Chasing Summer

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Jean-Luc, Aug 25, 2007.

  1. Popey

    Popey Nutter

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    Great updates fellas. Glad to hear all is well.

    Hmmm, an 11 hour Denali bus jaunt to Kantishna. This might try someone's patience a bit...:augie :D :lurk
    #81
  2. Whammo

    Whammo Nature's toothbrush

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    Good job, guys!!!
    I see the towels...did you join the "club"?

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    Keep it coming...
    #82
  3. dirtrider

    dirtrider Dusty Adventurer

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    Awesome so far.

    Looking forward to the rest.
    #83
  4. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    You're so right about that :nod

    I'm definitely not calling for more breakdowns or troubles but yes, they often do bring opportunities.
    #84
  5. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    I have no idea on what you're talking about :norton

    :lol3

    Yes, we were a bit afraid about the tour, especially since we had read on this board horror stories about the hordes of tourist and all. We decided to go anyway despite the early start (7:30 AM :huh) because we knew we could stop at any point, go for a hike (although there are no trails) or just wait for the next bus to come back. It was...

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    The bus was not full and the bus driver was really nice with 11 years of experience doing this tour. The reason why the tour takes that long is that the bus stops every time someone sees wild life around and then stays for us to observe the animals quietly. We had a cool group of guys who were excellent “spotters” and that was great because, no matter how good is my vision, I would have missed 90% of the animals. And we saw many! Most were pretty far away like these Moose Mum and kid...

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    Or those Caribous...

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    Luckily some people shared their binoculars with us.

    We had the rare luck of seeing the Mt McKinley with no clouds at all.

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    Yes, there were many restroom stops (once every hour) but we enjoyed them for stretching our legs and because they were usually located in scenic areas like this one:

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    In some of those rest stops, especially in the first sections there could be up to 4 bus together but the rest of the time we were never bothered by the amount of people.

    I know that the picture is lame but seeing that mother Grizzly with her 2 six months cubs running around was really enjoyable.

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    We saw also mountain sheeps...

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    Golden Eagles...

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    This still young Grizzly was really close and we were able to admire it for a long time!

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    We saw about 10 Grizzlies that day! Most of them were buzy eating just as many berries as they could (I heard 200,000 a day :eek1 ) to prepare for the winter. The Grizzlies here at smaller than in the South were they eat a lot of fatty salmons.

    The scenery by itself was worth the trip

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    The road itself was sometimes quite adventurous

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    ... and full of surprises like this huge Caribou who scared our bus driver on a blind turn

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    Seing the Mt McKinley so much higher (20,320 ft / 6,200 m) than anything around was really impressive!

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    We finally arrived at Wonder Lake, 85 miles down the road. The lake by itself is beautiful but has nothing special. Wait... is this a Polar Bear? :huh

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    Since we had a 45 mn stop we did a little hike. Since they are no trails you better have a compass (or GPS) for any serious hike!). As you can see, the ground was incredibly soft (like a 10-inch thick foam) in this place.

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    It was just as beautiful from close-up.

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    We didn't eat those mushrooms but had many delicious blueberries and red ones too.

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    Time to go back on our way with some more scenery and animal pictures...

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    Needless to say that we really loved that bus trip and for animal viewing it was a much better option than riding.
    <o:p></o:p>
    #85
  6. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    Another scenic trip in perspective today with a plane tour around Mt Mc Kinley! Despite the cost it came highly recommended my several estimated people from this board :D.

    We first ride a couple of hours to Talkeetna a pretty neat little town, the base for most climbings to the Mc Kinley and of course for the flights. There are several formulas but we choose the one going on top of the mount. No glacier landing at this time of the year though: the ice is too soft.

    A nice 10-seats plane (including the pilot) with 8 people on board for this flight.

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    Pretty exciting!

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    We're getting closer!

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    It was so spectacular, absolutely breathtaking! And yes, I took many pictures so I'll do my best to only keep a small selection...

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    Mount McKinley

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    We see clearly on this one the main glacier fed by smaller 'ice rivers'. But before to join the flow they also push a good amount to rocks that get trapped between the flows, dark separation lines on the white ice.

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    We are still climbing and climbing...

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    Half way we have to put oxygen masks since the cabin is not pressurized. And we're still far from seeing the top!

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    Finally we're there, at 6,200 m and the plane will even go between the 2 summits - the rounder being the highest.

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    The glaciers and other mounts seem so far away view from the summit

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    Almost unreal...

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    It's easy to see on this picture the erosion/abrasion created by the glaciers. Easy also to see that their depth has decreased considerably lately (about 1 meter a year!)

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    That explains why there are no climbers at this time of the year.

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    Sharp summits and glaciers: c'est magnifique :wink:

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    I was so captivated by the views that I forgot most of the details except that the main glaciers were 30 and 45 miles long :eek1.

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    A few close-up

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    At the end of the glacier, almost becoming a moraine

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    Rivers form under the glaciers or, in this case, on it.

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    I hope that was not too many aerial pictures especially since they can't give a good idea of the scale. There were times when I thought we could almost touch the snow with the tip of our wing but the pilot explained that we were quite far, it's just that the mountain is so big that it appears very close. Anyway, highly recommended, and almost mandatory on a beautiful day like this one :deal.

    But our day is not over... still dreaming about the images we saw we're now heading South towards Anchorage. Parks Hwy continues to be very scenic.

    At willow we take a dirt road that follow a river and after a while start to explore for a place to sleep.

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    We finally find a good spot with a view on the river

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    Where we were gratified by an amazing Alaskan sunset

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    Yes, it was that red! - untouched picture

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    #86
  7. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    Only one pic today :huh. It's on the beautiful pass that we went over continuing the dirt road where we camped.

