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. Fall colors are hitting their peak here in our corner of the Range. Up the road, cross the river and into the woods. 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. 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. 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! 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 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! The clouds from the previous nights storm burning off were nice too. 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. Here the Shutter Monkey shows off his bushwhack style. Park the bikes and scout on foot. 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. Time for lunch: 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. This photo taken on the descent shows the hill up from the ramp. Bikes up on top, time to climb some more. 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. I'm fairly certain that nobody has ever ridden a motorcycle here before. Top of the next hill. Cross the rocky stream and climb higher. Top of the next hill: Cross the alpine meadow and climb higher. Addicted to altitude. Shutter is down there somewhere.... 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. The landscape photographer having his mind blown. 4400' above sea level An alpine lake sits in the cirque. The stream that tumbles out from the lake. 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.