Day 8 (July 7): Haines-Tok


I woke up to a fantastic view in Haines, Alaska.


Yes, this was my only option for the gas …

The ride started with a nice view of the mountains alongside the Chilkat River. As I was riding and enjoying the fresh air and the scenery I had the strangest thought cross my mind – I thought I smelled paint thinner!? That’s impossible, I am riding through pristine nature. As I kept riding the smell intensified. It just didn’t make any sense! Was it the bike, leaking gas, brake fluid, ….? But gas and brake fluid don’t smell like that. The smell was getting even stronger! Am I going crazy, hallucinating smells where they are not supposed to be? I am the only vehicle on the road for the last 20 minutes, there is no other source of smell. There is no one to ask. Maybe I need a break!?! Was it a good idea to do this trip alone?! The thoughts were spinning through my mind.  As I was going through the drama in my mind I noticed a truck in the far distance ahead of me. As I got closer, I realized it’s a truck that paints the middle line on the road. I felt s relieved, but stupid at the same time…in a funny way:-)



Machine that scoops the fish powered by movement of the water. Interesting technology.




Today I am riding from Haines, Alaska to BC to the Yukon and back to Alaska, specifically, Tok.


After crossing the border to Canada I started to climb. I kept gaining altitude until there were no more trees on the horizon and still kept going up. At some point the horizon opened up and the views were so fascinating that I was stopping every few minutes to take pictures or just enjoy the moment.






I was in Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park riding over the Chilkat Pass.  As I was standing by the side of the road and taking pictures I saw a bike coming towards me and the person behind the driver was  waving.


It was Mike and Kimberly from the Ferry. We passed each other many times since that moment and had a few quick chats including a stop when we came across a black bear on the road. The bear was slow to cross the road and I enjoyed the moment but unfortunately I remembered too late to take pictures.




As I was leaving the Tatshenshini-Alsek Provincial Park I was thinking how unbelievable an experience it was and probably the highlight of the trip. It lasted only a few minutes, until I entered into Kluane National Park with the the breathtaking views of the mountains (including Mt. Logan, the highest point in Canada – 5,950m) and Kluane lake.




I decided to take my first break in a little town called Destruction Bay on the shores of Kluane Lake. While eating my lunch there, I met so many adventure riders and every one of them had amazing stories to share. I felt conflicted because I really wanted to hear all of the stories and share some of them with you, but my ride today was 735km so I couldn’t stay too long if I wanted to make it to Tok on time. Didn’t feel quite comfortable running late and riding in the darkness alone in the Alaskan forests!


However, there is one I would like to share. It’s about Jersey-Mike. Jersey-Mike is a proud Vietnam veteran and he is riding the Alaskan roads with his lovely wife Ellen-Marie.



They took a wrong turn in Whitehorse and ended up in Destruction Bay instead of Dawson City. I helped them figure out the way to Dawson City and gave them some pointers on the road conditions considering that the two of them don’t ride just any bike. Look at this big boy!




While hanging out with Jersey-Mike and Ellen-Marie we had a nice chat on a number of different topics including the Vietnam war. We realized that while Jersey-Mike was fighting the war in Vietnam I was only 4 years old. He is very proud of his contribution to the country he loves.



I have to admit, when I saw Jersey-Mike for the first time that morning I felt a bit intimidated. I quickly realized through our conversation that he is a gentleman with a warm heart.


After a few hours of riding I ran into road construction. Well, to be precise, 30km of slippery mud. Not to mention that at that very moment the rain began, just to make it more fun!



The ride continued through fascinating scenery with frequent shifts between bright sun and rain, sometimes both at the same time. I also had a round of hail which made that funny gong-like sound in my helmet again but this time I felt it on my arms and legs as the ice pellets were hitting me while riding at 120kmh.




My next stop was Northway Junction, a little native village an hour before Tok. I met several very friendly local people and enjoyed chatting with them while having a quick snack. I also purchased one of the little birch baskets that are hand made by the locals.



Spent a few minutes catching up on the local updates.



I finally made it to Tok. It’s been a long day of riding, the longest on this trip so far – 735km. Despite the fact that I feel a bit exhausted, I was reflecting on how amazing the day was.

The horse is parked and after having a banana and a cracker for dinner (as there was no other food around) I went to sleep. I was the only guest at the establishment. I also decided to sleep in my sleeping bag on the bed  – just felt right:-)



One thought on “Day 8 (July 7): Haines-Tok

  1. Wow Zoran, those scenic pictures are beautiful. Great composition and you know all about the rule of thirds. I must say it seemed very lonely in some of those pictures. I was moved by the simplicity of the last motel and the fact that nobody else was staying there. Did you sleep in your sleeping bag because it was cold or Bed bugs? I really enjoyed thinking about Jersey Mark and Ellen Marie living their dream. I was in the Air Force in 1965 in Canada when Mark was serving in Vietnam. I recall seeing many Green Berets coming through Canada on their way to basic training in preparation for a tour of duty in Vietnam. They were so young like me at the time. I often wonder how many of those I saw actually came home. So many didn’t.

    Your Bike seems to be doing all the right things in terms of reliability and performance. I was worried for you until I found out the smell was road painting and not a faulty gas line. Sarah Pailin at work. Hot but sassy! Hope you have your tools with you. Safe traveling!! Peter B


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