Sun and storm: Cycling Kenai Peninsula


Bear GlacierTime is running: More than five months ago, we started in Los Angeles and after close to 4’000 miles, the journey in Alaska comes slowly but surly to it’s end. However, before I will write a conclusion in the next blog post, first what we did the last two weeks. I will keep it a bit of short in the English version. For more details, please read the German version or use Google Translate.

Anchorage – Homer
After a few wet day on the way to Anchorage, we were happy to have again a dry place in the Alaska Backpackers Inn. Unfortunately, the room we got was not good (probably moldy) and we started coughing shortly after entering. And also the rest of the building didn’t leave a very good impression. We were therefor happy, when we left Anchorage again and took the bus down to Homer at the end of the Kenai peninsula. We took the bus, because we didn’t have enough time to cycle both directions.
On the way down to Homer, the weather was still pretty good and we had a chance to see the beauty of this region. We also saw the phenomena of a flood wave in the Turnagain Arm and further down the road had a glimpse of the Augustine volcano island. Because we were driving in the bus, we couldn’t take pictures neither of that unfortunately.
After arriving in Homer, we first went to the supermarket for getting food for the next few days and then moved on to the RV Park for putting up our tent. There weren’t that many people and we were the only ones with tents… It was already dark when we had dinner.

Homer – Seward
I expected, that It would start raining during the night already. However, we were again lucky and could put our tents together dry. But as soon as we had climbed the first big hill after Homer, it started raining and we had to put on our rain gear. It would not stop raining for the rest of the day. During that day, we also met Emmalee and Joey. They started cycling in New York and are doing a kind of cycling around the U.S. tour. We had lunch break at a restaurant for getting a bit warmer again and continued afterwards till Ninilchik. They had there a place to stay which they found through warmshowers.org. We planned to camp but we were so miserable and wet in the evening, that we took a mobile home at the end. It was a bit expensive but it was the first and only time when we had something like a cabin. We enjoyed it a lot and got our stuff dry.
We continued the next day but the weather was still miserable. We stayed in a motel in Soldotna therefor which was a pretty good deal. When we got ready the next morning, it was still raining. We were so fed up with the rain, that we decided to stay for another night. As soon as we paid, the rain stopped and the sun came out… We could use that day nevertheless and I changed the tire of my back wheel. After almost 4’000 miles, it had already holes at the side and I was afraid that it would explode somewhere unpleasant…
We kept going the next day and the sun was gone again. But at least there was only little rain. It went uphill and the road got very narrow (no shoulders). Our plan was to stay at the Russian River campground but it was closed for tenting for the rest of the season because a bear ripped apart two tents shortly before… We continued to the Cooper Creek campground a few miles further and this one was still open luckily.
The next morning, we had to decide if we would cycle to Seward for enjoying the glaciers there or go back to Anchorage straight away. If we would go directly to Anchorage, we would be there too early and we kept cycling to Seward therefor. It was a long day and it started to rain again at the end. But we made it to Seward.

Seward
From Seward, you can do boat tours to the Kenai Fjords National Park. And that was what we did the next day. The weather wasn’t really good but the weather forecast was again even worse. The sea was already pretty rough as we drove out of the bay. One of the waves hit the boat pretty hard and an older woman fell down the stairs and hit her head so badly, that she was unconscious. She had to go to the hospital and the boat turned therefor. Back in the harbor, we had the choice between a partly payback and a short tour or a complete refund. We decided to take the whole refund and try it another day because we wanted to get to the glacier. In the evening the storm arrived with some wind but especially a lot of rain. We were pretty happy for not being outside in a tent (there were blackouts and heavy damage in Anchorage…). The weather was still bad the next day but got better the day after: The day of our second try. And it was pretty much the perfect day. We saw Sea Otters, Dall’s Porpoises, Orcas, Humpback Whales, Sea Lions, Sea Elephants, Puffins and more. And we visited the glacier. Check the pictures in the Gallery.

Seward – Whittier
We continued cycling the next day. This time Leah, a young American from Minnesota cycled with us. She worked during the summer in Denali National Park and decided to cycle from Anchorage to Seward and back afterwards before going back home. Not a very easy trip to start with bike touring. But it was very nice for us to have here with. The first day we cycled up to the campground at the Summit Lake and stayed there. It was a pretty cold (around 30º Fahrenheit) and wet night. One of the most unpleasant nights so far. Luckily the sun came out in the morning and we could dry our tents and warm up ourself. With the sun also the landscape looked much nicer. We continued to the Williwaw Campground near the Portage glacier. It was again a cold night but at least not that wet. For warming up ourself in the morning, we went to the lodge next to the visitor center and had a coffee there. Our original plan was to hike to the Portage glacier. Unfortunately, this was not possible (you can only do a boat trip which costs around 33 Dollars for 1 hour). We went to another glacier instead and made some special pictures at the Portage Lake. Thank you Leah for the fun time!
And yes, that was it. After spending more than five months together on this trip, Ines and I went into different directions. She drove back to Anchorage and will fly home from there. I drove towards Whittier for taking the ferry to Seattle and the plane to Japan. We both don’t know what will happen the next few weeks. But I’m pretty sure, it will be interesting :-).

Whittier
I kept going towards Whittier. The problem was that Whittier can only be reached through a combined train- and road tunnel. And cyclists were not allowed there. Therefor, I had to wait till somebody would pick me up. After maybe 20 minutes a car stopped next to where I was waiting. Carl the driver asked me, if I need a ride. And yes, I needed that. We put my bike and luggage on the pick up and waited till the tunnel was free again for cars driving to Whittier. Carl told me in the mean time, that he and Henry (the second guy in the car) were on the way to Whittier for looking after their shrimp traps. If I want, I could go with them as well. I was very much interested to do that but had first to check what was going with my ferry. It was supposed to leave in the evening that day but I got a day before a mail from the ferry company telling me, that I have a new itinerary but without saying what changed. So I would first have to check what was going on. As soon as we came out of the tunnel in Whittier, I had Internet access again and I saw, that I have actually a lot of time: The ferry would be delayed by around 15 hours…
We drove out to the sea and I couldn’t believe my luck: The weather was just perfect. It was pure joy for me! We drove into the Blackstone bay and were looking there for the traps or better the boyes above it. After finding the first one, Carl stopped the boat and they started to get the traps back into the boat, took the shrimps out of it and prepared them right on the boat. I never saw that before and it was very interesting for me. In two traps, two octopuses got also into them and have started to eat the shrimp. However, they couldn’t find their way out anymore. Carl and Henry were so nice to keep them alive despite that they ate their shrimps. Because it was also for Carl and Henry the last time for the season out here, we drove to the front of Blackstone glacier, enjoyed there their beer and my smoked salmon with bagels and cheese. It was just great. And then we drove back to Whittier. There, Carl offered me to stay over night in his other boat, which was great. Thank you very much, Carl and Henry! It was a pleasure!
It started to rain during the night and kept going in the morning also at the time when I could finally board the ferry.

Now I’m on the ferry M/V Kennicott of the Alaska Marine Highway on the way to Bellingham and should arrive there on the 16th of September. I will continue with the train to Seattle and from there on the 20th of September to Japan or more precise Tokyo: A new adventure. It’s not yet clear what exactly I will do there. Advice and hints are always welcome :-).

All the best from Alaska from the ferry,

Stefan

PS: Pictures from the Kenai part can be found in the Gallery, as usual.


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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