June 23 Ė July 2, 2006
Saturday, June 24, Loop Over Powerline Pass
3:33 hours riding time (4:10 total elapsed time)
~4500 feet climbing
We arrived in
Weather was decent Saturday morning.† We all drove out to Glen Alps where trailhead
The entire ride is highly scenic, huge mountains in any
direction, open views of
As I approached the pass headwall, I realized I missed a side trail that traverses at a more manageable climbing grade. †There would be no way to climb the headwall directly.† Itís nearly vertical loose, shaly rocks, with a huge ribbon of snow wrapping around the top.† I became deeply worried, as any path over the pass necessitated traversing extremely steep hardened snow fields.† I was worried about both sliding off to my doom or avalanche.† I read warnings advising not to cross here in the winter due to extreme avalanche danger.† Being end of June, I speculated avalanche danger was past, as the snow had a couple months to settle and reach equal temperature (what they call isothermal I think).† But the snowpack was hard, and you couldnít just walk across it without going for a ride hundreds of feet down, only to be spit out on loose, sharp rocks at incredible speed.
The first band of snow had slid previously, and went from hundreds of feet above to hundreds below.† I had to kick each foot hold into the icy pack before moving the next foot forward, all the while holding my bike up with right arm and my body up with left arm against the snow pack.† I was petrified.† Really needed crampons, and I had no business crossing that stuff without proper gear.
The second band of snow at the head wall was even more terrifying, as it was steeper and it tapered off to vertical below with nastier rocks below that.† A fall here would have been catastrophic.† It must have taken me 20 minutes to cross 50 feet of snow.† At one point, I was so scared I didnít think I could go on or go back.† I made it across and nearly kissed the ground.† The pictures donít do these snow patches justice, as they donít show how icy it was or what was below the snow.
The descent to Indian looked nice to start.† Very rocky, couldnít carry much speed with my
eventually the powerlines dog leg to the right and
bring Turnagain Arm (branch of
I dump out on the
Mt Logan, highest point in Canada in the Yukon, from 36,000 feet.† Mt McKinley is only few hundred feet higher.
Area here for hundreds of miles around was glaciated or covered in snow at the end of June.
darkest part of night.
Beginning climb up Powerline Pass
Part way up pass looking back towards Anchorage
Getting closer to pass head wall. Faint upper trail on left was only feasible route.
Anchorage bowl and mountains across the Knik Arm.
First snow crossing.† Scaling this image says about 70% grade.
Second snow crossing.† Nearly 100% grade, and it dropped to near vertical out of view.
From pass looking back to
From pass looking down valley towards Indian (not visible yet).
Plummet to Indian in cove below.† Drop 3000ft in very short distance here.† Water/mud flat is Turnagain Arm,
mountains on other side are
Near bottom.† Wet in places, lots of bear scat in trail.
Sunday, June 25, Loop
3:31 hours riding time (4:25 total elapsed time)
~3500 feet climbing
We spent Saturday night in
Sunday morning we drove to Seward.† The women were going to drop me off at the
Lost Lake trailhead, then continue another five miles to Seward to check in and
tour the quaint fishing village.† Seward
is a lot like
Lost Lake Trail climbs to the lake on beautiful
singletrack.† Forested at first, but then
opens up to expansive views of tundra and glaciated mountain peaks.† Was cold up here, and much snow was
around.† Also experienced a few brief
downpours.† Could go from partly cloudy
to rain and back in minutes.† Lost
I met two bikers coming up from opposite direction.† I contemplated aborting and enjoying the great 2400ft descent back down Lost Lake Trail.† They commented that it took them an hour to cross the pass with numerous snow patches, but encouraged me to do same as the descent down the Primrose Trail was worth it.† They said it was steeper and more technical.
After having my shoes packed with corn snow for an hour with
no feeling left in my feet, I put the last of the snow behind me.† At least there were no bugs up top.† The view of
My new protection.† Some out-doorsy types appeared to carry nothing, others
carried large caliber firearms.† You are allowed to carry firearms any time of
Starting out on bench-cut Lost Lake Trail.
Gaining altitude, losing the trees, but starting to rain.
Raining here, looking back down toward Seward (not visible yet), getting close to tundra.
Mt Ascension, obscured by clouds.
