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Old 10-08-2011, 09:53 PM   #31
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Joined: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle-ish
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Cool2 "Sorry, were you in the middle of something?"

The plan was to grab a campsite at Chilkat State Park. We scoped out the sites, and discovered they were all full. As we pondered our next move, a German couple invited us to join them at their site. They were traveling around the US and Canada, and had grabbed the last open site...there was plenty of room for everyone. We made quick introductions - Joana is an opera singer, Stefan is a mechanic, we were on German motorbikes, lived in Seattle - and we settled in for the night. It would only be the third night I was able to use hammock on the trip, which received a great deal interest from our hosts.

Hammock in Haines: WarBonnet Blackbird, Big Mama tarp, Yeti underquilt

Upon waking up and doing the morning routine, I return to my hammock see one...two...three shapes move through the trees about 30 yards away. Um, is that, um, yes, bears. Grizzly. Mama and two cubs. I stand on the picnic table for a better look. She looks at me. Um, I'm now thinking I better do something more than gawk. Everyone else is still asleep. I check to see if the rental car is unlocked, in case I have to get inside. Locked. She looks at me again, rambles to the side, and flops herself down in a small opening. I grab my camera from the bike.

Here's the campsite, get a fix on the left tree supporting the hammock...

...Mama bear is the light brown shape in the middle of the picture, just left of the tree with the supporting straps.

A couple of other campers appeared at the driveway entrance with telephoto lenses, looking for photo ops. Apparently she and the cubs rambled across the entire park, and had attracted attention. I turn to look for her again, and she's gone. Alas, I only had the 17-40 zoom on the camera, which explains the wide perspective, I wasn't able to get to the 70-200 in time. After all, how often do you expect a grizzly bear and cubs to gallop past your campsite…?

Also for you photographers out there, Joana also shoots Canon, and let me borrow her newly acquired fisheye lens, which was a lot of fun to play with. It was my first time with a fisheye, and quickly learned that you could easily capture your feet in an feet if you shoot below a horizontal angle. The hammock pic above was taken with the fisheye, and so are these next few.

Brady offers his morning look

Brady's tent

My submission photo to GQ. Hm, I haven't heard back yet.

More fisheye fun

We broke up camp and headed into town to purchase supplies for the ferry ride. Haines sits right on the water, overseen by snow capped mountains.

Welcome to Haines

Mountains over Haines

After fueling up with excellent burritos at Bear-Rittos Eatery, we had time to kill before the 5pm boarding, we head back to Chilkat to see if we can get another view of bears. Right away we find Mama Bear. Turns out she is a well known local, about 7-8 years old, now on the second year of her second set of cubs. The second year means it's the last year under Mama's care, and she kicks them out of the house at the end of the summer, so she is teaching them how to fish.

The cub had just swiped a fish from Mama on the right

I asked this gentleman where his car was, because I was going in it if Mama came out of the water.

Up until this time, although we were well aware of a grizzly's power and speed, we hadn't really seen it in action. We had seen her do a short gallop and flop around, and her fishing skills appeared effortless (look around the water, stick her head in, come out with a big salmon, elapsed time 30-45 seconds). The cubs would mew and whine for some food while she munched on a salmon. One of them slid in cautiously, whining, got in close, in a flash Mama would deliver a tremendous swipe at the cub's head, she was incredibly fast, then roar to the sky. The cub quickly recovered from the blow and swiped the fish while Mom was lecturing. Then the other cub did the same routine - slide in, whine, get clobbered, grab the fish, get a lecture. The entire crowd of people watching, perhaps 30 total at the peak, were impressed. I think we even all stepped back a foot or two when we saw that first swipe. Brady never took his helmet off, just in case they came quickly out of the water. We did see a cub grab its own fish later, and watched it prance around the rocks to celebrate.

Then it was time to get in line for the ferry.

Bikes line up for the ferry ride to Bellingham
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Old 10-09-2011, 09:12 AM   #32
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Another post with a great bear story! Glad your's also had a positive end. Great ride report! It's great to relive my trip and the scenery through another's unique viewpoint and photos.
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Old 10-10-2011, 09:13 PM   #33
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Cool2 "I'm on a boat, I'm on a boat, I'm on a..."

Here was our home for the next 4 days…

The ferry M.V. Columbia crosses the Lynn fjord in Haines

The M.V. Columbia in port at Haines

Bike parking on the Columbia - bring your own tie-downs.

We took the lower deck - out of the rain, a bit noisy, protected from wind. Although beware of basement flooding.

Anticipation was high for the Inside Passage, and I kept bouncing around the decks firing the shutter on my camera, finishing with almost 500 images by the time we docked in Bellingham.

Let me share a few of the good ones here…

Clouds and fog over the Inside Passage

Container ship on the Inside Passage

What caused this...?

Blue sky, big sea

Rear view from the Columbia

The Tongass National Forest is the largest forest in the United States, covering over 5.7M acres, with 19 different designated wilderness areas. It's simply immense, and traveling by boat is one of the best ways to appreciate it. We saw whales, sea otters, swimming deer, and orca. We saw no bear, but would steer people to a recent article in National Geographic magazine to read about the rare 'spirit bear', which is a black bear born with white fur. Fascinating stuff.

