Chasing Summer

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

  1. gagnaou

    gagnaou Long timer

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    Absolutely amazing!!! :lurk
  2. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    Thanks for your comments guys :thumb

    Thanks also for your offer Rapiti! The JB Weld repair seems to hold fine for now so we're going to keep it that way until we reach SF in a couple of weeks.
  3. christian

    christian Long timer

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    SAlut Jean-Luc,
    I just found this post today! man that looks good.
    Let me know when you are back to SF on the way south, I'll try to ride a bit with you guys, just for fun, yea just a day trip unfortunately.

    Anyway, have fun, ride safe!

    Christian
  4. Lone*Star

    Lone*Star Redneck loaned as SFITFN

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    Hey Guys,

    Thanks for the updates! :thumb

    Great work in getting the posts up during this great ride. I continue to be amazed at the pictures. Cool stuff. :clap

    Can't wait to hear the stories.. :freaky
  5. Zen Slug

    Zen Slug Spineless Adventurer

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    +1




    stunning shot! :norton
  6. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    Salut Christian :wave

    We'll be back in SF beginning of October so it will be fun to have that ride then.
  7. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    Thanks Lone*Star,

    Hopefully you will be soon in the pictures of this thread :wink:.
  8. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    We decide to leave Homer this morning. It has been a bit disappointing compared to what we were expecting but it might be just because it's the end of the season and the weather was not too nice. At least there is no rain yet...

    [​IMG]

    We're back on our way East towards Seward. It sprinkles a little but it's not too bad so we decide to visit the 'Exit' glacier, just before Steward.

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    It's impressive...

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    But not as much as realizing that what we're seing is only a 'tongue' of a massive ice field :eek1. What you can hardly see on this map is that the 'Exit' glacier (right bottom of the map and NW of Seward) is minuscule compared to the immensity of the glacier on top.

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    Every time we go for a hike with all our gear on we can hear interesting comments about it :lol3

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    It's a very nice trail and they put markers on how far the glacier used to go, starting maybe in 1925. It's scary to see how fast the glacier is retracting lately :huh.

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    We get to go really close to the glacier and it's quite impressive!

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    We then go to Seward for a bite to eat in an internet cafe. It's always nice to read your comments guys :D.

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    Seward seems to be a cool town but we're kind of trying to beat the threatening rain so we're leaving towards Hope, a very small town, North of the peninsula.

    It looks like time has stopped in Hope...

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    Here is dowtown Hope

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    It doesn't look like much but the road to get there is nice and there is a campground at the end of town so I would recommend the detour.

    Time to head to our last stop in the peninsula: Whittier. "During the WWII Whittier was chosen as a 'secret port' by the army because it was well hidden in a fjord and because consistently bad weather hangs over it." That I can vouch for :waysad. It started to pour rain even before we reached the 2.5 miles tunnel that leads to Whittier. Here we are trying to stay out of the rain until it's our turn to go through the tunnel.

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    Until 2000, only trains could go through but now the road is open alternatively to traffic each way going every hour.

    The metallic and wet road seems risky according to the pamphlet they give to motorcycle but the trip is quite neat!

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    Here we are in the 'center' of the town wondering where the heck there would be anything to see :dunno<st1:city w:st="on"></st1:city>.

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    I can't say we enjoyed much our stay in <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Whittier</st1:place></st1:city>. It might be because of the weather: rain and strong wind make the place rather inhospitable.

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    Nice harbor though...

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    It's 6 PM and a crostini is all we had for lunch. We decide to eat at a Chinese restaurant to plan on what&#8217;s next. We check the Lonely Planet and the notes I took from this web site: nope there is nothing in <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Whittier</st1:place></st1:city> that we may have missed. The only interest of the place is the fact that it was a &#8220;hidden&#8221; place.

    We decide to leave and depending on the weather either camp North or <st1:city w:st="on">Anchorage</st1:city> or find a cheap place in <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Anchorage</st1:place></st1:city>. We get ready to go but we check the time schedule for the tunnel first: damn, it&#8217;s too late! Now, we have to wait for the next one (each hour) at 8 PM. We spent the time in a café, the rain and the wind are not so bad seen from behind a window.

