A small lake not far down from Jct 37 on the Cassiar Highway
A small lake not far down from Jct 37 on the Cassiar Highway

Day 18

Woke up around 5am this morning not feeling well, so instead of getting up to start packing, I decided to sleep a bit longer.

Finally rolled out around 8, and took a shower, still feeling a bit under, the shower helped a little, but my head still bothered me, so I took a couple ibuprofen.

First thing, I checked the JB Weld to make sure it set up overnight. It seemed to have, so I went ahead and checked my brake fluid level.

I still had “some” Fluid in the reservoir. Not much, but I bled the brakes a bit, and got some pressure.

Good enough.

I then packed up camp, and headed out down 37, the Stewart Cassiar Highway around 10am.

Not but a couple miles down the road, I saw a sign greeting me to British Columbia. Passing the sign, I noticed on the left hand side, a small bear hanging out, eating roadside vegetation. I stopped to turn around, in hopes to get a quick picture, but it decided to wonder off into the woods.

The start of the highway reminded me much of what I’ve traveled much of my trip, but soon after, the mountains begun to rise around me, and more and more rivers and streams appeared. Little ponds and lakes seemed to pop up as often as the tree’s themselves.

I rode on a bit, stopping a few times for some pictures, before finally coming to Dease Lake. I’d heard about Mamma Z’s cafe here for some time, and wanted to stop in and grab some breakfast.

A quick stop in Jade City to buy some trinkets
A quick stop in Jade City to buy some trinkets

After fueling up, I rode down the road. There I found the cafe, closed.

It was a shame to see, as I heard such great reviews of the place, specifically their cinnamon rolls.

Disappointed, I continued down the road

Not far out of Dease Lake, I came to the Gravel Section that everyone had been talking about that I heard from travelers that had brought 37 up to the Alaska Highway.

First thing I noticed, is it wasn’t bad at all. Very smooth, hard packed, and they had construction going on in what looks to be preparation to surface this section of road.

I used my rear brake lightly, the JB Weld job I did seemed to hold up, as I continued to use it lightly, mainly for stability in the corners.

As I came to the end of the gravel stretch, I knew I was through the worst of my journey home from this point forward(if you could call it that, it wasn’t bad at all. I’ve now learned that what may be terrible for people who grew up on tarmac their whole lives, is just another day for a farm boy).

I continued on, and finally made it to Tatogga Lodge.

This is another place I’ve heard about many of times, that they have the best hamburger in Canada.

I stopped in, and they were open, yet extremely vacant of any travelers.

I was greeted by a young women and her sister. After a few minutes of sitting around, I realized the lodge was ran by a Mother and her two daughters.

I ordered up the tatogga burger, a ½ pound double patty burger with cheese, bacon, and it also comes with mushrooms, but I don’t like mushrooms.

Highway 37 offers some breathtaking views
Highway 37 offers some breathtaking views

After ordering it, I noticed the young women in the kitchen, patting out each patty.

Made from fresh ground beef, I was looking forward to this burger.

When it finally came, I also took notice of the extremely large pile of fries. Much more than you get at most other places.

I loaded up my burger with some ketchup and mustard before finally biting in.

The burger was fantastic.

Cooked through, juicy, and tasty.

The bacon was thick cut strips of smoked bacon, cooked not too crispy as to give it some density to stay in once piece while biting through.

Although a bit on the upper end of what I’d pay for a burger (Bill came to 15.40 with coffee), it was well worth it in many ways.

I finally got dressed back up in my gear, with my full belly, and set out.

I came across several places that I wanted to take pictures. Many of which were just beautiful views of the mountains and river. However, their was not much shoulder to pull off on so I waited for a pullout in hopes to find one that offered a great view.

Finally I found one such pullout, and pulled off. I took a few pictures, and continued on down the long stretch of highway ahead of me.

It wasn’t long when I came to a hill that offered another great picture opportunity, as I was going down it, I noticed a turnout and the mountains behind. I pulled on my front brake, and slammed on my rear forgetting the delicate nature of the brake line. The rear gave a bit, then nothing. After finally stopped, I looked at my brake line and it had served all it could serve.

The view from my camp spot at Bell II Lodge
The view from my camp spot at Bell II Lodge

For the most part, I am happy that it lasted that long. I wasn’t really expecting it to work at all. But it performed its duty for the most needed section. From here on out, I would need to just take it easy, and plan my stops well in advance.

A couple spots I tried to stop quickly, the front brake just doesn’t have the ability. They quickly heat up, loosing much breaking power, and with the combined downshifts, makes for extremely long stopping distances. I continued to ride on, stopping several times, taking photo’s here and there, and just admiring the whole of this route. Next to the Brooks range, this ranks up there with shear beauty.

As I finally came into Bell II Lodge for fuel and to camp, I reflected on the day. There was much out here, but the traffic was extremely light.

I wonder why more people do not take this route. Either toor from the Alaska Highway.

I thought about it, the towns, and the people along the way, and I will save my thoughts for a separate article. But for right now, as I am halfway down the highway, I can’t imagine a more pristine piece of area than this.

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Arctic Expedition: Day 19

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