Wednesday, June 27, 2007 – day 21 (Haines – Million Dollar Falls)
Distance: 97.5 miles (156.9 km); overall distance so far: 1,066.9 miles (1,717.0 km)
Average: 11.0 mph (17.7 kph)
Weather: 11°C – 31°C, beautifully sunny almost all day long, some dark clouds & a bit of rain towards end; extreme headwind
Properly sitting on the bike again after 5 days of having a break felt more normal than I expected it to feel like – and despite headwind from Haines onwards, I felt just great. All the different parts of my body that were sore and aching were still far away from being entirely fine, but my body definitely used the break to recover a bit – and I could feel that. Especially my knees would be doing so much better for the remaining part of the trip, and realizing that was just great. Additionally, the weather was just perfect (disregarding the nuisance of having headwind).
Haines to Haines Junction along Haines Highway is supposed to be one of the greatest sections of my tour – so the prospect of seeing the scenery and not having to cycle through it while everything is covered in dark clouds helped me get going early that day, and the first 40 miles cycling in Alaska until I got to the border back into Canada were very enjoyable – including some sort of additional adrenalin when four pretty big dogs came running from a lonely house across the road, barking, surrounding me, and not appearing to be interested in letting me go anymore anytime soon. The owners successfully called them back to their house after a while – and I had to think about the statistics that during the past 10 years more people in Alaska were killed by dogs than people were killed by bears during the past 50 years! Maybe being equipped with bear spray was the wrong pre-caution?!
Crossing the border back into Canada was uncomplicated – the woman at the border post seemed to be impressed about the tour (and I was impressed, during my whole trip already, how female oriented Canada seems to be… everything that seems to be more of a male domain in other countries seems to be dealt with by women in Canada: border inspection officers [both at the airport and on that day], road construction workers, lawn mowing in towns, all these sorts of things), and right after the border the ascent began.
I was climbing uphill for the next 30 kilometres (being back in Canada did not only mean that I lost an hour due to re-entering the Pacific time zone from the Alaskan time zone [despite the next part being more and more western than Juneau that actually is on Alaskan time], it also meant being back on kilometers – although I decided to keep my bike computer in miles to not get completely confused). That uphill meant leaving more or less sea level and climbing up to 1070m elevation. Nice climb, but also a strenuous climb – as it was not only steep, but also warm (up to 31 degrees Celsius).
Reaching Haines Highway Summit was nice – but the following part was so much harder than I would have ever thought. Being a little tired already after 100km and all that ascent, I headed further towards north and wanted to reach the only campground along the way – still 60km away. Well, believe me, not funny when suddenly the headwind kicks in again and you are just feeling is if you were pushed backwards. And the weirdest thing: dark clouds came up, however, they moved away from me into the same direction as I was cycling to. Clouds moving with me would normally mean tail wind, right?! It must have been a very strange day, thermally. Didn’t help me. I had to go on. Stops every single 10 kilometres (no even), cursing, eating, drinking, and cycling on with a speed of under 10kph, all of it helped me to move forward… and finally make it from the Canadian Province of British Columbia into Canada’s most northwestern territory, the Yukon. This was also the point when a short rain shower cooled me down and calmed down the wind a bit.
In absolutely stunning nature, endless forests, mountains, pure nature… in that environment I managed to get to Million Dollar Falls – where I pinched my tent, was almost entirely eaten by mosquitoes, and had a very good night sleep after most probably the most exhausting day of the entire journey.
Motto of the day: ” ‘Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.’ – Today I couldn’t have done a lot more to fully utilise my cycling talent.”
Calgary-Anchorage – 070627 day 21 – Haines – Million Dollar Falls