Anchored in Anchorage
May 16, 2011
The eagle has landed! Taking almost two months to do what a 747 can swiftly do in five hours, another milestone destination has been reached, and I send this message from the comforts of Anchorage, Alaska. So far the speed bumps have been ridden out, and it feels good to arrive with all ten fingers and toes. I am staying at a relatives house, who are generously putting up with me and my preparations for the climb for an extra week due to my early arrival. Thank you Haywards!
The Dramamine I purchased in Juneau gratefully went unused during the cross-the-gulf Kennicott ferry run. According to ship personel, the ride was as smooth as it gets, and my equilibrium had no qualms about the minor constant rocking of the ship. Its like the old adage goes, about bringing your rain jacket on an outing; it’s not going to rain, which was fine with me. The 45 hour ride across was rich in sights. Monstrous coastal mountains covered in snow and glaciers were slowly passed in awe. Whales, porpoises, and other interesting unidentified sea life was viewed from the ship at regular intervals, as everyone’s rubber necks would signal. The ships hull and sunsets provided for fun camera work at all hours of the now, very long day.
The day light is incredible at this latitude and time of year. The time zones I have crossed and the ever changing day light interfere with my sleep schedule, and sometimes my ability to keep track of time. Yesterday around 5pm I loaded up my bike with one pannier stocked with camera gear, snacks, bike lock, rain jacket, wallet, and my Ipod loaded with fresh music from my favorite radio show from NYC, and set out for a training ride into the unknown. Totally losing track of time, I would return under daylight just before midnight. Exploring the amazingly vast network of friendly bike lanes and paved paths around the Anchorage vicinity, I found myself cautiously zipping through budding trees and mine fields of grazing moose, which inhabit the city like deer do in many other towns around the States. On one memorable descent, whizzing around a corner, a huge cow moose suddenly appeared behind a thicket of alder, no more than fifteen feet from handlebars. Many other times I found myself stopped cold on the paved trails, mingling with locals who were also stopped and waiting for the giraffe-like creatures to move on, just a little. The moose here I have been told, are more tolerant and conditioned to humans than your average wild moose, but are still just as dangerous if that invisible safety line is crossed. Continuing along the delightful coastal trail to downtown, the welcomed buzz of assorted aircraft of all species made their rounds in and out of Ted Stephens International Airport, a major hub for passengers and cargo around the world. Boeing 747′s are a dime a dozen it seems here, and I stare in amazement as the fly ever close to my cycling route, and even overhead. Grabbing a late bite in downtown, I headed back to my favorite airplane viewing site, filmed a huge Russian Antonov cargo plane land, was the satisfied with the day, looked wide-eyed my watch and then headed for home. I decided against the longer moose minefield route to get back, realizing that I was the only person still out riding a bike. I turned on my lights, guessed a different route home, got lost for half an hour, but eventually found the way.
I will also report about some recent bad news on Denali, and how my climbing partner and I’s preparation and strategy are geared toward a conservative approach to the mountain, and the main goal of not becoming another Park Service statistic.
Enough for now. Here are some photos of the Alaskan adventure so far…