First thing’s first in Hyder, Alaska. Find the pub just off the road after riding through an un-manned border crossing from Stewart, B.C. Park your adventure vehicle of choice somewhere safe because it might be awhile. Then belly up and tell the weary female bartender, who’s heard this from a million over-excited tourists who think they’re the first to discover this local shenanigan way to waste an afternoon, “I wanna get hyderized please!”
She’ll walk over and plunk down a couple shot glasses hard enough to make a thud on the walnut counter then tell you the rules:
“No taking photos of people or filming. No asking what’s in the glass. No sipping, it has to go down all in one go. And no barfing it back up or you owe the bar a round. Lastly, no other questions.”
We bravely tossed the clear liquid back and waited for the eruption. Amazingly, it went down smoother than some of the whiskey Dave buys. Whatever taste buds were still working detected something like mosquito repellent, evergreen trees and a hint of gasoline. The bartender flicked a lighter. I ducked. Our shot glasses bloomed into a soft purple flame, which fanned onto the counter top. She wasn’t concerned and let out a little secret; the shot had been 150 proof. While I wondered how many days it would be before I could ride again sober, a couple slid onto two stools beside us and ordered beer. They were from Texas riding two Yamaha Teneres. Likely because of the moonshine, Dave and I appeared more charming than usual and they invited us to stay in the cabin they’d rented, telling us we’d have to sleep on the floor. We were ready to face the true north heartily but that didn’t mean we were crazy enough to give up a free place to stay indoors.
We planned to meet with Jeff and Lynne Stoltenberg later and walked over to our bikes, which had been sitting for over an hour. The roaring woodstove in my belly had tamed itself to a slow burning simmer. We tested ourselves by walking a straight line and touching fingers to noses (no one said it had to be our own nose) then Dave and I rode the 30-some km (17 m) up a dead-end, dusty road to the spectacular Salmon Glacier. The road into Stewart, B.C. on the 37A had already blown our minds and now the Salmon, one of the five largest glaciers in the world… it was a day to remember.
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