Hitchhiking another 1600 Kilometers down Canada

Waking up for the second time in Whitehorse I headed outside to the main road, the Alaska Highway, and hitched a quick ride into town. Mandie and Walter, my current traveling partners, had a lazy relaxing day back at the house while I spent the bulk of the day caffeinated at the baked cafe coding away, ear buds in my ears playing good times kinda tunes, a position I've found myself in cities throughout North America, each time more excited than the last about one thing or another.

Just as I was polishing off a chunk of code I'd been working on for a while Walter and Mandie arrived in the cafe, food on their minds, a bar in our future. We all grabbed a bowl of Chili at Tim Hortons, a Canadian institution, and then headed to the Lizard bar where we'd poorly organized a couchsurfing get together.

We had beers and wine between ourselves, and then with the girls we were staying with, Caley and Pam, then headed home, now with hitchhiking on our mind. Our target was Prince George, our method and route was hazy at best, but we did the things you do the night before venturing into the unknown of a multi day hitch - laundry, showers, etc. We toyed with the idea of a hitchhiking race, Walter and Mandie taking the Alaska Highway to Prince George, the busier road, and me taking the Cassiar Highway, a pinch shorter, but much less traveled.

In the morning Caley dropped us off at a grocery where we got the types of travel food we wanted, the rain promptly greeted our arrival to the road. It picked up to a heavy rain, when it settled we moved towards the traffic, but Walter managed to talk a mini van girl into giving us our first ride towards the center of town.

Back on foot, we decided to split up, me walking far in front so the two of them would have first dibs on cars and potentially catch a ride with room for me and talk the driver into stopping. The idea was that if cars passed them with only room for one they'd then see me up the road and get me a little further. We decided we'd meet in Prince George, about 20 hours straight driving up the road, or along the side of the road somehow.

A blue pickup saw me and gave me a ride towards the edge of town, I walked further, I looked behind and saw another hitchhiker emerge on the corner far behind me, not a great sign, but I kept walking. It wasn't long before an old man, a 30 year local to Whitehorse, gave me a ride just out of town and past a gas station. After another small stint of walking, perhaps a couple hundred yards, a German turned Whitehorse local stopped for me. He gave me a ride down the road another 40 kilometers or so, telling me how much he loved Whitehorse and didn't care for my eventual destination of Vancouver, it being a big city and all.

He dropped me off at the same corner another young hitchhiker was standing at. I approached my fellow hitcher to let him know I would walk up the road so he would still have first shot at rides, he'd been standing there about an hour and a half with a wooden sign with "edmonton" scribbled on it. He seemed interested in talking to me, but I didn't want to ruin his chance of getting a ride by appearing to be two people rather than one, I started walking up the road.

I wasn't 40 yards away when a big white suburban type truck pulled over next to me, the hitcher on the corner didn't turn around to notice. I told the driver I was headed towards Watson Lake and that the guy on the corner got her first, Jon, the driver, clearly had plenty of room in this truck, the kid finally turned around and I waived him over as he grinned and started running for us as every hitchhiker does after a long wait for a ride when one finally arrives. Niall was his name, I hopped in back and let him take shotgun, we started shooting down the road.

Jon was transporting this car more or less, he was happy to fill his abundance of extra seats with a couple guys to share stories with. His plan was to drive past Watson Lake, camp out, then drive to Fort Nelson in the morning for a flight. Initially I figured I'd skip the Cassiar highway to go this distance with him, and Niall seemed set on camping and continuing in the morning as well. When we got closer to the turn off I decided as long as the weather was decent I'd take the Cassiar after all.

The three of us talked about camping, rafting, hitchhiking, things like this. Niall was 19, just started hitchhiking, he had lots of interest and questions for me about hitching and living out of my pack. He was pretty savvy as far as camping and survival in the wilderness, Jon had a definite outdoor sense, I caught a business man vibe from him as well. The weather changed throughout the ride from sunny to dark clouds and rain, as we got to the 37 Junction, the Cassiar, we were in a sunny patch and I decided I'd go for it, they dropped me there and I began walking.

After a couple kilometers I stopped to strip some layers and have a couple slice of bread. I wondered how Mandie and Walter were doing finding rides and when we'd meet up again. I made my bear spray a bit more accessible and continued walking, before long the rain was threatening again and my layers came back on just in time for a heavy down pour. Few cars passed me, but more than I expected, many packed full without room for me even if they'd wanted to stop. The rain finally ceased, I was still walking.

I could hear cars coming long before they could see me, I heard one coming now, I turned around when it was in view, a VW Van, I could make out that it had Utah plates from a distance, Utah's are pretty distinct. My thumb went out and my hopes went up, as it got closer I could see Walter riding shotgun with a big smile on his face that I instantly mirrored. I slid open the door to see Mandie cozied up on the bed in back, I introduced myself to the driver, Mike, and we all had a good laugh of relief as I hopped in.

Mike was a laid back, he'd been working as a guide in Alaska and was now headed back towards Utah, Walter had seen him at a gas station way back in Whitehorse and scored the ride, I later learned him and Mandie had convinced him to drive them by chipping in on gas money, something I wouldn't of had the funds for, but here I was shooting down the Cassiar with my travel partners having a great time, great music filled the van with good vibes.

We stopped as darkness approached to set up camp, Walter with his tent and Mandie and I with the one a woman had gave us along the road before the Canadian border. We cooked up a random assortment of foods and had hot chocolate with mint chocolate baileys. A curious fox popped out to see what we were doing a few times, and soon we went to sleep.

We woke up and got ready to go, we also noticed a pile of bear crap and some prints nearby, we weren't sure if that was there the night before or not. We cruised down the winding Cassiar road making great time, still stopping to rest or admire one beautiful sight here and again. As darkness overtook we rolled into Prince George making our way to a couchsurfer's place, his name was Goji, he left me a message saying he had a tent set up in his backyard we could crash in if he wasn't home. It was late, so we didn't bother knocking on the door and went straight for the tent.

We thought about getting some alcohol until we discovered Canadian prices, so settled for McDonalds, we even scored a free bag of fries I asked for knowing they were closing. We passed out in the big tent with random spurts of rain dropping on the tent here and there.

We met Goji in the morning, a slightly older, long hair and a beard wearing white robe like attire with various phrases drawn on the front and back. He was quiet at first, the three of us showered. He was a yoga laughter leader, and seemed interested in many "spiritual" type activities. Turns out his real name is Kevin, but he changed it to Goji a couple years ago because it was his "real name", Goji meaning "abundance of joy".

We headed down the street for food and coffee, Mandie checked her messages and saw a response from another couchsurfing host in town, Sandra. We gave her a call and it was decided we'd spend this night with her, we went back to Goji's and packed our things and eventually Sandra picked us up. Sandra was very friendly, we went back to her place and met her daughter as well as another couchsurfer staying with her named Jon, a wildlife photographer.

We soon found ourselves at one her friend's houses down by a river for a barbecue, Walter picked us up a 15 pack of Dude Beer, we set up a beericade of rocks in the river to keep them cool. Everyone at the barbecue was friendly, Walter was heard saying multiple times "This is the reason why I use couchsurfing!", and it's true, I'm not sure how else one could find themselves by a river in Canada eating moose meat and drinking dude beer with a group of friendly people you knew not of hours ago.

After a night with Sandra we have plans to go to an ancient forest with supposedly very large trees. At the moment we're thinking of hitching another 500km south in the morning, the destination is Kamloops where TJ lives, a girl we all met at the collective in Homer. Vancouver is also on our minds, I'm sure we'll end up there at some point, we're enjoying every moment.