Watson Lake to Stewart – 648kms
As I mentioned yesterday, Mike, our host at the Air Force Lodge in Watson Lake, had suggested that we check with the Visitor Centre on road conditions and gas availability on Stewart-Cassiar Highway (Hwy 37). Given the range that our bikes can get, I planned the stops accordingly.
As it turned out, we didn’t really have much to worry about; the Petro-Canada/Food Store at Dease Lake is too big to just shutdown on account of one person, and the Bell II Lodge further south is a pretty large establishment set up for heli-skiing and firefighter support, so it’d be open for sure as well. But I had put in stops at Iskut and Meziadin Junction to help break up the trip so it didn’t seem as long a day.
After packing up the bikes, we headed back to the truck stop on the edge of town for a quick breakfast before heading out.
I really like my MoskoMoto Nomad tank bag, maybe I’ll write up a review of it sometime …
The Cassiar-Stewart Highway junction is just over 20kms west of Watson Lake, so for the third time this trip, we went over this stretch of the Alaska Highway. Like many of the roads here in the north, the Cassiar-Stewart Highway is a pretty long and remote stretch of road, especially north of the Dease Lake area. The road itself was narrow chip-seal with no shoulders and in many sections, no lines. The chip-seal is pretty hard on tires, so both bikes will need new tires pretty soon.
It was about 3 hours to Dease Lake. There’s an aboriginal community nearby and lots of hunting and fishing, so there was actually a lot of activity at the Petro-Canada gas station / Super A general store / Tin Rooster Deli. We grabbed a sandwich and a bio break while here, plus full tanks of gas for the bikes.
As we went further south, the weather started to close in and eventually it started to rain. Louise managed to get the rain jacket on before getting completely soaked. After another roughly 3 hrs of riding in drizzle, rain, weak sunshine, we came up Bell II, which is a pretty cool place.
It’s a pretty upscale lodge, with a helicopter support base for heli-skiing, heli-hiking, heli-biking and forest fire fighting support, and probably a base for hunting as well. We just stopped for a stretch, gas, and water before continuing on …
Another hour and a half, we made it to the Meziadin Junction, where we left the Cassiar-Stewart Highway and headed to Stewart on Highway 37A.
What an amazing road this is! The scenery is stunning, the road is terrific and the weather for us was excellent, no rain (rare) and rather warm. Even though by this point we were getting pretty tired, we managed to keep the bikes between the lines while gazing at multiple glaciers, dozens of waterfalls, about a dozen major water crossings, and a narrow gorge where the road follows the river between towering cliffs on both sides!
Highway 37A is only about 60 or so kms, so before long we rolled into the village of Stewart and headed directly to the Ripley Creek Inn – because I’d been here before in 2016, I knew where it was.
The Ripley Creek Inn is actually a number of buildings that have been renovated into hotel rooms, making this a pretty funky place.
Our room was right in the corner to the right of Louise’s bike – where the ladder is in the picture. There are common areas in each building, plus yards and outdoor seating … all in all, while certainly eclectic, it’s a great place to stay and reasonably priced too. At the last minute we decided to stay two nights and we were so glad we did – more on that tomorrow!
Since it was Sunday night, there wasn’t much open for dinner. The only option was the restaurant at the King Edward Hotel, so we headed there – about a 1 block walk in downtown Stewart! Just to the east of the village across the Bear River is a mountain with a glacier hanging off it …
Dinner at the King Edward Restaurant was OK – I had a burger and Louise had chinese – when there’s not much to choose from, it’s hard to be super critical. As it was the only place open, it was busy, with all the tables occupied it kept the staff hopping.
After dinner, we went for a bit of a walk down the back of the Ripley Creek Inn and spotted some neighbourhood ducks or geese – pretty sure they’re ducks …
With it being such a long day, we packed it in early – tomorrow we’d be sleeping in and going sightseeing!