    Riding past <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Anchorage</st1:place></st1:city> to find a place to camp seems compromised now that the days are shorter so we make a reservation in a Youth Hostel. We wait in line at 8 pm sharp at the entrance of the tunnel. A message on the billboard tells us (motorcycles) to wait on another lane. The half dozen cars goes through. We wait. A couple of other cars show up and proceed. We wait while it&#8217;s still raining. 8:05 - No cars have been in sight for a while but we still have the red light. Finally, at 8:15 we got the green light. I just can&#8217;t wait to get out of this place :bluduh. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    On the other side of the tunnel, everything is better: less wind, less rain and my spirit goes up a notch. Time to go to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Anchorage</st1:city></st1:place>. Even if it&#8217;s dark with heavy clouds above us, the road is still beautiful and fun. The hostel is in the North part of <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Anchorage</st1:place></st1:city> in a not so nice neighborhood. We have a hard time finding the place but finally meet Ed, the Manager of the Hostel. He takes us to another house (the Hostel has 8 of them) because &#8220;it has a 6-foot fence and it will be better for the bikes&#8221; :huh. He shows us the house: the kitchen and laundry are fine but the bunked beds crammed in each room are not particularly appealing.

    Luckily, the lawn is just perfect for us to camp in it! $10 each and it&#8217;s all ours.

    Teryk doing some maintenance: the 640's vibrations are hard on the tail light bulb so he had put a robust LED instead. It looks that it's not robust enough!

    [​IMG]

    We meet some of the people staying there and it looks like this place is as much for &#8216;social purpose&#8217; as it is for travelers. Ed is a really nice guy and we end up speaking of the animals we&#8217;ve seen and what he does in winter etc. Turns out that he loves to hunt (like most people in Alaska) and he tells us that he has frozen some of what he hunted and fished: salmon, caribou etc. Next thing, he just proposes us if we want some samples to try. Sure! He comes back with all that!<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    <o:p>[​IMG]
    </o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p>Caribou sausages, Caribou tenderloin and bacon. Stripes of salmon marinated and smoked using 'First Nations' recipes...
    </o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    We tell him that this is way more than &#8220;samples&#8221; and that we would feel embarrassed not to pay him for that but he insists and tell us that he doesn&#8217;t have often people who traveled from that far. We can only thank him for his generosity. Then he asks us if we would know how to cook fresh fish. You bet! So a minute later he comes back with a big piece of salmon.

    [​IMG]

    It's so nice to be able to meet people that generous!<o:p></o:p>
  9. christian

    christian Long timer

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    Nice ride, that reminds me Switzerland, they have similar stuff, sometimes you have to put the bike ON the train and go.
    I like these...

    see you soon.
  10. FREDO RIDER

    FREDO RIDER Enjoying the path !

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    Excellent photo report.
    Great job !
    :clap
  11. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    It's been raining all night. At least I was able to use this huge tarp (orange, of course :D) that I bought in Dawson City.

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    After a good breackfast of caribou bacon :huh and eggs, we take the road East.
    I have mixed feelings leaving <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Anchorage</st1:place></st1:city> in the rain. I know that <st1:street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Glenn Hwy</st1:address></st1:street> is quite scenic and it’s a bit of a shame to do it without seeing anything because of the low clouds. In the same time there is no weather improvement forecasted for the next few days so there is no point at staying in <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Anchorage</st1:place></st1:city> longer. An hour or two later, my hands and my crotch are completely wet, the rain and visibility still as bad and we are not happy campers!<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Too bad, I can ‘feel’ that behind the clouds the scenery might indeed be beautiful. We get the confirmation in the beginning of the afternoon when finally it clears a bit:<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
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    <o:p></o:p>

    <o:p></o:p><o:p>[​IMG]</o:p>
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    <o:p>[​IMG] </o:p>

    We stop for a late lunch at Glennallen and discuss about our options: either go to <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Valdez</st1:place></st1:city> with heavy rain forecasted or go first to Wrangell with ‘only’ 70% chance of rain. We choose the second option. The stomach full and with the rain temporarily over, we feel better and enjoy a good pace on the road to the park.