Seward visible in center of image.† Half the shelf it sits on fell into the ocean during the earthquake of
1964.† Some day the rest of it will fall in.† Resurrection Bay is over 900ft deep I believe, so mountains
continue to dive steeply below the waterís surface.
where the trail went.† Lots of snow to cross between the two sides of this tundra area.
Closer view of
in the clear on the left, rises nearly 4000ft above lake.
One of many, many snow patches to hike across.† Sometimes snow would give way, tearing legs up on
sharp ice crystals as you went in mid thigh deep.
Skinny bridge over Lost Creek.
This would be awesome singletrack if you didnít have to get off your bike every 50 feet for snow.
Most of snow behind, now on Primrose Trail.† This was pure bliss to fly on.† Hard packed, narrow, dry gravel surface.
Beginning 2000ft descent to
Getting closer to
View from our B&B window of Seward and
cast on mountains several miles across the bay.† This was taken late in evening.
t of Fruita
Kenai Fjords, Seward
Monday, June 26, Kenai Fjords Boat Tour
The weather for Monday was iffy with high probability for rain.† But, as we learned, weather forecasts are horribly inaccurate in the coastal areas.† Locals donít even pay attention to them.† I was pretty trashed and decided to take a rest day.† Original plan was to do capstone ride on Monday, but I opted to join the women on the Kenai Fjords tour.† Room was still available on the boat, as it was half-booked.† We booked the 9.5 hour tour that went all the way out to Northwestern Glacier.† We had the whole lagoon to ourselves, watching glacial ďcalvingĒ and plentiful wildlife.† The tour covered 150 miles by boat and visited many coastal and bay islands where all types of wildlife hang out.† Open seas were quite calm, despite forecast day before for high winds.† When I asked with of the deck mates how calm it was on a scale of 1-10, 10 being too rough for them to go out, he said about 2 or 3.† The day before he said it was an 8.† Mom does not handle high seas well.† We lucked out.† It was also sunny most of the day, and I got horribly sunburned, having forgotten to put sunscreen on.† It looked cloudier over the mountains inland and it might have rained there, but where we were the weather was spectacular.
We ate at Rayís Waterfront restaurant, one of the pricier
places in town, but some of the best seafood you can get in
Small boat harbor at Seward.
Our cruise boat, the ďChugach.Ē
Doug, Cathy, and Mom in Northwestern Lagoon.
Bear Glacier.† A terminal moraine faintly visible across the front of the glacier
prevented closer inspection by boat.
Pair of Humpback Whales in
Narrow passage in Resurrection bay.
by clouds, is at 3022 feet.† Each 4th of July, a lucky 800 runners get to race it round trip.† It is hands and feet scrambling
most of the way.† Most competitors are bloody by the time they get back down.† Record time is 43 minutes
and change, and thatís round trip!† Glad we got out of Seward before the 4th, as upwards of 20,000 people come
to this tiny village for this event.† Think of it was the Alpe díHuez of the trail running world.† I thought Mom and
Cathy might have wanted to give a try.† Mom thought I was trying to get my inheritance early.
Sea lions basking in the sun.
Falls in Northwestern Lagoon.
Birds nesting on island cliffs.† Mostly gulls here I think, but we saw lots of puffins too.
Ice bergs in Northwestern Lagoon.
Northwestern Glacier.† Only a few years ago it completely covered the rock in the center.† In a few more
years, it will cease to be a tidal glacier.
Northwestern Glacier ďcalving,Ē meaning chunk of ice breaking off into lagoon.
Capstone Ride of Trip:† Resurrection Pass/Devils Pass
Panoramic view looking north from Devilís Pass
Resurrection Pass/Devils Pass, Cooper Landing
Tuesday, June 27, capstone ride of trip
4:48 hours riding time (5:52 total elapsed time)
~4500 feet climbing
Feeling refreshed having taken a day off from riding, I was
ready to do the biggest planned ride of the trip.† I toyed with riding the 40 mile length of
Resurrection Pass Trail, then taking another 44 miles of paved road back to
car.† But three or more hours riding MTB
on road did not appeal to me.† Plus, I
read many good things about Devilís Pass Trail, which branches off
Weather was nice for this ride.† Resurrection Pass Trail begins as steady singletrack climbing.† Not steep, and it was well foliated with trees and other undergrowth.† Had to watch out for the Cow Parsnips and Devils Club.† I did not get any reaction from Cow Parsnips even though I knew I came into contact with it.† The sap of this plant can cause severe blistering of the skin upon exposure to sunlight.† Light is an activator of sorts.† Symptoms sound like light activated poison oak or poison ivy to me, also neither of which Iíve gotten reactions to.† Devils Club, on the other hand, gives you instant feedback that you contacted something you shouldnít have.† It has a fine, needle covered stem structure, maybe hundreds of needles per inch of stem.† This plant is like nettle or ďitch weedĒ found in other northern states, but on steroids.† I found the burning to subside quickly.† Both the Cow Parsnips and Devils Club obscured the various trails I rode in different places.† Hard to avoid contacting these big leafy plants.
