It turns out the morning task list isn't nearly as sequence-critical. Really, it just matters that you remember to eat breakfast, that you get dressed, that you towel the dew off your seat, that you pre-check the bike, that you re-install batteries in all your gadgets, and that you get your bathroom bag off the counter. It doesn't matter in what order you don't forget all those things.
The really, truly important thing is this: TAKE YOUR STUFF OUT OF THE HOTEL ROOM FRIDGE. DON'T FORGET YOUR STUFF IN THE HOTEL ROOM FRIDGE. DON'T FORGET YOUR TWENTY DOLLARS WORTH OF THE MOST DELICIOUS NORTHERN-MADE JERKY IN THE HOTEL ROOM FRIDGE. It was at kilometer 82 that I realized I had tragically violated this rule today.
At the gas station, I was approached by another Simpsonite, Robert, who was out for a morning walk with his dog Mikey. Robert used to ride himself, and insisted that Kawasakis are the best bikes out there. He also attempted to explain to me the concept of "The Keep Up," which is either a general term for maintaining your belongings instructed through oral traditions, or a specific school of motorcycle riding hand positioning. I'm actually unsure. Mikey was fat and happy, and Robert told me how a year ago everyone in town wanted to steal him, because he was a puppy and "supersonic cute."
Finally, I was fueled, and the day was underway. For Robert, I did some "Keep Up" waiting at the ferry, lubing my chain while the MV Lafferty traversed across.
The paved section back to the Liard Trail junction is in great condition, and was uneventful. I turned south, onto gravel, and was re-immersed in the gallery of autumn landscapes. You'll see in the photo roll, but within 20 minutes I'd seen a bison and four black bear. First, I came across a lone bear, who was at roadside when I spotted it from a distance and then bounded away as if camera shy. Minutes later, in the ditch to my left, a mama bear was standing up tall on her hind legs, watching me go buy, with two little cubs scurrying about at her feet. I was happy enough to keep moving at that point, and spent the next half hour fretting over the wisdom of a dozen fruit bars in my bag and every imaginable breakdown scenario.
The ride to BC was pretty uneventful, and a load of fun. This type of road is exactly what the KLR is built for. I stopped in Fort Liard for gas, and grabbed a sandwich at the noticeably well-stocked Northern Store. Work telephoned, but such is life.
I waved to two fellow tourists stopped at the "Welcome to NWT" sign, then stopped for a photo of my own at the BC side. As I shoulder-checked before pulling back onto the highway, I saw massive wind gusts bending the trees behind me, as a low pressure front blew in with some rain clouds in tow. It must've been at least a 60 km/h wind (finally, a tailwind!), and I rode away in second gear, staying just ahead of the distinct line of blowing leaves advancing behind me. It was pretty cool. Until I got around the next corner and discovered that that had been just one point on the edge of the gust front, and I was enveloped in it for the next ten minutes until outrun.
After crossing the bridge, joining up with the AK Highway, and making the short backtrack into Fort Nelson, I fueled up, cleaned and lubed my chain in the already-oily parking lot, and checked in for the night. The biggest challenge of civilization was remembering how to use a pay-at-the-pump gas station. I used to swear by them, but Yellowknife knows no such technology -- nor need thereof.
Day total: 554 km, 8h40m
Trip total: 1184 km
Start: Fort Simpson, NWT. End: Fort Nelson, BC.
Soundtrack: Vapor Trails, Hysteria, Into the Wild, Stadium Arcadium.