The last time I took this flight from Minneapolis, MN to Anchorage, AK was almost 20 years ago. I was headed to Alaska on a grand bicycle tour. I was young, foolish, and filled with ambition. I was on a journey from Alaska to Utah. As I looked out the window of the plan I was flooded with memories and unfulfilled dreams. As we crossed Canada, I remembered how vast and beautiful the land is and how I said I would explore Canada by bike one day (I haven't yet). As we flew over the Wrangel St. Elias range we saw Mount Logan, Canada's highest peak, peeking through the clouds. I remembered saying that one day I'd do a big back packing trip there (I haven't yet). As we approached Anchorage I looked over to where you would see Denali on a clear day. it was blanketed in clouds and rain just as it often is. I remembered looking upon Denali on a perfectly clear day almost 20 years ago saying I'd be back to Alaska with my bike one day. Going back to Alaska has been a lifelong dream of mine. This dream has come to reality and it is about to begin.
Mike and I arrived in Anchorage mid afternoon. Our plan was to pick up bikes, see our friend Eric Parsons and get food for an Alaskan fat bike beach tour. My previous bicycle trip to Alaska was with skinny tires, panniers and everything under the sun strapped to my bike. This trip was about touring Kenai's endless beaches on fatbikes. With 8 other riders, we'd be doing a fairly casual, unusual and amazing beach tour ending in Homer, Alaska.
As I researched and prepared for this trip, I ran across Pat Irwins and Kathy Sarns recap of the initial charting of this route. I was excited that Path and Kathy would be joining us. In many ways they were both the hosts and the leaders. I read the article twice taking in every nugget of information. I was eager to meet them and experience the beach for myself.
The ride itself did not disappoint. In all honesty, it is hard to explain just what I am feeling about this experience. Visually the trip blew my mind. Beauty was everywhere and in such abundance. I shot a few thousand images and don't even know where to begin with sharing them. Physically this trip wasn't not all that challenging for me. Sure we could have pushed for more miles and/or do it faster. That was not the intent of this trip. Yet, I left Alaska with a strengthenedpassion for riding. Professionally, I found some clarity about my future and where I am headed. Personally, I left with new, meaningful relationships with amazing people and with a new appreciation for the land we live on. Mostly, I left Alaska in awe of God's creations and with a thankful heart that I got to go on this trip. Somehow my path and my choices led me to this point.
Over the next few weeks both here and on the Salsa Cycles blog, I will be digging into some of these things specifically as well as gear and lessons learned. Until then, you will just have to settle for a few pics that capture the essence of this experience (for me). I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy sharing them.
I need to share one last picture and one more volcano today. This picture just has to be seen in color to appreciate it. Take a gander at the Alaskan volcano Redoubt by the morning light.
Yes, Alaska was good to me. More to come and make sure to check out my post later today at the Salsa blog for some more images.