I spend an easy rest day in the homely shelter of Scott's house. He came out here when he retired seeking an escape from busy Vancouver. He is the perfect host feeding me delicious homemade vegan meals and sharing a lot of interesting talks about everything and life with me. He also takes me out on a little tour through Hazleton. Thanks for having me Scott, I had a true retreat!
Mindboggle: The first bridge over the Hagwilget Canyon into Hazleton was build with not much more than wood and telephone wires. They simply had so much of these wires left out here once the transatlantic cable was up [or down!?] and running. Parallel to the mission to lay a cable through the Atlantic Ocean they started building a telegraph line from North America to Europe via Northern Canada, Alaska and Russia. The wire didn't make it far but they had already started clearing out a good amount of way through the wilderness such as at Telegraph Creek, a detour that I didn't take from the Cassiar Highway.
Well, the Cassiar Highway... I owe you a proper review. Remember when I said I was looking forward to this scenic highway with an abundance of wildlife. Long story short: only glimpsed of the scenery due to the weather, not much wildlife supposedly because of hunting season [I saw a grand total of one bear, one lynx, but at least quite some birds, after all better than nothing].
I am happy that I made it in decent shape but the highway really proved to be a proper challenge for me. Pedaling this remote road in at times challenging conditions generally would have been fine. But without any [or let's say very little] reward in terms of scenery sometimes for days on end I had to spend a lot of time in my own head - an interesting challenge of its own.
Too many great detours (for example Carcross, Stewart, Terrace, Telegraph Creek, Watson Lake) had to be left out to escape the winter. This part of Canada leaves me with the strong hope that I will be able to be back at some point.
However, I remain 100% convinced that it was the right decision to push through. The occasional road talk ensured me that I was sometimes just a day ahead of winter weather. Hence, I never struggled with motivation to endure the slow progress with rain, climbing and headwind and the riding through an amazing scenery without seeing it.
This is obviously not how I want this entire trip to be, but I am also not naive. It is impossible to always travel with the right season and it is a fact that due to the closed border I simply wasn't able to be here earlier. After all there are the positive things that will stick. I met some fantastic people providing me with precious nutrients and talks. The little outposts along the way that sometimes didn't provide more than some candy bars or chips have been a saving grace. The glimpses of mountains, lakes and wildlife were enough to fuel my imagination how amazing this road can be. One day where my legs basically felt like potatoe mash [that I started to love so much] just to get the sunniest day of the trip as reward. I never doubted what I do and stayed positive...
For now I hope that I've pedaled out of the worst and can enjoy some more time in the south. It's 450km left to Prince George where I call this mission south completed [I figure now that the whole trip is a mission south, I should have called this side quest "escaping winter"] and map out the next stage to Vancouver. To Prince George I will take the Yellowhead Highway, a highway of questionable reputation. It is called the Highway of tears because of the many cases of native women beeing murdered or missed along the route. I see many red dresses as a sign of grief in the local first nation culture. I also saw many signs of grief, mainly kids shoes, over the past days on the Cassiar Highway in relation to the first nation children lost in the residential schools [a very dark chapter of recent Canadian history].