Alaska 2008 – Day 5, July 8

Day 5, July 8

Stewart BC to Hyder Alaska, then on to Watson Lake YT

404 miles

Hyder Alaska is a cheat, a tiny little sliver of Alaskan soil surrounded by days of Canadian pavement in every direction. Some riders go to Hyder for the same reason people dip a toe in the Pacific to say they’ve swum the ocean.

After we learned the secret, we found out that when a rider says “I’ve been to Alaska” fire back, “Was it Hyder?” That’s where you peel away the veneer of real Alaskan adventurer and find the poser underneath.

Getting in to Alaska through Stewart BC means riding down the road 2 miles and rolling to a stop in front of the sign that reads ‘Hyder Alaska’ and right before this dead-end road turns to gravel and mud. Another short mile up the road and you’re riding down a wooden dock which ends in a beautiful view of the inlet and surrounding mountains.

After turning around and heading through customs (this poor lonely customs officer must have done something very wrong to be stationed here), we backtracked to the junction of 37 and 37a and continued towards Watson Lake, home of the infamous ‘Signpost Forest’ (Steve found a sign for Terrebonne — France!).

This day melds into the next as we ride through miles (er, kilometers) of land where the road is the only sign of human habitation as far as you can see. Little stinky wooden white and green outhouses are dotted at wide spots in the road every 50 miles or so. I think we stop at every one. The ‘old men’ have to pee. Again. And again.

Road conditions are interesting. They don’t go in much for major road signage out here. They have flags. Tiny flags. Other riders have warned us about the flags, they are your only indication of significant damage to the road ahead. Unfortunately after the road department fixes the problem they leave the flag. Half the time the flags were standing beside a crater the size of Utah, the rest of the time they marked a baby-butt smooth section of newly constructed tarmac. You think after spending millions of dollars resurfacing the road, they could have paid some underling a quarter to go pluck the flag out of the dirt!

Fortunately, we had the right bikes for the conditions, and sailed through it all without a problem, and only a few “Oh s!@#t!” moments. Motorhome drivers weren’t as lucky. We saw some incredible feats of gymnastics performed by 30’ Class A behemoths navigating frost heaves and potholes with the grace of a 3,000 pound block of jello. When we visit again, it won’t be in the motorhome, that’s guaranteed!

We arrived in Watson Lake and found no room at the Inn. Everything was booked by tour groups. This is when we were finally happy we’d packed the tent and all the camping gear. The campground was right in town, and we got set up and ready to grab a shower before bed. Unfortunately, it took Canadian dollar coins and we didn’t have any. Mike was getting ready to knock on some camper doors when I pointed out that although it was light out, it was nearly midnight! We trudged to a nearby weigh station, where the station master was kind enough to trade handfuls of loonies for our filthy US paper money.


4 thoughts on “Alaska 2008 – Day 5, July 8

  1. You didn’t even see the glacier??? Fish Creek?? The rest of the town?? You just went to the dock?? Get your info straight.

  2. Well I’m pretty busy but maybe you should read Day 5, July 8th Starts with “Hyder is a cheat” wish I had so much time on my hands.

    Happy blogging!

  3. You’re not too busy to find esoteric blogs on the internet, but you’re too busy to read the second and third sentences of those blogs?

    Wow. That’s a weird kind of busy.

    It took you longer to type your response than it would have taken for you to read the rest of the paragraph.

    Here, I’ll cut to the chase for you:

    Hyder is used as a ‘cheat’ by motorcycle riders looking to make all 50 states in a short period of time.

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