Celebrating The Summer Solstice

by Matt Schiff

Somewhere between Haines and Teslin we experienced the longest day of theyear – the summer solstice. Here are the happenings of that day.

12 am, the “War on Terror,” world domination game ends (surprisingly with world peace) and a new day begins. For some it’s bedtime but not for us yet.

It’s nice not to have jobs or a responsibility to be somewhere by 8:30 in the am. You can be hated for mentioning your “luckiness” among the wrong crowd. In the current situation we possibly inspire two of our Whitehorse hosts, Megan and Laird, to begin the discussion of quitting their jobs.

We gladly offer to help with garden watering duties, just a 5 minute walk to the community garden. When else will we take a stroll under midnight sun in the Yukon? (I enjoy the opportunity just to view homegrown peas, beans, fresh lettuces, and herbs.)

It’s a very raised bed system – good for the back – with the food at waist level.


Chris (another host) takes a portrait of us. It’s evident he’s had plenty of experience. (Just look at the “tack sharp” L-series canon glass.)

12:30 am, Aaron finds a kids bike to race around the neighborhood on. When the sun never sets kids get into no good, starting trouble in the neighborhood – hooligans if you will.

Why is the longest day of the year not celebrated by more people? (Specifically our North American people.) I say we give at least one day to the planet. Sure, there is earth day, a pitifully arbitrary day the marijuana enthusiasts have cornered in on. Why not celebrate something that occurs physically in our solar system, biologically on earth, actually measurable? Yes! Celebrate the day the sun shines most on the northern hemisphere and is darkest on the underside. No, not 420 but 6-21 and 12-21. (And add the equinox as well if you’re pagan (Vinotok).)

If you give me the choice of a party, I’ll pass on new year’s, say no to alcohol on my birthday, but see no reason not to stay up all night hoola hooping, throwing fits, and drinking fire water when you have the daylight to do so, because this is earth day god dammit!

*please note: hoola hooping describes all kinds of fun and games one can choose to have in the wee hours of the night, I’ve outgrown my fits but you can have a good time by being outrageous, and have acquired a taste for Molson Canadian – the best the land has to offer (official supplier of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.)

Back at the house there’s little to do but go to bed. The continual sleep deficits cause parts of us to crash – still barely keeping the whole system running. 7 hours of sleep on top of 7 hours of sleep on top of 7 hours; for our cycling routine it’s just not enough.

We’re awake just one hour too early again. I’ve talked up nap time for several days now. At some point I’m going for it.

Being the sophisticated, connected, responsible people that we are, we check our gmail, facebook, and scores from the world cup soccer games.

We say goodbye to our hosts and organize the best way to complete our shopping needs for the morning – bike parts, a water filter, and other miscellaneous supplies like sidewalk chalk, (used for leaving notes) – before we continue the next stretch to Teslin, YT.

Cadence Cycle is a bike shop out of someone’s house and has more character than most. There are all the parts a touring cyclist would need – no carbon fiber stems necessary.

Meeting back at the visitor’s center we find a couple unopened Budweisers that have been sitting longer than a courtesy 30 minute wait time. It’s deemed necessary to help out the local alcoholic and I stash them in my bike bag.

But one thing has been forgotten – pavement chalk. As a group we’ve begun to acknowledge our riding preferences and efficiently cover more ground by spreading out, stopping when we need to, and being more independent. We are 5 when we need to be and one when it’s time to eat. It ends up being a later start – 12 pm – but by no means too late.

After 2 hours Alyssum and I see colorful bags and a few half naked people on the far banks of river, unmistakably bike49ers. We meet again. A little lunch, a little bath, and we’re back on the road.

The next stop is a lakeside for me – time for cloud-gazing – but farther for the others. On my own I spend more time seeing the sights than making progress and ticking off miles, but I must eventually head off.

Chalked on the pavement is a 6:30 dinner sign. I wouldn’t want to miss that. I’d better be on time!

At a reststop we purchase an expensive celebratory six pack, giving perhaps half the money to the Canadian government. Alcohol is a heavily taxed item. Now, in our country…

We round the bend, exposing a range of sun-lite mountains, and use a bench cut perched above the road as our loft dinner spot. We hang the mosquito net and feast on 900 g of pasta from our balcony view.

With the heavy amounts of gnats, we cycle on, but find a forest spot soon. We duck in a seldom used road, hang some bear bags, and go to bed.

So wait! What about the anticipated party, watching the fall and rise of the sun? Our spot is a dense tinderbox filled with mosquitoes. We’re all tired; you can’t force it. There are clouds in the sky; it’s even darker than usual. We’ve had the day, spending most of it outside. Better to catch some sleep.