I have cycled up there - a lot.
In Alaska, the Yukon, and the North West Territories. Six different trips.
Maybe those guys who encourtered few flies or mosquitos were just lucky.
PLAN on flies and mosquitos - lots of them - and they bite.
Remember that Alaska's state bird is the mosquito.
When I first cycled up to the North West Territories, I encountered swarms of black flies in northern Alberta. We're talking about hundreds of big, mean boogers. You can't outrun them. They sneak behind you in your wind shadow and when you slow back to a cruising speed, swarm again. They are attracted to the carbon dioxide you exhale, so unless you stop breathing, there ain't nothing you can do.
Within a day, however, I had adjusted almost as well as the locals. I wore long everything. Long pants tucked into socks. Long sleeves tucked into gardening gloves. (definitely NOT fingerless cycling gloves!) And my fabrics were relatively thick. A cap under my helmet with a bandana tucked into my collar around my neck. Plus a spare bandana to use as a fly slapper - i.e. bike with one hand on the handlebars and the other slapping your shoulders alternately so that flies don't get you on your shoulder blades. The motion becomes automatic.
Pray for windy days. If there is a good wind the bugs stay down in the tundra and muskeg. Reduce the number of showers you take. There's a biological reason why we stink. Plus, use a good bug repellant - not on your skin - but on your clothes. There used to be a Cutters product like stick deodorant. I haven't seen it lately - but you could apply it to the brim of your cap, your collar, your sleeves, your knees and ankles of your pants - all the prime areas.
As for camping, if you random camp - choose gravel bars along streams and light small smudge fires on the four compass points with your tent in the middle. You will learn to appreciate smoke since bugs do not. Key campsite considerations - high, dry, and well-ventilated. I wouldn't even think about a hammock since there were times that I had to run to get my tent up.
Such horror stories are not the rule all the time. There are days when the flies and mosquitos are not much of a problem - especially breezy days. But you have to be prepared for those couple of brutal days or you will be toast. My experience has been a "Rule of Three" - every third day is pretty bad, every third day is nice - as far as bugs go.
Pic - The Nadahini Hilton
This cabin is on the Haines Highway roughly at Km 110 / Mi 68. In the tundra.
Excellent overnight spot if you are heading either north or south, 1 day from Haines.
On left northbound, right southbound. Free. Leave some food, an old book, etc.
Bunk space for two people - great picture window - no bugs.
Also, since the border closes at night there is zero traffic - VERY REMOTE.
Last edited by jamawani; 07-04-07 at 08:30 AM.