This was a very unique day of pedaling. In the morning I made 35 easy miles to Liard River Hot Springs. This thermal is an amazing place, basically a hydrogen sulfide-smelling swamp that has some almost tropical plant species, a testament to the year-round hot waters (100-120 F). The government here has done a tasteful job of allowing public use of the hot springs, it’s not too overrun with unneeded development.
Before I got to the springs, I encountered an amazing person. He was simply walking up the Alaska Highway, in the middle of nowhere. I stopped and we chatted for half an hour. It turns out that this man, Daniel Johnson, is the most accomplished explorer I have ever met. He is on a 4 year walk through the U.S., having hiked the AT, Continental Divide Trail, and Pacific Crest Trail. Now he is walking to Prudhoe Bay. He is on his 16th pair of shoes. I asked him a stupid question, where he was from. I should have known…Norway. It seems like that country has some serious explorers among it. Amundsen and Hyerdahl come immediately to mind, there are many others. I encouraged Daniel to write a book, he is a powerhouse. I’ve always found that the most accomplished folks in any discipline are very matter of fact about what they’ve accomplished, far from gloating. He was no exception.
It was a good day for wildlife. I saw roughly 100 bison and 3 black bears. At one point I got an escort around a herd of bison. That now makes escorts around three species of mammals up here in the sub-arctic!
After lunch I pedaled out of the Liard River Valley and right back into the spine of the Rockies. There were a couple crushing hills, and I felt myself wilting…a hot spring soak on a hot day was a not-so-hot idea. Trucks just blasted by me and the road turn to a moonscape. That was tough. After I left the hot spring I averaged 8 mph for 5 hours. Ouch.
Just before 8 PM and 75 miles in I found the campground I was looking for, highly recommended by a French couple I met the other night. I pulled up and the owner, sitting by an ashtray full of cigarette butts, refused me service! He stomped out his smoke and closed the door to his place. Crazy. But when some doors close in life, others open. I’ve biked 3 miles up the road and found a nice spot on a bluff that looks out over the Canadian Rockies. A professional photographer could have a good time making an advertisement out of this site for some outdoor gear company. Very pretty place.