After climbing the steepest portion of
The trail eventually becomes bench cut into the step valley side wall.† It curved in and out of numerous micro-valleys carved out by water.† Dozens of water crossing were splashed through.† One of these had a huge amount of avalanche snow still in it.† The problem was, the water cut a 6ft deep trench through the middle of it, and the whole thing looked terribly unstable.† The portion that could have fallen on me might have weighed 10 tons.† I wasnít sure how I would hoist myself up and over the frozen corn snow berm.† After determining that the snow was solid and not imminently ready to topple over or down the ravine, I found myself a sharp brush branch in the avalanche debris.† I used it to chisel into the snow up top, then used it to hoist myself up bringing one leg up first.† I was scared to death, as sliding down the snow went into who knows what.† Sliding down the ravine with the water into the cavern under the snow was even scarier.
The rest of the descent was smooth sailing, much of it wicked fast.† I was always worried a bear would be just around the next bend, and I would not only get too close, but actually collide with it.† There was tons of recent bear scat on the trail.† Near the bottom I passed two women hiking down.† These were the only people I saw on 10 miles of Devils Pass Trail.† Not sure if they hike over the snow ravine or not.† It certainly would have been easier with two.
The bugs were pretty bad on this ride, but mainly at the lower elevations.† Couldnít stop for more than a minute without being inundated with mosquitoes.† I got bit a lot, but I never seemed to get any bumps.† Pesky, but only while they swarm and bite.† The mosquitoes are bigger there too.
After 32 miles of riding pure singletrack, I reached the
On a side note, I learned in the news the next day that hours after I passed the Resurrection/Devils Pass junction, a small plane crashed right there while making a food drop for a large church group doing an overnight hike.† The pilot was killed and passenger critically injured.† One of the group members had to run 10 miles to find nearest help.
In the evening, Cathy, Mom and I drove out to Exit Glacier
and did the short hike to the glacierís termination.† It was interesting driving in, as they had
signs with years on them indicating where the glacier terminated at those
times.† The glacier has shrunk
considerably.† But, it is interesting to
note this rapid shrinkage started hundreds of years ago, long before man
started pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.† This was pointed out several times during our
trip, in Kenai Fjords, and in
Resurrection Pass Trail starts out a little wide but quickly narrows down as it goes deeper into the woods.
Climbing starts right away and doesnít let up.† This is starting from the south end, or at Cooper Landing.
This should be singletrack between
grade that had to be climbed.
Plane arriving on
Plane departed with 3 passengers picked up.† Donít know if any got off.† This valley is very deep, the
lake narrow and twisty.† I would never fly in and out of here.
Approaching the pass but looking back down in direction I started from.
A little further up Resurrection Pass Trail.
At Resurrection Pass.† Trail
continues for another 20+ miles to the north to the town of
Self portrait at
Looking back down
Hut (large tan roof center right) and outhouse (center left) at junction of Devilís Pass and Resurrection Pass Trails.
Less than four hours after taking this photo, a small plane crashed 200 feet from the hut.
Beginning Devils Pass Trail.† Lose a little bit of vertical through this valley before climbing slightly to the right
in another valley that opens before you when you get there.
A small snow field to hike across.† Not too steep, but if you did slide (which was easily possible), youíd
fall 10 feet off the lip of snow into 10 feet deep 35F degree water.
Devilís Pass at about 200ft lower than
Just past the pass sign looking down the valley.† The descent starts to get down to business here.† I kept going off
the trail and nearly crashing because the scenery was so good.
Zooming into the Devils Pass Trail valley.† You can faintly see the trail bench-cut on the left flank.
Bench cut singletrack part way down Devils Pass Trail.† Trail weaved in and out numerous nooks and crannies.
