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BICYCLING ALASKA-Page 1

The adventure begins in Haines!


Spring of '87

The first day, June 13th found me pedaling 80 miles out of Haines in southeast Alaska from sea level to near 4,000 feet where I camped on the snowy Chilkat Pass. Looking back at this 1987 photo it's hard to believe that I actually pedaled up the Alaska Highway in blue jeans, leather hiking boots, and no helmet! At this time all-terrain bicycles were new on the scene and so was my biking experience... but I made it!

Like a lot of my adventures plans often changed and this trip would be no exception! Originally I had planned to paddle the Athabasca river across Alberta to the McKenzie river through the Northwest Territory of Canada to the Arctic Ocean, but after completing the Athabasca river I decided to pull out and drive 1,300 miles to Prince Rupert, British Columbia where I caught a ferry to Haines, Alaska and began pedaling my bike. When traveling across North America I like to have my folding kayak, bicycle, and a good backpack in my truck so that I always have the flexibility of creating an "instant adventure" if the situation requires such! And this was just one of those such summers!

For what it's worth here's a close-up of my bike on that first day as I approached Chilkat Pass. It's a Schwinn Sierra which I still have and ride today and it's definitely been one fine machine!

Finally up and over the pass, the Alaska Highway connector with Haines is a long and winding gravel road, but mostly just loooooooooong! Note the deserted log cabin on the left.

From my journal... (June 14th;Day-2)..."One of the things that I enjoy about the north country is the long summer days. Schedules can be totally changed and re-arranged to any time slot since there is light all day long, and for this reason I'm not in a big hurry to get going this morning, brewing hot coffee as I leisurely study my map.

"Last night became quite cold and it now must be just above freezing. My sleeping bag just wasn't enough and I found myself dressing up with more layers throughout the night. Chilkat Pass is heavy with fog and a light, cloudy mist so typical of the high country. Hopefully today I can get back down into the warmer valley and close to Haines Junction and onto the Alaska Highway... a section that I haven't seen in 7 years!"

Finally I am leaving coastal southeast Alaska and into the Yukon Territory.

I never did adjust well to the Canadian kilometers. Notice how the interior Yukon environment is so much more dry than the coastal rain forest that I left behind on the other side of Chilkat Pass.

Not many campgrounds in this part of the country so I just got used to finding a good spot each evening a few hundred feet off the highway, usually near a good water source.

Haines Junction and the Alaska Highway!


Not much to Haines Junction but a fine store and restaurant but this is where the Haines connector joined the Alaska Highway. Yes I did stop at the restaurant and celebrate!

After 3 days and nearly 200 miles I am to Haines Junction and the Alaska Highway!

After a short break at the Haines Junction roadhouse I continued up the Alcan Highway. The Canadians refer to the Alaska Highway as the "Alcan".

From my journal... (June 15th;Day-3)..."I am learning to love my bike which has probably become more of a necessity since I am so dependent upon it in such a desolate land. On the other hand I can't help but to be concerned with its mechanics, since unlike my kayak this bicycle is a much more precision engineered machine with so many more mechanical friction points. Breaking axles, cranks, cogs, freewheels, chain, cables, brakes, frame... these concern me way out here! Seems that so many parts are in constant motion that something MUST break at some point.

"At Haines Junction I stop briefly at the small roadhouse store and buy more cereal, cheese, bread sticks, candy bars, a banana, and a bag of chocolate chips. From there I turn onto the Alaska Highway where strong headwinds make pedaling extremely difficult."

Being a woodcarver myself, I just couldn't resist taking a picture of this roadside sculpture!

Join me in Alaska on Page 2!...

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