Off the Grid
4th Time Across the Continental Divide

September 11th, 2014

What happened…

Andrew writes: Pitter, patter, pitter, splatter, rain drops on the tent. The weather man had been calling for several days of sun balls, but today started off with rain balls. Lots of them. It rained heavily most of the night and well into the afternoon. We were mostly packed when our alarm went off, because we had pre-packed almost everything the night before. Andre had said he wanted to be on the road early to take a boat to Johnson’s Crossing, and if we wanted a ride to the highway, we should be ready. So we were. Junyoung was still tucked away in his droopy tent. We tried to coax him out, but he was quiet, and we assumed asleep. Looking around the campsite, his rain jacket was turned inside/out on the grass. His roll of toilet paper was a mushy mess on the picnic table and his laptop bag was open and full of rain. I probably wouldn’t want to wake up to that nightmare either.

Amanda and I joined Andre, Mira and their two daughters for breakfast around 8am. Mira had baked a fresh loaf of bread, and we added jam and peanut butter accordingly. We sat drinking fresh coffee, and talked more about life. Their daughters are something else. Noa and Nili, two beautiful blond Swiss 6/7 year olds. I went to give them a fist bump but they surprised me with a very solemn handshake. They weren’t shy at all about talking with adults, which I find is uncommon with children. Just as their home was off the grid, so has been their upbringing. There is no television or internet, they are homeschooled, they speak English and German fluently. They just seemed so proper, yet there is still a lot about those darling girls that makes me think they can raise hell on a bicycle.

We glanced back at 8:30 and Jojo had packed up and was making his way up the driveway towards the house. He joined us at the breakfast table, but at 9am when Andre was ready to leave, Junyoung said he would wait until he got back from delivering the boat, that maybe the rain would have stopped by then. Jojo said he would catch up with us at our destined campground – Morley Lakes, about 90km away later on.

So off we went in the truck, and it was a real treat when Andre offered to drive us to the top of the big hill outside of Teslin. It probably saved us about 90 minutes of pedalling in the rain. We waved to Andre as he drove off, and set to putting all of our gear onto our bikes. It was about 10am by the time we finally put the pedals to the metal. As we had just climbed a hill, the first order of business was a nice descent down into a valley. We had to climb out of it later, but there was definitely more downhills today than we had seen in days past.

We decided to stop for lunch after two hours of cycling, and pulled in at Morley River Campsite; wait a minute! We had only gone 30km and here was Morley River Campsite!?! Amanda checked her map. No worries, we were going to Morley Lakes, which her map said was well down the road. The rain was letting up a bit, so we decided to take some advice from Auntie Janet and build a fire. Normally there is free firewood at Yukon campsites, but there was none to be had at this one. Some German tourists, Gerhardt and his wife Aneta helped us chop up some wood that was lying on the ground, and while it took 45 minutes, we had fire. This helped us dry out and warm up a bit during lunch. I can see how important fire is up here, but it’s a heck of a lot of work to get one started!

After lunch we climbed a small hill out of the campsite and then started a nice downhill. We passed a “Welcome to supernatural British Columbia” sign, as we knew we would enter and then leave BC over the next 100km. Suddenly on our left, after about 2km, Amanda spied a sign; Morley Lakes Recreation Site. Ok, now we were really confused. Well, hopefully Junyoung would figure out that we didn’t stop here since it was too early in the day, and keep riding until he caught up. Most of the afternoon was spent on relatively flat ground, and the kilometre markers really seemed to speed by quickly.

We became determined to see just what was at the spot marked on the map. It turns out that this was the Swan Lake Rest Area. Two toilets, two garbage cans, and a big open space where normally there would be a “No Camping” sign, but there wasn’t…so we did. We setup our tent and got changed. As I was changing, a school bus arrived and a pile of kids poured out. They were loud, and I was on edge that they would mess around with our stuff that was lying about. Amanda was talking to an excited hispanic woman. Ima was her name, and she was super friendly. She reminded me of a friend I have back in North Vancouver, Norma. Both are from Hermosillo, and have such bright beautiful eyes, and love to bicycle! Ima said that she had seen Junyoung, about 20 minutes behind. I estimated that to be about 2 hours by bicycle. It was only 6pm, so hopefully he would see us here tonight. As she left, Ima offered us a place to stay when we rode through Tuscon, or Hermosillo.

As I was trying to make dinner, I encountered some difficulty with the fuel pump on our stove. This tiny piece of plastic could really make life difficult for us if it broke, but fortunately I was able to use the manual and some mineral oil to fix the problem. Still, I think I should look at buying a spare pump, just in case. Then, when I was about to put the food on, Steve and Pam Schier showed up and offered to cook us dinner. We compromised and let them cook our food on their stove. We spent the next several hours inside the insulated camper talking about all those things you shouldn’t, war, guns, politics, education. It was fun! The only damper, as we crawled into our tent was that there was no sign of Jojo. Maybe he’ll catch up tomorrow.

Amanda writes:Today was wet. But we are dressed for it so it wasn’t too bad. The fire that Andrew put together at our lunch break was wonderful. It warmed me right to the core. Somehow when my temperature is balanced I can function so much better. After our lunch and fire we headed back on the road. Andrew stopped to talk to a stopped car going in the other direction. He asked the nice lady that if she saw another cyclist with buckets on his bike to tell him that we were just ahead in hopes that we would still see Jojo.

After we arrived at the kilometre marker that our map said a campsite existed, we stopped. Even though there wasn’t a campsite, we decided we were camping. I was somehow relieved when Steve and Pam decided to stay too. It was our first night in a rest stop and it worked out really well. Chatting for hours with Pam and Steve was so nice. A really down to earth American couple with healthy opinions that can be shared in fun casual conversation.

Just before we were heading to sleep I noticed the skies had cleared and I went to sleep so optimistic about seeing the Northern Lights. I had heard there would be some strong activity over the next few days and seeing the clear skies really made it seem like tonight was the night. So I set my alarm clock for 1am and went to sleep thinking about how great Andrew was today with not only making a great fire but also fixing the stove. Had I been cycling alone today I don’t know that I would have been able to have the patience for the fire or the knowledge to fix the stove. I would have been cold, and I guess relegated to eating peanut butter and honey wraps. So I’m glad Andrew is so handy, because instead I got to eat chili.

Today’s Photographs

Off the Grid
4th Time Across the Continental Divide