One of several rock slide areas to traverse on Devils Pass Trail.† They were all well groomed for riding.
Half way down Devils Pass Trail.
The deep blue-green
where I about got creamed by semiís twice.† Deep and wicked fast.
Johnson Pass, starting from village of Moose Pass
Wednesday, June 28, Point to Point Ride
3:01 hours riding time (3:38 total elapsed time)
~3000 feet climbing
Before leaving on this trip, I made a last minute decision
to include info on
The women dropped me off early at the southern trail head, about 30 miles from Seward.† They then went back to finish a couple chores, picking me up at the northern trail head on the same highway about 63 miles from Seward.† The mosquitoes where terrible in the parking lot.† Youíd swat one, only to have three others bite you simultaneously.† Staying there was a losing battle.† I canít wear deet, as it makes my skin burn and can give me asthma.† I have to tough it out.† Once I got moving, the mosquitoes were not a problem.
The day was warm and clear.† I went short sleeves for the whole ride.† Climbing gradually to the pass, I encountered no other trail users.† No bears either, but there was a lot of scat about.† The trail was pretty muddy in spots.† Lots of water crossings.† Becoming overgrown in places too.† There was only one small snow patch that required portage.† This trail sees a lot of group MTB use, like guided tour type deals.† I think they usually start on the north end, opposite the way I was going.† I encountered many riders after cresting the pass, including a group of 15 or so teenagers with full panniers on MTBs.† The views in the pass were stunning with two lakes to ride past.
The descent back to the
I believe that is the
Beginning climb to
a couple weeks.
second resulted in inhaling mouthful of bugs.† Didnít seem to be a biting variety though.
Beginning descent from
Creek in valley below.
First significant falls encountered on descent.† Donít know the name.
Another big, thundering falls.† You hear these things long before you get
to them.† Then you look for a side trail that might take you to a vantage
point for a look.
Some rocky, steep, bench-cut trail in this section.
Bench Creek much further down from the pass.† It had a magical milky blue-green color to it.† From
Johnson Pass Trail is part of the Iditarod National Historic Trail.† I donít think
itís part of the dog sled races anymore, however.
Thursday, June 29, Dirt Road Out and Back
4:43 hours riding time (5:18 total elapsed time)
~5800 feet climbing
The drive to
When we awoke, I had a nasty sore throat.† Just came out of nowhere, like the kind you
get when you come down with a head cold.†
I took extra doses of antioxidants and drove the women 10 miles back down
the road for their 6am bus tour of
The gravel road is well maintained, but probably not good enough for standard road tire use.† Further in, the gravel aggregate became large and sharp.† It was great riding for a hardtail with 55 lbs in tires and fork locked out.
The views were expansive the whole time.† I kept a keen eye out for bears, not so much
out of safety, but just so I could see some.†
Having not seen a bear thus far, this was the best place to sight bears,
brown bear particularly.† I saw snowshoe
hares and caribou early in the ride.†
Never saw any bear or dahl sheep.† The views were fantastic though.† I didnít go to Denali just to see wildlife, I
went to Denali to do
There were three major climbs, two that had to be done in
each direction.† The first was Primrose
Ridge, the second was
The women on their bus tour went much further than
Polychrome, sighting bears, dahl sheep, and an
unobstructed view of
Ok, so I didnít bag this bad boy.† Iíd sure hate to get in a scuffle with one of these outdoors though.† The first time
I used the guest computer in the corner, when I was done I jumped up and smacked my face right into this thing.
Kind of creeps you out when itís late and youíre tired.
Panoramic from Primrose Ridge I believe.†
I no more than start my ride into
more along the way.
what the Canon Digital Rebel was able to capture.† Probably at least 60 miles away.
Beginning biggest climb heading into park.† This is
Looking up the
Looking back on approach to
The multi-colored rocks of
The landscape is so vast anyway that even riding 30+ miles into the park, things didnít change that much
across the valley.
