“Depending on the time of day, the Ogilvie Mountains shimmer pink, cream, beige and even blue,” recalled Annika Wichter, describing the view from her bicycle on the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) in the Yukon. “It’s breathtaking. Being on a bicycle lets you really savour the colours.”
Annika and her fiancé, Roberto Gallegos, were four years into their around-the-world bicycle tour when they reached the Dempster Highway, part of the TCT, in July 2015. The goals of their quest are to promote intercultural empathy, and to write about their experiences in their blog, Tasting Travels.
“We’re big fans of Jack London’s books, so we were excited to experience the Yukon,” says Roberto, 32, who closed his design studio in Guadalajara, Mexico to embark on the cycling trip.
Annika grew up outside Hamburg, Germany, reading library books about the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, European classics written by Loesch Schimanek, a famous adventurer.
“I was hooked. Then I read everything I could find about Dawson City, Sourtoe cocktails, panning for gold—everything,” added Annika, 29, who just completed her degree in cultural and gender studies in Guadalajara, where she met Roberto.
The TCT in the “Land of the Midnight Sun”
“With 24/7 sun, it was fantastic to be able to keep cycling until 1 a.m., if you wanted,” said Roberto, now a big fan of Tombstone National Park. “It gives you more time and energy. You can take long breaks and not worry about running out of daylight.”
For Annika and Roberto, the TCT was a great structuring device for their Yukon adventure.
“You can’t get lost. And it’s so well-groomed that we didn’t feel we were too remote,” noted Roberto.
Pass the peanut butter
While enjoying the local flora and wildlife—taiga, tundra, pink fireweed, black spruce, moose, a porcupine, a bald-headed eagle and maybe even a weasel—they also met friendly cyclists, campers and warm civilians.
“People who live in the Yukon were very welcoming and curious about our cycling plans,” said Roberto. “In Dawson City, we were invited to breakfast by a woman who lived there, and two girls offered us lodging.”
On the Trail, the camaraderie impressed Annika: “We met Martine from Quebec City, who rode with us for days, and Emily from Alberta, an amateur ornithologist on her way up the Dempster in an old VW Scirocco. Later came Sheriff Justin and fire fighter Laura, who travelled on motorbikes,” she recounted. “With good people, some food and the fire, it made for cozy evenings in our shelter. We shared crackers with peanut butter.”
All the socializing lead Roberto to a conclusion.
“Canadians tend to mock themselves for apologizing too much and being nice, but it is true! I find them to be empathetic and conscientious about helping others.”