Haines, AK

We’ve descended upon the Haines Public Library, which has (extremely limited) internet access. We got the stinkeye when we asked if we could bring in our own laptops, so I can’t upload any new pictures. This is a bummer, since I took some really amazing ones yesterday.

Yesterday was a strange day, riding-wise. We started the day in Tok, which was grey and hazy due to forest fires. We were hoping that the Kluane area would have cleared up during the past week, but instead, it was worse. You couldn’t tell that there were mountains right in front of you: just a weird, thick, grey haze. It smelled like campfire, and when Iexhaled sharply, I could taste the smoke.

The haze continued down to Haines Junction, YT — about 290 miles southeast. We stopped in Haines Junction for ice cream and to have a sort of powwow — would we stay for the night or continue on to Haines? I’d heard that the Haines Highway is absolutely amazing, and it didn’t make me happy to think that I’d miss out on scenery due to the haze. The lady at the Haines Junction visitor center showed us a map of the fires — there were no new ones between Haines Junction and Haines. The wind, however, was blowing the smoke in a southeasterly direction. We decided to outrun the wind and smoke and make the final leg of our journey in Alaska last night.

It was, absolutely, the best decision we’ve made on the entire trip.

The haze cleared up after about 20 miles, and to say that the Haines Highway is amazing is an understatement. I rode in the back, so that my landscape pictures would have Tony and Steph in them (“mountains + people” is always more interesting than “mountains”), and I got some really good ones. I grumble at the Haines Library people who won’t let me upload them. Grumble, I say! Grumble!

The whole highway seemed staged. We’d be riding along some mountain or glacier, turn a corner, and bam! there’d be another mountain or glacier even more beautiful than the previous one. One time, we rounded a corner to see a large field — I saw a brown lump in the field that I thought was a moose, so I stopped the bike. As I was slowing down, the back half of the moose got up and started walking away…it was a mama grizzly bear with two cubs. They were roughly a football field’s length away — maybe a little further — and seemed pretty uninterested in us, so we got some great pictures of the cubs playing and following their mom across the field.

Haines is also home to the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, so we’ve seen a few of those, too. They’re harder to photograph, obviously, but I think Tony’s been trying.

Today, we continue to bum around Haines — we’ve been walking around and enjoying the town and the sights. The ferry leaves Haines tomorrow evening, so we’ll start loading the bikes on in the afternoon. I’m really excited about the ferry trip — three days of good scenery, good wildlife watching, and sitting around on the deck of a ship. 🙂

See you Friday, back in the Lower 48.

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