Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Days 22-24: More southern Alaska

Day 22: Exit Glacier to Copper Center

Southern Alaska is still wet. Nothing like waking up to find that your tent is in the middle of a two-inch-deep puddle.

Probably not the smartest place to camp, granted, but I got back late after the glacier hike and didn't realize that my campsite was in a depression. Ah well. Shove the whole mess into the side cases, have another granola bar, and move on.

Turnagain arm, again.

Hm. Well, at this point, it's taking me forever to finish this ride report. So I'll dispense with most of the narrative and stick with pictures. This is probably the right approach anyhow, as my words cannot do southern Alaska justice.

Day 23: Down to Valdez

Valdez is the southern terminus of the oil pipeline. The road to Valdez ... it is hands down the most beautiful road I have ever traveled in my life. Mile upon mile of this:

And this:

And finally, this:

Day 24: Valdez to Haines

No pictures from this day, as I had a good 700 miles to make in order to reach Haines, AK in time for the ferry, which was scheduled to depart early the next morning.

I rode back north to Anchorage, then east into the Yukon Territories. Revisited the stunning Kluane Lake and its soaring mountains, and I again got to enjoy the impromptu roller coaster of the larger ice heaves.

Then to Haines Junction, YT. Had a tense dinner as I watched the clouds gather and the darkness fall. The final 150 miles to Haines would take me through some remote mountains, and snow was a serious concern.

This road is supposed to be phenomenal during the day. At night, illuminated by a near-full moon, the immensity of the silhouetted mountains rolling past me was in no way diminished. Again, I was just struck to the core by my surroundings.

Eventually, I'd descended enough that the mountains gave way to the boreal rain forest of the Alaska coastline. And fog. Thick, thick fog. Also: rain. Slowing at times to 20 mph, I crept along. Eventually crossing back into the States. Found a small park at a pull-off, and unrolled my sleeping pad and bag onto a picnic table under a rickety roof. 5 hours of shut eye, then early wakeup to head into town for the ferry. I still got wet from the rain blowing in sideways.

>>>NEXT: Heading home

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