Monday, June 18, 2007
Arrival in Anchorage
Critters Along The Way
I was surprised by all the bears I saw along the way - maybe 25 or 30 bears in all. Although I have driven the Alcan 9 times now, I don't think I have ever driven it this early in the year and that might be why there were so many bears along side the road eating greens. It was cool that I saw both black and brown bear cubs - the mama bears seemed to be so intent on filling their bellies they were amazingly tolerant of me taking pictures. As always, the best bear photos are mental ones, bears that didn't wait for me to get stopped and get my camera out before running into the woods. I only had one close call with wildlife being unexpectedly in the road, and it was deer and not really all that close - a great trip for wildlife overall.
Day three I made some good mileage despite the snow on the road here and there at the higher elevations and you can see the ice was just barely breaking up in some spots. The weather was perfect for riding and I found a decent place to camp for the night. There were lots of bear in the area (and lots of mosquitos) so I lit a fire to keep the critters at bay, large and small. Had a great nights sleep and awoke to sunny skies!
Day two was probably the best day of the trip even though I had yet more rain, severely testing my supply of dry clothes. I got a late start because of the waterlogged bike but was soon riding though Banff and Jasper Provincial Parks, amazing scenery no matter what the conditions. I only managed about 500 miles due to the late start but found a perfect campsite for the night, built a bonfire, and dried out all my gear. The woods were so soaked from the weeks of rain it took me three attempts - using gas from my bike - to get a fire started. What a glorious evening I spent! The next morning dawned clear and sunny, perfect riding weather.
The first day of riding was wet, windy and cold. I had a goal of 600 miles for the day in order to make Anchorage in 5 days but after getting started late from Bren's and pounding rains (even some snow in northern Idaho), 550 miles was all I could manage. It was about 10:30 at night and dark when I picked this little side road to drive down for my campsite. The little road ended at the control shack by the railroad tracks so that's where I set up my tent. I quickly got set up and stripped off my wet clothes (raingear only does so much, and my rain pants were shredded from the headwind and burning on my exhaust over the years and not much protection). I fell into an exhausted sleep and woke to the sound of silence - the rain had stopped!! I poked my head out of the tent and was greeted by the scene in the top picture - the river had flooded during the night and almost completely covered the little road to a depth of 2 plus feet! I had to push my bike out through the flood to the main road in water almost up to the seat and then dry it all off before it would start on the other side - a pretty exciting start to my adventure. There was an osprey nest right by where I camped which I didn't see the night before - that was a major clue there was water very near by and I would have picked a different spot. I found out later that lower British Columbia was experiencing severe flooding all over - not just at my campsite - and that many areas were applying for provincial disaster assistance. The top picture is the osprey nest - there was a mated pair that were fishing and feeding baby chicks in the nest.