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    We arrived on the morning in Anchorage. We couldn't find any charm to it but decided to stay there one night, at the cheapest hotel we could find. They didn't have internet but there was "a place in the breackfast room where clients were able to get WIFI from a closeby location" :lol3. Let's go with that, even if our room was underground. At least we were able to do our laundry. I spent most of my time updating the thread there while Teryk was working in putting together an 'Anchorage by night' guide book :wink:.
    #87
  8. Zen Slug

    Zen Slug Spineless Adventurer

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    don't you see bears all the time in san francisco?






    :lol3
    #88
  9. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    They are not as fancily dressed :evil
    #89
  10. Zen Slug

    Zen Slug Spineless Adventurer

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    is that a rev'it cayenne jacket you wear? those rev'it pants as well? just bought a used cayenne and while it's a little hot for southern california i think it would be perfect for this kind of trip. i'm curious if you brought the liners or just layer other stuff with it.


    :ear
    #90
  11. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    Yes. I didn't know the brand 6 months ago but Scuderia recommended them and their gear is extremely well designed.
    They have 2 liners: a 'gore-tex' one and a thermal one. I brought both but I'm mostly using the gore-tex one. For South-America I will not bring the thermal liners (even if it will be just as cold at times): IMO it makes more sense to have more versatile layers, that you could wear without your mortorcycle gear for example. The jacket's gore-tex liner is pretty cool that way since I can wear it without the jacket (if you don't mind the odd look :wink:).

    More update on the waterproofness of the gear later on this trip :evil
    #91
  12. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    The famous <st1:place w:st="on">Kenai Peninsula</st1:place> is in our program today. The road South of Anchorage bordering the water (Turnagain Arm) is spectacular! It&#8217;s impressive to see on the other side of the water the high and steep mountains of the <st1:place w:st="on">Kenai Peninsula</st1:place>, often separated by glaciers. The reflection of them on the calm water at low tide is gorgeous. We had the sun facing us (and were enjoying the ride too much :D) and so I have only one picture of this great section:

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    As can be seen on the map the peninsula' mountains are located in the east side and so the road continues to be beautiful, even though more clouds are now in the sky.

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    Indeed, it looks like the weather might change (and Kenai is supposed to one of the rainiest place in Alaska) so we&#8217;re hurrying to Homer that&#8217;s supposed to be a great place to stay.

    Mid-way, it&#8217;s still green and hilly. The road follows a river and we see dozen of fly-fishermen. The more West we go the flatter and less interesting the road is. On the West side of the peninsula the road follows the coast going South and it&#8217;s nice to have glimpses of another sea arm, the Cook Inlet.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    The arrival on Homer is almost a shock: appearing suddenly on the horizon are high mountains with a couple of glaciers separated from Homer by the Cook Inlet. If Homer itself is not really impressive the site where it&#8217;s located certainly is!

    It was too dark for a good picture but you can see like a long earth peer going towards the mountains: it's the 'Spit'.

    Homer is now 2 'separate towns': the real one inland and the harbor on the Spit with tourist accomodations and restaurants. That's where we go first:

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    Here we are, at the very tip of the Spit

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    You can camp (for a fee) on the beach at the Spit and so we decide to stay there for the night. Hard to beat the view!

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    The Spit was a bit strange to me: a mix or a real working environment (the harbor) and some very touristy places. All that mixed with an &#8216;end of the season&#8217; atmosphere and some dark clouds&#8230; Not exactly the place I was expecting but cool nonetheless. We take a walk around&#8230; <o:p></o:p>

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    We get a locally brewed beer at the 'famous' Salty Dawg Saloon

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    Some oddities...

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    The 'campground' was all but crowded...

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    There was a couple of hitchhickers camping not too far and we ended up sharing their fire camp and bourbon. The guy was especially interesting and it was cool to listen to him singing and playing guitar at night...

    (That's it for today's updates! This #%&@ Internet cafe doesn't let me upload pictures so I can go further for now... :wave)
    #92
  13. cRAsH

    cRAsH Banned

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    :wave
    #93
  14. boyscout

    boyscout sittin' down

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    Let the record show that I suspected it was a choke problem in Dead Horse but Jean-Luc the impatient had his helmet on and bike idling and would have nothing to do with attempting to problem solve the bike there.

    What JL's pictures don't show is me lying on my tank to reduce my wind profile and save gas for much of the 500 mile trip back on the Dalton. I never removed the carb to do the head. It was likely something that was broken for awhile by the look of it, it probably just vibrated loose and became worse on the Dalton.


    #94
  15. boyscout

    boyscout sittin' down

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    Hey cRAsH. How'z it hangin?
    #95
  16. rapiti

    rapiti IOR Veteran

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    Isn't the internet great? :lol3

    Anyway, glad the problem is resolved. The plastic threaded bit is a bit dodgy. If your fix isn't permanent, I can mail you a used choke cable assembly. Conversely, some of the confident morons in Wooshington might be able to help on your way south. :wave Hiya Chris!
    #96
  17. cRAsH

    cRAsH Banned

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    Hiya T.
    Looks like an epic ride, my friends. :thumb
    #97
  18. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

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    Thanks for sharing a great trip guys. Hopefully I retire in 1.5 years and aim myself in a NW Canada/ Southern Alaska direction.
    #98
  19. banshee

    banshee hi

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    amazing way to spend my morning with some coffee reading your report. I really enjoy your writing and pictures JL - you too Boyscout :smooch

    Gold Panning Championship! who knew? I think the dragonfly pic is my favorite. ride! :thumb

    :lurk
    #99
  20. Lobby

    Lobby Viel Spass, Vato!

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    Just wonderful. :bow