Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lost and Found: One.

The idea was simple: fly with friends to a coastal town in AK, then ride fat tire bikes and paddle packrafts to the next town down the coast.

Lower 48 to AK flights are always oddly timed--meaning I had a scant few hours on the ground in Anchorage before we all needed to be back at the airport. In those few hours I was able to do a little food shopping and marvel not only at Roman's fancy little brand new boat, but also his metrosexual dressage.

Food bought and stowed, we changed into our action-hero duds, stacked bikes into Eric's truck, then hit the road for ANC.

We stopped shortly in Cordova, and the gloomy drizzliness of the place (not far from where we'd be starting) had lumps in all of our throats. Packing for a trip like this is easy--right up until you're on the ground in the rain, wondering how to keep dry and warm.

Once on the ground in Yakutat Roman vanished while the rest of us unboxed bikes. He reappeared lugging a pile of (Heet) alcohol, a purchase inspired by the Cordova rain.

Mere words can never convey the relief, elation at finally getting going after so much planning, prep, and travel time.

Approaching the beach, marveling at a land of water.

I think everyone in the group knew someone that had traveled somewhere on this section of coast. Except me. Breaking out of the trees and finally seeing the ocean was another tremendous relief--that there was actually a beach (not cobbles, not mud) that looked eminently rideable.

Gorgeous evening light, an enormous sense of gratitude that we'd all made it out safe, nothing to do but ride. And take pics.

These derelict remains were the site of a wall ride, a micro huck, and considerable (literal) relief.

Like a handful of exuberant schoolboys we explored our new environment: climbing bluffs to see what lay yonder, flipping over half-buried shells, telling what we knew about the visible flora and fauna, walking the plank just to see if we could.

The place was filthy with eagles, none of which let us get close.

As evening faded into night, thick clouds obscured the sun. Which hardly mattered because it sets so late up here. We rode on and on, and at least one of us began to fade after a looooong day+ of sleepless travel.

Eventually we bumped into a river that required inflating boats to cross. Rather than risk getting wet right before bed, we backtracked a bit in search of a suitable camp spot.

I figured anyplace above the high tide line but still on the sand would be good--far fewer bugs there. But everyone else seemed fixed on getting off the sand entirely.

When you're the FNG and as green as I am, you follow the leads of others and try to keep your yap shut.


It seemed like minutes after arriving at camp the others were passed out and snoring. The novelty of the place was too much for me though, and I wandered around camp, down to the river, up into the trees for another ~hour before finally bedding down. Then I made another in a string of full-on rookie gaffes: in the act of rolling from my back to my side I opened my eyes, noting the brightness inside of the tent. Must be morning! Surprised the others weren't yet up, but unwilling to waste any precious daylight, I dressed and shod myself and wandered back out to the beach, camera in hand. It'd be another hour+ til it occurred to me to wonder what time it was: 3:45AM. By the time I got back to the tent, undressed and climbed back into my bag, the others were beginning to stir for day two in the land of ceaseless daylight.