Northen latitudes

While listening to Dancing Queen, I realized why my truck driver gave me a ride. He needed someone to talk with in order not to fall asleep.
We tried to speak for 2 days non stop. Sometimes, I had to scream or clap my hands when I saw him passing out on the wheel. Somehow we made it to Alberta by the end of the second day just for sunset.

That was the longest ride I had ever made in my life.

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I pitched my tent just behind a gas station and passed out. I only realized when I woke up in the morning that the Rocky mountains were standing high over the horizon !

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I knew that I was going to hike for the next month so I decided to take a rest in Calgary, the second biggest city of Alberta. I had a couch in a Canadian/Mexican family.

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They were making delicious salsas for living. I helped them in exchange of others services, just like free haircut. I shaved my hairs because I knew that I will go back in the wilderness for weeks. Chances of encountering showers were weak.

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Being shaved was convenient but not for hitchhiking. I had to wait much more than usual on the road…
I made it to Banff, got all information I needed, food, water and bear spray as black bear and grizzlies are present all across the mountains.
Then, I went for a 3 days hike around Banff. It was a bit intimidating at first but landscapes were worth it.

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I felt very small sleeping alone in this wilderness. I could have gone to camp sites but I would have never had that solitary experience.

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Every day the landscape changed dramatically and offered the best camping spots in that trip.

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I was lucky with the weather and was able to make it to the highest peaks.

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I did not meet anyone for almost three days as there was still a bit of snow covering the pass.

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The only issue was, I could only carry food for 3 days max and there was not a lot of supermarkets around.
Every time I finished a hike, I had to hitchhike to another supermarket. That’s how I made it to the famous lake Louise.

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This blew me away. A large lake surrounded by huge glaciers… I had to check that out and went hiking.

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As summer was coming, snow on the top of the mountains was melting and collapsing in a complete chaos. It was really impressive (but safe).

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A few hours later I was just in front of the glacier… You feel small.

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My hammock tent was useful since there was no flat ground to settle it.

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Once again I ran out of food and hitchhiked to Golden, the closest city where I could find food (150 km). One guy gave me a ride and dropped me in a restaurant where he was working.
I met the chef, Everett. He told me that the weather for the next few days was just horrible and offered me to stay with him in his house. Hell yeah Everett thanks so much !

 

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He was not lying. I went to Glacier national park and the rain I saw in the city turned out to be snow in the mountains. I gave it a try and took another long hike.

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Once again I was all alone.

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I understood very well why they called that place “glacier national park”. Damn.

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I made it to the top and could not believe when I met another hiker travelling on her own.

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She was from Germany and was here for hiking no matter how bad was the weather. We finished the hike and went to another one next day.

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That’s a bit more comforting to walk with someone else when there are so many bears around.

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Summits are amazing in the Rockies but I also realized that lakes are the best treasures.

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It was absolutely peaceful in here.

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I went on my way to the northern Rockies and made a stop to a friend I met in the restaurant. His name is Malik from Morocco.

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He had never been hiking so we went together hitchhiking around Yoho national park.  We took with us our drivers, 3 Germans guys traveling around.

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No matter what hike you do in this area, it always turns out to be amazing.

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We came back to Malik’s house where lived all the waiters from the restaurant. I extended my stay another for 3 days… and went party and hiking everyday.

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Not easy to tell another goodbye… but I was going to come back on my way back from Alaska.

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I kept going north and stopped every time there was a hike.

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The more I went north, the better were the landscapes.

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I still don’t understand why there was no one in those paradises.

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Sometimes, I really missed company when walking alone. However, rides I had in the Rockies were just outstanding. Let’s take Chris for example. He was from Jamaica and decided to spend the day with me to show me the whole area.

He was a really cool man.

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We stopped everywhere and made tons of short hikes to discover the place.

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From rivers to waterfall, that was gorgeous.

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I did not take so much pictures of wildlife since my zoom is not so great but here are some animals we encountered that day.

