Venturing Through the Yukon

As I sit down to write and reflect on the past weeks, I am overcome with an immense sense of gratitude and near disbelief at the events and way things have unfolded.  The past two weeks after leaving Watson Lake, cycling to Carcross, further into Whitehorse, along the Overland Trail and now in Dawson City, this sense of gratitude has only grown.  

During this trip, especially in the previous weeks I have thought a lot about impermanence and the role it has played in this journey. The idea being that all things in life are in a continual state of motion and never truly stay the same, as they come into being and pass away. It can be difficult meeting amazing people, only to leave them the following day, or to be immersed in a beautiful wilderness setting, wanting to explore further, but pedalling right through.  I’ve genuinely left my heart in so many places and with so many people along the way it has been hard to say goodbye, leave and or just pass through. The sense of staying put or lingering a bit longer can be quite strong.   However, opening myself up to the idea that everything is fluid and admiring the constant flow of life helps me to avoid moments of regret or sadness, but rather to enjoy them fully while being present.

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Creating awareness around our ever-changing situations and experiences on this adventure has also afforded me a way to overcome some of the challenges on this trip.  During the hard, long days, feeling both physically and mentally exhausted, I try to cultivate that same idea of impermanence, reminding myself that the current struggle will only last for a while.  Acknowledging that life and our experiences — the good and the bad— only last for a moment has granted me a strong sense of awareness and deep appreciation for the amazing people, places and adventures, while also giving me the strength to continue through. With that in mind, the past two weeks have been so full of memories and moments I will cherish for a long time.  

Leaving Watson Lake, we rode a few days along the Alaska Highway before veering off towards the quaint town of Carcross, Yukon.  Fighting through some intense headwind, we came in on Aboriginal Day and just as the Carcross/Tagish First Nation Centre celebrated their grand opening.  We were invited to a massive traditional feast full of incredible local food along with talented and beautifully clad dancers.  The next morning before riding to Whitehorse we spent some time revelling in the beauty of the Carcross Desert, known as the world’s smallest desert.

Coming into Whitehorse later that afternoon, I instantly fell in love.  Mind you Brandon says I have been declaring this love for most places we have passed through on this trip.  Maybe I’m too easily captivated by new and unfamiliar places, but nonetheless, the time spent in Whitehorse was completely wonderful.  We spent the next few days creating a deeper admiration for the city as we packed it full of sightseeing, amazing food, good breweries, parting ways/celebrating our time with Antoni, unloading our bikes to ride local mountain bike trails and meeting up with one of Brandon’s ski buddies, Dave.   I had never met Dave before, but we became instant friends hanging out every chance we could get during our short stay.  Whitehorse really came to life for me with incredible new friends, the culture and art, beautiful trails, friendly locals and the vast array of outdoor activities so readily available.  

Leaving Whitehorse, Brandon and I were excited to reach the The Dawson Overland Trail, as part of the Trans Canada Trail.  A 100 km mountain bike/hiking trail, the Overland offered us a wilderness route free of any traffic and people.  We heard sections of the route were questionable, filled with river crossings, and ill-advised if any there was any chance of rain.  So as the clouds came in, the sky grew darker, and the rain began to fall, we set out on the trail.  

The first section of the road was beautiful, hidden deep within the forest.  We were excited for what lie ahead.  The ease of the back country trails took a quick turn however, as the rain continued and we had already began to hike our bikes through mud for kilometres.  The first evening on the trail, it seemed we were spending more time trying to clean the thick mud off of our drive chains just to push our bikes in a forward motion, then we were actually biking. With a bit of frustration and sense of curiosity with what was to come, we settled down to camp a meer 20 km on route.  The following morning provided thicker mud bogs, more river crossing, completely washed out trails and too much cursing.   The funny thing is, while the trail had some of the hardest, most challenging conditions, it also granted us some of the most incredible riding.  We felt at total peace being the only ones for miles, enjoying total solitude, sharing a moment with an owl soaring directly overhead, and some of the best narrow, windy mountain bike trails. 

 Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Photo by Brandon Hartwig

 Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Photo by Brandon Hartwig

 Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Photo by Brandon Hartwig

Coming off of the Overland Trail we treated ourselves to the infamous cinnamon buns at the Braeburn Lodge.  Brandon was in his glory, as we crushed the fresh baking which equated to the size and circumference of a basketball.  From Braeburn we continued along the Klondike Highway to Dawson City.  Cycling along we were in awe of a few passing vehicles who stopped give us water, treats and offer friendly conversation and interest in our bikes.  The kindness of strangers continues to blow us away.   

Being in Dawson now has been incredible, especially for the weekend of Canada’s 150th. The historic and lively town oozes with culture, tradition, and pride for Canada and the North.  While we enjoy the weekend here, we will gear up to cycle Top of the World Highway west to Alaska.  As I share our story I am continually inspired and intend to keep striving for a present mind opened to growth, new experiences, new faces and good times.