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Alcan to the South East...cycling companions and bears

USA | Saturday, 12 July 2008 | Views [3513] | Comments [2]

early morning near Burwash landing on Kluane Lake

early morning near Burwash landing on Kluane Lake

It was a bit hard to leave Fairbanks. We had been welcomed so warmly and had a wonderful time under the wings of Dan and Lisa in their logcabin. During the summer solstice weekend we enjoyed a 2-day hike on the Pinnell Mountain trail together with them, Pat and Jeremy. The first day gave clear and far views over hills, small herds of caribou, hoary marmots 'whistling' from rocky outcrops, colourful white, pink, yellow, purple and blue alpine flowers and a never setting sun. The second day became a bit of a challenge, when a big thunderstorm passed over the ridges we were to walk. We could see lightning close to the ridgeline, but circumnavigating the higher regions kept us clear, and made for a cool walk. 

On our last night, Dan and Lisa organised a BBQ at their place, and we met some of their friends with interesting backgrounds and admirable lifestyles.

Not long after we left we met Richard, a cyclist from Fryslan, with whom we rode for 4 days. It was inspiring to cycle with a likeminded companion, and interesting to share our different styles in riding and camping. Richard enjoyed our sometimes lengthy lunches, relaxing in the sun with fresh fruit and veg, his stong pedal stroke and 'dig into it' way pulled us through some long days; sharing stories, music and laughter made the days fly by.

Our ways parted in Tok, where we continued east, to the Canadian border. The hills a bit steadier, but we felt stronger after trying to chase Richard up the hills, and tried to keep up our 'Richard style'!

After crossing the Yukon border, the scenery changed, with snowpeaked mountains on either side of the road for the following ten days riding. We finally met our long sought outdoor friend, the bear. In two days time we saw two grizzlies and two black bears, all right next to the road. We were both in awe of especially the latter, with its beautiful coat shining like black silk in the sun.

They didn't seem to mind us too much, just looked up when we passed and then continued eating grass or berries. More so than the 'real thing', we saw their poo, in generous amounts piled upon the road, black, green and brown.

Besides bears, we saw hundreds of RV's (recreational vehicles or campervans), some come small, most come large. We're talking RV's the size of a touring bus, and then still with a trailer or 4WD towed behind it. We sometimes cannot but feel irritated by the these excessive modes of transport, especially when the passengers sympathise at rest-stops and say "jee, you look like you're weighed down on those bicycles".

On the Alcan, many many services have closed in recent years, and due to our vintage handbook and milepost (a travel guide), we suddenly found ourselves out of food. A very generous couple, Dave and Janice, provided us with mueslibars and lunch, and in one big day we made it to Haines Junction.

In Haines Junction we turned South on the Haines Highway, and rode uphill into a straight headwind for three days. This made for both a physical and mental challenge, the pedal stroke heavy and the continuous sound of wind making it seem stronger than it really is. But again, the scenery made up for it, our last time on alpine tundra.

After the Chilkat pass it was all down, 18 km of sheer riding bliss. Suddenly all life seemed to be on steroids, the trees huge, the pink fireweed tall, beautiful bald eagles soaring the skies. The sight of a moose crossing the road with twin calves made our day.

In Haines, a beautiful village perched in a fjord, we took a few days much needed rest. Camped just beside the sea, we enjoyed the company of some fellow cyclists, river/ mouintain guides and homeless people, an interesting mix.

Eric from Colorado brightened up the day and accompanied us on a walk up Mt Riley. He's a history teacher and really passionate about life, politics, the war, firearms, nature, music, cycling and many more things. We learn and sponge up his stories.

So really, these weeks have not just been about the ride, but about seeing, listening and talking to people, some like-minded, some not. It's fun to see what feelings others bring about in oneself.

Now we are in Juneau, the capital of Alaska. Last night Arnout has joined us and for the next three weeks we will be descending the Inside Passage to Vancouver Island.

Love from the north

Anna and Ali


Tags: alaska, bears, cycling, cycling friends, lakes, mountains, usa, wildlife



Dear A-team,
3 man strong this time ;)
how was the passage to vancouver island with arnout? It is great to read your stories, and i am glad the bears turn out to be friendly and the fact that you can enjoy their poo.
i was also fond of this part:
"So really, these weeks have not just been about the ride, but about seeing, listening and talking to people, some like-minded, some not. It's fun to see what feelings others bring about in oneself."
could you give me an example of a like-minded person and one not - what it brought about?
Thank you so much for the painting again!!! I like flowing forms, likeness and still room for imagination :)
I looked up the Redwoods, it would be great to join you there. But my primary goal is to visit you 2 and to experience your lifestyle. i plan to come around christmas time - meaning i've got extra time to come, since the free holidays. I am not quite sure, but 2-3 weeks hopefully (last 2 wks dec, 1st of jan). Anna, you mentioned your old bike here in storage. What would be wisest: renting a bike there or borrowing and transferring your bike?
enjoy, xx caro

  coen Jul 20, 2008 7:36 PM


just great pics , very excentric peisages and wildlife.
such a great post , thnx for sharing dear author

  olaf May 19, 2010 12:35 AM

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