Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Alaska Caper - Day 27

June 30, 2007
Posted by: Dick Wilson

Start: Iskut, BC
Destination: Smithers, BC
Miles traveled: 332

As Iskut is on about the same latitude as Sitka, Alaska, it actually gets somewhat dark at night, although not pitch black. We awakened early to the sound of substantial rain beating on the roof of the Red Goat Lodge. As Steve had hauled his fishing gear 6000 miles and I had been carrying mine for half that distance, we were bound and determined that it would get used today. So, it was down the hill to Eddon-Tenajon Lake on which Red Goat Lodge is located.. Mt. Edziza on the other side was partially shrouded by the fog and low clouds. The lake water had a beautiful green hue and was extremely cold. The first three casts with a gold and orange Panther Martin yielded three nice, brightly colored rainbow trout in the 14-inch range. These fish fought with a fervor. Within 45 minutes, we had enough fish for breakfast. Mitch Cunningham, proprietor of the Red Goat Lodge, cooked up the fish, and we ate breakfast together. I had forgotten how delicious truly "fresh," well-cooked trout could taste. We packed our bikes, thanked Mitch and his wife, Jacquie, and headed south. We had one short patch of gravel road which was somewhat challenging in the rain, but after hitting pavement, we bid a final and happy goodbye to mud and gravel for the rest of this trip. At Meziadin Junction we took a 60-mile detour to Stewart, BC, and across the border to Hyder, Alaska. This road has spectacular scenery, not withstanding the low ceiling, and there were both glaciers and cascading streams coming out of the mountainside. Steve stopped at Meziadin Junction again in hopes of catching a salmon or bull trout from the Meziadin Lake but to no avail. The mosquitoes that afternoon were ferocious. We then headed south again on the very scenic Cassiar Highway. We stopped to gas up at Kitwanga and then pointed our bikes towards Smithers, BC. After continuing south from Kitwanga and onto Smithers, the road surface switched from chip seal pavement to asphalt. The transition was dramatic in terms of smoothness of ride and diminished noise level. We also noticed that the trees became much larger, indicating a less severe winter, and the road-side flowers changed from the predominance of fire weed to daisies, buttercups, and Queen Anne’s Lace. We began seeing more modern buildings, newer and less soiled RVs, agricultural land, and livestock. We turned into Smithers tired but exhilarated after a long day’s ride. If I ever need to be hidden in the Witness Protection Program, I might choose this town. It is large enough to provide basic needs and has exceptional access to multiple outdoor recreational opportunities and beautiful surrounding mountains.

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