We also ran into some great people on the ferry...quick shout outs to Rich, Don, and Steve…

Brady, Rich, Steve, and Don at the Ocean View in Ketchikan

Here are a few composites for additional local color...

Lighthouses on the Inside Passage

Red on right, green ahead

If anyone is interested in seeing more of the Inside Passage, MSNBC did a nice photo essay over the summer, worth a scan.

After landing in Bellingham, it was a quick scamper home, and we called it a wrap: 5100 miles, 50GB of media to wade through, and time to power scrub the bike.
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Old 10-10-2011, 09:17 PM   #34
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would you do the 4 day ferry ride again or did you miss riding?
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Old 10-11-2011, 07:21 AM   #35
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Here's the way I look at it today and share with others...
  • If you've never been along the Inside Passage, it's a must see at least once. It's area of the continent and even the world that you best see via water and air.
  • That said, it's a four day journey where you go from 70 mph piloting your own destiny (so to speak) down to 10 knots where you're a passenger. I missed riding, and that was balanced by the excitment of the water and seeing the Tongass and wildlife go by. I was getting twitchy after day 3 to get back on the bike.
  • I also would do it again - each passage can be radically dependent on the weather, so you could have a different journey every time. Cross your fingers for good weather of course, doing the full 4 days in steady rain would be a drag.
  • Although I didn't mention this in the ride report, it's a toss up whether to spend nights in the solarium or pitch a tent. Pros and cons on both sides there: privacy vs. noise vs. weather, depends what you're in the mood for. Whatever the selection, pick a spot fast once you're on the boat!
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Old 10-11-2011, 07:57 AM   #36
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We thought about taking the 4 day ferry but in the end decided to ride and take some of the ferry's up north for the experience. I think one day for the cost of the ferry ride with just the bikes and us we might take a cruise... You are so right about the weather and how it can change where you just came from. I bet if we were to ride our exact same route it would look completely different pending on the time of year and weather too. The beauty of the north!

Thanks for the RR!
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Old 10-13-2011, 09:20 PM   #37
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Okay ride report fans, one more post before we kick this thread off to smolder among the dark corners of the ADV archives. Thanks for following along with us on our summer sojourn. We're going to start the closing credits with this late breaking video from James, who spent 20 hours (?!) at the video editing desk pulling together day 2 of our Dalton Highway adventures. James spliced together footage from my GoPro into his video capture, tossed in some beautiful weather, and provided an urban beat mix of "Up, Up, and Away" that would do the Fifth Dimension proud.

And if any of you fans are long distance RTW types, you can catch up with James at the Horizons Unlimited meeting this weekend in Cambria, CA. He'll be the one with the red GSA and the slick UK vinyl covering dressing up his gas desk.

Check out the video and give James a "Like" button punch if you are so inclined...
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Old 10-13-2011, 11:42 PM   #38
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Great RR. Thanks for posting.
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Old 10-14-2011, 09:04 AM   #39
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Makes me dizzy

But I like that!
And nobody fell.
Good deal!
I am assuming some of those blue jeans were the armored kind?
Outstanding RR!
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Old 05-06-2012, 04:19 AM   #40
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Location: Homestead, Florida
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Just stumbled on your RR. Great report, one of these days I need to finish mine. Sitting here stuck at work on a Sunday really has me itching for another long trip.

I was up there at the same time frame as you guys last year, I made Fairbanks on July 9, tires and oil change on the 10th, Denali Highway on the 11th, and then made the run to Deadhorse on the 12th.. Actually Matt and Jason (BBT 2011 Tour Guys) were like 2 days behind me leaving out of Atlanta, I left Homestead, FLA on Thursday, they left ATL on Saturday. I opted to stay in Fairbanks an extra day an stick with my original plans for lodging and the Arctic Ocean trip in Prudhoe. Was a good and bad decision, I had a great weather day for the Denali, but the ride up to Deadhorse was in the rain and then back to Coldfoot in the rain also!!

Lesson learned, if you got a clear day to roll to Deadhorse, do it, and alter the rest of your plans!!!!!!! The ride from Coldfoot down was amazing since the skies were clear. But I did make the best of the rainy ride up and have some really neat pictures of the storm system. Althought 14 hrs in the rain riding in mucky wore me down just a bit!!! Enjoy.......hoping to make it back in 2014.

FLARider1 screwed with this post 05-06-2012 at 04:25 AM
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Old 05-10-2012, 11:14 PM   #41
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Hey, thanks for dropping a note. Sounds like we were just a few days ahead of you. Great trip. I'm looking back now and realizing we really scored with the weather and timing on the Dalton...we had a couple of big downpours that were short lived, and a lot of sunny skies.

I'm planning to do the WABDR this summer, and perhaps another big trip next year. Not sure which continent yet.

Ride safe out there...
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Old 05-11-2012, 02:17 PM   #42
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Great report, glad it got bumped, makes me relive my trip all over again. Loved the shots you got of the road to Haines, some beautiful countryside, wished I had took some pics of it but I was still cold and damp from the monsoon the day before and was just making tracks to get to the ferry.
I thought the 4 day ferry ride was quite enjoyable, nice way to unwind after long days on the bike.
Thanks for posting, the videos too, were excellent.
My Alaskan ride

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