I am just so excited that I am tempted to start by the end… But will make an effort to recall the last few days first, again so awesome!
As I rode in the Yukon, I was getting very excited to get closer to Whitehorse and a little apprehensive. After a month on the road, I was wondering how I would handle the “big city” and if I would remember how to behave and not sing in public! But I was also very excited about seeing my friends again, resting and eating fresh food!
On the way, I stayed mostly in the Yukon’s great campsites, hardly roughing it and feeling safer in bear country, and met more kind and interesting people. Thunderstorms were pretty much a daily occurrence but luckily I was always in camp when they came.
In Destruction Bay, I was hosted by a wonderful Warmshowers host who offered a small apartment next to the school. It was so nice that I decided to take a day off! Shower, bed, pillow, kitchen, oh it was awesome!
Destruction Bay, as the name suggests, is well known for very strong winds, along the beautiful, but sometimes mean Kluane Lake.
But when I started riding east, I got the most quiet conditions imaginable. The lake was like a mirror and the morning light combined with the haze caused by forest fires in Alaska was making everything look surreal.
I loved that ride, so peaceful and quiet, early in the morning. Even near Slims River, where I expected to get sand blasted, there was no wind. Soooo lucky! I took so many pictures that I started wondering if I would reach Haines Junction.
But and after some awesome riding, I arrived, with my first stop at the Village Bakery where I pretty much bought everything that they had marked as “reduced to clear”. It may have been a day old, but it seemed so very fresh to me. I indulged and enjoyed every bite, sometimes forgetting to chew, and with a full belly, I biked to the nearby campground (Pine Lake) where I jumped in the lake to refresh. It was close to 30 degrees (Celsius!) in the shade. It was almost scary to be in a crowd though… Long weekend in Canada, and hot weather translated into families and dogs at the beach.
The next day, after I stopped to eat yet another chocolate bar (I ate more chocolate bars in the last month than I did in the previous 10 years!), I met 2 tour cyclists. I hadn’t seen any since Tok, and I was so excited to meet other members of the “tribe” that I started talking at a rate of about 1000 words a minute. Once we said goodbye and safe travels, I seemed to have renewed energy and pedaled hard until I reached Irene’s place, a small cafe/offsales place in Mendenhall, 75 km from Whitehorse, where I had a beer with the locals.
Apparently few people know about that place, and the locals like it that way… It was absolutely awesome, and later I met a local dog musher with whom I had supper, and then we visited yet a third musher who lives on a farm nearby. Since all 3 of us had run the Yukon Quest before, we had lots of stories to share and I had an awesome evening.
That night a crazy thunderstorm came, but luckily I was staying in Gaetan’s small handler’s cabin, from where I had a fantastic view of the lightning show.
The next morning, after I had tea with Gaetan, I started my ride to town. All apprehensions vanished as I got closer to Whitehorse, and all was left was excitement and happiness. As I was trying to figure out how to find a friend’s place on the way, she texted me directions, adding that she was putting muffins in the oven… Like a dog who would do anything for a treat, I started pushing even harder on the pedals and arrived at Catherine’s place where I had coffee, muffins, fresh bread that her husband made, cheese, jam, an apple, etc. It was such a perfect way to arrive ‘home’, but it was only the beginning…
After I left Catherine’s place, I rode a little further and with teary eyes (and not only from the wind), I soon coasted down the last hill past the Mayo Rd cut-off, with the biggest smile on my face, so happy to have made it this far. I know that many people have done this trip before, and many have done much bigger adventures, but I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do it and I did, so I was (am) just thrilled!
Then I stopped at my friend Steve’s place, the amazing friend who drove me two years in a row to the Dalton Hwy, and he told me a bit more about his drive back from Prudhoe. Then I stopped at a few other friends’ places, soooo happy to see them. It was such a nice feeling to see that my friends were sharing my happiness. I couldn’t have hoped for a better day.
And yet, it still wasn’t over! After a great shower, I had a truly delicious supper with friends, and they offered me to stay in their camper while I am in Whitehorse. I felt like a child in a candy store: the camper is awesome and when I finally went to bed, I was just too excited to fall asleep!
I often wonder why I am so lucky, and how I can possibly give back when I receive so much all the time… Things to think about as I am riding further south!