Leaving Rohn spirits were high. To this point in the day we'd been immersed in incredible scenery, ridden hardpacked, challenging, type-one-fun trail, re-upped on vittles, high fived the reigning politicos in 'town', and were now headed into the meat of the route with good weather (warm days, cool nights, clear skies) in the forecast.
I have this habit, maybe almost a mantra, that I try to bring to mind whenever the scenery is big and mind-blowing. To wit: Look down!
Put another way, an amazing scene is the way it is because of the constituent parts. Looking past them at the overall grandeur is easy to do, but means that you miss the details.
We shared trail with Billy Koitzsch on his way to Fairbanks via Nome.
Trailside tourists were thick on the ground on this day...
…which is another way of saying that OE here snapped a few shots of us on the South Fork of the Kusko before skedaddling back into Rohn and leaving us completely alone.
When in doubt, let air out. Except when there's no doubt that the trail is firm.
BLM, local hunters and trappers, and the collective Idita crews have blazed a veritable highway through the New Burn.
Tourists thick in the air on this day too.
(Actually, it's OE again. Hey OE!)
I got confused more than once out there, hearing racers and tourists alike referring to this area as the Farewell Burn. The regrowth of that scar has been happening for 30+ years, and has gotten so tall and unruly that it's hard to see it as a burn so much as a juvenile forest.
In other words, they aren't the same burn, are in fact many miles apart. The elder burn devastated rolling hills, muskegs, and scrub and just generally made a mess. The newer one flashed through mountainside and river bottoms and, from my selfish perspective, opened up huge vistas of amazing country that we'd been passing through for decades without being able to truly see.
A wind-polished Post River.
"Jesus Christ! Look at this joint!"
Billy enjoying his studded tires on some of the ~3 total miles of the route where they made any sense.
Post River Glacier. Normally a bit of a mental and physical challenge to find a safe way up while remaining upright, this year we might have dismounted for a quick ~30 seconds of easy walking and then it was back to zipping along.
While the entirety of the day was exceptional, while framing the shot below I couldn't help but to think that this right here was what we'd come for.
Even if defining 'this' would have been as impossible then as it is right now.