It has taken me my whole life to get to Alaska. It has taken me my whole life to truly fall in love.
This was the planned route for my month-long bike ride through Alaska:
|I felt very much in my element in Alaska,|
which made me incredibly happy through-and-through.
Just a few minutes before my plane landed in Alaska, I looked outside my window and saw this:
|Triple hubba deliciousness!|
It was at this moment that I fell in love.
This was the planned route for my month-long bike ride through Alaska:
|This was the planned route for my bike ride,|
starting in Anchorage and heading counterclockwise.
The actual route added the spur to Talkeetna
and scratched the Hatcher Pass cut-off from Willow to Palmer,
as the pass didn't open until mid-July.
In addition to making cue sheets of the above route, I also made a very annotated version of The (very heavy) Milepost, in spreadsheet form. For those of you not familiar, The Milepost is "The Bible of North Country Travel." It shows everything you ever cared to know (and didn't care to know) in immaculate detail.
|The (Very Annotated) Milepost, in spreadsheet form.|
My adventure buddy was Craig, of The Happily Married Man Rides the Olympic Peninsula fame. This was our third trip together; in addition to cycling around the Olympics, we also biked in Patagonia (see To The End of the World).
|Craig, guarding his fabric lair.|
Kicking Off the Trip
|This was everything I brought with me to Alaska.|
Thank you to Alaska Airlines for considering a bike box -- even though
overweight and oversized -- to be standard luggage, checked for just $30.
|I've found that a sweet message on my bike box helps to ensure|
my box is handled with care.
|Our home base in Anchorage was provided |
by the adventurous'n'hospitable Mike & Ann Marie.
I met Mike when I was leading a trip down the Pacific Coast in 2016.
Shortly thereafter Mike met Ann Marie.
(Photo: Mike & Ann Marie.)
|You know your host is cool when he has a photo |
on his fridge of himself and Conrad. 😍
|Waiting for Craig to arrive, I rode The Coastal Trail in Anchorage.|
I love this view from Point Woronzof, looking up the Knik Arm towards downtown.
The Seward Highway
|I couldn't resist a "Woohoo! We're off!" jump-for-joy outside|
the Bird Treatment & Learning Center just before we turned onto the Seward Highway.
This building has the coolest facade in all of Anchorage!
|These folks were dipnetting for hooligans in the Twenty Mile River.|
|Seward is located on the Kenai Peninsula.|
The Kenai Peninsula is the favorite place of many Alaskans.
I can't wait to come back and explore the peninsula more thoroughly.
|Seward welcomed us with cold, blustery weather |
and a flood of tourists fresh off the cruise ships.
|After visiting the town of Seward, we headed to the|
Kenai Fjords National Park to see the Exit Glacier.
|Craig found this decorative rock sitting aside the National Park sign.|
|How fun! I've heard that Homer rocks.|
I can't wait to visit Homer on a future trip.
|Like most glaciers, the Exit Glacier has been receding for years.|
This sign shows the location of the glacier's toe nearly fifteen years ago.
|These are the prettiest girls in Alaska. |
The Glenn Highway
|The views along The Glenn Highway are hubba hubba.|
The dandelions were the first wildflowers to bloom.
I've never seen such ginormous'n'beautiful dandelions.
|We enjoyed views of the impressive Matanuska Glacier along The Glenn.|
The Road to McCarthy
|After three days on the Glenn Highway, we headed south towards McCarthy.|
In doing so, we entered the Wrangell - St. Elias National Park,
the largest of America's national parks.
|Alaskans are not shy about their "Private Property" and "No Trespassing" signs.|
Look closely at the image below the words on this sign.
As one who prefers flowers over guns,
this sign certainly does not extend a warm welcome.
|Shortly after passing Kenny Lake, we saw a heard of Alaskan Yaks|
on the side of the road. We sat down and had lunch with them.
This was the only yak curious enough to cross the field to check out us cyclists.
|Just after passing Chitina, we began our 60-mile pedal on the gravel road to McCarthy.|
This was my favorite riding of our entire trip.
There were so many sections that reminded me
of our adventure through Patagonia three years earlier.
|The first view of the braided Copper River. Gooooorgeous!|
|...but look at the salmon Mike & Ann Marie caught on the Copper River|
just two weeks later -- 19 sockeye and 2 kings!
|Seventeen miles into McCarthy Road, we saw this in the distance...|
|Craig and I set up our tents beside the river.|
Above may be a more apt preposition, as the river is waaaay down below.
|Doin' my walk on the catwalk.|
|The Kuskulana River rages 238 feet below.|
What a rush to have a few inches of metal suspending us above the river.
|When it started to sprinkle, I moved my tent under the bridge.|
Craig kept his tent out amongst the trees and got more wet than me.
|This view of the red prop planes against the green trees and|
the snow-capped mountains captivates me.
|A few miles shy of McCarthy, we came across this sign.|
"Travel beyond this point not recommended. If you must use this road,
expect cold/heavy snow, carry cold weather survival gear,
and tell someone where you are going."
And onward we went!
|At the end of McCarthy Road, cars can go no further.|
Folks must walk (or bicycle!) across the above bridge to travel
the final stretch into the town of McCarthy.
|McCarthy is colorful...|
|...and somewhat rundown, but in a quaint way.|
|The bumper stickers on this old Datsun include|
"I 🧡Gluten" and "Pee Free or Die."
|There is something whimsical about seeing this lush greenery, |
framed by the broken windshield of an old, beat-up truck.
|The Kennecott Mines, pictured above, are also named after Kennicott.|
Notice the misspelling, which has stuck after all these years.
|Just past the Kennecott Mines is the trail to the Root Glacier.|
Along the trail are primitive campsites, where we camped for the night.
|Some of the trail was rideable. Some of it was not -- |
at least not on our fully-loaded, sans suspension bikes.
It was fun nonetheless. Shirley, my Surly, had a blast!
|Along the Root Glacier Trail, we had to pass this makeshift|
bridge over Jumbo Creek. Once we were past the bridge,
we found our primitive sites.
|After setting up camp, we hiked down to the Root Glacier. |
If you look closely at the glacier,
you can see two sets of people walking. How's that for scale?
|We got poured on that night, and so the next morning we took the liberty|
to air out our sodden tents beneath the overhang of the
Kennicott Wilderness Guides...
|...which had this irresistibly cute flower sitting aside its front door.|
The Richardson Highway
|Between Mileposts 135 & 136, Craig and I came across the most unique|
shoulder rubbish I have yet to come across.
Here Craig is propping up the roadside find with his foot,
for scale, of course.
|There's even a wire attached! This roadside rubbish vibrates!|
I commented to Craig that the Alaskan ladies must be lonely.
Craig corrected me; certainly this was owned by an Alaskan man.
|Just one more photo of the roadside treasure -- a more artsy photo.|
|Just as we pulled into the Meier's Lake Roadhouse, all hell|
broke loose from the skies. We ditched our bikes and ran inside.
|Here's the adorable little cabin we stayed in for the night. |
The most wonderful things about this cabin were the roof and the walls;
a solid roof over our heads and solid walls around our sides
ensured a dry and warm night!
|I loved this little cabin in the grass outside the bigger cabin.|
|Linda's hospitality was amazing.|
We left this note for her in her guestbook.
Thank you, Linda, for being our road angel!
|Every time I saw these Caribou Crossing signs,|
I was troubled by the perspective;
it looks as though these guys have TV antennas strapped to their noggins.
|Speaking of large creatures...we saw lots of 'em.|
I won't bore you with wildlife photos except for this one -- my favorite -- of a moose.
To be continued...