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We went party in Jasper and by the morning I was back hiking (slowly after that whole day).

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I went to checked one of the glacier in the area.

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Trust me, that cold view cures any hangover !

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I went back to the city, got another load of food for the next few days and made it to my next hike thanks to that nice English Australian couple.

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This lake is not just a nice view but also a great (freezing) shower in the morning…

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It was almost more than 2 weeks I was hiking. I decided to make a last trail before hitting the road again.

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That was a pretty cool end.

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As I was making on my way back, I met my German friend again by chance. She told me that there was an outstanding 2 days hike she would like to do but not alone since it was full of grizzlies. She was a bit scared to do it alone so we went together.

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I did not regret it a second…

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The trail was leading to mount Robinson, the highest peak of the Canadian Rockies.

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It stands at 2975 meter and like most of the peaks at this height, it also has massive glaciers.

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Two days later, I was back on the road. Looking at the signs was depressing… aha so much distance in those remote lands.

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However, it’s always where there is no one that you make the best encounter. I met Justin, an American hitchhiking from Colorado to Alaska with no money at all.
When he saw me walking down the road, he burst into laughter and told me he saw me three times already hitchhiking. He could not believe we finally met.

Well we were both guitar players going in the same direction so we decided to stick for a while.
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Some Indians I met few days ago told me to check out Prophet river, a tiny community on my way to Yukon. I stopped there with my friend Justin and realized this was a native (first nation of Canada) community.
We spoke with them and understood we just arrived into one of their biggest day of the year, the treaty day.
A lot of different nations gathered that day in that place and a big party was about to be thrown. Locals were so sympathetic and nice with us.

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They sung, danced, played traditional games all night long… It was fantastic.

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We did the “pow pow” and danced around fires with them to the end the day (it’s almost midnight on that picture).

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We slept in a tipi and as we were settling our sleeping gears, the chief came and offered us to smoke the peace pipe with him and his friends. We have never slept that good for weeks.

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Justin and me kept on going north, stopping randomly on the road to get groceries or take free showers.

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I don’t know if hitchhiking at two people really makes it harder but we waited in that spot (Fort Nelson) for 30 hours.
It was raining and freezing cold and no one stopped, except to give us free coffee.

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A lot of coffee…

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Would you guys stop give us coffee !!

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By the end of the day, we decided to stop and sleep in that baseball shelter and jam with our guitars most of the night.

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Our saver was Nick from Turkey and he gave us a 1000 km to Whitehorse… There is always a cool guy showing up. Between those cities, we drove 500 km without seeing any humans, buildings or gas station…
Nick was really easy nice. He was going to the Arctic circle to work. He was not in a rush so we stopped in Liard river where lays beautiful hot springs.

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That’s was by far the best thing to do in this cold freezing weather…

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We slept in Watson Lake, a small city of 1000 people famous for its signs forest. First time I saw Europeans signs for a long time !

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Nick was sleeping in a hotel but we met a nice family and slept in their garden that night. It also turned out that the husband was an amazing guitar player so we played for a bit too.

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We made it to Whitehorse next day, visited the city and kept on going north. For the first time, I saw the northern point in my world trip, Fairbanks…

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We were now in Haines Junction, a small city close to Alaska. In front of us were standing Kluane national parks were we could find some of highest mountains of North America (5900m). It is 11 pm on this picture.

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This is where we shared our last meal. In the morning I’d go hike and Justin would drive to Alaska. It was the first time I was hitchhiking with someone for that long and it was so much fun.

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The best way to discover an area is to walk through it. I went hiking for 2 days alone in the first layer of mountains.

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They were extremely steep and offered great views.

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I thought I was already high but when I made it to the top, I saw tremendous glaciers going up to 5900 m.  Behind them, you find the Pacific. I was only 100 km away from it. Hard to believe.

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I shortened my hike because the weather turned out bad and went on the road. You don’t take any risk here.

