Bear in mind, it’s just a premonition.

Cool morning, Mavis ticked over, white smoke filled the air around as I went about packing up camp. Golden sunlight penetrating pines surround; shards of light to the ground.

Arriving in Prince George after a chilly ride and a solo adventure out onto a glacier, Mavis parked out in the cold, we skimmed internet from a nearby coffee shop. Checking the financial particulars of the expedition and how close we were to being forced to call off Alaska and take up some shit job in Canada to get some funds. To my surprise, a late tax return had finally come through from back home and we were back in the black. The trip was on again and Alaska ever closer…

Heading West from Prince George we cruised our way along the Trans-Canada Hwy towards the turnoff north for route 37, Dease Lake Hwy. An unseasonal cold snap was howling in off the Pacific Ocean, blown inland south from the poles, producing some of the coldest head winds I’d ever experienced. The gloves from West Yellowstone barely kept my fingers nimble enough to pull back on the throttle or apply the brake. Was this what Alaska had in store for me? Was this guy from Australia so ill prepared that the trip would fail?

I think at times in life, you have premonitions, or at least you see with clarity events that are about to unfold. Be this due to perception or something else. On this day, as I wound my way along the Dease Lake Hwy on Route 37 north to the Alcan Hwy, I had such an event, or at least, the feeling of having such an event. Traveling at 65m/h (105km/h) Mavis hummed and we cornered sharply into every bend and twist. Mavis and I were one, in-tune with one another and the road. Down to the left, behind a cement barricade at the foot of a steep drop, a river tossed and gurgled over rocks. Approaching a sweeping right hand bend, hillside obstructing the view of the road ahead, I looked up as far as I could see and caught a glimpse of something large, black and standing in the centre of the road. Instinctively my foot pressed firmly on the rear brake pedal and I pulled in the front lever. Mavis’ back wheel locked up as I stood to stabilize the fully loaded bike. She fish tailed furiously and made contact with the painted double white centre line. The rear tyre slipped and screeched; at this moment, the only moment of the trip, I felt I was about to fall and crash from Mavis at speed, skidding across the tarmac. The only hope that myself and the bike would be stopped by the cement barricade before ending up in the cascading river below. Of all places to have a motorcycle accident, route 37 in remote, very remote British Columbia… In a brief period of slooooow-dis-toooor-ted reality, I managed to avert an accident, bringing Mavis to a controlled, albite unconventional emergency stop. In front of us, as we stood stationary, shaking in the middle of the road, some 3m away, a large wild black bear. It looked us down for a moment, then turned and jumped the barricade and retreated to the rivers edge. I have a feeling, it too was shitting itself with the sight of Mavis and I hurtling towards it. The first wild bear I had ever seen, and the first near death/crash experience for the trip. That day, having not seen one bear the whole trip previous, I encountered a further seven black bears along that one stretch of road.