Do you BELIEEEEEVE in life after Staum? The adventures of Rainbow Buddies!Dan | August 14, 2008
Welcome to the spin-off of the hit series “Bike and Bear!” The characters have changed a little bit, but the mission remains the same: bike bike bike bike bike bike bike bike bike bike. This part of the ride is dedicated to our friend and navigator, Matt Staum. We missed you during this part, and wish you could have been with us!
Aaron and I woke up that morning to something novel: sunshine! Hardly believing our eyes, we peered around the same city streets which were transformed from gloomy and dark corridors into bright, sparkling roads. Most striking, however, were the many mountain peaks that we had missed through the clouds that surrounded the harbor of Haines. That night we had stayed in a B&B if not purely for romantic reasons, but mainly to celebrate our arrival into Alaska.
We made our way down to breakfast and got to talking with a couple from Juneau who were in town to visit the State Fair. They were pretty cool and told us of their van adventures exploring the state, including our final destination, McCarthy. They warned us of the treacherous road leading to the town, and we parted ways.
Staum had been our primary logistics guy. Now, the Rainbow buddies had to learn how to read maps again and plan distances, instead of relying on the Staumer for information regarding the route. Welcome to life after Staum.
Back on the road, Aaron and I were treated to the shining sun and gorgeous views of a coastal plain surrounded by amazing snow-capped peaks. Truly this was some of the most beautiful scenery of the entire ride thus far - we rode for miles in the sun and were truly amazed by the difference a sunny day can make. Along the way we stopped at the Eagle preserve, where we stumbled upon tons of these amazing birds, two directly above us perched in trees and that swooped down showing their huge wingspans when we approached. We spotted a cinnamon Black bear along the side of the road, which scampered off into the woods as we approached. So cool!
We stopped for lunch at 33-mile Hut, a cafe 33 miles from Haines. Here we enjoyed two delicious barbecue hamburgers and went on our way. Leaving the comfortable restaurant we began to notice the skies ahead darkening and that all-too-familiar chilly breeze hitting our chests and chilling us to the core. In short, it smelled of Canada. Sure enough, we were fast approaching the US/Canadian border, once again reacquainting ourselves with wild, wet, and miserable British Columbia.
True to form, BC greeted us with a 15 mile 7-8% grade climb in the pouring rain up Chilkat Pass. Covering our shortsleeves with raingear, we slowly trudged uphill for several painful hours up to 1076 m having started around sea-level. At the summit, we were greeted with a driving cross-wind that was perhaps the coldest of the entire trip, invoking that deep body shiver that was actually a bit scary. We sought shelter on the non-wind side of a highway maintenance shed and threw on every single piece of clothing we had in our bags. Once again mildly comfortable, we began riding again and finally caught a break: the road turned, transforming that driving cross-wind into a driving tail wind! We were now coasting easily up hills and flying down hill. As a sign of better things ahead, a great large rainbow appeared to our right, criss-crossing the wide valley. We were once again Rainbow buddies!!!
And finally, as we were nearing the end of this day, we saw it: the Leaving British Columbia sign. Throughout this trip we had been in BC for over half of the total time riding, having entered and left four times! We danced a little dance around the sign and said good riddens (forever?)
We finished the day in the Yukon at 95 miles and set up camp in the Million Dollar Falls Yukon Government Campground. We had dinner next to the waterfall and went to sleep, weary from the long day, but totally happy to be out of British Columbia.