Day 11 – Destination: Toad River, BC

Elliott’s post (Geoff’s post is below – make sure you check it out – it’s a great read)

The day started out nice enough…little did we know what was in store for us…

Our campsite was surrounded by tall birch trees and the windy night provided a wonderful sound to fall asleep to.  I love sleeping when there’s some kind of background noise so as nice as the pitter-patter of rain on a tent is, it was nice to have a sound that didn’t mean everything was wet in the morning.

Right outside of where we camped there were some truck scales so we decided to see how much we weighed before we took off.  Geoff’s bike + rider was 440 kilos and my bike + rider was 450.  Without riders Geoff’s bike was 30 kilos heavier than mine.  Either way, our bikes, fully loaded are almost 1,000 pounds!

We got on the road (officially on the Alaska Highway now) and it was still brisk but sunny, so all was good.  However, about 60 miles south of Fort Nelson things changed drastically.  First it was a drizzle, then a full on downpour, and really windy.  Then the road started having gravel sections which slowed us down.  We got to Fort Nelson and stopped for a rest and to reevaluate at the only place open which was a bar (it is Canada day after all).  We thought about getting a hotel room there to dry out but decided to push on another 120 miles to Toad River (where we were able to call ahead and get a room at the only lodge within 50 miles or so).  I guess I was a little naive about just how desolate things get around here.

We stopped for gas about 25 miles away from Toad River and all our “waterproof” gear was completely soaked.  I was gripping my heated grips as hard as I could to try to extract every last bit of warmth coming through my drenched gloves.  We were also going through the mountains and things were cold – at one point Geoff’s thermometer read 29 degrees.

We finally pulled into Toad River and our crappy little lodge room seemed like the best place on earth.  I took a shower for the first time in days and I honestly can say it was the best shower of my life.

We’re using the dryer here to dry out all of our gear and just hoping and praying that the downpour (which is still going on) ends during the night and we have a clear (or at least dry) day tomorrow, but it doesn’t look good.  Either way, we’re pressing on in the morning.

On the positive side, I did see a lot of wildlife today: goats, a bear, a moose…would have liked to stop for pics but it was just too cold and wet and miserable.

Geoff’s post

Adventure- the result of poor judgment

This morning was cold again.  41.

Yep- that’s the same exact way yesterday started as well.  Except this
was the first day in four that it didn’t rain at night.  Hoorah!
Breaking camp was so much nicer not dealing with wet tents and tarps
and covers.

The first part of the ride was nice and sunny albeit a bit chilly and
breakfast was great.  We met a really cool truck driver who clearly
has been at that for a long time.  Told us some great spots to check
out along the Cassier Highway which I am really looking forward to
when that part of the trip comes along.  He also was talking about how
they used to not let civilians up on the Dalton Highway (the road to
Prudhoe Bay/Haul Road/Pipeline Road).  He made it sound like it wasn’t
that long ago but to him maybe it wasn’t… except it was ’85 when they
opened it up!  We also told him we were planning on camping at the
summit tonight and his comment was along the lines of “hmmm… it get’s
danged cold up there!”  We decided to take his advice and reevaluate.
Turns out he was righter than even he thought.  The summit is the
highest on the Alaska Highway and one of the farthest north in the
Canadian Rockies- but more on that later….

So we left The Sheperd’s Inn and motored north towards Fort Nelson.
Well, apparently Mother Nature doesn’t like Canada.  It’s Canada Day,
after all.  Why would she rain today?  Well she did.  And she did some
more.  We spent hours riding in the rain and it just kept coming and
getting cooler.

We stopped in Fort Nelson and it turns out that being Canada Day- most
things are closed.  Great.  We find a dive bar (and I mean a serious
dive… and I know my dives) and re-evaluate again.  We can stay in FN
and be bored out of our skulls or press on 120 miles to a small place
called Toad River that has a room for us and comes with very mixed
reviews.  We decide to give it a go- we’re already wet- what the hell-
right?

Well by the time we got to Summit Lake it was 29 degrees and we were
soaked.  And there was no end in sight.  We were committed to this
path (we couldn’t turn back we were too far along) and there was no
where to stop for cover or warmth.

It was truly the most demanding riding I have ever done… too cold to
concentrate combined with constant rain and the road conditions
ranging from OK to places that were covered in gravel in the turns.
And it went on for hours.

We did stop for gas at the first place we found after the summit
(Rocky Mountain something or other).  It was up to 32 degrees now but
the heated grips on the bikes were still totally overwhelmed even on
high.  We were totally soaked to the bone and shivering.  There was
another old crusty Harley dude in there who was even worse… he had no
windscreen, open face helmet, thin gloves and no heated bars.  He had
been soaking his hands in warm water when we came in.  The proprietors
were an odd German couple.  She was nice enough(quiet) but Conrad
stood there with an air of total disdain for all of us.  He clearly
thought we were complete idiots (we may have agreed on that point) but
I would have expected a little compassion as we were at least riding
the products of the fatherland!  After attempts at conversation
(Asking him about his home brewing of beer visible in the back) I gave
up and we left to finish the last 25 miles to Toad River.

It did warm up to 36 degrees by the time we got here to Toad River but
if we thought the last place was odd this one was straight out of the
Bates Motel.  The gal at the register was a nice-looking
fourty-something but she has to be one of the most vapid individuals I
have met in a long time.  And when I asked if they sell beer (seemed a
fairly normal question to ask) she looked at me like I had three
heads.  Uhhh… no!  I suspected Mormon influences but they had a big
urn of coffee and tea.  Needless to say, we’ll be locking the doors
tonight!

It’s 1030 and still light outside.

Crazy!

4 comments to Day 11 – Destination: Toad River, BC

  • Peter Nguyen

    I still wish I was there! Be safe boys.

  • Tom O'Brien

    Excellent stuff! I just blew off a sizeable chunk of my morning reading all of your entries, checking out all of the pics, and generally laughing my balls off. I have huge admiration for you fellas; especially with the mounting, frigid temperatures. Thanks for these incredible updates. Keep ’em coming and try to stay somewhat warm.

  • chris vansice

    Enjoying your trip. Hope the weather improves. Make sure to stop at Liard Hot Springs.

  • Anthony Glickman

    Why am I not surprised you didn’t take many ‘on the road’ pictures for this leg of the trip? Very much enjoying your journey! Press on, stiff upper lip, etc. and most of all – be safe.

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