Denali: Fairbanks – Anchorage


We reached Anchorage in the mean time and are cycling on the Kenai Peninsula. Our last few hundred miles in Alaska.

Fairbanks – Denali

With reaching Fairbanks, we could finally wash our clothes again, go grocery shopping and enjoy the other annemities of a bigger city. However, we didn’t really see that much of Fairbanks itself. But we got a great show in the night. A friendly neighbor on the campground asked us in the evening, if he should wake us up in case of Northern Lights. I didn’t really believe that we would see them, because it was too bright the last few nights. Nevertheless, I would be happy if he would wake us up. And so we went to bed.
Around two in the night, we heard a voice like in a ghost movie: “Northern Lights, Northern Lights!”. After I opened the zipper of my tent, I couldn’t shut my mouth anymore: wonderful green figures where dancing in the sky. I saw once something like Northern Lights in Norway but wasn’t really sure if they were there or if it was just imagination. However, it wasn’t a question this time. They were way to bright. I never took picture of this phenomena and just tried. But I’m pretty happy with the result :-). Have a look in the Gallery. I hoped that there would be more in the next few days. Otherwise we probably would be too far south again as the Northern Lights Forecast shows (Thanks to my father for the link!).
Because of the night session, we got a bit later back to the bike than planned. The sun was more or less shining but it was windy as well. And the road went pretty much uphill just after Fairbanks. However, this doesn’t demotivate us anymore. It’s just exhausting ;-). Around the middle of the first hill, we got stopped by a car driver. He told us that it will be hilly for a while but that there will be a nice restaurant just before Nenana. And there we should stop and have a cheeseburger.  So far, so normal. But he also gave us 20 Dollar for going there. I couldn’t believe it. Where would that happen in Switzerland? We were grateful and kept cycling.
After a few miles, we got stopped again. This time by a cyclist which drove in the opposite direction. She told us, that there will be a hidden food cache of her cycling club in a few miles. We should just take there what we need. We couldn’t believe it. What was going on? So far most people where only interested in asking us, how far we are cycling a day or just taking pictures of us. Almost like in the zoo. A cold beer on a hot day or a hot chocolate in the rain would have been great but never happened… But all that was different that day. We were very grateful, enjoyed our lunch break at the food cache of the Fairbanks cycling club and our dinner burger later at the Monderosa restaurant. Thank you very much!!
We continued towards Denali. Ines will probably never forget that day. We were still pretty tired from yesterdays 60 miles and had strong headwind from the start. And we would have to go again for around 60 miles that day. It was very hard but somehow we made it after more than 7.5 hours of pure cycling time. However, it already got dark when we arrived in Healy and the campground there was pretty much dissapointing. But we just wanted to go to sleep. It was only around 20 miles to Denali National Park and we therefor kept cycling the next day. And the Riley Creek campground in the park was much better and even cheaper…

Denali

We were sure that we want to visit the park. The question was just how. When we heard, that there is a bus tour which goes almost to the end of the park (Wonder Lake) and back, we decided take this. Also if that meant, that we had to be ready at 6.15 in the morning and had to sit in a bus for 12 hours. We were ready at the requested time and our bus arrived as well. Our driver that day was Mike. However, when he started to talk in a very monotone way and without any emotions, we just called him “The Killer”. He could have played (or better speak) in a horror movie easily… But he knew a lot about the park. We stopped a few times to see Grizzlies, Caribous, Moose, Dall Sheeps and others. And of course Denali, which is officially still called Mount McKinley. We were pretty lucky with the weather and it was a good, long day. The only really negative thing was, that my gasoline bottle leaked in the night in the bear locker and contaminated the food, especially the Bagels. We ate one but throw the rest in the garbage for not poisoning ourselves… That meant, that we didn’t have something to eat for the rest of the day… and we were very hungry when we returned.