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Northern territories are amazing. It is a land where you meet any kind of people. I have seen a lot of bikers going from Alaska to Argentina with their bicycles. I thought I was tough ^^

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Hitchhiking here took time. Roads started to be deserted. If I was dropped after 6 pm I had to find a place to sleep since no one would show up, just like that night where I slept in that small tent as it was raining outside.

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The last ride I had until the border was with French people in a motor home.

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They dropped me close to the border. I was wondering how crossing an US border by walk was going to be.

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When I made it to the border, the officer took me inside, asked me a lot of questions and let me go in USA for an another 3 months. However I was not allowed to renew my visa, since I was not leaving the country by plane.
That meant that from now, I had 3 months to make it to Mexico. IT’S ON !!

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It was one of the most intense feeling to be in Alaska. I had been dreaming about that country since I was a little boy. Going there only by hitchhiking was quite a big achievement for me.

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That first impression of Alaska was memorable for many reasons.
Roads were in very rough conditions as the ground froze then melts during summertime.
There were almost no cities and the only one on the map were as big as 500 people.
But above all, it was a big open land where the sun would almost not set. This is my first stop in Alaska and it’s midnight.

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My plan here was to go hiking and being in the wilderness as much as possible. I had to find food. I had to hitchhike 700 km to find the first city with a proper supermarket… and buy food for at least 5 days because I would not find anything on the road or in the parks.
I went to Wrangel Elias National Park, which is the biggest of North America. Just getting there was an adventure… 100 km of dirt road.

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I learnt how to change tires that day.

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Few hours later, I arrived at the end of the road where start all glaciers and hikes.

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There was almost nothing here, pure wilderness.

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I stopped at a visitor center just before getting into the park and decided to follow one of the longest glacier of the park. It was a 3-4 days hike judged to be strenuous since there was no trail. I had to go back to countryside and follow the glacier until I could’t go any further.

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The trail started at the end of the glacier that you can see on that picture (those hills are the end of the glacier and are still frozen but covered with dirt).
As I was walking, I went through Kenecott, an old mining town from 1910 that has been abandoned now.

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That ghost town was spectacular. Just here in middle of nowhere !

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I hiked in the morning (it’s very late on that picture). I found the glacier and followed it for 15 km.

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Rangers explained to me it was fine as long as I would be walking on the moraine. As it was summertime all crevasses were fully exposed so I would not fall in any of those by surprise.

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Just had to take a big jump from time to time.

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It took me the whole day. There was not a noise in that place.

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I knew that after the frozen lake, I had to leave the glacier and climb the hill on the right to get a spectacular view.

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Once again, there was not a trail so I had to climb through the waterfall til I made it to the top, where there were no more trees but bushes. That was tough.

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By the end of the evening, I put my tent and took that picture before I collapsed in my sleeping bag.

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I woke up in the morning and discovered one of the greatest scenery of that world trip.

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I stayed there for a while then started to go back on my steps. I took another waterfall to climb down the hill. I took that picture once I finished it and realized how steep it was…

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It took me almost another full day to come back to my first camp. I was dead.

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I showered in the river and got a ride with two families from Alaska who were leaving the park with their motor home. This time I learnt how to change a tire of a motor home.

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We got along very well and they offered me to go camping with them to a very remote lake. After being alone for so long, I accepted without any hesitation. Few days ago was the 4th of July so they had a lot of beer left and there were meant to be drunk fast.
We settled the camp and went for wood.

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We took some detours…

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And caught another midnight sunset.

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We finally found dead trees and brought it back to the camp.

As they were no night, we decided to go fishing (yes also had a boat).

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Chad and Sean really knew how to have fun here.

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They took us next morning tubing across the lake… Damn they were fast !

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I spent another day with them and left to Anchorage, the main city of Alaska.

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I spent another night with them and left in the morning to Homer, a beautiful city according to what I heard. I still couldn’t believe I had been in Alaska only for one week.
At that point, my plan was to go hiking to the south and enjoy the ocean.

