Only a 2 1/2 hr ride down the road today to Laird Springs to soak in the Thermal Springs…Yeah I think that we are getting soft! The weather was kind to us today, and it really opened up into a lovely morning of riding. Nice curvy mountain roads, bright blue sky with puffy clouds, and buffalo! Huge buffalo grazing by the side of the road, what an awesome treat. We pulled into the lodge in the early afternoon, got ourselves situated and then headed over to the thermal spring. We followed the boardwalk back into the forest, keeping an eye open for a black bear that was in the area. It was a little nerve racking to say the least. I was walking faster than usual and finally after 2 k's we had reached the springs with a tasteful structure and steps leading down into the steaming waters. The water was clear misty pale blue. Rounded black pebbles massaged your feet as you found your way to the perfect soaking spot. There were definite differences in temperature as you moved around the spring. In some places you could feel a cool ribbon rise from the pebbles and in others it was surprisingly too hot to soak. Old logs were floating in the river and you could hang on and ride them if you wanted, a great way to fall asleep. It does not take long before your body releases the muscle tension and you start to melt deeper and deeper into a peaceful trance. It only took about 30 minutes and I was in full yawn mode! Definitely no more riding today! The bear did make an appearance later in the evening, that had the area on alert. Throughout the night we were woken by bear bang warning shots being blasted off by the ranger in the area to scare the roaming black bear from the campsites… definitely an unsettling way to be woken.
We woke up, looked out the window and saw the weather changing. We had been told that a change was coming by a couple of dirt bikers on their way back to Calgary. When we felt that electricity in the air we felt that we needed to get out of the area asap, and stay ahead of the storm. Kev and I were on the road by 8:30 am. I think that this is the earliest getaway for us on this Alaska adventure. I had suited up with all possible layers including rain gear. I would leave the heated vest off and turn it on when I really need it. We were about a half hour into our ride and the weather started to change. Maybe the storm the guys were talking about was coming from the direction we were riding into? Damn! As we fueled up at Muncho Lake we discussed and agreed that our wet gear does a pretty good job of keeping us dry, and that we would continue riding on today. We really had to make this decision now as there was no other fuel or accommodations until we reach Fort Nelson. It was just after 9:30am, way too early to stop! We did not think of the mountain pass that we would be riding into, and the possibility of temperature changes, or road construction to say the least. This day actually turned out to be one of the most challenging days, emotionally and somewhat physically for us. We hit heavier rain, freezing temperatures, areas of dense fog, sleet, long road construction areas with slippery muddy sections that had no way around, just through, and more of those slippery metal grated bridged river crossings. The biggest challenge for us was the freezing temperatures combined with being wet. My boots had now thoroughly soaked through, my cheeks and nose were stinging from the bitter cold as I had to have my helmet cracked open an inch or so to prevent fogging and my legs were trembling uncontrollably. As we approached Summit Lake Pass there was a small run down station that had fuel, coffee and no toilets. We stopped for a good half hour, got out of the weather, warmed up with a couple of cups of coffee and a homemade cookie. The standoffish owner warmed up to us after I complemented his cookie cooking abilities, and he talked about the possibility of snow today. Not really what I wanted to hear! We hopped back onto our soaking bikes and headed out into the low wet cloud in front of us. The time off the bikes did us the world of good. There would be more stops about very hour or so, just so we could get feeling back in our feet and hands. Our heated jackets and grips were on the highest settings, and I'm sure that we would have perished if we did not have these devises….well that is probably a little too dramatic, but our spirits were highly challenged! We made it through the 5 hours and found a nice warm room with a bath tub and free soup of all things. Needless to say we spent the rest of the day and night warming up, drying out and keeping a positive outlook…oh yeah and popping vitamins!
There is a day clearing in the weather so we have decided to move on, even though our bodies are still quite weary from yesterdays ordeal. The faster we move south the warmer the temperature will be. We are still encountering a lot of chewed up roadways and heavy road construction that slows us down. Actually it feels like you are riding on a heavy rock grit sandpaper that just grates away at your rubber. Both Kev's and my rear tires are due to be changed, and each town we have been riding into we have checked with shops and had no luck. Maybe when we get down to Edmonton?
Bison warnings for the highway today…so cool. We did come across several of the wooly beasts grazing alongside the highway, and a black bear cub climbing a power pole. On our way down to Fort St. John Kev actually lost the controller cord that plugs into the bike and his heated vest. He thinks that his leg caught it and pulled it off somewhere, but has no clue where. We are not turning around, so accept the loss. We pull off into a rest area and visit with a couple of motorcycle adventurists that we seem to have been tailing today and chat for a while. Come to find out they had picked up a jacket controller today alongside the road! Go figure, just when they thought that they had a cool find, they had to give it up. Well I guess that they didn't have to, but I'm glad they did! Thanks Tassie guy who rides the Triumph!