Denali – Anchorage

We enjoyed the great infrastructure of the park/campground in the morning but continued afterwards towards south. The weather was good, the wind not too strong and we reached Cantwell at reasonable time therefor. We were slowly cycling out of the region where you can observe the Northern Lights well. And it looked like we would get a clear, cold night. We decided therefor to give it a try at 2a.m. And we were very lucky: The color was the same as in Fairbanks (green) but the forms where different. And it was also more intense. We enjoyed it and took a lot of pictures. It was just very cold and because we would have to continue cycling the next day, we went back to sleep. However, it would have been a good idea to stay awake because it was the last time we saw Northern Lights during that journey…
It was still pretty cold in the morning (winter seems really to arrive soon) and we put several layers of clothing on to get cycling. Unfortunately, it also started to rain soon afterwards, which made it very unpleasant. We reached the campground at the Denali North Viewpoint in the evening. In contrast to what was written on the map, the water pump there wasn’t operational anymore. And because we didn’t have enough water with and the next river was far away, we continued with cycling. Those are the surprise which you can get. After another 20 miles, we reached the campground at Beyers Lake. And the pump there was still operational. The campground itself was in the forest and pretty wet…
It stopped raining during the night but shortly before our tents were more or less dry, it started again. It kept raining the next few days and this cost a lot of energy. Anchorage got closer and with it also the traffic stronger. But luckily there were in most cases some bike paths to make it safer. Arriving in Anchorage was as unspectacular as arriving in Ushuaia a few years ago.
That was it with Los Angeles – Anchorage. However, we were too early! Ines flight back leaves mid of September and my ferry leaves on the 10th of September towards Seattle where I will bord a plane to Japan (yes, another adventure 🙂 ). After two nights in Anchorage, we took the bus to Homer at the end of the Kenai peninsula. And now we are cycling back towards Anchorage from there. How far we will get we will see. The weather isn’t that great and the weather forecast does not give a lot of hope. Because we were completely wet, we offered our selves today a cabin in Ninilchick for getting try again and for being able to continue motivated. And for writing this blog post ;-). Today, we were cycling most of the day with Emmalee and Joe from New York (cycling from New York to Alaska, afterwards to San Diego, Florida and back home). That was something different after cycling most of the time just alone :-). That’s it for the moment!
Picture from Fairbanks to Anchorage can be found in the Gallery.

Thank you for reading and hear you soon!

Stefan


About Stefan

I'm a telecommunication engineer by profession and like to discover the world by bike. I think, that it is the perfect speed to move but still be in touch with the world and the people which live there. And I'm very happy, that my girlfriend Susanna is joining me now on those adventures. If you are interested in other journeys we did so far, please also check my website www.biketravel.net. Stefan, Switzerland

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7 thoughts on “Denali: Fairbanks – Anchorage

  • Sandra

    Hallo Stefan

    wau! Du hast es geschafft!!! Gratuliere euch 🙂
    vielen Dank für deine genialen und ausführlichen Reiseberichte. Auch die tollen Fotos sind ein hit.

    Wie ich gelesen habe, wartet schon ein neues Abenteuer auf dich in Japan? Bin gespannt was du vor hast. Kann mir gut vorstellen, dass es dich noch nicht zurück in die “Zivilisation” reisst.

    Geniesse die Zeit solange du kannst. Jedenfalls kannst mega stolz auf dich sein was du bis jetzt erreicht hast.

    en liebe Gruess us em regnerische und chüehle züri
    Sandra

  • Stefan Post author

    Hoi Sandra

    Vielen Dank für Deine Nachricht! Schön von Dir zu hören :-). Ja, es geht nach Japan. Die Details sind noch offen aber es wird sicher eine interessante Zeit :-).

    Viele Grüsse von der ebenfalls sehr regnerischen Kenai Halbinsel,

    Stefan

  • ursi

    puuh, mich frierst schon beim lesen! Gratuliere! Könnte das glaub nicht. Kommen gerade aus dem warmen Italien heim (letzte Nacht). Nun war es heute auch ein schöner warmer Tag in der Schweiz. Tip top. Wünsche guten Flug nach Japan!

    Lieber Gruss deine Schwö

  • Stefan Post author

    Hoi Urs. Ich habe mich auch gefragt, wie das da so mit Bären ist, aber Fleisch hatte es tatsächlich nicht :-). Wahrscheinlich war die Verpflegung nur an diesem Wochenende dort.

  • Stefan Post author

    Hoi Ursi. Vielen Dank! Ja, kalt wurde es am Schluss wirklich. Nun bin ich in Seattle und wieder mit kurzen Hosen und Tshirt unterwegs. Nur im Starbucks ist es etwas kühl so…