    We gas up at Chitina, the last 'town' before the Park.

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    The last 60 miles are a dirt road and it’s pretty fun, with almost no traffic and the bright yellow leaves compensating for the gray skies.

    I'm still amazed by how huge everything is here!

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    <o:p></o:p> Bad news, my front tire has a puncture!

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    It seems to be still holding air a bit so we decide to just pump more air into it and see how many miles it will last. Luckily it held enough air to ride the 15 miles to the end of the road so we could do the repair from a drier place.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p>
    </o:p>
    <o:p>The Wrangell-St Elias NP is huge (13.2 millions acres) and is still a true wilderness park.</o:p> At the end of road there is nothing but a parking lot and a pedestrian bridge. The 'towns' of McCarthy and Kennicott are still miles away. The cool thing for motorcycles is that they can use the bridge but we’ve decided to stay in the hostel hidden in the woods, right before the bridge. No electricity or water in the small cabin but it’s nice, warm and dry: just what we needed! Even better, we’re the only ones in this 6-bed place. It’s very quiet and with no internet or cell service it does feel remote here.

    [​IMG]
    <o:p> </o:p>
    I take off my wheel and check the tube. I just can't believe it! The tube is positioned about 5 inches from where the valve should be :huh. Therefore it created a 'fold' that was rubbing against the tire until it got punctured. Suddenly I'm not so happy about the work done at Barb's Alaska Leather :bluduh.


    Here I am, patching my tube...

    [​IMG]

    Since there is still daylight we decide to checkout McCarthy. It’s definitely on the small side but nice, with a feeling of authenticity. I guess it’s quite different in July with more tourists. We had heard that there was a special Bob Marley party in Kennicott tonight, about 10 miles down the road and we wanted to see what it was all about. But hey, let’s have a beer first at the McCarthy’s saloon. It was pretty quiet but we started to meet some cool locals and decided to stay longer. It’s amazing how different and interesting are the people we met in small places of <st1:state w:st="on">Yukon</st1:state> and <st1:state w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Alaska</st1:place></st1:state>. They had one point in common: their love for the great Northern! In several occasions I heard their story about visiting <st1:state w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Alaska</st1:place></st1:state> one day and never leaving it since then. <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    If we think sometimes of us as adventurers it’s really nothing compared to some people we meet there. There was a couple of guys for example who had just come back from spending a week hiking glaciers. A plane had left them somewhere out there and they had been fighting their way around crevasses, sleeping on the glacier too.<o:p></o:p>
  12. Rad

    Rad Done riding

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    Great pics, guys, but, I did not know that caribou laid eggs :dunno
  13. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    Yes, but only the females of course. You have to travel more often Rad :lol3
  14. Rad

    Rad Done riding

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    :lol3


    Yur right, I don't get out enough; that is why I click on Ride Reports :thumb
  15. cRAsH

    cRAsH Banned

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    :photog

    I can just hear your voice... :lol3
  16. christian

    christian Long timer

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    I need to go to AAA to get a maps trying to follow your path :-)...
  17. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    It keeps raining and the clouds stay very low. It seems so pretty out there that we decide to give Wrangell another chance and wait one day to see if things would clear up. Truth is, none of us was really up for being soaked again if we had to ride away now <o:p></o:p>:nah.

