Probably one of the most noticeable and recognizable adventure bikes when out and about that you come across is the R1200GS.
An already popular bike among the worlds travelers, but made more popular by the likes of Charlie Bo0rman and Ewan McGregor in “Long Way Round”.
A series that, in itself, inspired a whole new motorcycle generation to get out and explore.
The two of them get a lot of flack, and there is a great deal of people who scoff at the mention of them, the series, and the followup series.
However, it did a huge service to Adventure Riding, by putting it in the spotlight, and now because of the rise in popularity of this style of motorcycle touring, almost every manufacture offers at least 1 Adventure Touring inspired machine.
But when you think of Adv, you think of BMW, and because of this, I would suspect a majority of the “Adv” bikes on the road are of BMW GS branding.
Whether of the R1200GS or older R Beast GS’s, the F650/G650 GS, the F800 or the newer F700GS.
There are a lot to choose from, and a lot of pedigree in the GS line.
And because of this, there’s this stigmata that all GS owners are assholes.
But they aren’t.
Just like not all diesel pickup owners don’t want to be rolling coal, not all GS owners fall under that stereotype of being self absorbed, anti-social, and only communicative with other BMW owners.
But because of the brand, the pedigree, and the history, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t attract it’s fair share.
When I started coming up with this in my head, I originally came up with the title “Those BMW Riders”, but I realized that I didn’t want it to come off as if I was talking about them all.
I wanted to focus on the ones I meet that are just passionate about the adventure, the people, and they just are on the bike they wanted.
I really wanted to focus on the Gus’s, the Doug’s, the Geoff’s, and the Matt’s of the world.
Matt being the rider who came in last last night into the tenting area and immediately struck up conversation and was friendly. My time spent with Matt wasn’t done, and our travels would bring us into contact yet again.
No matter what brand, what model, what activity. You’ll find the arrogant.
When a larger percentage are involved, you’ll obviously end up with a skewed view of it, and then form an opinion towards the entirety of it.
But the majority aren’t, just like anything else in our lives, we always react to the negative encounters and discuss them, hardly giving credit to the positive encounters that happen so much more frequently.
And that’s something I think we can all observe in so many areas of our lives and to keep in mind while watching current events unfold in the news.
I woke up sometime around 5am.
This is pretty typical for me, as I work from home, and work an east coast shift, so waking up anywhere between 4:30 and 5 without the aid of an alarm happens often.
I didn’t have a huge day planned ahead, so I laid there in the tent for awhile, before finally getting dressed, and packing my sleeping pad and sleeping bag around 6:30.
When I popped out, Matt was already in the process of packing up to get an early start.
It was a beautiful morning. Sun was shining, the air was warm, and the bugs were surprisingly not as bothersome as the night before.
I went to making breakfast, and while the hasbrowns were cooking, I started to take down my tent and get it packed away.
Matt finished up packing just as I started to make the eggs, and he declined an offer of hashbrowns and eggs. I don’t blame him, it is an acquired taste to eat rehydrated food, but he did mention he’s not much of a breakfast fan.
We discussed each of our plans for the day, and made it a point to meet up in Hyder, since that would be both our destinations, and off Matt went.
Breakfast finished up, and the bike all packed, I was ready to set out for my day about 40 minutes later.
Before heading out, the two UK starters finally came out of their tents, and the English fellow wondering where all my gear was.
The night before, they had shown up after I had already set the tent up, and was making dinner, he wasn’t aware that in those two 37L panniers, I had 10 days of food, 3 changes of clothes, and all my gear.
I had been down the road most of these guys have been. Large bulky tents and sleeping bags, over packing with items that weren’t going to get used.
The years of backpacking have changed my mind of what I needed and what I could live without, along with the update of gear that got smaller and lighter without sacrificing space and comfort.
In 2010, my tent weighed in at nearly 9lbs, and the sleeping bag 4. Neither of which compressed down much.
My new tent and sleeping bag compress down to the size of cantaloupes, with the tent and sleeping bag both weighing in just under 3lbs each.
