Labor Day: Balls Deep in the Alaska Range

Discussion in 'Day Trippin'' started by PistonPants, Sep 8, 2009.

  1. PistonPants

    PistonPants Crankcase Scavenger

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    467
    Location:
    Cantwell, AK
    Hello again. Yesterday the Shutter Monkey and I did a ride into the Alaska Range Backcountry. We'd been planning this one for some time and both had Labor Day off. Naturally the Monkey's Gas-Gas needed repairs the night before to be in shape for a serious adventure. The front wheel bearings were shot and we spent some shop time replacing them. At that point, a massive thunderstorm broke loose and poured about 4" over the course of the next 5 hours. The weather left me wondering if conditions would permit a full day ride into the mountains.

    It quit raining after midnight and Monday morning saw clouds breaking up, blue skies and sunshine. Gassed up, oiled and packed we leave home at 10:00.
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    Fall colors are hitting their peak here in our corner of the Range. Up the road, cross the river and into the woods.
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    Things were a bit juicy from the rain making the going slick and muddy. Schist creek was deeper than normal, and Shutter missed a shift and had to fill his boot with water to start off with wet feet.
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    Before paying the price of admission, we rode out to a beach along the Nenana where Shutter emptied out his boot and wrung out his socks.
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    Incidentallt the yellow plastic is an aftermarket radiator overflow reservior. Gas-Gas OEM is under the seat and holds 6oz tops. The prestone bottle gives Shutter at least 3 overheats before adding more coolant. Spaniards.

    Sufficiently dried out, we assault the price of admission hill. It takes me three attempts to get up, but the Monkey styles it first try!
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    The scenery is just eye-popping! I took over 100 pictures and Shutter Monkey did about 140. But he's a pro and uses FILM!:huh

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    Always good to bust above tree line and get out of the bottomlands, especially this time since ATV traffic (hunters) made the trail extra squishy.

    Up on top the alpine tundra is absolutely electric with fall color!
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    The clouds from the previous nights storm burning off were nice too.
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    At this juncture we decide on where to (try to) go. Previous reports that I've posted of this area took us into the third cirque in the Range (heading east), the uppermost at the headwaters of Scist creek, and the easiest to ascend. After surveying the landscape and discussion and debate we decide that the first cirque looks doable.

    Out here there is no trail. I've called it omnitracking before (opposite of singletrack) but that's not entirely accurate. While you can see all of the landscape and can tell there is good riding 'over there', that doesn't neccesarily mean you can get there or find a way to get there. Size and distance are deceptive. Hills that seem ridable from a distance turn out to be stoppers when you get close. Thick brush and swamps also lurk out there to stop progress. You develop a knack for this kind of route finding.

    Pretty simple: we backtrack to the west find a way to cross Schist Creek and get out of its beaver dam maze, more open country to the foot of the 'ramp'. Ascend the ramp, shoot a short hill, up the ridge and its smooth (boulder studded) alpine omnitrack all the way up to the cirque. Easy.

    Well, the drop into the creek to find a crossing took a few tries to do any better than the 'hill of no return' into beaver swamp. but we found success.
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    Here the Shutter Monkey shows off his bushwhack style.
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    Park the bikes and scout on foot.
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    We poke around and find a crossing, not too swampy inspite of numerous beaver dams. make our way out of the creek bottom and approach the ramp that begins the climb.
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    Time for lunch:
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    All the calories a growing boy needs to flog a dirtbike up a 1500' trackless alpine climb.

    At the top of the ramp, the climb to the next level proved more serious than we thought. I attempted to side-hill around once and a few full frontal assaults and got denied. Finally one more attempt to side hill to a spot where the gradient let up met success. Here the Shutter Monkey pulls the last slope. The Ramp is behind him.
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    This photo taken on the descent shows the hill up from the ramp.
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    Bikes up on top, time to climb some more.
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    Up, Up, Up! Don't let your gaping at the jaw dropping scenery draw your attention away from the boulder in front of your tire.
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    I'm fairly certain that nobody has ever ridden a motorcycle here before.:D

    Top of the next hill.
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    Cross the rocky stream and climb higher.
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    Top of the next hill:
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    Cross the alpine meadow and climb higher. Addicted to altitude.
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    Shutter is down there somewhere....
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    This is as high as I reasonably dare to go. Maybe if I was a factory Beta trials rider I'd get some more....

    Caribou come here.
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    The landscape photographer having his mind blown.
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    4400' above sea level
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    An alpine lake sits in the cirque.
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    The stream that tumbles out from the lake.
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    Now the sky becomes dark and ominous. The wind picks up. Last nights lightning and thunder makes me paranoid about being high in the mountains. Time to get down. Shutter Monkey descends from the lake.
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    #1
  2. AKJason

    AKJason Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2006
    Oddometer:
    53
    Location:
    Alaska
    Awesome pictures and nice boondocking! :clap
    #2
  3. PistonPants

    PistonPants Crankcase Scavenger

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    467
    Location:
    Cantwell, AK
    Shutter Monkey's descent:
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    Looking back at the cirque:
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    By now the threat of getting hammered by a storm has passed and the sunshine feels great.
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    The descent down the ramp:
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    Back across the creek and on familiar terrain, the first cirque in the background.
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    Happy Campers!