    <!--[if gte vml 1]><v:shapetype id="_x0000_t75" coordsize="21600,21600" o:spt="75" o:preferrelative="t" path="m@4@5l@4@11@9@11@9@5xe" filled="f" stroked="f"> <v:stroke joinstyle="miter"/> <v:formulas> <v:f eqn="if lineDrawn pixelLineWidth 0"/> <v:f eqn="sum @0 1 0"/> <v:f eqn="sum 0 0 @1"/> <v:f eqn="prod @2 1 2"/> <v:f eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelWidth"/> <v:f eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelHeight"/> <v:f eqn="sum @0 0 1"/> <v:f eqn="prod @6 1 2"/> <v:f eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelWidth"/> <v:f eqn="sum @8 21600 0"/> <v:f eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelHeight"/> <v:f eqn="sum @10 21600 0"/> </v:formulas> <v:path o:extrusionok="f" gradientshapeok="t" o:connecttype="rect"/> <o:lock v:ext="edit" aspectratio="t"/> </v:shapetype><v:shape id="_x0000_i1025" type="#_x0000_t75" alt="" style='width:27.6pt; height:11.4pt'> <v:imagedata src="file:///C:\DOCUME~1\Jean-Luc\LOCALS~1\Temp\msohtml1\01\clip_image001.gif" o:href="http://s3.amazonaws.com/advrider/ne_nau.gif"/> </v:shape><![endif]--><!--[if !vml]-->We have been invited last night at the McCarthy grocery “closing party”. Yes, once again everything closes when we arrive :dunno.
    We hike to that little funky town and see the spring they seem to be using for their water supply.<o:p></o:p>

    [FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]
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    [FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]Main street[/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana, sans-serif][​IMG][/FONT]

    [FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]And the saloon, theater of our libations yesterday :wink:
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    [FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]We peeked into that hotel and everything in the lobby seems to be exactly like it used to be 100 years ago![/FONT]

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    [FONT=Verdana, sans-serif]We enjoy great BBQ and food with the locals (about 100 in summer and 40 in winter).
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    Not much else to report that day besides more rain and the fact that we were really grateful to Ed for giving us all that food earlier in Anchorage.

    With that weather there would be not much interest to see <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Valdez</st1:place></st1:City> tomorrow: the road to get there is beautiful and we wanted to do kayaking to see the glacier’s iceberg but we would not be able to see anything with that rain. We’ll see in the morning…<o:p></o:p>

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  18. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    It rained hard the whole night and when we wake up it’s still the same :cry. We have to leave anyway. At breakfast it’s kind of unreal to discuss with a couple that is planning to get married today, up in the glacier!<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p><o:p></o:p>
    As for us we unenthusiastically get ready to ride our bikes to visit Kennicott before to head to Tok. But first we have to cross this large pound at the source level, before to reach McCarthy :huh.

    <o:p>[​IMG]

    Teryk knowing that we would eventually get wet anyway, really goes for it :clap

    [​IMG] </o:p>


    Kennicott was a very productive copper mine until that day in 1948 where the owners decided to close the mine and announced it to the workers the next morning with one precision: the last train to leave town was 2 hours later! It’s probably the greatest exodus from a town in the <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">USA</st1:place></st1:country-region>.


    [​IMG]
    <o:p> </o:p>
    The site is facing the moraine and glacier

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    We explore a bit the trails after the mine and then start to head back West, towards the Park's exit. We can see much with the rain and our fogged visors but we keep ourselves entertained trying to avoid all the puddles on the road.

    Finally the rain stops! We're already soaked but at least there is now hope to get dry again :D.

    Just before reaching Chitina...

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    It blows my mind to see rivers that large!

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    At the junction of the Chitina River and the Copper River

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    The further North we go, the better the weather is. Even if it takes a long time to dry out our moral is on the rise!

    Yes, it's too bad that we're missing Valdez but with this weather there was no other choice. Same thing for the Denali Hwy, North-West of us: It's supposed to be a beautiful dirt road but for now we're just fleeing East to avoid the rain.

    The Tok Cut-Off Hwy goes along the Wrangell park and offers great scenery. I think that just having the sun makes eveything beautiful in our eyes, a little bit like after being sick, you realize how nice it is just to be healthy again :wink:.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We camp at the Sourdough Campground. It was recommended by this board and what sold me is their WIFI: I was able to update the thread that night.

    The Fast Eddies roadhouse which was also recommended might be a nice place too but we just can barely look at their menu
    ! I'm afraid that we just had too much hamburgers, fries, pan-fried this, deep-fried that... :waysad
  19. Jean-Luc

    Jean-Luc Throttle committed

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    :wink: Are you still on to hear it 'live' in a month or so?
  20. cRAsH

    cRAsH Banned

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    Sadly, no. :cry

    But, another possibility is in the wind. :deal
    I'll fill you in soon.