Blue skies shining on me!
After a good nights sleep and hearty oatmeal and granola breakfast, I took off for Stewart Crossing a little ahead of the other guys. It was a beautiful day and it was hard to imagine it was only one day after such a dismal yesterday. My watch finally gave up completely so I took it off and put it away. I scanned the surroundings for any wildlife, especially bears. I spotted a hawk or falcon weaving in and out of the trees near the roadside, probably trying to spot it's next meal. I made it to Stewart Crossing after 15 miles. I got some snacks at the gas station before heading over to the café for some nachos. Just then, Eric and Scott showed up and informed me they'd be hitching the rest of the way to Whitehorse because of Scott's knee problems. We hung out for a while and ate, then I wrote a letter to one of my friends. Soon it was time for me to push on so I said goodbye to my new friends and headed South as they waited for a ride. About 10 miles down the road, I saw Scott stick his head out of a passing pick up truck and wave to me. The ride was beginning to get a bit monotonous when I came across an older couple from Boston, Pat and Bob. They were sitting down near their parked truck and having a snack and offered me to join them. Pat let me fix a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and gave me a coke and potato chips. We talked for a while and I recommended Helga's B&B in Tok to them before saying goodbye. My next pleasant encounter was running into a fellow cyclist, Stanley, from Slovenia but living in New York. He was coming from South America and was almost finished with his trip. He had lots of advice to give me, particularly of the dangers and road conditions of South America. He also told me to pick up a Yukon News newspaper because they just did a story on him. After Stanley and I parted company, the skies began to look like rain. A few small sprinkles kept me racing ahead of the dark clouds to get to Pelly Crossing before the rain got to me. Fortunately, I made it, nice and dry. It was only 6:30pm so I was thinking about pushing on after a meal. I'd put about 60 miles on so far and even though I was tired, I think I could cycle a bit more after a rest. I fixed up some tuna and made tuna melts in the grocery/gas station. I was just about done eating when a couple of Selkirk First Nation Indians started talking to me and offered me some BBQ steak. I wrapped up the steak for later and the guys convinced me to stop by their fish camp on the Pelly River later on for some dried salmon. I called home to check in before heading over to there. I had a little trouble finding them at first, but soon arrived at their fish camp. There was a large tent with salmon hung up and a smoldering fire below providing smoke, a couple other tents to sleep in, and an eating area. Barking dogs were all over and I guess are the best form of bear protection. I tried some of their salmon. It was Ok. It kind of lacked flavor, or salt, I don't know. But their set up was very impressive, and I had a great time handing out with these guys who were happy to include me in the setting of a brand new gill net into the Pelly River. After that we checked another gill net and pulled up two large male Chinook salmon. I even helped them gut and clean the fish. All the while during my time with these Indians, they were sipping on vodka, or swigging a vodka/water mix. Apparently alcohol is not sold and is illegal to have in Pelly Crossing. A bottle of vodka goes for $50 from bootleggers who get it down South from Carmacks or Whitehorse.
After enough time at the fish camp, we headed across the river to the public campgrounds and I set up my tent and made a fire with another Indian we met up with on the bridge. It's hard to remember so many names, Daniel, Dale, Charlie (an elder), and Albert or Alfred, and Janet. Charlie and Janet joinged me by my campfire and we chatted until late and took sips from the vodka bottle. Pretty soon it was 1am and I headed for bed. It seems that these Indians work hard and drink hard. It's a shame really but I guess people do what they have to to get by. This family I met spends a few weeks of the summer at their fish camp on the Pelly River catching salmon in the gill nets and drying them with smoke. In the winter, they go back to their homes and cabins and hunt Moose in the surrounding lands. Many are into guiding and construction and build cabins in the area or down river for tourists. (63 miles)