In the great north woods (part 6)

Day 9
The night we camped at Summit Pass, I woke up early in the pre-dawn fog and hiked an old access trail a few miles into an alpine valley of rolling green scrub encircled by the Rockies. The peaks were wide and almost plateau-like with uniformly steep faces of crumbling scree and even though I was only a half hours' walk from the highway, it was completely silent.
We biked in the cold fog all morning, and ate lunch at a rest stop on the top of Steamboat Pass where, had we not been completely socked in, we would have seen what we were told was the best view along the Alaska Highway. The fog turned to rain as we descended from Steamboat into the almost tropical swamps of birch and pine. We stopped riding 30 miles outside of Fort Nelson and made camp in the muskeg swamp. The bugs, as promised, were terrible. Within minutes of unloading my panniers, I got a bite on my pinky which swelled to the size of my thumb. I sprayed DEET everywhere, took two Benadryl, and crawled into bed.
A thunderstorm rolled through in the middle of the night, and then another one at 6:30 am when we were supposed to be getting up to pack. We stayed in our tents till 8:30 am, hoping the rain would stop, but it continued. The moisture started condensing on the inside of my fly and dripping down onto my forehead. I tucked myself further into my sleeping bag and tried to curl away from the puddle of water that was gathering on the left side of my tent floor. Finally, still in the rain, we dragged ourselves from our tents. Lake-like puddles of water had collected in most of the camp. The sun had come out the evening before, so we left all our drenched gear out to dry overnight. Now stuffing our even wetter gear into panniers, we dragged our bikes up the embankment to the freeway and continued on.
Day 10
We're camped on the banks of a small creek tonight, next to an Alaska Highway overpass. The creek runs brown here from the tannins in the trees. It�s hard get accustomed to drinking brown water, but it tastes fine and no one has gotten sick yet.
There's an older couple camping in their RV at this river-crossing turnout with us. They tell us they are on their way back to Oregon after four months on the road. I think that if middle class retired folks can still afford to fill these behemoths with gas and drive them around North America for months on end, than perhaps the price of gas hasn�t risen enough to encourage conservation.
Photo: Dinner prep (Isan Brant)

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