Awake in the land of the Midnight Sun
Our first stealth camp with the crew –It’s actually more stocked with amenities than some pay campgrounds I’ve seen. Its missing power, which turns it into a day picnic area, but instead of sterile numbered pull-through lots as the ones I’ve seen that exist on this stretch of the Alcan highway, we’re presented with a viewpoint overlooking the Morley river, complete with bridge, and cable car for maintenance. We hear the odd semi, but we’ve got secure storage for our food in the back of the garbage cans and it’s free.
It’s been a rough bunch of days – and I’ve been going through a lot of weird motions, 1 with hanging out with a crew of people that all know each other very well for the next 30 days, being myself, sometimes wondering if my ideas, past or esoteric comments out of the blue confuse the heck of out them, 2 – equipment failures are plaguing the team galore.
Each person with a BOB Trailer are experiencing bent frames and hangers, which result in derailleurs malfunctioning, limiting the ability to shift gears properly, which finally equates into someone either pulling a muscle straining to get up hills, or eventually getting up and pushing it up. We had a drop off of some bike parts today that seemed a bit emergency, Steve, the writer has a friend in Whitehorse who has helped this team out in so many ways, today sending someone down the highway in a van after us, puling us over, and asking “Is one of you Steve?” – to get more details on the parts that were failing – Fairly surreal. Finally – 3 – I’ve heard the stories, read the books, watched a film about it – but the Sun does seriously funny things to your head. Time starts to bend and stretch in various ways – when you are outdoors for 24 hours at a time you are at the environments mercy. Like starting cooking dinner at midnight, going to sleep at 2, waking up at 6 and feeling strangely energized. It’s not bothering me, it too, is fairly surreal.
The weather has been equally bizarre, dishing out loads of sun in the morning, while the clouds move in mid afternoon, greying out the landscape, sometimes offering a droplet of water on you, making me on a hair trigger scramble to grab my rain gear based on my Vancouver upbringing. Oddly, it disappears in the evening – And I’ll be loose on that term, in time to colorize the sky for the endless sunset.
Hardware problems are starting to crop up – I’m seeing issues with my memory cards, data disappearing, and when reinserting into devices, strange error messages appearing. So far my idea to troubleshoot has been to press the cards tight, bend them lightly from side to side and lick the right most contact. Don’t ask – its working, and I’ll have a chance to look into detail once we make it into Watson Lake, in the next 2 days. Chris and Ryan are experiencing issues right off the hop with their long range microphone, and have since resorted to different intended roles capturing content, using the traditional scene board. I think it was meant to be this way. Watching them fall into their grooves and patterns has been interesting – they were to have another man on board, who canceled 2 days before the flight was to leave. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I understand a lot of the lingo and what they are up to just from my quest to learn knowledge and am helping them out wherever I can, it’s welcomed.
To be honest, we haven’t covered as much distance as we thought we would, the problems with the hardware, bikes disintegrating, and a freak rainstorm has us well beyond the intended – But, it’s good. Things are falling into place, we are meshing well and sharing lots of laughs. Tonight we got to see what happens when you fire of a bear banger with an included flare – these things are like mini roman candles. It narrowly averted blowing through the side of the filmmaker’s tent and is going to be excellent unplanned footage for the documentary. Next time we’ll save them for the actual animals.
I was sitting in a cafe yesterday at Johnson’s Pass doing the regular charge routine of components, along with everyone else who had electronics (all plugs used and moved around in the little restaurant) when another set of bicycle tourists came in. Little do you know, is that it was the first ones I saw on my tour way back to Prince George from Switzerland. There was some extreme double taking, and then they remembered me as the guy who saw the White Bear, and “the crazy guy who did 170km that day so he could be sick under a rooftop” – I had to laugh. I guess first impressions really do last
During the rainstorm this morning, which was slated to last for 5 days on the Weather Channel since turned into 5 days of Sun, I found a flaw with my tent. I remained perfectly dry throughout this downpour, proudly standing through it all. The sloped area of the internal tent, is meant for your head to be – I had tried sleeping with my feet towards this area and somehow created condensation at the foot of my sleeping bag so have tried this alternate / recommended layout. Anyways, condensation aside, since the tent is sloped and there is little ceiling, the rain drops drop very close to my ears, resulting in a bit of an unintentional alarm clock. Earplugs sort of help, but again, with the light working its magic on you, things get a bit weird.
Other than that, everything is working out as planned, I get to pick up my stove in a few days and finally start getting some warm meals on without having to use other peoples equipment. I’m not a burden, but it feels like I could be a bit more self sufficient in that area. More reasons to figure out how to build a Pop Can stove, which I’m determined to do before the end of this tour. And by that I mean this leg. Not the phase. Phew.