    Now it begins to rain on us. I suggest we stop. The rainbow begins to form.
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    If it hadn't been sweet enough up til now....
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    Shutter Monkey, his Gas-Gas and his beloved Nikon F2:
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    To the south: northern fringe of the Talkeetna Mtns on the other side of the Denali Highway.
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    At this point Piston gets all misty because the Shutter Monkey has to head south to Arkansas this week and we wont be seeing him again til next May.:cry We wish all the best and a safe trip. Taking a Gas-Gas through BC. Lucky bastard. And for the final icing on the cake the clouds out to the west put on a show suitable for the second coming of Jebus Hisself.
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    The dark object waaayy back there on the left of the above frame is the South Peak of Denali. The clouds eventually parted to allow a view of both peaks:D After that, it was time to go. I was channeling David Knight on the way home. Fast is good. Why the hurry to get back home???
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    We Keeps it REAL! Livin Large:freaky

    Peace

    Piston
    #3
  4. treysmagna

    treysmagna Bald is beautiful

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    684
    Location:
    Houston, Texas
    Awesome photograpy and ride report! I wish I were there!
    #4
  5. BlackHammer

    BlackHammer Celtic Canadian

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2009
    Oddometer:
    131
    Location:
    Left Coast ---Canada
    Great shots .......until the last one with the "hot dogs" boiling in the water , next time a well placed rubber ducky please ..........:lol3
    #5
  6. earthroamer

    earthroamer Stuck in Pindadesh

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,045
    Location:
    SoCal
    Stunning photography!! Thanks for taking us along.
    #6
  7. screamin injin

    screamin injin FUBAR

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,519
    Location:
    Norfolk, VA

    +1
    #7
  8. taranaki

    taranaki statale

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,409
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Good onya for including the soak photo.


    What a great way to wrap up the day with your buddy!
    #8
  9. PistonPants

    PistonPants Crankcase Scavenger

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    467
    Location:
    Cantwell, AK
    They don't make rubber duckies big enough
    #9
  10. Fe Man

    Fe Man I am Iron Moran!

    Joined:
    May 29, 2008
    Oddometer:
    8,564
    Location:
    Moran Nation, N. Atlanta Outpost
    Awesome pics and
    +2 on the twig and berries; kinda; gives "balls deep" a different meaning

    Left AK in '99, miss it every day!

    Any termination dust yet?
    #10
  11. kodiakfrank

    kodiakfrank Gloria's Cheerleader

    Joined:
    May 23, 2004
    Oddometer:
    9,625
    Location:
    Exiled to Flatghanistan
    Great report and shots! :clap
    #11
  12. Buffalo Bill

    Buffalo Bill kickthetire.litethefire

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2006
    Oddometer:
    997
    Location:
    North Idaho
    Unbelievable Landscape and nice job taking the photos.....:clap

    Did a ride thru there a few years ago...Awesome..

    You guys some lucky MOFOS to have that country to ride in.....

    Be nice to see some photos of that landscape in a couple months
    from now..:lol3

    Thanks for posting...

    BB
    #12
  13. locorider

    locorider Loco, pero no estúpido!

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,717
    Location:
    Puerto Rico, U.S.A.
    You guys are awesome! Great pics...:clap
    #13
  14. Lucky Intervale

    Lucky Intervale Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    124
    Location:
    Forest Hill Country Club
    So is this why people leave the NJ/PA area? That's some pretty amazing stuff y'all... thanks for the tour! As for the tubbing, you guys are "just that hard core...":bow

    PEACE!
    #14
  15. FatherX

    FatherX Pathmender

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,593
    Location:
    NE Ohio,USA
    jk

    WOW.

    Alaska get's way overdone but then YOU guys come along.

    There don't seem to be trails on alot of what your riding???

    Fresh powder/First tracks kinda stuff

    WOW
    Thanks
    #15
  16. prometheus rising

    prometheus rising Ghost In The Machine

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    786
    Sweet RR !!! Your photography is outstanding:clap :clap :clap
    #16
  17. windburn

    windburn Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,194
    Location:
    The Willamette Valley, Oregon
    Alaska, The Great land, these are pics that separate from the ordinary. A great ride report.
    Thanks for posting :clap
    #17
  18. Gaston Gagne

    Gaston Gagne Past Easy

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,098
    Location:
    Western Piedmont, NC
    Nice shots! That looks like some cool trackless riding. Nice fall colors.

    How come no shots of the creek crossing?

    Even in NC, there were places that were looking very autumnal.
    #18
  19. PistonPants

    PistonPants Crankcase Scavenger

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    467
    Location:
    Cantwell, AK
    Thanks everyone for the good words. I appreciate all who check my posts and enjoy my stuff. ADV Rocks!

    Piston
    #19
  20. AKoffroader

    AKoffroader Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    496
    Location:
    Chugiak Alaska
    Now that is my kind of "dual sport" riding. I'd love to throw a 12 tooth counter shaft sprocket on and ride up there sometime.

    Greg
    #20