This highway definitely summarizes a lot of bicycling in the Northwest.
Hills, headwind, cars, and rain.
It goes from Haines Junction, Yukon Territory through British Columbia until Haines, Alaska.
It is about 250 km or 156 miles.
It is also part of the “Golden Circle.” Which is a bike trip from Haines to Haines Junction and Whitehorse back South to Skagway, Alaska.
Haines Junction to Dezadeash Campground
It was a late start and a short day this day. Late start is our normal haha. But really, I think we have never started this late before- 11.30.
We ate breakfast at the restaurant at the motel, which opens at 9.30. That is part of the problem. There are no breakfast places in Haines Junction.
We then got sandwiches from one of the gas stations for lunch and lunch the next day.
This route from this direction has a lot of climbing.
Right out of the junction there is a 2-3 mile climb.
There was a van from Alberta that kept stopping. I finallypassed him while he was pulled over and he was texting. It was nice to see him practicing safe driving techniques. But it was so funny seeing him keep pilling over as I slowly pedaled up the hill.
We made it to a viewing point of Kathleen Lake and a car pulls up to also take photos.
“Have you see any bears?” The woman asked.
“Not this trip.”
“Well, there is one a few kms away eating by the road.”
She drives off.
It definitely freaked us out. Dad put his helmet on just in case….he needed to headbutt the bear?
But the bear, if it was there, was gone by the time we rode through.
We stopped at a random road for lunch and then kept going.
I really had to use the restroom and so we pulled into Dezadeash Campground.
So part of our discussion for this road was stopping at this campground or continuing on to Million Dollar Falls Campground. Because, the next day we were planning on staying at this cabin made for cyclists, more on this later. So it was either do a 30ish mile day this day or the next.
The wind had picked up considerably and I hate headwind.
So we decided to stay after 32 miles. Normally, wind is less in the morning so we were hoping it would be better the next day.
The campground is nice. Right on the lake. As it is a territorial campground there is free firewood.
We enjoyed the sun and made dinner then climbed into the tent for a card game.
While playing, we heard a fellow camper warn someone else that he saw a bear coming. So we were on alert then. Then we heard,
“Get in the car!”
We jumped outside the tent. It turns our the bear, being a grizzly, did meander through the campground, but apparently had no interest in anyone and based on the large scat it dumped in the middle, it was well fed with berries.
I guess it was just checking us out or marking his territory or I dont know.
There was another tenter there and she decided to sleep in her car instead. We slept in our tent and everything was fine. Though, I did have to go to the restroom in the middle of the night and now, further South, it does get dark for a few hours so I was a bit scared of the bear haha.
D. Campground to The Green Shack
So we were wrong this particular day about the wind, but normally, that theory holds up well.
The wind was quite strong from the get go.
Starting this day, as well, we had a discussion about what time zone we are in. Alaska is on Alaskan time, which is one hour behind Pacific time or Canada. I kept saying we are in Pacific time since we were in the Yukon, but Dad was saying it didnt really matter and since we were going back to Alaska, we might as well be on Alaskan time.
So for Dad, this was probably our earliest start ever at 6.30, but for me, it was 7.30.
We saw a cyclist coming out of that Million Dollar Fall campground. I tried talking with her for a bit, but she was either a quiet person and or an introvert and did not really want to talk with me. It was awkward.
This day was a long day. One, for the wind, and two, for the amount of climbing we did.
We ended up doing about 55 miles and climbed around 3400 feet in total.
Dad later calculated out how much we went time wise and what our average pace is to result in what mileage our extertion was and it came out to 80 miles. So to us and our bodies, due to the wind and climbs, it was like we did 80 miles instead of 55.
I’m usually in front of Dad, but this day, he was having more difficulties and was miles behind.
Luckily, there wasnt that much traffic, but on top of it all, it was cloudy and cold. We wore our gloves most of the day.
We were told and Dad read about this Green cabin or shack for bicyclists and people doing snow activities.
One blogger wrote it was X miles from Haines. I estimated that in km for us. I actually was only half a km off 😀
Anyways, it came right at the perfect time because we were both exhausted.
It is around KM marker 108. There is an outhouse and a small creek for water. From Haines Junction, it is before the pass and Chuck Creek (which also has an outhouse and creek). Both have litter bins.
So this cabin or shack is a small thing with one bed (wooden boards), table, chair, fire stove, candles, some books, and emergency food.
Written on the walls are messages and they have a little journal as well.
The creek was good since we basically had no water left.
While we were there, 4 different parties stopped by. One didnt talk with us as they were fixing the back of their car. The second, the man talked with us about biking as the Haines Highway actually has an international bike relay race every June and he did it. He also had a cool shirt: Yukon Do It!
The third, the man again only talked with us briefly as he went to and from the outhouse.
Finally, we were finished eating and playing another card game inside the shack when someone knocks on the door.
We said hello and he asked us a few questions then left. It was a bit weird and uncomfortable.
That bed might look like a bunk bed, but the top is not strong enough to hold any weight so Dad and I squeezed into the one, which was uncomfortable, but doable.
The Green Shack to Haines
Well, we thought it was going to rain. We looked before and it said 90%.
But when we woke, it wasn’t raining and it was warmer than the day before.
We quickly got our things together and made a lot of Mac N Cheese for breakfast and lunch. Well, Dad was really hungry so he didnt have any leftovers so he ate a cold can of chile.
Anyways, we hit the road and finally made it over the Summit. It is a very long sort of gradual uphill.
We had a bit of a downhill then another steep uphill, but that was ok because the sun came out with blue skies!
It was about 22 miles to the border and then another 40 to Haines, but here was a nice long downhill to the border and then gradual downhill all the way to Haines!
We stopped at 33 Mile Roadhouse to eat our lunch since they are closed on Tuesdays (the day we were there). The owner was working outside and talked with us for a bit, but we moved on pretty quick due to the fear od the rain coming, which the clouds were rolling in at that point.
It wasnt until mile marker 17 that the drops started falling. It was a light shower, not too bad, and then we hit construction at mile marker 12.
They put us in the back of 2 different trucks to go the 4 miles. My driver was talkative and we discussed many different topics. It was nice to be sitting and moving and not exercising! Haha
When we got out, the rain stopped for a bit. We got into town and decided to stop at the brewery (Haines Brewery) to see where we should go next.
They have different alcohol rules here in Alaska. One being that breweries cant serve over a certain amount of alcohol to one person a day because it is supposed to be a tasting. So the biggest was 12 oz.
And for dinner, we went to the Bamboo Room and they have a sign that says you need to be at least 16 to sit in the restaurant or with a parent, because they serve alcohol in the restaurant) while the bar room was 21 (but that makes more sense).
Anyways, couple of gentlemen at the brewery knew the Green Shack and were talking to Dad about our trip.
It is weird thinking we have gone from Prudhoe Bay to here. It really is far away….
We stayed at Captain’s Choice, which gave us a lovely view of the water and the room was so comfortable!
It was good because it continued to rain for a bit and heavy winds. There is tent camping near the water, but in dirt gravel….not so fun in this weather.
From here, we will now be catching the ferry to Ketchikan, Alaska for a few days then another ferry to Prince Rupert then another ferry to Port Hardy and finally bike to Victoria. So part 1 of the trip is over!
Around 1400 miles later for me and it is almost done. Crazy!