Whitehorse to Juneau. 27th July 2000
Total of 1280 miles.
Whitehorse is the first largish town since Anchorage. It's the capital of B.C. and about the size of Royston. We found a decent bike shop and changed Joan's handlebar stem to give a more forward position. She is much more comfortable now. Bought a new tyre to replace the one split on the way to Whitehorse and extra brake blocks.
A bit about campsites. Two sorts. Private are mostly R.V sites with all facilities including showers. Or Provincial sites with dirt toilets, well water and table with each site. Canadian sites have free firewood. At all sites, precautions must be taken against bears. I.e. don't cook in tents, store food away from tents and if possible, out of reach of bears. In all sites bear proof rubbish bins are supplied and MUST be used so that bears do not get the idea that sites are good for finding food. We have stored our food in them overnight.
Cost in Alaska US$12 for a Private site and US$8 for a Provincial site. In Canada it is the same but the Canadian dollar is 2.2 to the UK pound - so cheaper by 30%. In Yukon, all provincial sites are self-registration with a pre-bought permit, bought at most garages and stores. Stayed at a tents-only site in Whitehorse and met Leo and Nadine from Switzerland. They are on a long world tour and were going our way at least for the next couple of weeks.
The last week has been one of good weather, but severe headwinds for about 300 miles. This soon changed to wet weather, but no headwinds. Arrived at Skagway after a very scenic mountain ride. Saw black bear with 2 cubs. We were very lucky to have good weather as the day before (and the day after) were very wet. While lunching by a lake, we met Carolyne Baird, who invited us into her VW camper for a snack. She worked in Skagway where we were going. The best descent yet. 3000 ft down through the border to Skagway. It is an old mining town and very touristy. Met Leo and Nadine again at the campsite. They were taking a ferry, but stopping at a different place to us. The ferry cost us about 100 UK pounds each, and stopped at Haines, Juneau, Petersburg, Wrangel, Ketchican and Prince Rupert.
While browsing around a very expensive tourist shop in Skagway, an assistant asked if we needed help - it was Carolyn again! She kindly invited us to have a bite at her place at the back of the store. We dined on fresh Salmon and coleslaw. The ferry was modern, smaller than the Dover ferries, and very friendly to campers. We slept on loungers in our sleeping bags under a sun-deck which had overhead heaters. Some pitched tents on deck! Saw lots of humped - backed whales and porpoises.
The ferry arrived at Juneau at 2am next morning in pouring rain. We slept on the booking hall floor, until about 6am when it closed! A wet 14-mile ride into town. Near the Salmon hatchery, the water was so thick with Salmon that anglers were catching one each cast by snagging - dragging a weighted hook through the water until a fish was hooked anywhere but in the mouth. Very unsporting. Not my idea of fishing. In town we saw two cruise ships, the P&O Ocean Princess and the Royal Princess (family - has mum been on these?) By the afternoon, the rain stopped and we cycled back to catch the 2a.m. ferry to Prince Rupert. On the way we visited the foot of the Mendenhall glacier. This is very impressive as you can get to within half a mile of the glacier and see the blue ice. Yes it really is dark blue and caused by the crystalline structure.
Passed a small creek and noticed it was seething with Salmon. We both caught a 20lb Salmon each with our bare hands; we have never seen such a sight before.
Camped in the ferry waiting room until midnight, when the boat arrived. We both went straight to sleep on loungers on the sun deck.