By keeping everything in my panniers, and keeping the load light, it increases efficiency overall to your machine. Something I’ve kept in mind for my next round of adventures.
So out I set into the morning, down a half mile back to Highway 37, and my journey home had began on this Fourth of July.
The ride down 37 for the most part was uneventful. It was a nice morning, and the kilometers ticked on by as I made my way south.
A few stops for photos, and a couple hours later, I found myself in Dease Lake again at the fuel station.
Roughly 24 hours before I had rolled in with rain, today however was a much different day.
I sat there for a moment after fueling up, stretching my legs, and trying to contemplate whether I wanted to chance going down Telegraph Creek.
With the rain though, and the calcium chloride coating, I decided against it once again, realizing it was probably still not yet dry enough to navigate safely with the tire choice I had.
I headed on out, and continued on my way.
Some hour and a half later, I found myself passing Kinaskan Lake and provincial park.
I recognized this as one of the places I pulled off at and took shelter from the rain under some tree’s while I sorted out my heated gloves the day before.
This time though, without the rain, I stopped and rode down to the boat dock.
About 5 minutes later, a 1200GS came pulling up, Steve and his wife.
Steve is one of those “stereotypical” BMW riders I spoke of above. Chuckling at the thought of my 500cc’s and made arrogant remarks about how a real bike like his is the only way to make it to places like Prudhoe Bay.
Steve didn’t take the time to get to know me, know my background in motorcycles, or understand the skill level in which I can handle them.
His view of adventure riding is solely based on brand recognition and size.
I let him continue on his little chest puffing show in front of his wife until finally I had enough and politely excused myself that I had to get back on the road to make my destination on time to meet up with another rider.
The good news of the encounter was, it gave me something to think about, and inspired the intro of today’s post and made me think about interactions and how they are perceived.
Back on the bike I made my way towards Bell II, my next planned fuel stop.
A few KM outside Bell II, I realized I had been averaging better fuel mileage back down from the Yukon with the warmer weather.
One thing that I noticed about Lara is, she likes to drink a little more when she’s cold.
My fuel mileage had been averaging above 60 up until it got cold and I hit the rain.
On the way back down from Dease though, I had definitely been pushing around that, and continued on, realizing I had enough to fuel up at Meziadin Junction or Stewart without issue.
I decided on Meziadin, just so I could have a full tank to explore a little, and push on and around knowing I’d have enough to get to Kitwanga the next morning as well.
So topped off, I headed West down 37A.
I need to take a moment and say this about 37A.
I have lived in the Columbia River Gorge between Oregon and Washington. I always considered it one of the most beautiful area’s in the world, if not the most beautiful area in the world.
That thought changed.
It still is one of the most beautiful area’s in the world, but 37A is just something completely on a different level.
The way the mountains rise straight up from the valley floor where ice and water have cut a channel over the years, the glaciers hanging above and around you, the water as it cascades thousands of feet from the clouds above.
It was awe inspiring, and beyond words of my vocabulary to describe. It is worth seeing for yourself.
I rolled on threw Stewart and into Hyder, crossing the Canadian/US border.
There are no customs coming into Alaska here. There really isn’t anywhere to go should you come here. Hyder is for the most part land locked by Canada and the steep mountains around you with the Portland Canal back to the Pacific Ocean.
With a population of around 90, Hyder is not a large village, and most of its services are imported from local Stewart, which resides just across the border.
I rode through town passing several people out and about celebrating the 4th. From kids on their motorcycles and 4 wheelers, to side stands of trinkets and food.
Everyone looked happy, having a great time, and enjoying themselves.
I stopped off at the Sealaska Inn, where I would be staying for the night to grab my room.
I had called the week earlier to make sure I had a room reserved. I wasn’t sure how busy Hyder really got on the 4th, or how many rooms they had.
I walked into the Inn, which the lower section where you pick up your room key is a bar, and I was greeted by Michelle the owner, handed my room key, which the room was in the back off the street, although she said she didn’t think anyone would mess with the bike, and I checked it out before heading out of town exploring the only road out of Hyder.
