You ever think back on a moment from a trip somewhere, and remember it in all its detail, then come back some years later, and it seems so out of place?
My trip was a lot like that up to the Yukon on the 3rd day.
Since I had rode south on 37, the views were for the most part, all new to me, there were however, area’s where I had remembered stopping before, and taking it all in.
One such area was near the Yukon border, a little lake not far down the road from where Highway 37 junctions with the Alaska Highway.
I remember the spot well in my head like yesterday, I remember stopping, taking pictures, and admiring the look of the tree’s, how they blended with the small lake below and the blue sky above.
My memories, however, will forever be changed of this area.
Unaware of a forest fire that struck this region in 2010, about a month after I passed through, it devastated thousands of acres of land, and with it, the green that once surrounded the roadside, has been replaced by the remains of charcoal covered trees.
The emotion I felt resonated with the mood of the sky, the grey overcast hue that cast upon the lake and trees as I snapped a photo once more from this location, as it brought sadness to my soul.
It seemed to be an appropriate feeling, for a day of mixed emotions
I didn’t take very long to get ready in the morning. In fact, I had everything pre-packed and ready to go, so all I had to do was toss the panniers and tank bag on the bike, and head out.
And that was exactly what I did.
A quick check again of the forecast showed that I should be clear most the day. It was overcast, and the fog and clouds were low, but at the moment, it seemed to be holding back any rain that looked like was going to happen.
I still dressed this morning for rain. The air was chilled, and I didn’t trust the sky, and my instincts would pay off.
I didn’t even make it out of Bell II before it started to sprinkle.
It was light, and manageable, nothing too extreme.
I rode on and about after an hour, it started to pick up.
I kept curing the forecast and realized that was not going to do me any good. I should know better, I live where the forecast changes every 5 minutes, it’s something I am used to.
And so I rode on, stopping a couple times as the rain picked up, parking under trees or hiding out in rest areas.
Eventually I’d make it to Dease Lake, my planned fuel stop. I also took the time to let the storm settle a bit and grab some breakfast.
There were several other riders sitting around eating breakfast when I showed up, and several more would come while sitting there.
Must were on their way back from up north, one older gentleman had already been on the road for 62 days, starting from North Carolina, making his way to Deadhorse, and now on this way to Tierra del Fuego.
So there we all sat, talking about where we came from, where we were going and of course, about the weather.
I took the opportunity in the slowdown of the rain to head out north again, the good news being that the guys heading down said it should dry up soon, that they didn’t hit rain until about 15 minutes before Dease.
The rain continued on, although at a much less rate than I had dealt with previously, but continued to nag me for some time.
Eventually the rain became spotty, the low clouds and fog begun to lift, and around me the definition of the mountains became clear as I ticked off those miles closer and closer to Jade City, which to me, is the heart of the Cassiar.
My spirits were lifted as the valley floor cleared out, the sun broke through, and now, there I was, riding through the trees with with the mountains stretching away from me to the sky.
I had returned to the place I’ve dreamed of so many times. I had returned to the Cassiar.
Jade City to me is always worth a stop. The people a friendly, it has great history in the area, and the family who runs it is responsible for mining nearly all of the worlds Jade out of the Cassiar Mountains.
I made a quick stop, had some coffee, watched them cut slabs of Jade, listened to the history be told to other tourists, and then set off north again, but not without a little side route.
Just outside of Jade City is the cut off that heads to the former town of Cassiar, a town that once was supported by a booming asbestos mine responsible for nearly all the worlds asbestos, was now deserted.
Ed had told me what to expect. Most of the buildings, as he had said, were now gone. Dismantled and sold for their scrap value.
But still, some stood.
Old shacks, run down houses falling to the ground, an old service station.
These were some of the few remaining buildings left, being reclaimed by the nature around them.
Coming up the windy road along the valley to Cassiar, you notice the devastation left some miles back, as a large tailings pile from the asbestos operation comes into view that would challenge some of the greatest mountains of Florida and Southern Georgia.
I rode around where I could, but was unable to press on further due to fencing and a gated area.
Heading back down, I wandered around, snapped some photos, and continued my way back to 37 heading north.
I would pass several areas that I remembered, eventually coming into the burned out forests, and then at last, crossing over into the Yukon, my final destination North.
I pulled off, and took the opportunity with the clearing skies to get a photo op and then pushed on the last couple miles until I hit my final resting place for the evening.
At Junction 37, I pulled left on to the Alaska Highway, rode down the Half mile to Nugget City, and settled in for the evening at the tenting area.
A few adventurers have now pulled in after me, and are tenting for the night as well.
2 gentleman who started in the UK, one from England, the other from Australia.
Another, Matt, pulled in later asking if there was anywhere else to camp further up. I told him unless he wanted to head south on 37, or go to Watson Lake, this was the closest thing, plus it had hot showers, food next door, and wifi.
He decided to stay.
All on BMW’s, the 2 who started in the UK seemed uninterested in really holding any conversation with me, Matt on the other hand has been friendly conversation.
Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, and will be spending it in Hyder on American soil.
I think I’ve talked Matt into staying in Hyder as well, he had planned on heading down that direction already, so we’ll see if in to him.
It’s about 10:30 right now, still bright out. Sunset according to GPS is 11:00 tonight, with sunrise at 4:20, so I don’t think it’s going to get too dark with the long twilight hours.