents. However, this was not displayed very well ontop of the fact that they had different sized mugs. Like the paper ones, small, medium, large. I have never seen this before.
The cashier, a French speaker, was getting very irritated with us/Dad because we didnt know the system and she did. This is a common customer service mistake as they are so used to how things work they forget that us first timers dont and think we are stupid.
There was a man behind us in line who pointed out the mugs to my dad. That irritated Dad more than the cashier, but she really irked me.
On top of this, I found the cinamon roll a bit dry. Dad went to get more coffee so did I. But then after, he saw a sign that said no free refills. He felt a bit guilty, but because I was still irritated by the rude service (she literally did that sassy head bob thing while rolling her eyes) that I was perfectly ok with getting my refill. Maybe also because I grew up in a big city versus Dad has small town kindness.
Later, we stop in the supposed only grocery store for this town and the woman charged us more than listed sticker, which irritated Dad.
We made lunch instead of going to a restaurant and then went to the visitor center if they had more information for us about our upcoming ferry rides, please see next posts, and Haines Highway, which they did. The woman was super nice and gave us luggage tags and a Yukon pin.
In Fairbanks, I cut out all the pages we would need from the Milepost book as to not carry the heavy thing around. But because we changed plans, I am missing one section, Haines Highway.
However, I found it free online from the actual Milepost website plus the visitor in Beaver Creek gave us an info sheet. So I think we are well prepared now!
We returned to that small grocery store for a few items for the 3 days it will take to go to Haines and in line we were talking about dinner.
There is a restaurant in town (sort of a food truck with outdoor seating) called Guys and Dolls Bistro, connected to Parkside Inn. We were talking abiut going there when the woman ahead of us in line turns and says how awesome it is and that she worked for him for 5 years and it was a good place.
We go, order our food and Dad starts asking the owner/cook questions and then tells him about the woman.
“We just opened this this Summer. I never had someone work for me for 5 years….my wife and I do everything pretty much.”
Well…at least that random woman gave glowing reviews…. The food was delicious.
It was an interesting rest day to say the least.
Next- Haines Highway!