FS 88 heads out of town, passes the bear viewing area which when I stopped in, the Ranger let me know there were no bears, come back 2 weeks later when the salmon start to run.
I pushed on up the road having Ed from a few days before to continue on up to the Salmon Glacier.
Ed had told me that most people who come to Hyder think the “Glacier” to see is the one outside of Stewart along the road, and to be fair, this is the one I had heard about years ago that I wanted to visit in 2010.
The biggest one though, sits up 25 miles up a forest service road that eventually crosses back into British Columbia, past an old mine, and up the side of a mountain.
The ride was beautiful, but nothing had prepared me for the sheer size of the Salmon glacier.
When it first comes into view, it is impressive, as you continue on up the mountain and get closer and closer, you realize just how massive it really is.
Eventually you’ll come to the end of the road. Well, not really the end, just a security guard keeps you from going any further.
Apparently the road from this point forward leads to some operation taking place that requires 24/7/365 security.
But no matter, the road is at it’s highest part above the glacier, and gives you full view.
I took it in, took some pictures, and took it in some more.
After a good bit of time wandering around, taking it in, I headed back down the mountain.
Popping into Hyder, I was hungry and I already knew where I was going.
On my trip, I had several people tell me (including Ed!) to eat at Seafood Express, a bus that sits off of a side street in Hyder, and that it had the best seafood you will eat.
Who am I to argue what total strangers from all over Canada had told me!
So off I went in search of “The Bus” which was easy enough to find with a sign saying “The Bus that way” and an arrow.
Pulling up to The Bus, was another sign “Closed for the 4th”.
Heat broken! I was really looking forward to fish and chips, so to Stewart I set off, to find food.
Crossing the border back into Canada requires a bit more effort.
Canada does have a customs, and after asking the normal questions, the gentleman set me free to go find some dinner.
A DUI check was already in place as I made my way into town. The female RCMP officer asked if I had anything to drink, and I jokingly exclaimed “not yet”, explained I was looking for dinner and she pointed me to the King Edward.
Pulling in, parking next to a familiar BMW, with Matt walking towards me.
Matt told me the food was acceptable, but he just had a burger. He also told me he was staying at the Sealaska, and that to come find him in the bar after I was done eating.
Matt set off back to Hyder, and I went in to eat.
The special for the day happened to be fresh Fish and Chips, so I went ahead and ordered that, since my heart was already set on it, ordered that up with one Canadian flare, which was poutine in place of the fries. This was definitely a great decision.
The fish was delicious. Definitely worth the 14 Canadian spent.
3 large chunks of fish, battered lightly and fried to a golden brown.
Finished up my meal, and headed back into Hyder, making another stop at the DUI checkpoint, the officer asking how my dinner was and then telling me to go enjoy myself and the parade in Hyder.
So off I went back into Hyder, met up with Matt in the bar, and started to chat up the locals and Michelle who was bar tending.
The festivities for the evening ranged from axe throwing, a bush girl competition (something that involves hanging clothes and shooting a rifle), an ugly car contest, and then the highlight, the Hyder Parade.
The Hyder Parade was everything I had hoped it to be. Growing up in the middle of a state in a farming community, I had already suspected what it would be like, and I wasn’t disappointed.
It was in a single word “fun”.
The locals were laughing, having a blast, and celebrating.
The kids were throwing candy and running around.
The tourists like myself were watching, and laughing with the rest of them.
It was a great peek into the life of the people of Hyder. A small village without any big supporting industry, and the happiness they live their lives through with what they have.
It was a great way to highlight the evening, and after the parade finished up, and some more drinks consumed in the bar and conversation had in the bar, I made my way to my room, and made sure everything was ready to head out in the morning as I pushed my way to Quesnel for my final night in Canada.
And as I sat there in bed, my eyes getting heavy, I realized that this day has brought to a close my adventures I started 6 years ago.