However the weather for the next week was horrible. While I was thinking about what I should do, Bob, a guitar player, gave me a ride and offered to go with him to a tiny city where he was performing a live show.

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He knew I was playing a little and at the end of his performance he invited to jam with him. That was impressive but it turned out pretty cool. Even got a free beer.

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As we felt we had a great connection, Bob offered to teach me some blues riffs, just like Tom Ryans, my friend from Georgia. I accepted it and we came back to Anchorage.
I met his family and spent 3 days with them learning new riffs and playing with his son (who is one of the best bass player I have met so far).

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Like usual, I cooked lasagnas to thank them all for this amazing time. It’s incredible how many opportunities arises when you just say “yes”.

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Time was passing and I made my way to Denali national park (north of Fairbanks).
I was supposed to go hiking for 3 days but weather forecasts were extremely bad for next days.
As this is a big tundra, there are no trees that would have protected me from the rain so I just took a day hike and left to Fairbanks.

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I made it late at night and pitched my tent behind a hotel just to make sure I would get WiFi in the morning: it was the… final of the soccer world cup ! I saw half of the game because the connection was shitty and celebrated alone France’s victory since no one knew soccer here.
I was now on my way back to Canada. There was only one place I wanted to check before going south… It was north and the road to get there was really lost.

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I waited a lot of time on this road. However people were always supportive and showed me the best spots to sleep, just like those free rangers cabins.

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I really knew I was north when the trees started to vanish.

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The last ride I made in Alaska was with a nice mother of two children. I waited almost a full day before she showed up.

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She dropped me in Chicken, the last town before the border. That was all about chickens in that place.

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I waited a long time and finally got a ride to the border. And what a ride… haha. Those guys build that small house and were travelling all over the country with it.

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It took us hours of driving on that dirt road before making it to Canada.

DSC_9576That road is called “top of the world”. It did make a lot of sense and I really believe that working as an immigration officer in those buildings is not such a hard job.

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In the evening, they dropped me and I went to Downtown hotel of Dawson city… I made that 500 km detour to check that place out because it was renown all over the world for its toe cocktail. It is said that the mayor of the city once passed out drunk in the snow. His toe froze and they put in whisky to save it. Later on, it has become a famous drink all over the region.

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I met a French couple and we went there for the night as I felt like celebrating.
Indeed there was the world cup, the whole crossing of USA, Canada and Alaska (more or less 13 000 km) and I had reached the northern point of my world trip.
I needed a memorable shot… The frozen toe cocktail suited me very well.

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That black thing is a frozen human toe I had to put in my glass and drink.

From now on I’d only go south until I make it to Argentina. In other words I had 15000 kilometers to make in the same direction for the next year…

Yukon, British Colombia, Washington, Oregon, California, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina… see you soon.

Let’s warm up !

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Starting from Beaver Creek to McCarthy, Hope, Fairbanks and Dawson city.

Sans titre

5 thoughts on “Northen latitudes

  1. Hey Arti,

    I’m glad you have made it safe and sound my friend! I’m very jealous, your amazing journey is inspiring. I wish you well with what is left to come!

    Hope to see you again one day my friend!

    Like

  2. Stunning !!!
    Lisant tes aventures avec Camille sur les routes de France, une grosse pensée pour toi Arthur !! Un beso 😉

    Like

  3. Ah Thibault a écrit, alors c’est mon tour !
    Je suis encore marquée par les récits de Jack London et même si la nature est particulièrement belle et sauvage, je suis contente que tu redescendes loin des ours, cougards et autres bêtes à poils.
    Quel pays ! Je crois que je n’aurais pas pu boire le fameux cocktail à l’orteil gelé, au risque de ma fâcher avec tous les gaillards du coin !
    Pouah!
    Dire que tu refuses toujours de goûter le moindre petit morceau de fromage…
    On en reparlera.
    Maintenant que tu vas vers le sud, d’autres dangers te guettent.
    La Californie brûle chaque été.
    On n’a pas finf de trembler.
    Prends soin de toi.

    Like

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