Eklutna Lakeside Trail,
Friday, June 30, Out and back on gravel road/trail
1:57 hours riding time (2:13 total elapsed time)
~1200 feet total climbing
We had toyed around with white water rafting on this day in
The women were going to do a little more shopping.† I decided to try an easy trail ride I had
some info on.† It was a mostly flat dirt
access road that followed the
Since this ride was in a state park with campground and lots
of people about, I didnít bring the bear bell.†
I was somewhat disappointed that I rode hundreds of miles in Alaskan
wilderness and never saw a bear.† Didnít
matter too much, as I encountered two black bear at very close range in
As I began the ride, I noted that there werenít any people around.† Maybe the rain elsewhere kept them indoors.† I also noticed lots of bear scat in the trail.† Maybe I should have brought that bell.† I did have the pepper spray.
The views across the lake were nice, although the low cloud
ceilings truncated the mountain tops.† It
is interesting to note that when riding in
The scenery became more interesting as the trail ventured away from the lake and up into the gorge feeding the lake.† I was in my own little world ripping around bend after bend when I suddenly realized a large black object was in my path.† A panic stop skidded the rear wheel and startled the large black bear that was standing in the road.† I was less than 100ft away.† He stared at me, I at him for a few seconds.† At first I thought a picture would be nice, but then I thought if I grab anything, itís going to be the canister of bear spray.† I hollered, he lumbered off the path.† I wasnít sure how far, so I moved forward a few feet to get a better peak.† He was just inside the trees still staring at me.† Yikes.† I hollered some more and tapped my Ti frame with a rock.† Iíve read bears hate metallic noises.† He lumbered far enough off the trail that I high tailed it through that point.
So now I had my bear sighting.† This was the last place I expected it.† My mother commented that the bell scared the bears away on all the other rides, so the one ride I didnít use it, I sneaked up on a bear.
The trail turns to singletrack and quickly becomes unrideable.† A short hike brings you to a glacier that not too many years ago came to where the main trail/road ends.† It was getting late and I didnít feel like hiking.† Going back was fun at first, as the trail descends 300ft back to the lake.† Lots of small rollers along the way added up to about 1200ft of climbing.† Saw only three other riders out.† It was cold, maybe low 50ís, so I wore tights and heavy long sleeve jersey for this ride.† A great bonus ride, perfect for tired legs and worsening illness.
Starting out on Eklutna Lakeside Trail.† Far end of lake is nearly 10 miles away.
Far end of
still been raining back down by
Serenity Falls along the way.† Saw the bear near here.
This is where the gorge got narrow and the trail turned into a hike-a-bike.† Itís a short hike from here to
the foot of Eklutna Glacier.
Clouds were lifting as I finished ride, so I took one more shot down the lake.
Tony Knowles Path/Kincaid Park
Saturday, July 1,
Coastal paved path out to
1:35 hours riding time (1:49 total elapsed time)
~1000 feet total climbing
Last ride of the trip.† I had planned to do this ride with Mom on a rented tandem and Cathy on another rented bike.† But to pull it off meant that weíd have to check out before leaving to rent bikes.† All our stuff would be in the car, and no place to wash up afterwards.† Not the best way to start an overnight trip back to reality.† The women opted out of riding in favor of an early morning walk on the Tony Knowles Path which started less than two blocks from our hotel.† I decided to ride it.† A checkout time of noon allowed me to get back in plenty of time to shower and box bike up.
The path is sandwiched between metro
It had rained earlier in the morning over
I was really sick by this point and couldnít even ride at an
aerobic pace. †Throat hurt so bad I
wasnít even drinking my water.† I started
to wonder if I had strep throat, as I wasnít developing any other symptoms, no
runny nose, no cough, no sneezing, etc.†
Fortunately I got all the epic rides in before getting sick.† It was good to get out for one last easy ride
before heading back to
Cow Moose on way to
Typical dirt trail in
like this and graded for XC skiing.† It was very steep rolling terrain however, something Iíd very much
like to try on skis.
Same Moose on the way back.† The leaves must really be yummy up there.
right around town on the waterís edge to it.
Overall, this was another great cycling trip.† Getting sick towards the end put a small
damper on activities.† At least I got in
all the epic rides feeling great.† The
weather held up marvelously compared to some recent patterns of all rain.† The days we needed to be clear or warm or
calm, were.† I wouldnít rule out a return
Perhaps the highpoint of the trip for me was the
Resurrection Pass/Devils Pass ride.† So
many miles of truly incredible singletrack, rivaling the best stuff Iíve ridden
in places like
All photos by Doug Jansen unless indicated otherwise.† Permission to use any photos by author is granted.
Trip summary was compiled on July 7, 2006.