Over the past 12 days I’ve been pedaling from Anchorage to Whitehorse through some of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever seen. The journey started off well when I met up with two other cyclists, John and Steve (Click here to check out their blog) who were staying with the same warmshowers host in Anchorage. They are heading down to Argentina but following largely the same route for the northern section of their trip. Our group of three then rose to four when we met Jared, a student from Anchorage resting beside the road in a small town called Glenallen. Its been nice to have company on the long stretches of road, with 10 mile straights only broken by heat shimmers, dust or RVs. Towns are small and far apart so phone signal, regular internet access and other luxuries are hard to come by.
We’ve had a real mix of weather, from torrential rain which bounces off the highway making it feel like your cycling through a car-wash to blistering heat which would have any Scot reaching for the factor 50. The days largely follow the same routine, we cycle between 50 – 80 miles then find a good camping spot. Cooking and teeth brushing happens away from the tents and then we hang food and smelly stuff out of the reach of greedy bears using ropes and high branches. I fall asleep to a cacophony of farts and snores before reversing the process in the morning. Our campsites so far have included; a disused ice-rink , a place marked ‘cemetery’ which didn’t have any dead people in it, a Mormon families ‘fish camp’, peoples outhouses and government campsites.
We’ve managed not to pay for a camping spot so far! The sketchiest one was perhaps a closed off campsite which had a sign reading, ‘bear in campsite – no entry’. We had just cycled 80 miles and new there would be a stove and firewood supply so battered on anyway. Needless to say I spent the night with one eye open, bear spray in hand, although there’s probably more chance of me spraying myself in the face in the confusion of being woken up than fending off any bear. At least the bear might take me home as a court jester to entertain the cubs as opposed to giving me a good chew straight off though……Lakes (lochs for you Scottish readers) and rivers constitute bath tubs for us but they are generally fed buy glacial meltwater, entering the water with the anatomy of a 25 year old man I often leave with that of a 4 year old boy……
The most surprising thing about this part of the world to me has been the hospitality we have received. It’s the sort of place where you’re offered something before you’ve asked or welcomed into someone’s home before you’ve introduced yourself. Our hosts in Anchorage drove us around town to help us get the last of our gear before setting off then drove waaaaay out of the city the next day to bring us surprise sandwiches! We regularly stop to ask people for water re-fills and often get invited in for a good auld blether!
Needless to say the wildlife has been amazing, we’ve snuck passed grizzlies and seen moose, beaver and huge king salmon. Also, it doesn’t get dark here, weird eh? When I was looking for a camera for the trip one of my main criteria was the ability to take good night time snaps, mistake duly noted. Annoyingly I haven’t been able to upload photos yet, will do ASAP though!