It was rough to leave Smithers. A very cool little town and a big need for lots of rest, we stayed a few days to recoup. Many thanks to Joe for letting us stay as long as we needed and making us feel at home. Our last day there we were able to connect with Gil and Mary-Ellen (whom we had met at the gas station the morning we left the Cassiar Highway and hit Highway 16) and went over to their house for pie and ice cream and were given some korvapuusti (a Finnish roll/pastry)! Gil's grandfather was Finnish and they knew just what a Finnish long distance bike tourist needs. And then, they even drove out to meet us the next morning on the road with a big ziplock bag of fresh korvapuusti for the long trip! Thanks so much Gil and Mary-Ellen, they greatly helped get us up Hungry Hill and 6 Mile Hill.
First stop was Decker Lake, a full day from Smithers, but we got to meet and stay with Gwen and Gordon, family friends of our new friends Robert and Jennifer from our day at Stewart and Hyder. They had passed on our info and we were welcomed right into their house, served a plate of smoked salmon and dinner, had showers and even a bed! What treatment. We are starting to feel a bit spoiled here. Not having to rough it for days as a sweaty mess while tenting it next to the road. After breakfast the next morning, we tore ourselves away from their place and headed back out on the open road going east. Thanks again Gwen and Gordon!
The next couple days of riding were beautiful rolling hills of farmland scattered with giant rolls of hay bails while thunderheads threatened rain, but the weather remained unbelievably hot. Poor Ville had chipped a tooth when we were riding the Dalton Highway due to the excessive dirt and gravel that got into everything (including his mouth) and by Prince George, we made it into a dentist to get it fixed before it became a major issue. Better Canadian health care than in the U.S. we figured. My rear back tire had some issues and Kyle at Evolve Bike Shop was a saint and helped me get the Blue Bullet back in tip top working order. Thanks Kyle!
We had wanted to stay a night, but decided to hit the road after loading up at a Mongolian Buffet, and headed south out of Prince George on Highway 97. This road proved to be our least favorite, by far. It was heavily trafficked, shoulder disappeared when we were climbing or around blind corners, and I can honestly say only about 20% of the passing traffic cared enough to move over. Since there are multiple large lumber mills on this stretch, most of the traffic is giant log-loaded semi trucks. If you have been in a car when one of these passes you and the vortex of air nearly blows you off the road, imagine what it feels like to be skin and bones and on a itty-bitty bicycle and one blows by you at 60 mph/ 100 kmh about a foot from you. IT SUCKS! SO, we have decided to get off this road and take a giant detour (which will add an extra 300 miles/500 kilometers), but lots more scenic and lots less traffic. Win/win.
(Thanks June at Stone Creek Campground for the box of bars to keep us truckin' You know what cyclists need :)
So, today we are finishing our ride into Williams Lake and Highway 97 and have a huge climb out on Highway 20 heading back straight west towards the coast. It should take around 4 days to get to Bella Coola on the coast. From there we are taking a ferry all day down to Port Hardy on the north end of Vancouver Island. We decided that even though the cost of the ferry ride will ruin our food budget for the month, we really wanted to see Vancouver Island and never say later, do it while we are here, right? So off and up we climb!
K.G. & Ville
On a cruise ship, heading north up the west coast to Los Angeles.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson
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