Seattle to Alaska....

Discussion in 'Touring and recreational cycling' started by rachelicious, Mar 25, 2004.

  1. rachelicious

    rachelicious New Member

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    Hi all,
    I'm planning a trip this summer from Seattle, north to Alaska. I'll be camping all the way and I'm wondering if anyone can give me advice on routes, etc. Someone advised that I should swing east and hit Jasper, yet I like the idea of staying near the coast. I'm most concerned about road conditions and the frequency of campgrounds. However, any advice would be fabulous!
    Rachel
     
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  2. Tmax1

    Tmax1 New Member

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    I can't help you out with a route but it sounds like a cool trip. Keep us posted!

    Jerry<Tmax1>
     
  3. FSAMattV

    FSAMattV New Member

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    Hey Rachel,
    First of all, congratulations on having a big sense of adventure! That is a long trip, and you are going through a lot of wild country.
    WHile I have never ridden it, I have driven it MANY times (I am from Alaska) and hitchiked it once.
    THere are a number of ways to get there.
    For instance, you can go north and then west to Hope, and hook up with the Alaska Highway, or you can go through Vancouver, up to Whistler, and across Highway 99 (sea to Sky Highway) til you hit highway 97 just north of Cache Creek. The Whistler route is much less travelled (good for biking) but also has less towns (bad for food).
    Once you get to Prince George, there are two options, the Alaska Highway (Hwy 97) or the Cassiar Highway (Hwy 16 over to Hwy 37). The Alaska Highway is much more populated, but also more trafficked. The Cassiar is beautiful, but also hillier and more remote, as well as longer. Again, it's the less cars versus less food stores equation. Depends on how much food you want to carry. Water is not aproblem at least.
    Either way you go, the two roads join up again near the Upper Liard River (Wher ethere is a bitchin hot springs just off the road).
    From there to Whitehorse, there is only one road, but north of whitehorse, you have another choice, to go north on Hwy 2 (toward Dawson) or to go west on Hwy 1 toward the Beaver Creek Border crossing.
    Hwy 2 is pretty remote, there are really only a couple of towns, and it's a grand circle that ends up taking you back to Hwy1 (now Alaska Hwy2) and adds quite a few miles. There's not a lot of stores on that route, and I really recommend that you stay on the main Alaska hwy to Beaver Creek (through Haines Junction and Destruction Bay). I once saw -74 degrees fahrenheit there in January. Be glad it's summer!
    From the Alaska border, you won't run into much until you hit Tok. From Tok, it depends on where you are going. If you are heading toward Anchorage, I suggest either going west on Hiway one right out of Tok (goes over Nebesna Pass toward Anch) or going toward Delta Junction, and then heading west on the Richardson hiway (#4). This last way is more travelled, but longer overall. Both are iuncredibly scenic, although the trip over Nebesna pass is one you shouldn't miss.
    If you are going to Fairbanks, just keep going north to Delta Junction, and then north on the Richardson Hiway (#4). It's only 100 miles from Delta to Fbks.
    Either way, you are in for a challenge, and maybe one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. My advice is to take a friend, and safety flars and pepper spray for bears.
    Cheers, Matt V
     
  4. FSAMattV

    FSAMattV New Member

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    Whoops, just noticed that I said West to Hope from Vancouver, but Hope is East!

    Matt
     
  5. Norsman

    Norsman New Member

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    Hi Rachel,
    I can't give you advice on the latter part of your trip but I do know the southern part fairly well.

    I recommend that you take Hwy 1 instead of the route through Whistler. The road to Whistler is very busy, with insane drivers and the Duffy Lake road to Lillooet is quite steep.

    I would recommend that you enter Canada at the Sumas border crossing just south of Abbotsford, BC. This bypasses most of the nasty traffic in the Vancouver area. You can take fairly flat backroads from there through Chilliwack and get on the Trans Canada Hwy near Bridal Falls and head east to Hope. There are campsites close to the TCH all the way through BC.

    From Hope I would stay on the TCH. It has more campgrounds than Hwy 5 and is flatter than either Hwy 3 or 5. It is also a more direct route to Alaska. Once you get to Cache Creek you can decide to go directly north towards Prince George or look take a much longer but prettier route by going towards Banff and Jasper.

    If you want more information just ask.
     
  6. lou_n

    lou_n New Member

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    I have to add emphasis to that last post.

    DON'T use the Whistler highway.

    I've ridden it (in my younger and stupider days). I survived but it's a very dangerous road.
    Also because of the coming Olympics, there will be much construction on the road beginning this summer- causing delays, bare gravel sections, and even more frustrated and angry drivers.

    I live just north of the Sumas border crossing, and ride the Langley/Abbotsford area daily. If you choose your side country roads, you can ride for hours without seeing more than a car or two.
    Have a great trip! I'm doing some long distance touring as well, do you have any tips on what you're packing, (and just as important, what you're not..). etc?

    Thanks
    Lou
     
  7. rachelicious

    rachelicious New Member

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    Thanks so much for such informative replies. One question that's popped up on another forum are the tunnels on highway one, north of Hope. Someone told me I should be scared, since they don't have a lot of shoulder room. I'm not that worried, provided it's not considered "impossible" or "insane". Do either of you have any thoughts on this?
    The more I read about this area, the more excited I become.....sounds stunning. I hear it's very very hilly but....I guess it will be good to start out with some serious challenges right from the beginning. This will be my first big tour so every once in awhile my stomach drops out.
    Thanks again for your help.
    Rachel
     
  8. Norsman

    Norsman New Member

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    Hi Rachel,
    There are seven tunnels between Yale and Boston Bar. Five are fairly short and straight and shouldn't be a big concern. Two are fairly long and can pose some problems. You can dismount and walk your bike along a narrow sidewalk or wait for a long break in the traffic and pedal like crazy. You may even be lucky enough to find someone who is willing to stay at the mouth of the tunnel to slow down traffic for you. This is the main route for most cyclists going on cross-Canada tours so obviously is not an impossible task.

    As to the challenging hills. You get those on any route through BC. This route is probably the least challenging of the three options out of Hope. But it is certainly not easy. I also think it is the most scenic route to take.

    Speaking of beautiful views, in a previous post I said to take Hwy 1 from Bridal Falls to Hope, a more scenic route is to take Hwy 7 to Agassiz and then follow this route on the north side of the river to Hope. It has some beautiful views of the Fraser River and the Cascade mountains and has much less traffic. The negative part of this route is you have to cross the Rosedale bridge and it has no bike lane. Including the approaches, this is a 2+km long ride where you have to count on motorists to respect your right to be in "their" lane. I have crossed it without too much trouble but not all cyclists around here think it is a good idea.

    Do you have any idea when you are planning to go through the Hope area? If you are going to go through here at a time when I am not working or out on a tour of my own I would certainly be willing ride with you or work as a spotter for the tunnels.
     
  9. rachelicious

    rachelicious New Member

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    Hey Norsman,
    Thanks so much. I'm flying into Seattle July 19th and hope to be pedaling off into the sunrise somewhere around the 23rd, which regardless, I guess, puts me in Hope sometime in the last week of July. As the date gets closer I'll be able to be more specific. Anyway, it would be great to cycle with someone, and even better to cycle with someone who knows the area.
    Thanks for the info on the tunnels. I feel much better and I've got no shame walking my bike on a sidewalk to avoid getting plowed over by a Mack truck.
    I've just found a site with a map of all of the "notable highway summits in British Columbia. http://www.vanc.igs.net/~roughley/bc_highway_summits.html#btm
    Should be quite a ride.
    I'll be in touch.
    Rachel
     
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