Great Alaska Adventure: Planning the Next One
Other than helping brother Jon with one small chore requiring a little lifting and washing two very dirty bikes to get rid of as much of the remaining parts of Alaska and Canada as I could, Wednesday was uneventful. As an aside, the problem with washing my bike was that I can now begin to see chips and scratches that I could have fooled myself into believing were dirt or bugs, but clearly are not. So far I’ve counted four chips in the fairing. When the Ultra gets on my lift at home and I go over it thoroughly from top to bottom, I expect to find more road scars. Part of the price you pay for taking on the Alaska Highway.
When I was in the Yukon, I bought a book that describes the raft trip I want to take next year and Wednesday I started reading it. Now I REALLY want to take that trip. The Complete Guide to the Tatshenshini River was written in 2011 by three guides on the river and covers geology, botany, animals, equipment, rafting tips, and answers some of the questions I had.
Here’s one of the descriptions in the book:
It is the place to which all other alpine rivers will eventually be compared. It has it all: wildlife, glaciers, icebergs, towering mountains, whitewater, wildflowers, birds, salmon, history, untouched wilderness, all arrayed in the most beautiful way imaginable. It is a place where geology carries on at an audible pace. It’s a place that is at times tranquil and serene, and at other times brutally demanding.
The river trip from put-in at Dalton Post, Yukon Territory, to take-out at Dry Bay, Alaska, winds 138 miles through the largest continuous block of protected park land in the world, which has been declared a world heritage site. Geologically, the area is still very active, as the 15,000 foot peaks continue to be thrust upward by the Pacific tectonic plate grinding away at the North American plate, continuing a mountain building process that has been in the making for hundreds of millions of years. At the same time, glaciers on the edge of the largest non-polar ice field in the world continue to carve U-shaped valleys while their melt water rushes to the sea carving V-shaped valleys.
Grizzlies, black bears, bald eagles, caribou, mountain sheep and hundreds of other animals make their homes along the river and are described as an integral part of every trip.
The book was written for both independent travelers (not me) and members of guided parties (me) and describes the river, where to find fresh water, how to make camp on a river that can rise several feet suddenly when hidden dams under the glaciers give way and send millions of gallons of water rushing into the river.
The trip has much more floating and drifting than whitewater, but there is enough of the latter for excitement and plenty of the former for appreciating one’s “speckness” in an immense wilderness and a much larger universe.
I can’t believe that I haven’t quite finished this year’s adventure and I’m already looking at next year’s (?) trip. But I am. I’m hoping to make this raft trip as part of a longer trip back to Alaska. After all, my bike is already beat up so what’s another 12,000 miles. If this sounds interesting to anyone (you can fly to Whitehorse and return in about 2 weeks if you don’t have a couple months), I’ll loan you the book. Marilyn has indicated pretty strongly that I’m on my own on this one.
Tomorrow, Jon, Ulla, Marilyn and I take off for Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and a couple days riding in the mountains. Weather forecast calls for 80% chance of rain/thundershowers tomorrow but clear for riding on Saturday. By Sunday, Marilyn and I should start the final leg home to Florida, arriving sometime Tuesday.