Near the White River an over sized all terrain vehicle with big muddy tires and a loud muffler pulled up beside me as I walked along a lonely stretch of road. The Canadian pilot’s dark eyes and pocked mark face were shaded by an old, equally muddy, cowboy hat. The rifle slung over his shoulder signaled me that he was probably hunting for something, or someone. “You got an ice field rangers walking permit” he demanded to know. I had my bear spray ready and knew I could douse him right below the rim of that silly hat before he could unwind that carbine. And besides he would have to get the gun over the hat which would give me another second to run. Reason prevailed. “I’m walking to Key West, Florida”, I said bravely. “That’s a long way my friend. Good luck”, he hollered as he sped up the road and disappeared into the morning fog.
Most of the small hotels listed in the Yukon guide book are closed even though this is the height of the tourist season. There are no rooms for 60, or 80 miles. This year I am trying not to camp and had planned to walk each day to a different hotel or drive to one and then start at the point I had left off at the following morning. The long distance between open hotels makes this process tedious. And after driving a long way if there is no hotel available I am stuck sleeping in the back seat of a cold car.
At a small way side food shack I meet five American long distance bicyclers. There is also a pair from France one of whom is female. They are all headed west to Fairbanks Alaska and seem awed when I tell them I have already walked from there. The Americans head on their way and in typical Yankee fashion pay for the food of the French couple.
Despite their generosity the American rider still saved money. At this time during the summer of 2008 gasoline prices were at an all time high. The Yukon despite the close proximity of oil fields was no exception. Caravanning RY drivers told me gas cost them as much as one dollar per mile.